“So, what is your testimony?” That question, directed my way, quickly raises another question in my mind: what exactly is a testimony? I grew up in church and it is one of those words that I certainly heard a lot, but I honestly didn’t have a firm grasp on its definition. I would say it was in the same category as terms like admonition, substitutionary atonement, and doctrine. In an effort to find a working definition, Google did not disappoint. In three basic points, a Google search result defined testimony to include one-a description of life before knowing Christ, two-how one came to know Christ, and three-how life has changed after coming into a relationship with Him. Using this framework, a testimony doesn’t seem too difficult to relate-it’s just my story! But still, it always seemed to me as if my story wasn’t really worth telling and certainly not worthy of being referred to as a lofty word like ‘testimony’, so there has always been a sort of hesitation on my part when the testimony request is presented to me. That being said, I will try my best to share my story:
I was raised in a Christian home…sort of. My parents were divorced when I was very young and, although I spent the majority of time with my mom (who remarried and eventually moved to Ohio), I also spent large chunks of my summers and every other holiday with my dad’s side of the family in Oklahoma. Looking back to the influence of both “O’s” in my childhood (Oklahoma and Ohio), I can say that there were definite aspects of God, though also definite aspects of dysfunction. Unfortunately, the dysfunctional side of the scale seemed to weigh heavier through the effects of control, alcoholism, guilt, perfectionism, delusion, hypocrisy, legalism and more. At the tender age of eight, I knew I had a need that could only be filled with Jesus. I must have recognized His presence at some level and I did respond! I specifically remember the evening in that small baptist church as we were singing “Just As I Am” when God tugged at my heart and I walked forward in answer to an altar call. I prayed with someone and made plans for public baptism shortly after, but then life just continued in this state of confusion and dysfunction.
Through my teenage years, I did the “church thing”...I attended weekly youth group, summer camp and various youth events and conferences where I signed promises and learned what and what not to do to be a good Christian. But all of that was in a separate category from my daily life as a “normal” teenager. Oh, I sort-of-kind-of tried to mix the two worlds every now and then…I bargained with my mom to allow me to have Saturday night sleepovers if I brought the friend to church with me the next morning, I wore my WWJD bracelet to school (until someone asked about it), I invited my boyfriend to watch my debut on the interpretive worship team at my first (and only) performance, I even asked for donations to help fund the mission trip to St. Lucia the summer between my junior and senior year! But mostly, God was in one box, and the rest of my life was in another. I had a sense of reverence and the importance of God, but He definitely did not have lordship over my life.
This lukewarm compartmentalization continued as I moved into my college years-I did find a church to attend right off campus and went almost every Sunday morning-after staying out with friends to do the ‘college thing’ on Saturday nights (insert hand-hitting-forehead emoji here). After graduating, I entered married life with my high school sweetheart and converted to Catholicism in an effort to unify with him (which was more important to me at the time than actually unifying with God). I continued to “do” the church things, trying harder and harder to be “right” and a “good Christian”, but only sometimes and in front of some people.
Please come back next week to read part two of my testimony.
If you have a story about what God has done in your life and would like to share it please email us at: firstname.lastname@example.org
*The Fruitful Women creative team retains the right to edit and publish or not publish any testimonies that are submitted.