In order to understand how Christ changes lives, how He changes us from the inside out, you must know my story. When a person becomes a Christian as an adult, they typically have a story, a testimony, that begins with painting a picture of who they were before they followed Christ. What follows is the first part, before I even thought about stepping foot in a church. Later this week, I will post the second part, how I became a Christian and how I have grown in my relationship with God. My posts will not typically be of this length.
Until I sought God, this is how I thought:
People who believe that God created the world and all its living things do not understand science. They misinterpret information in the Bible and blindly believe it due to their lack of knowledge. I have never read the Bible, but I’m sure that it has simply been translated too often and been misunderstood.
I don’t know why, but I believe that God exists and that Jesus is his son. These beliefs give me good feelings. I’m a good person, and I haven’t committed any crimes, so I will go to heaven.
Once the earth was formed, and life began in the form of an amoeba, the amoeba mutated and adapted. Eventually it evolved into a higher life form, and that life form evolved and eventually became a fish, then an amphibian, and so on. Evolution makes sense to me because I have a strong education in the biologicalhe did. sciences. Charles Darwin is brilliant.
I don’t believe that God created everything the way that Christians believe. Perhaps he created the first form of life so it could evolve into everything else. He just set the process in motion. This is the only explanation I have for believing both in God and in the theory of evolution.
I was this person until the year 2000. I’ve always been a pretty nice person, but I was proud and maybe a little rude at times. My old self is like a sister who is now a stranger.
Growing up, my exposure to God consisted of going to Sunday school a few times at a local church. I participated in vacation Bible school once or twice. All I took away from these experiences were some crafts with symbols of faith on them.
I have two wonderful parents that did a great job with my sister and I. In high school, I had some close friends, but I wasn’t popular or in any extracurricular activities. My parents were always supportive of me. I had an easy childhood, not because of money (middle-class and my parents saved and lived within their means) or achievement, or not being disciplined, but as the result of two great people that my friends, too, considered as wonderful parents.
I have loved animals, and I have enjoyed writing, from the time I was a little girl. I would record notes from nonfiction books about animals. I wrote poems and short stories.
In high school, I took every biology class I could. I don’t remember an emphasis on evolution, but the implication was there. There was no question of my career plans. Studying and helping wildlife was my passion. I went to college to earn my degree in zoology.
Science had nothing to do with God.
College and A Change in Plans
I met my husband, Mitch, when I was a sophomore student at Eastern Illinois University in Charleston, Illinois, about four hours south of my hometown of Elk Grove Village, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago. Mitch is from Granite City, about 2 ½ hours southwest of Charleston. Mitch and some friends were visiting another friend at EIU. That friend’s roommate was the brother of one of my college friends, Lisa. They were having a party, I was going out with my friends, including Lisa, and she suggested we stop by the party before heading to our ultimate destination.
To make a long story short, Mitch and I met at the party, it was a love at first sight kind of thing, and we made plans for him to visit again about two weeks later. We saw each other about every two weeks from then on. The summer break meant longer separations. We had a long distance relationship and three break-ups over 3 ½ years. Our backgrounds are very different.
When I made my career plans, I didn’t think about meeting someone and getting married soon after college. After I met Mitch, it didn’t take long to realize that we were meant for each other. We planned to marry after I graduated. Being free to relocate wherever I could work as a wildlife biologist was less likely than I planned. I changed my course of study to include teacher’s certification so that I would have a back-up plan.
Marriage and the Years Before My Relationship with God
Tired of the long-distance relationship after 3 ½ years, we were married a week after my college graduation. I thought I was in control of my life, and until this time, it seemed to be true. I moved to Granite City, near St. Louis, and we lived in a one-bedroom apartment. I got pregnant shortly after our wedding.
During my commute on the bus to St. Louis, I liked to read Darwin’s“ Origin of Species”. I wanted to gain knowledge from the book while looking like the intelligent, sophisticated person, because of my college degree. I have never been really arrogant or unkind, but I did have a relatively superior attitude that I mostly kept to myself.
I am trying to be brief in conveying that we had some tough times early in our marriage and in our parenthood, so I’ll generalize.
We both had rather low-paying jobs. Considering our educations, we certainly had higher expectations. A month after our first son was born, Mitch lost his job. I was on maternity leave and was not returning to my minimum-wage office job. Experiencing unemployment (and food stamps for a couple months), being new parents at the same time, and having no family nearby to relieve us for a night out or some much-needed sleep, we had it pretty rough. Still, I have fond memories.
Following a period of being a substitute teacher, I landed a part-time, temporary position at a high school for seven months. I taught two biology classes. I experienced the negative reaction of a few students to the topic of evolution. At the time, I thought they were finding an excuse to talk back to me, but now…maybe not.
I consider these first few years of the ‘real world’ to be my hardship. (It was worth it, though, because I had a loving husband and a sweet little boy.) I know people that have gone through much greater challenges in their lives. And I know those that (seem to) have no rough spots in the past or the present.
I realize now that God was implementing His plans for me then.
After Mitch began his career at the post office (and I was working another low salary office job), we moved into a small house in a town further from St. Louis. We welcomed another son. I never considered it life as easy. I was gone from the house for 10 ½ hours a day, between working full-time and the commute. When Alex entered school, I felt compelled to volunteer as PTO Treasurer and then a Tiger Cub coach. I was extremely busy and stressed, and I had no time to make friends other than the parents we saw at school activities. Our social life was otherwise nonexistent.
…to be continued