So, I really need to update my ‘About’ page, because it is seriously out of date! Basically I am in a really different place in my life right now to where I was when I wrote this so it’s currently not at all a reflection of the current me and given that I want to return more regularly to the world of blogging, I obviously need a description of the current me, particularly for any people who stumble across my blog that I don’t personally know, as 18 year old Sophie and 21 year old Sophie couldn’t really be any different! That said, I just didn’t feel I could simply delete it, given that it was a massive part of my life at the time, so I’ve copied it over to a post so that I can look back on it, and anyone else can as well 🙂
For the current almost-21-year-old Sophie go to my About page!
Hello…I’m Sophie, I’m 18, and have been a Christian about a year and a half. I figure the ‘About me’ page is quite fitting to write my testimony so you know where I’m coming from and why I write what I do…
I didn’t grow up in the typical ”Christian household”. I went to a Church of England Primary school, so was familiar with the Nativity Play story we performed each year at Christmas, attended the Church services at Easter without ever grasping what was really being spoken to me. As a child I have always believed in ‘God’..more so because I liked the idea of it than having any idea the truth about who He really is. Throughout secondary school, I don’t think once I thought about my religious beliefs..not that I had any, but not that I wanted to find out or explore them either, it just wasn’t relevant to me (or so I thought…!). First year of college I was exposed a little bit more to the ‘real world’ and got a new sense of freedom which began to take me down the ‘partying/drinking’ ways of life. At the time this seemed, and was, the perfectly normal way to behave and I didn’t see anything wrong with it.
In March that year, my nan passed away. She had been ill for a while so whilst her death wasn’t unexpected, it didn’t numb the pain when the time came. My nan was also a Christian. Something which to this day I wish I had been able to talk to her about. In my naivety, although I knew she was a Christian, we had never talked about it. That night, my friend texted me telling me she was praying for me. Now not every testimony has a ‘lightbulb moment’, but for me, this was the beginning of my journey with God. I remember sitting next to my bed reading that text and just crying. Crying with grief, but also at a new and unfamiliar feeling in my heart. One that understood what ‘praying’ really means. My friend was praying to God for me and my family. I didn’t know God, but I knew that He wanted to comfort me. I texted my friend back asking to come to her youth group at Church, I’d been contemplating going for a while, but didn’t feel like I had a reason to go, well now I definitely did. One of my other friends had recently just become a Christian, so there was talk about it amongst our friendship group properly for the first time, I think ever. The way I describe my exploration of faith at this time was not on a personal level. Actually the way I felt was that my nan’s faith had passed onto me, and because she was no longer with us, I was to carry on her faith for her. I guess it was a way of grief and keeping her memory alive. Going to the youth group I remember the joy I felt upon walking into a room full of about 80 faces I didn’t know. There was a buzzing of happiness that I couldn’t explain. People I didn’t know coming up to me and hugging me, chatting to me, genuinely excited to see a new face in the room.
For the next couple of months I continued to go to the youth groups, slowly but surely learning more about God. Of course, aspects of it I struggled with, many I still do, but in my heart I knew I was on the path to finding the truth of life. I started attending Church too every now and then, and signed up to go on the Church’s youth group ‘Week Away’. Up until this point, I was learning more and more about God but I kept my faith as a side dish to my life, I didn’t visibly change the way I was living..secular ways were still quite appealing. At the Week Away was where ‘carrying on my nan’s faith’ changed to ‘becoming my own faith’. I realised God truly wanted a relationship with ME. I also realised God could not be my side dish anymore, but my starter, my main and my dessert. God was to be my life.
One year on, in March 2011, I got baptised with 2 of my best friends who found Christ around the same time as me. This was a particularly bold step in each of our lives as we all came from non-christian families. A lot of prayer went into the day of our baptism that our testimonies would be a real witness of God’s truth and love. Being the only Christian in my family was something I had found difficult, not because I felt judged or pressured not to pursue God, but because I so desperately wanted my family to find Christ for themselves and walk this journey with me. The openness and freedom my parents gave me to go off to church a couple of times a week is something I cannot be more grateful for. They could see the change in me, the internal joy and peace I had found, the change in my behaviour from secular ways to wanting to live for God. I had never been that bold in talking about my faith to my family because I didn’t know how. It felt inappropriate and uncomfortable and I knew they couldn’t relate to the experiences and feelings I was having. My family life and church life had become quite divided and it was something I really wanted to change. (Little did I know God’s plans to help me out with this one!)
At the end of my baptism, my mum and sister came up to me (in my already euphoric state) and told me that they wanted to go on the Alpha course that was about to start. I cannot describe the emotions that went through me at this point. Earlier that afternoon a conversation with my sister had left me in the frustration that she really didn’t want to seek God..and a mere few hours later she wants to start Alpha. Wow. The power of God, the power of testimonies that night in Church is a memory I will have for eternity. Literally.
I can say with the biggest smile on my face, and joy in my heart, that today, my mum and sister are both Christians. God’s saving grace and His unconditional love is something they are both continuing to learn as they press into Christ more. Within the space of 2 years, God had turned around my family from non-believers, to 3 more of his daughters finding and following Him. So now, I live in complete hope that God’s light will shine through us to my dad and my brother, and to many more people too. I went to the New Wine Conference in the summer, and my sister came with me on our Church’s Week Away. My mum and sister plan to come to New Wine next year. I cannot stop praising God for his works in my life and how they are spreading through my family.
So here I am now, December 2011. I came to study at the Arts University College Bournemouth in September, for the reason that I feel God wants me here. I want to be a shining light for Jesus Christ. The pressure to conform, the stress of balancing work with the busyness of day to day life, and the secular ways of uni are a challenge, but they are helping me to trust in God so much more, and I’m learning a huge amount more about myself and about God. The reason I’m here primarily isn’t to get a degree. It’s to radically love the people around me with the love that Christ has shown me, and the love that Christ has for others (John 13:34-35). God made Himself known to me, and I want to help make Him known to others.
”Lord you gave your life for me. So I will live my life for you. All because of your love.”
”For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you. We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives, so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and giving joyful thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of his holy people in the kingdom of light.”
May God bless you in abundance, and may His glorious light shine upon you.