I grew up in a house with a mom who was and still is a strong believer. It just took me a while to realize that that wasn’t enough. All the while, growing up I strived to live life like a “good Christian” would. I was constantly being called a “goody two-shoes” by my friends in high school. I was kind of the odd sock, being the only one in my group of school friends who was a Christian – or at least Christian-like.
I received Christ in high school, but I guess I just never allowed my heart to truly change. I just kept up appearances, never doing anything wrong by my friends and teachers, and of course obeying my parents.
I always heard, “It’s not a religion, it’s a relationship,” in regards to faith in Jesus. I believed that, I did. But how can we have a relationship with someone when we never spend time with them? I wasn’t spending time with the Lord outside of church and youth group events. My high school youth group became somewhat of a subculture to me, but I still struggled with low self-worth, jealousy and anger. The amount of worship conferences I attended and the worship music I listened to weren’t going to save me. Having the coolest, most anointed youth pastor wasn’t going to save me. So, then what?
Faith in Christ wasn’t just saying what to do and quoting Scripture all the time. It wasn’t just acting right and staying away from the typical outward sins like partying and getting drunk, pre-marital sex, and others. Something was missing. If I was following Jesus, why did I still think so lowly of myself? Why did I think I had to run from my problems instead of lay them at His feet? Why was I always competing with others to be smarter, more popular, and the like? Why did I struggle with anger issues and at the same time be such a people pleaser?
The answer was because I had an idea of what it meant to live for the Lord, but I wasn’t actually seeking Him, at least in a way that was producing fruit. I believed what Christ did on the cross, I never questioned it. But did I believe it was ENOUGH?
Fast forward to college. I was heavily involved in my college’s Christian fellowship, Intervarsity. There I saw what it looked like to have friends and mentors who went out of their way to selflessly care for and love others. I still struggled with so many things, however it was like the Lord was calling me to Him in a way I had never experienced before. Despite all my failures and setbacks, he drew out my college journey, and the years after, to lead me to where I am at this very moment. After graduating college in 2016, I began attending a church that was very much on fire for the Lord. There I learned how to seek the Lord personally, and experienced relationships that were beautiful in so many ways. Then the Lord led me to Grace.
The community of believers here at Grace changed my life. I was connecting and communing with the Lord in new and exciting ways that I didn’t expect. All because I was spending time with Him. I began hearing His voice and being intentional about quiet time. The more I spent time with Him, and through various experiences with fellow believers, I finally began believing that JESUS is the ONLY source of my contentment and identity. Letting the truth of God’s word transform your mind didn’t mean to just read the Word, but to meditate on it day and night. Jesus’ death and resurrection meant I had unrestricted access to God’s power, love and wisdom. And I when I lose sight of that, I just have to go back to His presence and He’ll remind me. When I feel like my joy is gone, I just go back to His presence and He reminds me. When I’m feeling anxious or impatient, I just get on my knees before Him and He reminds me. He has never left me, and I can come to Him because He loves and accepts me first, not the other way around. He ALWAYS goes before me, stands behind me, and surrounds me.
Though I’ve been walking with the Lord for a little while now, I’ve never taken that step to be baptized. Just as Jesus was submerged into the Jordan River as an act of obedience to the Father’s will, I’m getting baptized here at Grace because, well, it’s my turn to be obedient.
As I go under and come up from the water, I can hear the Lord saying to me, “you are my beloved daughter, with whom I am well pleased.”
— Menna Girma, Baptized April 2019
If you’re interested in being baptized at Grace, click here to learn more and sign up to attend our next Baptism Workshop.