I grew up in a Christian home. My dad was a farmer and my mom a traditional farmer’s wife. I have one brother, he is the oldest, and three sisters. I am the second youngest.
I went to a public school through 5th grade and switched to the Christian in grade 6. I was told the reason I went to the Christian school was because my parents wanted me to learn to be nice. I don’t think I learned how to be nice. Instead I learned how to “look good” in front of others. I was a boring, classic, goodie-goodie. Often I still am.
I don’t know when I became a Christian. I just have been. At anytime in my life you could have asked me if I believed that Jesus died for me, I would have said, “Yes, I know that very well!” But something was missing. I could not be good enough. No matter how good I look to people on the outside, I was always getting myself into trouble. Mostly at home with my sisters. We fought a lot.
I wanted to be good, really I did! I wanted to please God and my family, even my sisters! But if you would have asked me if I was 100% God’s, I knew I wasn’t. At the age of 14 or 15 my parents started asking me if I was ready to make my Profession of Faith (when a person says to the church that they believe in Jesus as their Lord and Savior). I said “not yet” and avoided the topic until I was 16. I just didn’t feel ready. There were sins in my life I didn’t want to give up.
At age 16 I was at a retreat with the youth group in my church. It was there that I felt God telling me that it is okay that I am not perfect. He told me he loves me all the same, with or without sin. I realized that making my Profession of Faith did not mean I would stop sinning, but that even when I did sin God still loved me and that is what matters. That is what I told the congregation of my church Easter Sunday just a month or two later. I meant it too!
Making my Profession of Faith didn’t change me. I knew it wouldn’t, but I wanted it to, I wish it was a “perfect switch”. Just say these words or do this thing and you will be perfect. But I knew it wasn’t the truth, I just hoped it would make following Jesus easier. It was still plagued by guilt that I wasn’t giving my all to God. It was so hard!
After graduating from high school I went to college. My first year there wasn’t easy. I didn’t make friends easily. By the end of the year I had 3 girlfriends. One would be my roommate the next year. There was a boy I was talking to too, mostly on the computer.
The second year of college we even more difficult. This boy became my boyfriend but our relationship started wrong and got worse. By the end of the year my world was falling apart. I didn’t like the way my relationship with my boyfriend was going but I was too scared to breakup with him. Not only that but I pushed my roommate away from me. She didn’t know what to do with me anymore, so she stopped trying. I also had a suspicion I was becoming diabetic.
3 days after I arrived home for the summer my suspicion were confirmed. It was a rough summer. I was angry, I took it out on my sister and eventually my boyfriend. My family hurt for me!
Getting back to school signified a new start. The emotions I was going through with adjusting to my diabetes numbed any good feelings for my boyfriends and I was able to break up with him. It was freeing! (I did feel bad for him because it wasn’t as easy for him when we broke up as it was for me.) God and I did a lot of talking that year. If you would have asked me what I thought about God, I would have told you that he and I were not on speaking terms because I was mad at him, but in reality my heart cried out for him day after day, heartache after heartache.
I went to a councilor to have a person to talk to, and I started making new friends, a lot of them! There was one person in particular I watched. His name is David. In my eyes, he was one of the strongest Christians I knew. He lived as I wanted to live, not caring about what others thought of him, fully for Jesus Christ. His example encouraged me to fully surrender my life to God 100% for the first time in my life.
God finally got through to me. The break up with my ex-boyfriend pushed me back to God and God used it! For the first time in my life I wanted only what God wanted for me! Some people might say I had finally become a Christian. I think they might be right.
Even though I had been doing a lot of changing that whole year, it was Easter weekend that marks my anniversary of surrender for Christ. It was an odd but exciting weekend for me. On Good Friday I was sad and depressed. Almost as if I felt the death of Christ in my heart for the first time. Saturday was nothingness to me. I went through the day in a daze. I can’t even tell you what happened except that I had a long day. When I woke on Sunday morning my heart was singing! Jesus is Alive! Nothing could pin me down! I wanted to sing, dance and shout! What a glorious day it was! I felt the resurrection of Christ in the depths of my heart, this is what it means to be born again. Maybe I was.
I fell in love with David that day too. I didn’t pick the day, but it was that day that God told me I may love David. This same David I watched from a distance, admiring his example. The same David who listened to my own troubles when I ran out of strength to carry my own burdens. I didn’t deserve it. I had totally messed up with my old boyfriend, I didn’t deserve another, especially not for years to come. But God doesn’t work that way. As I learned when I was 16, God loves us sin or no sin (and there is sin! In every one of us!) He doesn’t hold any records of wrongs and then make our lives go according to how good or bad we are. He loves us all the same. He longs to show us just how much he loves us, as he did to me. To top it all off, he used the mixed up relationship with my ex boyfriend to prepare me for David. God is an amazing God. It isn’t up to me! Praise be to God! His Love endures forever!!
© 2005-2007 David and Rita Hjelle