I was born here in Winkler and raised in the Christian faith. I don’t recall many of the specifics anymore, but I do remember attending Sunday school and at a young age inviting Jesus into my life and then a few years later inviting Him in again, just in case He didn’t hear me the first time.
I can’t say, though, that I ever really felt like I had a personal relationship with God as I grew up. I’d see others so confident in their worship and their prayers and I’d think, “That’s what I want for myself. How do I get that?”
At times it felt like I wasn’t seeing something that was so obvious to everyone else; like I was missing out on something greater than what I currently had. I felt like I couldn’t ask anyone about these questions I had, like all the answers to my questions were so obvious that I shouldn’t even have to ask them. It didn’t help that I was far too shy to approach anyone to even try starting up that kind of conversation. So I floated along, not really experiencing the sense of belonging and peace that others seemed to have.
It stayed that way until I left the province for University. It was like somebody dumped a bucket of freezing water over my head. I had been so used to the faith culture in this community—it was all I’d ever known. Suddenly I was surrounded by different ways of thinking, different beliefs, different worldviews. I realized that I’d never had my faith challenged before and, not to discredit my Sunday school teachers, I was never taught how to deal with that sort of thing: with arguments that challenged everything I’d learned up to that point about Christianity. I didn’t know how to deal with all this new information that was coming in and picking apart what I believed piece by piece, verse by verse.
For a time, I lost my faith. The sense of loneliness and purposelessness I felt could not be put into words. Sometime later, m brother introduced me to a group of friends that helped me find my way back to God. It wasn’t a sudden moment for me, an instant reclamation of my faith. But seeing how these friends interacted with each other and with everyone else around them, how the love of Christ shone through in their words and actions, I realizing that they faced the same challenges to their faith as I did and still continued to walk alongside Jesus with as much confidence as they would walking down the sidewalk. It was something I couldn’t ignore.
I still experience my fair share of struggles and personal challenges, and the faith that I have today may not be the same as the faith I had as a kid, but I feel as though I am finally starting to build a personal relationship with God, and that brings me a sense of peace and joy that I can hardly express.