21 Days with my Bible: The Epic Fail
When The Soul Collect reached out to me about doing a challenge for 21 days I immediately knew I wanted it to be something that would help me grow, give me knowledge, and make me feel warm & fuzzy on the inside after completing it. That is why I chose to spend 21 minutes for 21 one days with my Bible. The intention was to make time for my faith everyday while soaking up the Word. I mean it when I say that when I started this challenge I was excited, motivated, and had every intention on finishing it. Boy, was I wrong. If i’m being honest, I never even started it, and here’s the story why.
Religion has never been a huge force in my life. Growing up I was never pushed to attend church or Bible study and the only reason I watched “Veggie Tales” was because talking vegetables were absolutely ridiculous to me. My parents, though believe in God, never really educated me on the stories, the lessons, or why people trust in this intangible higher being. Because of this, I always had many doubts about Christianity. My mentor in high school was an Atheist, and though there was never any pressure to shy away from religion, deep down I wanted to be JUST like this person. If they were an Atheist, I wanted to be too. So at the age of 18, right as I was leaving home for the biggest adventure of my life up to that point (college!)
I made the strong declaration that I didn’t believe in God. Fast forward two years later, and things started to really change.
First off, the fact that my freshman year roommates are who they are and I still doubted God, BLOWS MY MIND. I always say they were heaven sent, and I should have known after that first day they’d be continuing to help me grow forever. Our sophomore year of college was...different. On paper everything should have checked out- I was living with my best friends, in a really rad sorority, my parents were SO supportive; the list goes on and on. Yet, I was miserable. I stopped wanting to go out, forced myself to work too much, and slowly but surely started deteriorating. Even as I write this now my heart aches thinking about how lonely and wretched that twenty year old girl was; I long to go back and hold her and tell her it gets better. Because, it eventually did. Toward the end of the school year I had decided I wouldn’t be returning in the fall; I knew I needed to be mentally healthy and getting out of the place that felt like it was killing me was the best option. So May of 2014, I headed back home with an open heart that desperately needed healing.
At this point, I was already curious about God. All of my best friends had been raised religious, always answered my questions, and constantly reminded me that the Lord loved me and valued me and was waiting for me with open arms. So finally one Sunday, after years of my friend Lauren inviting me to church, I decided to go. Then I started going...every Sunday, sometimes by myself. And slowly but surely I was finally understanding why people believed… because something in me changed, and I started to believe. I was creating this beautiful, open, and honest relationship with the Lord that I didn’t even know I needed and everything started feeling different.
This girl who once believed in nothing was saved by the one person who had continually given her everything without any conditions.
From then on I was constantly trying to build my relationship with the Lord. I started reading the Bible, spent deep intimate moments in prayer, and when I felt like I didn’t know what else to do, I drove around listening to worship music. You see, it was still hard for me. I knew Christ knew me intimately and in my heart I felt content, but vocalizing my faith became almost an embarrassment. Not because I considered myself a Christian, but because I was a “baby” Christian. I was surrounded by people who had been going to church since before they remember, they can tell you about how strong Ruth and David were, and can recite scripture like no one’s business. I was TERRIFIED people wouldn’t believe me or that I would never be “good enough.” I curse too much, I love wine, I’m not a perfect daughter sister or friend, and I thought that meant no one would take me seriously. I remember meeting Nicholas, my fiance, a boy raised in a church and a graduate from a Christian College, thinking “there’s no way he’ll be into a someone like me. I’m not good enough for someone like him.” Yet here we sit four months shy of our wedding. But in trying to be transparent, these feeling were so real. I knew deep down my faith was strong, but instead I let the evils and fears of the world constantly get into my head. It took another two years for me to finally feel confident in talking about my relationship with God.
When Nicholas asked me to go to church with him for the first time, I was so nervous I think I was actually pacing before he picked me up. Like full on crazy girl in my bedroom...He had spoken so highly and full of so much energy about this Church, I was scared I’d have to tell him I didn’t like it (you guys I know this sounds crazy, but this is who I am. I can’t hold anything back and it can lead to problems….) I can say with so much confidence his church was nothing short of life changing. I left that first service immediately longing to come back. I had never felt more welcome, more understood, and more accepted in my faith then I did sitting in that auditorium. I left and I prayed, and Nicholas and I prayed together, and we talked about God and our relationship with God and how we wanted to water it so it could blossom into what we’ve always wanted it to be. Fast forward over a year later, on February 11, 2018, in front of my closest friends and family, my church home, and the Lord and Savior himself, I got baptized. Twenty four years of fighting to feel ready to publicly commit myself to Jesus Christ,
I fell into that water so open, so ready, and so excited to take our relationship to the next level. I can say with certainty, it was one of the top three happiest moments of my life.
I’m sure you’re all curious how this has anything to do with my 21 day challenge. More specifically how in the WORLD I couldn’t complete it. Well, have you ever heard how people train for marathons? Their running schedule is intense and strict; it takes an extreme amount of work. Though the real trick to being successful is to never run 26.2 miles in full during training; you only run it on the day of the competition, otherwise you might not perform as well as you hoped. I’m not saying my baptism ruined my race, but it definitely contributed to my bad performance. I think I felt so high on Jesus from that big moment, that I expected it to last without me nurturing our relationship properly. Life got busy, like it tends to do, and the first thing I put on the back burner was my faith. I was moving, in a busy semester, working, etc. I put all of my energy into those things because, I just got baptized, me and Jesus were good in the hood, right? Wrong. When I sat down on the first day of my 21 day challenge I was stumped. So many forces were pulling me away from it and I was using every excuse as to why I could just start again tomorrow. Well tomorrow never came. All of a sudden the challenge was supposed to be done and I didn’t even try. I felt shame. Devastation. Guilt. Embarrassment. All of those fears I used to have came crawling back up with a vengeance ready to take me down. And in the hopes of staying honest with you guys, it almost did.
Like any relationship, my relationship with Christ takes work. It needs trust, communication, love, commitment, and some days, a little blood sweat and tears. I have learned through this journey that some days will be easier than others, but just because life gets hard doesn’t mean you get to quit on the people who have been there for you most. You wouldn’t throw your husband, mom, or best friend, away because life got busy. So why does it feel so easy to throw away the one who literally defines unconditional love? The one who created you? The one whose love knows no bounds? The one who gave up his one and only son so that we could live a life we are so unworthy of? Thanks to this 21 day challenge, I can answer these questions so much differently than before. I feel recharged and ready to work hard to have the relationship with God I’ve always longed for. This challenge, that originally felt like the ultimate fail, ended up being the biggest blessing. But that’s how the Lord works: with grace, purpose, and intentionality. How lucky am I he chooses to love me everyday?
Author: Kierstyn Rios | @kierstynrios | @kierstynskitchen