Relationships have always been the focus of my time, and the friendships and connections I’ve fostered with people over the years are some of the things in my life that I value the most. I don’t have a typical “coming to Christ” story because he has always been a factor in my life. When I was little, attending church was routine for my family, and even when their attendance became more sporadic I made it a priority to attend on my own. If I couldn’t get a ride to service Sunday morning, I would find a way to attend youth group with one of my friends on Sunday evening. A big part of what I enjoyed about church and youth group were the friends that I made during those times, but I wouldn’t understand the importance of those relationships until later.
Junior year in high school was a tough time for me. I fractured my L4 vertebrae during football practice and was confined to a full torso brace for six months. At that time, sports were my life and a key part of my identity, and for the greater part of a year it was doubtful if I would fully recover from my injury. On top of that, my grandfather, with whom I was very close with and named after, was diagnosed with cancer. It was a slow process, and I had to watch him succumb to his disease over the many months that I was wearing my back brace. Ultimately, he passed away on my 17th birthday. While I never quit going to church during this time, I harbored a lot of anger and resentment. Life had seemed so unfair and I couldn’t understand why God was allowing such unfortunate things to happen to me. It was at this point I saw the true value and purpose for the relationships I had developed, both with my friends from church and Christ himself. They did their best to help me understand that while tragedy is unavoidable, God will never burden us with more than we can bear. Even when I didn’t want to hear their reasoning, the constant love they poured out for me got me through the toughest weeks immediately following my grandfather’s passing. In time, both my body and soul were healed with the support of my friends and to this day I remain close with all of them.
While I didn’t “find” Christ through these experiences, I had been a believer since I was very young, I did learn a valuable lesson about relationships. During those dark times I was tempted to turn away from Christ and find other ways to cope with my frustration, but through his grace and the support of those close to me, I never turned my back on God. Submitting my life to Christ when I was at my lowest has given me confidence in my faith, and reassurance that no matter what I go through, God has my back. I know he put those wonderful people in my life, knowing that they would be there to help me through thick and thin. The resentment I had towards my situation was transformed into an appreciation for the Godly support system of relationships that picked me up when I was at my weakest. I know today that everyone in my life has been sent to me for a reason, and I never lose a chance to make prove to those close to me how much I value their friendship.