Daniella is a third year PhySci major who loves ice cream, boba, cows, cheesy movies, and anything Disney related, but who is extremely indecisive otherwise!
Growing up in a Christian family and attending church every Sunday, as well as attending a Christian school all my life until I came to UCLA. I was constantly surrounded by people who loved Christ and made it a point to share the gospel with me. Because of that, I grew up believing that God was real and that Jesus came and died for my sins. But if I had to pinpoint when I became a Christian, it would be when I was in third grade. At that time, my teacher asked me if I remembered how or when I became a Christian since I claimed I already was. Realizing that I had no memory of accepting Christ as my Savior, I was scared and went home and told my mom. She asked me if I did believe in God and if I believed that I was a sinner saved through Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross for me, and I said yes. Since this is when I actually distinctly remember confessing what I believed, I consider this to be the point when I became a Christian. But though I believed, my understanding of the gospel was still shallow and part of my reason for wanting to be a Christian was to go to heaven and for social reasons. However, through His grace, I slowly began to understand more in middle and high school about what I professed, and how these truths impacted my life personally. The fact that I am a sinner makes me an enemy of God (for someone who was generally regarded as a good kid, that hit me so hard). But God, who is so rich in mercy and abounding in love, pursued me even while I was hostile through sending Jesus Christ to die for my sins. Christ suffered to become sin on my behalf so that I may have a righteousness that I do not deserve (2 Corinthians 5:21). And praise God that “if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life” (Romans 5:10). I, and anyone else who believes, am not only forgiven and no longer an enemy of God, but adopted into His family as His child.
But though I had a deeper understanding of the gospel, a lot of what I did was because of selfish reasons, like wanting to further my own reputation and to meet others’ expectations of me. This manifested itself in a lot of pride, worry, and a fear of things that were out of my own control, which pointed to a lack of dependence and trust in God. But at that time, God grew me through putting me through circumstances completely out of my control to teach me to rely on Him. Through the same trial, He also showed me His peace and His comfort in times of difficulty. In ninth grade, I had to undergo surgery for scoliosis. When I found out, I dreaded all the fear that I knew would fill me during the months leading up to the surgery. But knowing that the situation was completely out of my control forced me to not rely on my own efforts, but to surrender this entirely to God. We are commanded in the Bible to “not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7). With the prayers and support of the family of God around me during this time, the six months prior to the surgery were filled with so much peace and comfort. But when unexpected complications arose after the surgery resulting in a longer hospital stay and a second surgery, there were moments when it was definitely hard to trust that God had a good and perfect plan. We were praying, but it didn’t seem like the physical circumstances were getting any better. But at that time, Psalm 121:1-2 came to my mind over and over again to comfort me: “I lift up my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth.” Though things were so uncertain, I could rest in who God is and in His promises: He is the Creator of all things and the same God is the one from whom our help and strength come (Col 1:11).
Even since coming to college, pride and worry are still areas of sin in which I have been needing to constantly fight and through which God is continually growing me. Upon entering college, I was no longer in my little Christian bubble, but thought I was prepared because I had a deep foundation in knowledge of the Bible and grew up so surrounded by Christianity. But my spiritual pride quickly disappeared as I was humbled through meeting believers whose love for God was so evident in their actions and speech. I was a Christian for so long and though I had a lot of head knowledge, I didn’t have as much passion for God as they did. I was convicted to not just be content with where I was spiritually, but to really seek to work out my own salvation with fear and trembling, to live out my life to reflect Christ in fighting sin and in trusting Him more (Phil 2:12). And I am so thankful for the fellowship with other believers that God has blessed me with, through which I can be challenged to excel still more.