Wednesday, February 8, 2012

"With the blood of the Lamb and the words of our Testimony...."

After consulting ye olde Facebook for advice about delivering my testimony to the youth group at church I had a lot of people who wanted to know my testimony.  Here is an abbreviated version that is focused o my teen years.  If you have questions or want more details of anything, let me know :)

I’m going to start my testimony in my Junior High years, as this is when Christ really started leaving me “bread-crumbs” in my life to get me to really follow Him.  I grew up in a very loving agnostic home where my parents never told me about God or Christ, yet I have known Him since a very young age.  As far back as I can remember I had prayed to Jesus and I knew who He was.  My parents never once hindered my desire to pursue  religion, but encouraged my making my own choices.  So, honestly I don’t know a time without Christ, but I did not attend a church (save for a Lutheran bible camp I went to in the summers) so I didn’t really understand who He was or what was required of me.  
In Junior High I went through a very rough year, and a very good year.  In 6th grade I had my first boyfriend, whose name funny enough was Kyle!  My best friend at the time had turned our friendship into a very hateful enemy situation by the end of that grade.  I felt so alone and scared that this Kyle did something that would be a hint of my future and the beginning of many trials for me.  He brought a gun to school with plans of shooting my friend.  When he showed me the gun at school I went crying to the principal’s office, terrified of what could happen.  It ended up only being a sawed-off BB gun, but it was my first taste of true fear.  Needless to say he was not allowed in our school district for 2 years and I began 7th grade so hated that I ate in bathroom stalls or in my health classroom for lunch.  I did everything I could to be kind to everyone and by 8th grade I had become popular.  In those two years my brother, who is 2 years older, had escalated into the drug culture and had brought a lot of fear for his future into our family.  My parents made the bold choice to move him out of this environment to the “big city” of Boise just before I started high school.
We were only there a few months before my brother’s drug use got so out of hand he was choking my mom while he appeared to be “sleeping”, had multiple attempts at getting him to a hospital and he did a month-long rehab in Utah.  He ran away to Seattle and slept on the streets, stole, and began a career as a dealer. One semester into high school my parents decided to move not just to another city, but to another state, to colorado.  My Dad and brother moved in January of 1999, and my mom and I followed after we sold our house in March.  In that time he had attempted suicide because he went from being adored and popular in Idaho to being an outcast in a very large, very preppy town.  My parents had done a lot of research into what they had thought would be the best school in the metro area and had settled on Columbine.  He was an instant outcast, being accepted only by the small grunge groups who were heavily into drugs.  I went and found instant popularity. I tried to spend time with my brother and be friends with his friends first, but I couldn’t do it.  I wanted friends, lots of friends.  I was very outgoing and within a week had more friends than I ever had in Idaho.  My focus was purely on myself, popularity, and boys.  But within that week, after feeling guilt over hanging out with my brother’s friends as they sought drugs, a few girls approached me and invited me to their church.  I had never really been to church before, but these girls were beautiful, the boys they hung out with were beautiful, and they were also popular.  I said yes and the next day I went to this huge church that had more people in the youth group than in my school back home.  I had never felt so loved in such a short period of time.  I was surrounded by happy people who wanted to be my friends. Within the week of going I had a basic understanding of Christ and I became saved. But my focus was still on me.  I wanted to be popular within the church.  I wanted them all to love me and look up to me and I wanted all the boys to want me. I really had no plans for obedience to God, but I was striving for obedience to the group.
A month and a half after moving here I had amassed a large group of friends, a boyfriend, and self validation.  Since my goal was my friends and  nothing else I had been ditching my science class with my boyfriend to go hang out with the people from church who had that period for lunch.  I had already learned about cumulous clouds and ROY G BIV back home so I didn’t feel like I needed to go to class.  But on April 20th, 1999 my boyfriend and I were outside of our science hallway, ready to go to the library to hand out with his friends when an overwhelming feeling came over me, telling me I had to go to class.  I tried to shake it off, but I couldn’t.  I couldn’t even move a step forward.  I told him I needed to go to class.  Disappointed, he went to his class too.  I was sitting in class, re-learning things I already knew, being angry with myself for not going to the library, staring out the door where I could see the library and the stairs to the cafeteria wishing I was there, when the floor began to vibrate and a stampede of kids came up the stairs.  It was senior prank day, so my table mate assured me it was probably just another mustard hazing or something.  It took two seniors coming in saying that someone was shooting in the school before we closed our doors and hunkered under our tables.  
The next hour I heard gun shots, screams, what sounded like bombs, and the constant sound of the fire alarm and class bell.  Soon we heard nothing but those bells.  We sat under our tables for hours, not knowing what we had heard or the depth of what had happened.  When it had been long enough without a gun shot our teacher turned on the television and we were stunned.  The first thing we saw was Patrick Ireland coming out of the library window, leaving a bloody trail on the glass and wall.  I was in instant shock.    Only then did I begin to pray.  I prayed that my friends were okay.  Shortly thereafter I saw my friends Crystal and Erika on the news.  They were frantic, but they looked unharmed.  A wave of relief covered me, thinking they were all okay.  The teacher turned off the tv and my thoughts and prayers turned to my brother, hoping he had nothing to do with this.  I knew he wasn’t at school because it was a “holiday” in the drug world, so I didn’t worry about his safety but I was scared for his involvement.  I felt a wave of reassurance that he wasn’t and just stayed under my table waiting to leave.  After over 4 hours of uncertainty we were rescued by the SWAT team who had us at gun point until they knew no one in the class was involved.  They forced us to face to wall, and sometimes crawl, on our way out of the school to avoid seeing what had happened just outside our door. Up until that point, I thought everyone was okay. Injured, maybe, but alive.  We ran down the grassy knoll outside of our school and through the fence across the street and were taken to the elementary school to find our parents.  
A youth leader at me church saw me walk into the school and called my parents to reassure them that I was fine.  When I turned a corner and saw my parents I saw the fear on their faces and my heart sunk.  I couldn’t speak, because I was afraid of what I might hear.  On our way home the radio said there were 50 students believed to be dead.  I asked my parents to take me to my church.  It was youth group night and all my friends were there.  My friend Erika who I had just seen safely on the news, ran up to me, embraced me and cried that our friend was missing.  She never came out of the library.  People were talking about how some kids had hidden in the vents of the ceiling, maybe she was there.  I knew in my heart it was not going to end up that way.  I was in such shock that when I went home to watch the news, praying for a miracle for her, I couldn’t remember her name.  I couldn’t remember anyone’s names.
It hit me at that moment what Christ had done for me.  My life had been spared. My mind had also been spared having to see what my friends had seen.  I knew in that instant that the overwhelming feeling I followed that wouldn’t allow me to even take a step towards the library was Christ.  It caused me reflection back to the times I had felt that before.  He had saved me from ever doing drugs, having sex, retaliating, and many other things that would have harmed my future in Him.  That was the moment that I dropped to my knees in obedience.  I had no doubts of His sovereignty, love, grace, and mercy.  I also knew that He had been in every second of my life as long as I can remember.  That was the moment that I truly gave my life to the Lord.  
In the weeks and months that followed I completely changed.  I didn’t speak for nearly two weeks because I just couldn’t. (I was insanely outgoing, perhaps annoyingly so.  I had to fill every empty space.) The reality of what had happened was very difficult to process.  I still had tendencies toward wanting everyone to like me, but I was much more focused on the Lord.  Being at the school where my friend died and all the regrets and guilt that came with that became so overwhelming that I transfered schools, and did my best to not let anyone know which school I came from or what I experienced.  I was very involved in my church and spent nearly every day there.  
In my life since I have made many mistakes, lost sight of my obedience and shamed the Lord.  I have had nightmares for years and insane fear over dying and losing those I love in a violent way. But I have never not felt His love and presence in every aspect of my life.  Realizing just how much He loves all of us is so overwhelming and beautiful that I want nothing more than everyone to know our Savior.  I am not the best evangelizer and I am praying He changed that.  Even after all we went through my family still are all unbelievers and the fear of them not living in eternity with our Lord can be crippling at times.  I can hardly remember a life without knowing God and I can never go back.  Nothing is worth an eternity apart from our Lord.  No amount of money, popularity, boys (or girls), or any other selfish tendency.  Our lives are amazingly short and we don’t know if we will only life to 15 or to 105, live each day serving the only everlasting truth - our Savior.

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