No summer classes, most of my friends were in town, there was a family reunion every weekend. Love was in the air. When summer was over, I would return to my top university, begin classes, and live with my sister. It seemed like a great start to a great summer.
Years before, I had given pieces of my heart away to a good man I was not going to marry. We met when I was 14 at a church retreat. We had both come from good Christian families. I knew his family and he knew mine. I had planned my entire future with him.
Out of respect for him and his family, I will not share exactly what happened that summer. However, I can tell you that a few weeks, about three, after the summer break began, I was broken and alone. Also, I found out I had not been accepted into the nursing program at my top university for that semester. Both of my parents had jobs, my sister began working at a local nursing home, my closest friends were getting married, were moving away to another city and/or state, or had a relationship, and my brothers were just to young to talk to.
Above all, I was angry at God. I thought I had accepted Jesus as my Savior since I was young. However, I did not have a relationship with Him. I couldn't feel or see Him in my life. My life was great and now it was all going down hill. He must have abandoned me. Why God? I am a good girl! I didn't talk to Him that summer.
I was depressed. I wasn't diagnosed with depression, nor I ever went to a doctor, but I knew I was. My family knew I was. I didn't tell anyone, not even my closest friends, about what I was going through.
Later that summer, my mother began spending more time with me and we began exercising, along with an aunt and a cousin. One of those afternoons, while I was working out, the director of a private university nursing program called me. I had been accepted into the program! I was going to become a nurse. Didn't need You [God] for that!
Or so I thought. Summer began to end and I traveled to Minnesota with my sister to spend time with my sister's boyfriend and his family. My parents did not allow my sister to go by herself. I was still depressed and I did not want to go. For my sister's happiness, I did. So, I became the third-wheel.
One of those evenings, a tall, handsome, young man came to join us for a cook-out we were having. All I knew was his name and that he was best friends with my sister's boyfriend. I didn't pay much attention. The four of us, along with other friends, spent a neat end-of-summer weekend together by the lake. My sister and I returned back to Mexico/Texas to continue our lives, separately, this time.
That first week of nursing school, I met my now close friend Katy B. She was talking to another of my nursing friends about a church she attended, how she was part of the worship team, and something about a guy. I, sitting on the other side of her, asked her what church she attended. Katy told me it was a Christian non-denominational church and proceeded to invite me. I told her I would go that Sunday. So out of my comfort zone for the Catholic girl in me.
This church was weird. First of all, church was held in an elementary school's cafeteria. People immediately started talking to me as I entered the doors. The pastor wore a regular button-up shirt, jeans and tennis shoes. When the music played, people lifted their hands and arms in the air. The Catholic girl in me felt so uncomfortable. However, there was something about this church that was calling my name. To make the story a little shorter, I decided to stay. This girl, Mackinzie M., asked me to join her community group (like a bible study group). I met people who would later become my best friends. People who genuinely cared for me and loved me for who I was. This group of praying-out-loud-hands-in-the-air-during-worship people became a family to me for two whole years.
In the middle of it all, I began praying for a relationship - if that is what God wanted for me. I began reading books and blogs. I began praying for my future husband. This tall, handsome, young man I met in Minnesota began to pursue me. He contacted me through Facebook, later through phone, and much later in person. My heart was slowly healing and he knew it. He kept gently pursuing me and when the time was right, he told me he loved me and accepted me and my heavy baggage. He said he wanted to pursue marriage with me. After a whole lot of praying and a series of events, God led him to talk to my parents and ask for their blessing. We were engaged September 2, 2012.
Above all else, I met a living God. A living Jesus who pursued and desired nothing but a genuine relationship with me. I got to slowly know Him and what He was doing in my life. For the first time in my life, I began to understand and feel the love of Christ. I met him face-to-face that hot September 2010 night, in my apartment, as I cried and knelt before Him. I asked Him into my life and decided to follow Him - unconditionally. I saw and heard Him in Katy B., Mackinzie M., Michael F., Heather E., Greg V., Diana Z., and many others. He was there. He was always there. In the middle of my depression - He was there. He had a plan. He used my brokenness from a previous relationship and "failed" academic endeavors to bring me to Him. He died for me. He died for my sins. He died because he loved me and wanted to heal my brokenness through a relationship with Him.
|Engagement/Birthday Party at my house in Mexico|
I am now living under His perfect plan.
I am loved. I am redeemed. I am Under Grace.
So are you. Open the eyes of your heart, He wants you to see Him.
And yes, I now unashamedly lift my hands during worship.
Thank you for reading this. Happy Valentine's Day to my family, Greg, my friends near and far, and you, dear bloggers!