Change is Good
I grew up in a Christian home, but I only started making my faith my own when I was in seventh grade. I began to attend a youth group at my local church. It was there that I made friends and began to explore who God is and what the Bible teaches.
As I continued to learn about the Bible I learned a lot of doctrine. I tried to teach myself Greek and Hebrew. My faith was all about what I knew, not about what I did. Throughout high school I struggled with what it meant to love others. My mother passed away when I was 15 years old and I avoided dealing with it by becoming calloused towards others.
At some point in high school I decided that the best thing for me to do was to tell my non-Christian friends that if they didn’t convert they would go to hell. I told one friend in particular that she was going to hell on AOL Instant Messenger (hopefully I broke the news with a comforting smiley face). One lunch period I decided I should preach to my classmates, so I stood up in the middle of the quad and yelled out some things about Jesus. I received a lot more strange looks than conversions (well, a lot more looks because no one wants to talk to a yelling stranger).
I don’t know why I felt the urge to share my beliefs in such an abrasive way. To this day I feel my stomach sink whenever I think about telling my friend that she would go to hell. I’ve since asked for and received her forgiveness, but the fact that I was so calloused crushes me. The idea that I could convert people by yelling at them seems insane to me now.
God is really good at taking something broken and making it whole again. That’s kind of his thing. Through mission trips to Mexico, a few months of counseling sessions, Christmas with my wife’s family, and all sorts of other experiences God has changed my heart. Like the advertisement from AT&T says, change is good. I don’t really care which wireless carrier you use, but I do hope that you’ve seen God changing you over time. I hope that you’ve seen God use your past to mold you into someone who looks a lot more like Christ today than you did ten years ago.
I am so thankful that God still loves me even though I represented him poorly when I was in high school. God meets us where we are and moves us forward. Wherever you are today, know that God still wants to change you and make you more like Jesus. It may be painful at times, but the change that God brings is always good.