I found my home.
I grew up in with divorced parents and it often felt like I was being shipped from house to house. One weekend here, one weekend there; one place was home and the other, a place I was forced to go because that is what the state said. For many years, I was emotionally, psychologically, and verbally abused by the one person who I thought was supposed to love me and be my example for how to lead a Christian life; my biological father. When I was at his house, we went to church, but no one ever talked to me and it become just another thing that I had to do to appease someone else. It was never a place where I belonged or felt like I fit in; I was there to fill the time and nothing else. I began to look at Christianity as a negative thing, I didn't want to be a Christian if it meant that I treated people in the same manner as I was treated by the Christians that I had met.
Around the time that I began to have these feelings about church, I was dealt another blow; my uncle was killed by a drunk driver. He was the strongest person of faith that I knew. He went on countless mission trips, he volunteered, and he walked openly in his faith every day. I just couldn't figure out why God would take away someone so faithful and make me go through all of the pain I was going through. I got really angry at God and made the choice to turn my back.
The next 16 years went by in much the same way, it was 16 years filled with more abuse at the hand of my biological father, 16 years of me being angry, 16 years of me feeling like I was unworthy of anything, 16 years of me closing myself off to the world because I was afraid that everyone would leave me and that no one would love me.
Fast Forward 16 years: May 10, 2013 was a day like any other, but things changed when my best friend told me she was going to be trying out a local church. I just so happened to have the day off of work, which at the time never happened, so I told her that I would go with her and check it out. I hadn't really thought about church in those 16 years, but I suddenly felt a pull to go. I got up the next morning, hesitant and unsure of myself. Did I really want to go back to an institution that made me feel like such an outsider and a place where people treated me poorly? I decided to go against those feelings and we went to church.
When I walked into the front door of Yakima Foursquare I was greeted by someone who made me feel as if they were happy I was there. We walked into the sanctuary, took a pew in the back row, and listened to the sermon. The sermon that morning just so happened to be on the idea that faith and doubt go together, that it is normal to have those doubts and to still be faithful. I felt like Dave was speaking directly to me that morning, it was just the message that I needed to hear. When we were asked to stand at the end and the time came to ask for people to give their life to Jesus, I knew that it was time. I raised my hand and I have never looked back.
I began attending Encounter that following Tuesday, became a life group leader that September and just recently began serving in Anthem Junior High. I have grown insurmountably in my faith as well as in life in general since I gave my life to Jesus and I attribute that to the wonderful family that I now have at Yakima Foursquare. When I said that I felt like I was home I meant it. I found a place where people love me for me, where people accept me for me, where people lift me up instead of tear me down. I found a place where I can ask questions and not feel like I will be looked down upon because I don't know the answer, where I show up on Tuesday, Wednesday and Sunday feeling down and exhausted from my day, but instantly feel energized when I walk in. I found a place where my story matters. I found my home.