In my Christian Formations class, we had to write a spiritual biography. It was a six page paper, so it’s a little long, but it is a portion of my spiritual journey over the last few years. It highlights a few pivotal moments in my walk with God and leaves out a lot, but I suppose I could fill an entire book full of the lessons God has taught me and the one’s I’m still learning.
My spiritual identity in relation to God can be boiled down into four main titles I feel God has given me: daughter, friend, writer, and servant. Beginning with my conversion to Christianity all the way to today, I have grown spiritually and discovered how to further my relationship with God. Especially this year, my eyes have been opened to what God’s message is behind this grand story of creation. He just wants to love us and for us to love Him, then everything follows. My identity in Christ has never been stronger than this year and as I reflect on why that is through looking at my past, I know it is based on surrendering completely to God and striving to live a holy life.
My ambition in life is to write for and about God. I want to write fiction that illuminates His complex character in relation to us and the world around us, His creation. This ambition began a few years ago and has only grown as I pursue this dream to write. Two large influences have awakened this passion in me, the first being my conversion to Christianity and the second being a prophecy I received that I was to write for God. While this dream still remains, many conflicts have tried to suppress it and bury it. Through the conflicts though, I have discovered new aspects of my identity in Christ and have further solidified it.
My first experience, my conversion, taught me that I was God’s daughter and friend. I gave my life to Christ many times as a child, but I was twelve years old when I finally understood the weight of that promise and meant what I said. It happened during a revival at my non-denominational church in a tent filled with straw, bugs, and sweaty adults. The church had pitched a tent in the middle of the summer on newly bought land where they hoped to build a new and bigger building. During this revival, a young man named Diga preached about passion and love for God. Diga had a love for God that I had never seen in a young person before. He was only about 18 or 19, but he talked about God personally, as if he’d known Him his whole life and was His friend. I had never seen that kind of personal relationship with God so tangible before and I envied that kind of love. I wanted to love that way. A few days later, I asked God to come into my heart after deciding that I wanted to get serious about my relationship with God. I asked God help me love Him like Diga loved him; I asked for a personal relationship.
After my conversion, I learned how to be a daughter to God. I spoke to Him all the time; not just during specific prayer times, but all day, about anything. I experienced God as a Father in my spiritual walk. I was His daughter because I was learning how to love, like Jesus loved everyone and like Diga loved God. With that desire to love God, I tried to live my life with passion; I still do try to live with passion. God gave me a heart for many things and I don’t want to suppress any feelings and emotions toward Him. He was my Daddy that loved me more than I could understand and, as His daughter, I was learning more about that love. I felt free during worship services and prayer. I was still a new Christian and young teenager, but the experience never left me.
I learned how to be God’s friend during this time too. I was homeschooled my eighth and ninth grade year and attended a Christian school for the rest of high school. In the transition from homeschooling to private schooling, I sort of closed in on myself. I didn’t talk aloud in school; I talked to God inside my head. I would make comments about the teacher, I would crack jokes about the lunch food: I would talk to God all day inside my head. As my first year carried on, some other students began forcing me out of my shell. I made friends, human friends, and I began to forget about God. I am a pretty extreme person sometimes, especially in my spiritual walk. I’m either all about God and I forget his creation, or vice versa. I hadn’t realized until after I made friends in high school that I forgot to talk to God. I forgot to even pray once a day. I was so caught up in the term “friend” that I forgot how to be one, both to God and others.
God began showing me, however, that I can’t ignore Him. This concept is hard to explain, the concept of God “showing me” something, so I’ll do my best. I felt empty as I poured myself into my friendships and high school career and I began to miss talking to God. I also realized that I can’t simply walk away from my friends, they were important to me and I loved them. In the friendships I made at school, I realized that friendships require two people, equally loving and learning about the other. God had done nothing but love me and care for me, and I ignored Him when He gave me human friends. One night, I asked God to help me find a healthy balance. I wanted to live for Him and talk to Him all the time, but I also didn’t want to retreat inside myself and never speak to others. I needed others, and God knew that. He made us communal beings, just like Him. Finding a balance has still been a struggle for me, but I am learning to place God above everything in such a way that it makes me a better friend, to Him and to others.
The other two titles came after God had revealed a tiny portion of His plan for my life. I was about 14 or 15 when I read a book called “Saint” by Ted Dekker. This book is now my favorite book of all time because after reading it, I discovered my love of reading and writing. When I finished the book, I put it down and thought, I had never thought of it that way, I want to make others feel the way this book made me feel: inspired to live for Christ. I began to dabble in writing; not too much, just a character description here and a short story there. One night, my church was having another revival, this one was inside. That night, the service was being led by an evangelist. I loved listening to him speak. He was always so excited about God and liked to tell jokes and had a tattoo sleeve. I thought he was really cool, mostly because my church didn’t allow tattoos at all and rarely told jokes. I thought he was awesome and I loved to watch as he would prophesy over members of the congregation. He was walking around people and giving them “words,” as we called them. Then he stopped at me. He asked me what I wanted to do for God. I was embarrassed and said I didn’t know. He asked if I wanted to sing and play the piano like my mom, but then he shook his head before I could answer no. He asked if I wanted to be an actress since I put on dramas and skits for the church, but again he shook his head before I could answer no. He told me that he knew God had placed a new love in my heart and asked me what it was. I sheepishly told him that I thought I was supposed to write. He started crying, right there into the microphone in front of everyone in the service, closed his eyes, and said, “This is what I see…” Then he prophesied over me. He said God wanted me to write and that I was going to write for Him. As he spoke, I felt purpose and passion wash over me and that night, I went home and wrote. And I suppose I haven’t really stopped. I love writing and I believe God has called me to write to inspire others. As the years have gone on, I have discovered that the more I follow God and love Him and others, the better my writing is. Because it’s God who gave me this gift, and wrote the title “writer” along with daughter and friend on my spiritual identity, I can’t write well or truly without Him.
The last title is servant. This title is something I am still working on understanding. It began when I found out two years ago that he, the evangelist, had left his wife and children for a younger woman and abandoned the faith. This crushed me. I didn’t understand how someone who had experienced God in so many ways and even spoke for Him could walk away from Him. I began to wonder if he had ever really believed in God at all and whether or not the prophecy was even authentic. This was a spiritual identity crisis for me. I had already decided that I was going to be a writer, but what if I was actually supposed to do something else? What if his words were a sham and God didn’t really place this passion in my heart, what if it was all a lie? I asked my mom about it.
My mom had seen how happy writing makes me and how much better I’d gotten over the years. She knew it was still God’s calling for my life. She told me that I can’t stake all of what I believe to be true about God on one sinful human being. She reminded me that we all fall short, but that doesn’t mean that God’s promises change. God gave me this ambition, not the evangelist. He simply spoke through the evangelist and gave me the little push I needed to get started. I realized that I had placed God in a box and questioned His power based on the actions of men. I asked God to forgive me and asked Him to help me write for Him. In this, I became His servant and follower. I no longer write for myself, or at least I try not to. I want God’s agenda to come first, especially in my writing. I am still learning how to surrender completely, but my spiritual identity is keeping God as the focal point. Sometimes I fail at that, but I just remember God’s promises to me and mine to Him.
My spiritual identity has been shaped by many ideas and people and passions. It’s been hurt a few times and almost shattered at others, but God does not abandon His people. I am His child and He is teaching me how to love and be disciplined, or tamed as chapter 9 in Holiness as a Liberal Art calls it. I am His friend and He is teaching me how to listen and balance my life. I am His writer and He is teaching me how to use my passion for His glory. I am His servant and He is teaching me to surrender completely so I can carry out His will. In the story that is my life, my spiritual identity grows everyday as I learn new portions of God’s immense character and never ending love for me.