I cannot begin the story about my faith journey without starting from the beginning with my mother, Jamie Marie. She instilled within me from a very young age (as early as memory recounts) a deep sense of faith in The Lord that I have never relinquished. She did so mainly through her example and not beating me over the head with the holy scriptures. I was able to see in her a commitment to The Lord, the word of God, and service to the Church. I vividly recall instances where she would cover shifts working in the nursery at our home church in Charlotte, NC, and, later on, children’s church when she didn’t have to. I would question this by proclaiming that she could be in service praising and worshipping and receiving a good word instead of making sure that someone else’s ol’ bad toddler didn’t go to the bathroom on themselves. It is worth noting that her interest in helping with children may have also subconsciously inspired me to pursue the work with children and youth that I have outside of the church in my adult life. Nevertheless, this level of selflessness, humility, and grace still informs my behavior and spiritual walk to this day.
It is with this grounding that at the age of eight on one Sunday morning when our late founding pastor invited those who wanted to accept Christ Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior, the movement of the Holy Spirit could not be held back. Something special came over me, and I began to feel chills up my spine. I began to feel what I would later discover were called “butterflies” in my stomach. All of a sudden, I found myself leaving my seat, and, based on where we were seated in the sanctuary that, walking down the center aisle toward the ministers and deacons gathered at the altar. I recall the moment with poetic profundity. I was walking down this center aisle before a cheerful congregation, but something was strange as it related to my sight. Everything thing on the left and right of me was completely blurry and distorted. The images of people in my periphery were like objects that appeared in funny mirrors that might be found at a carnival. The only thing I saw clearly was directly in front of me. The rest is much of a blur, but I remember repeating the prayer that asked Jesus to come into my life and forgive me of all my sins. That experience was incredible, and although I was not baptized until a few years later along with my younger sister. The hand of God was already at work in my life.
Lastly, since that time, the journey I have undertaken has not always been daisies and sunshine, but I have found peace in my distress, hope during times of sorrow, direction when I’m unsure, and the reassurance in all things that I am blessed! There is no greater feeling in the world than knowing that your life has been touched by God. And in knowing that my life has been touched by The Lord, I want everyone I encounter to experience that same level of joy that cannot be found from any other source.