I grew up a preacher’s kid. I got ‘saved’ and baptized at age 6. It was what I thought I was supposed to do. I got older and started to realize that my life was different from other kids I knew – my parents were more strict because we were examples to others and had an image to uphold. I grew to hate it and I ran from it. I did my best to avoid anything that had to do with church. I did things that I regret and that I am ashamed of. I was lost, searching for happiness, and drowning in anger and bitterness.
Then, I met a guy. We married 33 days after meeting. He was an atheist. We didn’t talk church and I didn’t care. But about seven years into our marriage when we had a little girl and a boy on the way, we decided to repeat the cycle that hadn’t worked so well for either of us and raise our kids in church. We figured it was just what you’re supposed to do.
We searched for a small church that checked all the boxes: pews, hymnals of boring music, outdated chandeliers and everybody knows everybody. We found our place and it was good. Then, one day, my husband brought home a Bible. I was surprised and was worried that the man I thought I knew would change into a man I didn’t want to be married to. I learned that he was hanging out with our preacher, who was really smart and an extremely good teacher. Then, one Sunday morning, out of nowhere he walked to the front of our church and asked to be baptized! I felt left behind, a little angry, scared and lost. Our life would surely change and I didn’t think I wanted it to.
Then, God started to work in me. I resisted at first because I didn’t want to just follow suit, but I started to learn things about the Bible and realized that I had never fully understood what being a Christian actually meant. I began to talk to God like a friend. I realized that growing up I associated rules with God. I saw being a Christian as being in bondage or being oppressed trying to follow rules about how you look, what you do, and where you go. Turns out I hadn’t listened well in Sunday School.
Finally, I surrendered to God. I asked him to come into my heart and change it. I was baptized and my life turned another direction. My life is still hard and I cry, I hurt, and I mess up, but I am different in so many ways.
We left that church after a few years and friends invited us to Crossroads. I knew I wouldn’t like it because I had been told they had loud music and it was dark inside. But after the first service, I was hooked. The music is awesome and I LOVE the low lights. I praise and worship without being distracted or worrying about people watching me. But more importantly, I’ve found a place where people are real, honest, and genuine about their relationship with God and being in healthy spiritual relationships with one another. I’ve learned, through Crossroads, that we don’t go to “church” but that we ARE the Church. I see that played out in the way we serve and give to others. Being a part of this place has been life changing and I thank God for a community of believers who love one another and Him so much. -Ashley N.