Friday, January 24, 2014

how i met Jesus

So, awhile ago, I shared with you some of my current thoughts and feelings and struggles about my relationship with Jesus. And in that post I wrote about how it was something I wanted to talk more openly about, with the people in my life, but also here in this blog.

So, recently, I had the chance to catch up with an old friend from high school through several long emails that made me feel like a kid again (Like writing a friend while away at summer camp, or something. Remember that, Ali?!) We hadn't talked in four years... FOUR! And a lot has happened in my life in the past four years, A LOT! And in my very long paragraph of fragment and run-on sentences of my last four years, was the mention of my baptism. This friend, last knowing me in high school, was curious about my baptism and my journey of finding faith, because he last knew me as an agnostic who didn't seem too curious in it all. And, he was right - that is who I was in high school. And though I'm sure my answer to his simple, polite statement of "tell me about your baptism" was much more than he was looking for, I got to tell him all about my experience of becoming a Christian. And! I enjoyed writing it all down and sharing it so much, that I thought I would do it here, as well. Lucky you, right?! (prepare yourselves for a long one, guys!) I haven't shared this story with many, not that it's incredibly deep and personal, but because most of the people I talk to about this kind of stuff, were with me somewhere in my journey, so they kinda already know how it happened. But as a step further in my faith, of talking more openly about Jesus and my relationship with Him, I share with you a love story, the story of how I met Jesus...

When I was little, I used to pray, to whatever God there may be. I didn't grow up going to church or really talking about God or religion in my family, so I don't know where it came from, but I used to pray. Less as I got older and entered high school, and they were always prayers when I needed something, never prayers of praise or thanks. So, somewhere along the way (probably when my mom was going to school and studying religion) I started declaring myself as agnostic. I thought there might be a "higher power", really kinda hoped there was, but I didn't care enough to figure that out, yet. I think I always planned on figuring it out, getting to know God, but I didn' t know how or when or why... So I continued on with that belief into college.

And then I met Stephen. The day I met Stephen, I was overcome with this feeling of... I don't even know! Sureness, maybe. I literally hadn't said two words to him, we hadn't even made eye contact, and I knew, without a shadow of a doubt, that I was going to marry him. It sounds so silly and hopeless romantic, love at first sight sorta thing, but I just knew. I didn't know how I knew, I didn't know what made me think that, but I didn't really stop to question it. I certainly didn't thank whatever God there may or may not be for the man that just walked in the room and I didn't think He was responsible for this overwhelming sensation.

Stephen and I started dating, and about six months later, when it started to head in the direction of serious (he was graduating and supposed to be starting medical school that fall but I had another year left, "what are we going to do?!", blah, blah, blah...) we broke up. Over the next month, after attempts at being friends and a couple actual dates and talks and talks and talks (why do we girls talk so much?!) about why we broke up, it sorta came out that there was this thing in his life that he kinda always pictured his serious girlfriend/potential wife to have, too... Jesus. He had started to really question if this non-Christian girl would be worth taking a year off before medical school. I was what he wasn't expecting, I was switching up his "plan". So I took matters into my own hands. If he needs to be dating a Christian girl, I'll become a Christian girl. I can play that part, sure. Now listen, my first attempts at a relationship with Jesus were totally 100% false. Fake. I started asking questions and reading books to keep Stephen around. I was interested, yes, in this beautiful, meaningful, relationship in Stephen's life, but I wasn't convinced I actually needed it for myself. I was convinced I needed Stephen and "pretending" to care about God and his faith was how I was going to keep him.

Slowly, very slowly, that interest started to become real. I started reading things that intrigued me. Somewhere along the way I stopped doing it for Stephen and I started doing it for myself. I began to enjoy it, I looked forward to the time I spent reading my bible or talking about it with Stephen. I didn't understand a lot of it, I didn't like a lot of it and I questioned a lot of it, but my interest became true and 100% my own. (I think the switch happened when I discovered that Stephen would marry me as a Christian or not, baptized or not, believer or not. He wanted it for me because he believed it to be the best thing in his life, but it wasn't necessary. I, alone, was good enough.)

So, it's the summer of 2010 and we're dating long distance. After we separated, I struggled with building a relationship with God because I had so many doubts and questions, but I was still interested, so I continued to read and made very few feeble attempts at praying. One night, I was reading a book my then future sister-in-law recommended to me. In this particular scene, the man in the book was having a hard time with God. He was frustrated and feeling unloved by Him. He went for a walk on the beach and prayed to God that He would show him His love. This man was asking for a sign, proof that God existed and that He was listening and that He cared. Just as the man is about to give up and walk off the beach, a whale breaches in the water not too far from the shore. This man was the only one on the beach, this whale was meant just for him to see.

So, I'm reading this story going, gosh, yes! I need a freaking whale! You can only do so much "research" before you need a real, good, God given sign that He is real and you are loved and this is IT! So I prayed. I prayed long and deep and hard and honestly thought to myself that if a whale doesn't breach outside my window, I just might be done. So I waited. I literally sat on my bed waiting for something to happen. After a few minutes, I started crying. One, because how silly and stupid was I to sit there and actually think that what?, the pencil on my desk would lift into the air?! And two, because I was so disappointed that the pencil on my desk didn't lift into the air! I gave up and went to get off my bed when I looked at my nightstand, at the framed picture of Stephen and I... And I just knew. Stephen was my whale. That same feeling that poured over me the day I met him came rushing back and it all just sorta, clicked. God gave me Stephen, and Stephen gave me God.

I did a lot more reading and questioning and praying, but from that point on it was as if there never were other options. Of course God existed. Of course Jesus died for our sins. Of course!

The option to get baptized came up the next Spring when our campus ministry group was going to the beach for the weekend for that very purpose. I really struggled with the decision to get baptized or not - my faith was still immature and I didn't exactly have it all figured out (though I know now I never will). It was on Easter Sunday during the sermon that I was thinking about this decision. I decided to hand it over to God and ask for another "sign". I prayed (a very silly prayer) that if the band played a new favorite song of mine, that I loved so much, at the end of the sermon, well then that would be my sign and I would get baptized. They played the song. And I cried. My faith was still immature, but I knew what faith I wanted to follow, so I saw my baptism as an outward gesture to follow the God I'd come to know and love.

I was worried that my parents wouldn't understand, or wouldn't believe that my faith was genuine, or that they'd be disappointed... So I withheld a lot of this story from them for a long time. It wasn't until the Thursday before my baptism that I actually told my mom what I was going to do, and how I came to decide to do it. It was a tearful and emotional talk and I was so stupid for ever thinking they wouldn't care or be so proud and excited for me, but getting that all out in the open, made my decision to get baptized even better. It felt more real and more honest.

So, I was baptized in the Pacific Ocean (my very favorite place!) by Stephen (who was also baptized in that same spot) with my parents watching from shore. They bought plane tickets the day before and flew out last minute to surprise me. I started hyperventilating when the freezing cold waves hit my back and knocked me over! It was the most imperfect, perfect day.

My journey to finding faith was twenty years in the making, but it really took just one moment of clarity to finally see. One "God moment". One moment of, click! And I just knew. It sounds so corny to say "it was meant to be", but I truly think it was. Everything happens for a reason, right?

^^ My mom's iPhone pictures of my baptism weekend. 
It truly was the best gift to have my parents there, loving and supporting me! 
Thank you, mom and dad! ^^


  1. Allison! I LOVED reading this. Such a beautiful story and so evident the Holy Spirit was after you. Andy read it too and said he thought it was amazingly written. Lovely, friend.

    1. Well thank you to you and Andy! I love that it never happens the way you would have imagined, but it is always good and right in the end! God's way and timing are best, but sometimes hard to follow or wait for! So happy I have this story to share! Thanks for reading :)