The Story of How it All Began: Tiffany’s Faith Journey
I’ve always been a rule-follower.
My mom talks about how I used to sit quietly and play in my pack and play for long periods of time as a toddler. [sidenote: Karma is not real. Exhibit 249. Not a single one of my kids would ever sit in a pack and play for any amount of time. MOMMY, PLAY WITH ME!!!!]
I would rarely cheat in a game or lie to my parents because it was against the rules. I sure wasn’t perfect and definitely messed up royally sometimes, but for the most part, I didn’t want to do the wrong thing.
For me, rule-following came with a high sense of responsibility and fairness, but also with its wicked stepsister named People-Pleasing. In some of my earliest memories, I remember thinking to myself- how should I act so that they are sure to love me?
The Big Move
It was the summer after my 4th grade year that my life changed. We packed up our belongings from the only home I ever knew into lots of cardboard boxes and moved 45 minutes away to a house in the country. It was a beautiful house- the house of my parents’ dreams. No longer were we in a city, but on a piece of land with a lake in the back and woods to explore on the other side of the gravel road. We had spent the 9 months prior to the move either working on the house- building the inside with our own hands- or in Lowe’s, picking out lights and nails and outlet covers. I remember being huddled around the space heater during the cold winter months, bundled in my bleached jean coat, the smell of sawdust swirling around.
Little did we know how much God had in store for our family. We thought we were moving into a house in the country. He was getting ready to win our hearts.
I was lucky that my first friends in my new school became the friends that would last all the way through high school and into college. We spent those first two years of friendship in our adidas jackets (mine was teal) and adidas shoes while making friendship bracelets on the playground at recess– it was pretty awesome. 🙂
It was some of these friends that invited me to their youth group when we got to middle school. On Wednesday nights I heard about God’s radical forgiveness and love on a regular basis, along with a healthy dose of chubby bunny and other awkward youth group games. It wasn’t until a youth revival that I finally “got it” and made the decision to accept this great gift and live accordingly.
Over the next several years, my whole family would accept Jesus and join the church too.
The Radical Message of the Gospel Changed My Life
Perhaps my decision to become a Christian makes perfect sense to a suspicious outsider. I was a do-gooder by nature. I had a bunch of friends who were Christians, or at least exploring that idea, and to fit in, even unconsciously, I said yes to Jesus because that’s what everyone else wanted me to do.
Maybe so (I don’t think I can quite know for sure at this point) but for me, the most significant part of my faith journey isn’t how it started, but how it’s developed.
While my “yes” to Jesus was indeed important and life-changing and something to celebrate, do you know how following Christ has changed me the most?
Quite unexpectedly, I’ve become slower to blindly follow the rules, and instead more sensitive to finding where God is working in a situation.
The radical message of Jesus took me to East Asia, smuggling in Bibles and sharing the gospel.
The radical message of Jesus took me to the Middle East, again, smuggling in Bibles (should I be writing this on the internet? :)).
The radical message of Jesus took Jake and I to uncomfortable places- standing up for our conscious in regards to war, making quite a few people very angry and disappointed with us (many of these people were people we love deeply).
The radical message of Jesus took me to my first job out of college where I was working for way below minimum wage. You can imagine that my parents were so excited about this.
The radical message of Jesus took me down a career path that I would have never dreamed, one that is probably a bit surprising to many who knew me as a bit of a perfectionist type who was on her way to the American Dream.
The radical message of Jesus took me to a place where I no longer defined my worth based on my resume, physique, house size, accomplishments, or achievements of my kids. [Well, I might still be working on these ;)]
The radical message of Jesus takes me to a place of offering grace to myself, to my kids, and to my husband every. single. day.
I think this is what is so significant about my story. The fact that God can take a people-pleasing, rule-follower and move her heart towards reckless grace and dangerous love, living a life that is a bit unordinary is some ways and incredibly ordinary in others.