I vividly remember a distinct turning point in my life. After moving nearly every 3-4 years and having to constantly rebuild myself after being torn apart from friendships, I decided I was going to do whatever it took to be popular in high school. I knew that in order to do that I had to remove God from my life. That was a risk I was willing to take.
From there, I got what I was hoping would happen. My friends thought I was hilarious when I was drunk and I became a part of all the inside jokes instead of sitting awkwardly at the lunch table trying to figure out what was so funny. For some reason; however, I still wasn’t happy. My relationships began to fall apart. My family couldn’t wait for me to graduate and leave home; my friendships were based on the current drama and gossip; my romantic relationships were focused on what happiness we could get from the other person. Essentially I was looking for someone to tell me that I was special and loved, but I turned away from the one person who desperately wanted to love and forgive me perfectly: Jesus Christ.
When I went to college, Jesus was waiting for me. The first person I met after saying good-bye to my mom was a woman named Mallory. She worked for a non-denominational church on campus. We became friends and she invited me to do a Bible study with her and some other women. I still remember the first time I was hit with the Gospel. “For whoever would save his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.” (Matthew 16:25) After hearing that, I spent some time counting the costs of giving my life back to Jesus and rebuilding that relationship with Him. There was a lot I had to give up to embrace the cross. This was hard because I wanted to make myself worthy before coming back to Him, but that was impossible. I needed Christ to help me overcome the very struggles that were separating me from Him. In the end I decided to simply give Jesus a chance. Nothing I was doing was proving to be very satisfying, and here was Jesus, promising me abundant life. I texted Mallory, “Jessica has been dethroned.” For me that illustrated that I was giving God control of my life, asking Him to lead me.
Some things in my life changed quickly. The Holy Spirit instantly removed the thought that I had to drink to make friends and have people like me. What a grace! Other areas of conversion were a much longer process. As I mentioned, Mallory worked for a non-denominational church, and while I am so thankful that she introduced me to the person of Jesus Christ, I had also slipped away from the Catholic Church. That was a long, hard road Home, but that is a story for another blog-post. …stay tuned!
In the end, there was no way for me to keep the joy, life and love that I had received from Jesus to myself. I simply had to join His mission of sharing that very love with others, and that is the driving force of why I am serving as a full-time missionary here at Baylor.
“I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.”