Submitted by Kirsten Martin
For seventeen years I have had multiple radical shifts in my relationship with GOD, some for the good and some for the not so good. Due to these shifts I have walked down several paths that allowed me to learn more about myself, the individuals around me, and most importantly my relationship with GOD.
As a child I had innocent unshakeable love for GOD. He was in everything I did, everyone I talked to, he was my light in a dark world. Seeing this love for GOD, that I expressed, caused my parents to promptly enroll my sister and I in Northside Christian Academy. At Northside I was surrounded by children, teachers, and administrators who shared the same beliefs as me, and I was able to thrive in all aspects in life. One thing that truly grew my love for GOD was that of constant prayer. Every morning before school I would pray in the car, then I would pray during the morning call to worship, and I would pray before lunch and recess. For this experience I will always be thankful to my parents.
Sadly, the time came for me to leave Northside when my sister and I were accepted at Villa Heights, one of Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools top elementary schools at the time. From the first day I instantly saw a change, GOD was no longer at the center of everything. Kids would stare at me when I began my daily prayer before class or during lunch and I became embarrassed of not only my faith but my GOD as well. Due to this, elementary school became a dark time in my life. I no longer thrived in academics or social skills I was simply the bad kid sitting in the back of class who no longer had a light guiding her in life.
This dimming of my heavenly light transferred over to my middle school experience. During the three years that I was a student at Piedmont Open IB Middle School, I made terrible choices in every aspect of my life. Beginning with friends, the majority of friends I made were unproductive, unsupportive, and unbelievers in GOD. They influenced me to lie to my parents and be mean to my fellow students. My social life was not the only aspect of my life that I failed to thrive, my academic and extracurricular activities where lacking as well. I never wanted to participate in normal activities or even try in school because I did not want to feel the power of GOD pushing me to do better.
Eventually when I was in the final year of my middle school career, I once again started to feel GOD pulling me to do better. It happened all of a sudden when I began falling out of friendship with my current friends and I began becoming friends with girls whom He wanted me to surround myself with. These young ladies with whom I am still friendly with now, pushed me to take higher level courses and participate in extracurricular activities. During this time, I remember becoming more active in church with the youth groups and activities. I began to listen to the sermons and read the scriptures. Then suddenly I was filled with the light of GOD again. I went back to my old way of thinking and believing, and I was forever changed.
Then high school began and with it a lot of growth. As a senior, I now look back at my high school career and thank GOD for everything good and not so good that He allowed me to experience. Freshman year was a confusing time in my life. I was in constant thought on how I would continue to worship GOD and fit in as a “normal” high school girl. For a while I pushed down how much I loved GOD in hopes of being perceived as normal, until I went to my first Mid-Winter Meeting in New Orleans. During this week long spiritual experience, I became saved, I learned how to be more sure of myself and my beliefs; and I strengthened life-long friendships. When I returned from New Orleans I was a new person, I walked a new walk and talked a new talk, promoting GOD to the world.
Sophomore year swiftly approached, and I was happy, satisfied, and becoming a new more faith-based person. However, sadly I began being judged by girls who I thought were my friends. They saw not only my new attitude but also my success in both my academics and extracurricular activities, so they deemed me with the unkind nickname “grandma”. Due to this new and unexpected ridicule and instead of following the scripture Matthew 6:14-15; “For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses” I, unfortunately began to hate them, which is something till this day I am still ashamed of but have asked for forgiveness.
After all the miscalculations on my part during my sophomore year, I took both the summer and school year of my junior year changing for the better. Due to my changes life was going great with my new friendships, activities, and growing faith. I was becoming the person I always wanted to be. I no longer had hate for the individuals who hurt me in my past instead I was focusing on my future and what GOD has for me.
This leads me to the present day. Where I am not only striving in my relationship with GOD but finally I am the person that I have always wanted to be and I am working harder to be better for GOD everyday. My Christian journey is forever growing, but at this time I am satisfied where GOD has me. As the scripture Ephesians 2:10 “For we are His creation, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared ahead of time so that we should walk in them.” P