With it being Good Friday and Holy Week as we gear up for Easter, I thought today was fitting for a personal post. I've talked a lot more recently about my faith and my spiritual journey here in DC. I've found a wonderful Church and family here in the District, and my relationship with God is strengthening day by day.
I thought it'd be good to share a little more about how I got to where I am today, and why I love my Church here in DC so much. Hopefully this will inspire y'all on this Easter holiday weekend!
Where I Came From
I grew up in a pretty religious household. My grandfather was a minister, my father is very involved in our Church back in Tennessee, and attending Church every Sunday was of utmost importance. I grew up participating in many Church activities, Bible bowls, weekend retreats, etc. I was very involved. But somewhere between college and moving to DC, there was a disconnect.
I'm not proud to admit it, but I strayed away from my faith. Looking back now, this was and is apart of "my story and journey." So I'm not ashamed, because everything happens for a reason. God's reason. So maybe this is what needed to happen for me to strengthen my relationship with Him.
Why I Strayed
It was a gradual pull. I started putting outside activities as top priority. Sorority events, getting acclimated to my newfound freedom away from home, getting involved in college, having fun on the weekends, sleeping in, all the way to moving to DC and continuing those focuses. The more I prioritized my activities, the further I got away from going to Church. It went from attending once a month, to attending once a year for Easter. At the time, it felt like a necessity to attend Church on Easter, not a priority.
As time went on in DC, I had quite a few obstacles and letdowns to get through. Instead of leaning on my faith and trusting in the Lord's plan, I started to resent Him for the consistent string of, let's call them "nos." I thought, "how can someone who loves me so much, put me through this much hurt all at once?" But if I was my current self talking to my old self, I would have reminded myself that "God doesn't put you through anything that you can't handle." Sometimes we have to go through pain, to get the big gains.
The Turning Point
The turning point couldn't be any more typical DC. It came on my rooftop, at the pool, on a Saturday afternoon with a ton of friends. I was just getting over another failed relationship [dated someone the entire summer and all the sudden he ghosted, found out he was dating someone else at the same time #men]. I had hit, what I'd consider, rock bottom. Mentally.
I was trying so hard to stay positive and enjoy my time with friends, but my mental obstacles couldn't be overcome. I was honestly mentally drained, tired and doubtful.
Then, all the sudden I saw my friend Greg. One of my best friends from college [side note, the story of how Greg and I became friends is a hoot. Basically, we became friends through the fact our significant others at the time had dated each other prior. Once we both ended things with those two, we became truly great friends and bonded over it all. Funny how life works sometimes, right?!]
When I saw Greg it hit me. Without even thinking, I walked over to him and said, "Greg, will you take me to Church tomorrow? I want to attend with you!"
That was this past August.
The next day I met Greg at National Community Church and I haven't looked back since.
Where I'm At Now
I'm so proud to say that since this turning point, I've attended Church more in the past 7 months than I had in the past 7 years. I've only missed a handful of Sunday morning services due to travel or weather. I don't say this to brag, but to celebrate how far I've come.
I've never resonated more with a Church than I have with NCC. The first day I walked in, there were so many friendly and welcoming faces. Everyone wanted to get to know me and I felt wanted there. The sermon that day was like a sign from God Himself. It was about "finding your way back to God in the time of struggle." I mean come on y'all! It just all felt perfect. I felt at home, and I knew right then and there God put me there that day because that's what I needed. With Him, it's all about timing. And if I had gone to NCC sooner than that day, it may not have stuck.
This was a major prayer that I had been subconsciously praying the past 7-ish years, and it was finally answered in a BIG way.
Why I Love NCC
I have never met a more friendly group of people. I've made an insanely awesome Church family here and have met some of the greatest friends I never knew I needed. Not only do we have fun together outside of Church, but I can also confide in them on my spiritual journey.
National Community Church has 8 campuses throughout the DC area and is made up of about 4,000+ people. My campus is close by to where I live, and filled with a ton of wonderful young professionals like me. I have ran into so many coworkers, friends from around the Hill and my neighborhood there. People I never knew went there!
NCC was founded by Pastor Mark Batterson, and y'all he's amazing. What he and the entire NCC team have done in DC is truly remarkable. I started reading Pastor Mark's book, Chase the Lion. It was the final push I needed to change my entire mindset and outlook on life. I highly, highly recommend it.
From the Sunday services, to the singing and worship time, to my small group studies and meetings, to outings with my new friends, NCC has been a huge factor in my faith growing as quickly as it has. I am so humbled and honored to be apart of this community!
Why I'm Telling You This
Well, if you've read this much... I thank you. I didn't mean for this to get so long. But when the Lord speaks through you, combined with my love of talking, it just happens, ha.
I am writing this not to preach to anyone, but to hopefully inspire at least one person. To show that there's always, always an "up from here." And that if you walk through life with God by your side, you'll get ten times further than if you go it alone.
Each day is still a struggle. Each day I still have mental moments where I get down or have doubt. But that's part of the journey. That's part of being a human. I've never been more excited, hopeful and eager to see what God has in store for me. As this Easter weekend approaches, I hope y'all take some time to reflect on what He went through for all of us. The sacrifice that Jesus made for you and me. It's truly amazing and remarkable. And this year Easter has taken on a whole new meaning for me. It's no longer a necessity, but my utmost priority.
Happy Easter y'all!