By Layane Moreira, Staff Writer
The summer after Sophomore year was a bit of a confusing time. I felt very lost and without an identity in my faith and in my life.
It all started when my church got rid of our English service. I got to a “Brazilian/American” church. We held service upstairs for our Portuguese speakers and also downstairs for our English speakers simultaneously. English service to me and many others was very important. Brazilians have a different way of explaining and expressing what they’re trying say. It’s really hard trying to understand and pay attention when their sermons aren’t in your tongue. As hard as I try, I just can’t seem to fully grasp what the preacher is trying to say because of not only the language barrier but the way it is preached. Any of our Brazilian/Americans would agree. Anyways, English service was vital to keep our young minds engaged in the word and not to dread coming to church. Not being able to fully understand a preacher is inconvenient and feels like a chore. It was one more thing that an already “bored” group of teens had to deal with, so it was easiest just to give up as well.
The “head” pastors had their reasons, which I understood, but even they (after an amount of time) figured out how detrimental that change was. This then led our youth group to slowly dissipate, and the worship followed soon after. The worship was made up of me and a piano; the pastors had also taken that away for a reason I still do not know. After quite some time, it was only me, my boyfriend Joshua, and my two youth pastors every Wednesday night. Never did I skip a day, and never ever did I give up on us.
Eventually, it was just me. I never thought that things were going to end up the way they did. My youth pastor decided to leave our church which was absolutely devastating to me because not only was he a father figure, a friend, and a guide, he was my last ounce of hope that at least our youth group wasn’t going to die along with the English service. After he left, I gave up. I was done believing in something that clearly wouldn’t happen. I’m still angry, hurt and upset, but I understand his choice. Anyways, with all of that to keep in mind, I didn’t have anyone to guide me anymore. My relationship with God wasn’t the best either, and that youth group was all I had left.
I tried finding my happiness in other things besides God, and I began to question who I was. I questioned my morals and my beliefs. I thought, “I was taught one thing in my life; why couldn’t I discover the other side of all of this?” So I did, and for a while, it felt good. I felt a little relieved to have something new. Not to be worried or question my decisions. But, at the same time, I felt so empty. I didn’t feel like myself. Things started to not feel right. I was not happy. I was not who I am. I was shaken, stirred, and confused.
During all of this though, I felt God gently talking to me here and there. I felt God tell me that I didn’t need to prove anybody anything to be happy. Yet I chose to ignore him and figure things out on my own. I would just tell myself it was my guilty conscious. And so, I didn’t feel God anymore, because I chose not to feel him. I didn’t want anything to do with God.
I left my morals as a human being and Christian to prove to my friends or others that I was worth being around and that I didn’t need God anymore. Prove to them that I wasn’t a prude, that I keep my mind open to things. I wanted to take matters into my own hands. I wanted strength to go about alone, and I realized it wasn’t working no matter how hard I tried. And God would just whisper constantly, “This isn’t who you are; I know who you are. You don’t need these things to be happy or feel accepted.”
As the months went by of feeling empty, unhappy, and annoyed at (what I thought was) my guilty conscious, I eventually fell in front of God, and I said, “if what you’re saying is true, then show me. Show me that I’m not just talking to myself, doubting, and questioning my actions because of this conditioned belief.” He brought to my attention a note card I had drawn all over during chapel Freshman year, and in tiny writing was the verse Matthew 11: 28-30. It’s the only thing close to a Bible hanging in my room. At first, I tried to ignore it, but the feeling to look at it became more intense, and I finally looked at it and looked it up.
It says, “Come to me, all who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest…”
Then I knew, God was calling me the whole time. God was there the whole time, in tiny handwriting. He was calling ever so gently to come back.
He also gave me the song “Out of Hiding” and it says,
“come out of hiding, you’re safe here with me.
There’s no need to cover what I already see.
You have your reasons, but I hold your peace.
You’ve been on lockdown and I hold the key…
There’s no need to stand at a distance anymore
You’re not far from home..”
It was so hard to surrender because I wanted to prove to him that I didn’t need him. When in reality, Jesus is what I needed. Jesus is my happiness.
In the beginning, I did not completely feel Jesus as I did before, but I kept going and trusting. On top of all of this, it’s been one of the hardest couple of months in my personal life. But I know that, if I just keep trusting God, it will all get better soon. I’ve gotten my peace back, and I am learning to be happy whilst also going through a very hard time.
God knows what’s best for us. We just have to have trust and remain patient. In the meantime, get rid of all that is bringing you negativity and causing you to be unhappy. Choose to be positive, choose to trust and love God. He holds your peace, trust me.