Growing up, there were two areas of my life which had a lasting impact on my life: my relationship with the Catholic Church, and my struggle with weight.
My struggle with weight led to many deep hurts in my life and I struggled with low self-esteem, frustration, anger, and depression. I tried many things to lose weight and keep it off, but nothing worked.
In 2009 I began working out and transformed by body in such a way that I entered fitness competitions. I lost 86 pounds and won my first show as a physique competitor. I was certain that God had given me a gift and was calling me to help others find the strength to do the same. So, I built a successful business as a personal trainer and my life seemed perfect. I had finally lost weight, I was launching a successful business, and everything was good. I was good.
Or so I thought.
While I was celebrating my victory over my weight issues and enjoying success from a business perspective, I was also dealing with a lot of brokenness in my life. I was married and divorced three times during this season of my life and I began using recreational drugs, which quickly turned into a drug addiction. In a short period of time, everything I had worked to gain was lost. I hit rock bottom.
Why do you believe in God?
During this very difficult season of my life I was asked a question that rocked my world. That question was, “Why do you believe in God? Because your parents told you to?” I didn’t know how to answer the question. I was offended. But honestly, the only answer I had to that question was “Well, yeah.”
I was angry. I had spent my childhood in church, taking classes about church, and could not answer who God was. I blamed the Catholic church. I blamed my parents. I mean, how could this happen? And how do I fix it?
I wrestled with this crucial question of the origin of my belief, and I had nowhere to turn. Though my own choices had pushed me away from the Catholic Church, I resolved in my mind that the church had abandoned me. My heart was burdened with guilt because God had given me many gifts and I had wasted them. My bad decisions were so disrespectful to my body, to others, and to God. How could He ever forgive me?
And then I met Jeff, who became an awesome friend and mentor to me. Ironically, Jeff is Catholic. He helped me realize that God loves me, and His love is unconditional. He challenged me to read the Bible. I reluctantly accepted his challenge and read through the entire New Testament. As I spent time in God’s word the Holy Spirit opened my mind and heart to who God is and what Jesus Christ had done for me.
I prayed for a church home and God lead me to The Door Church. I was welcomed, felt comfortable, and heard the good news of salvation in Christ every weekend. Jesus saved me, and I was baptized shortly after.
Soon after I got settled in at The Door, I was invited to serve in the Hospitality Team as a greeter—a ministry I am still part of today. Standing at the front door of the church, I get to welcome people inside who are just like me: people in need of God’s grace. Greeting has given me a sense of community, which has allowed me to quickly become known, to know others, and really feel like I belong.
I’m not perfect but my church family is with me in my struggles toward sanctification in the Spirit. Most importantly, God is with me.
I know that Jesus paid the debt for my sin, even before I committed it. I no longer feel lost, as I am confident that my heavenly Father is with me and giving me direction. When I pray, it’s not just words I’m saying, I’m having a conversation with my Heavenly Father. I feel connected to Him.
I can now answer with confidence the question, “Why do you believe in God?” Because God revealed Himself to me, His Spirit opened my heart to the unconditional love of Jesus and forged my confidence that He is my savior.