Rebecca enjoys trying new restaurants (especially dessert shops!), exercising, and occasionally singing (with people who are playing instruments). She likes to drink coffee, go hiking, and spend time outdoors.
Ever since I was young I remember being easily influenced by the people around me. I spent my elementary years in a small private Christian school, where we memorized Bible verses, had our annual Christmas play, and prayed together before lunch. Even though I went to a Christian school, I didn’t I understand what I believed in. From around 4th grade, I struggled with swearing, stealing, and gossip, none of which I should have been doing at my age. I did start attending church with my mom and brother around third grade, but even then didn’t take Christianity or church seriously.
In sixth grade I moved to a new public middle school where I was highly influenced by my peers. I got to a point where I stopped respecting my parents, didn’t care about my grades, and constantly got in trouble. I was on a very destructive path. I had a falling out with people who I thought were my friends, friends who started to make fun of me and bully me. I got stuff stolen from my locker, harassed over the phone and in person. I did whatever I could to avoid these girls and their torment. It was around this same time that I was old enough to attend my church’s youth retreat. During this retreat my eyes were open in two ways: first, I saw the way other Christians loved on me, regardless of the negativity that I emanated and the past remarks that I made. I saw the Christ-like love towards me and towards one another. Second, I saw the ways of my sin and my need for forgiveness. It was after this retreat that I felt like I had some sort of grasp on Christianity and chose to get baptized to publicly proclaim my faith. After this retreat I stopped finding my worth in what others thought, and was constantly reminded by God’s love showed when he died on the cross for my sins. I started respecting my elders and parents, began to appreciate my education, started to enjoy going to church, and became willing to open my ears to what the pastor was preaching.
By the grace of God I was blessed with an acceptance to UCLA. Throughout college I was in and out of both churches and fellowships. I had my own priorities and I did things according to my own schedule. Because of this I lacked consistency and accountability with other believers, which hindered my growth. But I believe in God’s sovereignty and his timing. He gives and he takes so that we respond in a way that reflects His glory. I always knew that I needed to surround myself with other believers, I just happened to be more influenced by those who treated me like I was their younger sister. This led to the neglect of fellowship that I could’ve had with true brothers and sisters in Christ. I am grateful for the conviction and the courage to check out a new fellowship as a fourth year. I’m so humbled by every sermon and each small group session. I am continuously shown my sin, but at the same time I am constantly reminded of His great mercy.
I always assumed other Christian people had their lives together, and that after accepting Christ things would magically fall into place. But assuming this merely sheds more light on our need for salvation. In accepting Christ, our eyes are open to our sin “with more knowledge comes more grief” (Eccl 1:18), we are more aware of the nature of our sin, which we should be unsatisfied with. But by God’s goodness we are able to persevere in our trials with faith that all things are in His timing. I continue to struggle with many things, but I take comfort in knowing that all things are in His sovereignty and that He does things for our good. I’ve learned that if I try to serve God with a selfish heart, no one is glorified. As an underclassman, I went to fellowships on the days that were convenient for me, and only talked to those whom I was comfortable with. But when God didn’t fit into my schedule I quickly fell into a cycle of my own sin and neglected my need for a Savior. I came into GOC my fourth year of undergrad. Not the most conventional, but I entered with the desire to pursue God. This desire beats any pressure from older friends to get plugged into a fellowship, trumps my schedule and my human desires, and is more powerful than my fear of not being welcomed or not being as close to other classmates.
One last thing I want to shed light on is my struggle to find worth in God. I tended to (and sometimes still do) measure my worth by my own earthly accomplishments: grades, ability, health, or beauty. Even now, if not reminded I can easily spiral into a cycle where I start to idolize grades or body image. But finding my worth in earthly things would make me anxious, and in those moments of anxiety we should take comfort in the rest we receive from our Savior, He took our burden when he died on the cross for our sins. I have to constantly remind myself of the overpowering goodness that comes with trusting in God’s timing. We are all still so young in our faiths, but praise God for his forgiveness, his grace and his goodness!