I have faith. I understand those who don’t and I’m okay with that. My faith comes from my experiences.

My grandparents passed away when I was very young, but still old enough to have established a close relationship with them. It was hard for me, as it would be for any little kid. Following that I fell into a state of depression, caused by a multitude of events and situations that kept piling on top of eachother.

When I was 12 years old, I went on a spiritual life retreat with my church. We were all required to go through a prayer labyrinth they had set up, so each of us signed up for certain times throughout the whole weekend. My time slot was on the last day at 5:00 in the morning. Unfortunately, my alarm didn’t go off and I missed my time and ended up having to go last. I put on the headphones and CD and went through the labyrinth from station to station, not really feeling any strong connection. Honestly, I just wanted to be done already. Everyone else was packing up their stuff and playing around and getting ready to leave.

I was annoyed that I even had to do the prayer labyrinth, I wasn’t in the right mood nor did I have the right mindset at the time. And then I got to one of the last stations. In front of me sat two buckets. One bucket had a shallow amount of stones, just enough to cover the whole bottom, and the other bucket was full of water and had stones at the bottom where people before me had come. The CD instructed me to pick up one of the “dirty” stones, hold it over the water, pray that my sins would be forgiven, and then drop it in the water to signify the cleansing of my soul.

I did that and then stopped as I realized that there were still many stones to be washed, but that I was the last one to go through. I was their last chance. Who else would save these stones? It may sound silly, but it meant something to me. One by one I picked up a “dirty” stone, prayed for it, and dropped it in the water. The CD had long ago told me to move on to the next station, but I didn’t care, I was saving lives. It was then that I realized that God wanted me to be a missionary. I, however, was very frightened and had other plans for myself in mind, so I pushed God’s will to the back of my mind and tried not to dwell on it.

About a year later, my depression was worse than ever. I felt very alone and lost. I didn’t know what to do, and so I got out my Bible and prayed that God would give me something. My hands seemed to know right where to go as I opened to an exact location: Jeremiah 1:4-10 which says:

The word of the LORD came to me, saying,
“Before I formed you in the womb I knew [a] you,
before you were born I set you apart;
I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.”
“Ah, Sovereign LORD,” I said, “I do not know how to speak; I am only a child.”
But the LORD said to me, “Do not say, ‘I am only a child.’ You must go to everyone I send you to and say whatever I command you. Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you and will rescue you,” declares the LORD.

Then the LORD reached out his hand and touched my mouth and said to me, “Now, I have put my words in your mouth. See, today I appoint you over nations and kingdoms to uproot and tear down, to destroy and overthrow, to build and to plant.”

I cried after I read this because everything suddenly became clear, and I was afraid. I didn’t want to be this person that God wanted me to be, but I knew that I had to. My future had been planned and God had something big meant for me. I knew that I was blessed and that God had given me a life purpose. I’m still coming to terms with my future, but I’m growing more and more accepting of God’s will, for it shall be done.

God showed himself to me at church camp the summer after my freshmen year. Everything that week was amazing. On the last night we walked out into the woods and someplace into the country. It was so beautiful and the sky was filled with stars. We all sang worship songs together and then our pastor got up and talked about how he lost his faith for a while a few years previous. He went into a state of depression and questioned God’s will. He said that he went to a conference and was brought back to God through a prayer labyrinth and a station with stones.

I knew then that God wanted me to talk to him about it. After the sermon when everyone started walking back to the campground, I went to talk to the pastor. He gave me his e-mail and said we should definitely talk sometime soon. I agreed and then joined the crowd in walking back to the cabins. Because I had stayed behind, I was separated from my group of friends. It was cold and dark and a bit scary, quite frankly. I felt alone, even though there were many strangers in front and back of me walking to the same destination.

As I walked back I screamed to God to please send someone for me. I felt alone and scared and abandoned in life in general. All of a sudden I noticed this male counselor walking about six feet behind me. In between my prayers to God my mind kept drifting back to this stranger. I shook it out of my mind once we got back onto campgrounds and I headed back to my cabin. We had a bonfire to commemorate our last night and then we all went inside to get ready for bed. We were all joking around and talking when one of our counselors came into our room and asked to talk to me in private. I left with her, my mind going over what I could have possible done wrong.

I remember it very distinctly. She said, “This may sound completely crazy to you and you probably have no idea what I’m talking about, but Jason, one of the other counselors, told me to tell you that you’re not alone.”

My jaw fell and I was in complete awe. After I put myself back together I told my counselor the whole story. She was just as amazed. I never talked to Jason in person, but we are somehow connected. I’ve never seen him since then, but his encouragement has never left me.

I have faith because of my experience.