Friday, February 22, 2013

Another Piece Of My Story

A lot of times when I write and try to tell my story,
I talk about how I was raised in the church,
so I don't really feel like I have a story. I was a pretty good girl. Never got in alot of trouble.
So instead, I go to a recent experience of God helping me out of a very long season of depression.
That must be my story.
But the truth is we all have a story. I'm a big believer that every part of our story is important.
Every tragedy, every epic moment of joy creates us into who we are today.
And today I am going to tell you that first moment I became this girl I am today.
a part of my story I have never talked about in blog world.
When I was 19, I had been out of school for over a year, but I had no desire to 
go to school beyond that. So I just worked.
About a year into it I went to a youth conference, you may have heard of it...
called Acquire The Fire. Being raised in a preachers home, I had actually been to several
of these youth conferences throughout my teen years and had always enjoyed them but went home
pretty much the same person I went there as.
Every year they would show videos of their Global Expeditions.
A part of their organization that took teenagers across the globe on missions trips to like
eighteen countries every summer to share the love of Jesus with people of other nations.
That year, because all I was doing was working, I felt like I was doing nothing with my life.
So I decided this would be the year I would go. Yes, I was going to travel the world
all by myself with a bunch of teenagers I did not know.
And I did. I went to Albania. The experience of traveling through Italy and to Greece in 
itself was amazing. I met new friends. I encountered a new culture.

I learned of these people who had recently come out of communism at that time.
Who were so grateful, and loved the Lord so much, and didn't take for granted
their new found freedom in serving God. A lot of what we take for granted here.
In fact, lately  it seems like we are using our freedom to kick God out of our country.
They were the exact opposite. They desperately wanted the freedom to serve God.
They were unashamed in sharing the gospel. I mean, even the teenagers were. 
They were our interpreters and had no fears or hesitation in approaching people with the story of Gods love.
I can't say how much that made an impact on me. How much it moved me.
I remember coming home after a month in Albania that year and taking a trip"up north"
to visit my relatives with my mom. You see, My mom grew up on an Indian Reservation.
So, yes, I am Native American.

One thing I got really used to over the years is hearing the continual tragedy that haunted people we knew, or people that she knew. If it wasn't suicide, it was jail time. If it wasn't jail time, it was someone's kids getting taken away. If it wasn't someones kids getting taking away, it was rape. If it wasn't rape, it was death associated with alcoholism.
This is fairly common conversation. So sad and tragic and I always wondered why.
I never understood it, but as I grew up I learned that it wasn't just the reservation she grew up on,
Native Americans as a whole seemed to enslaved by much of these types of things. day we were up north in my moms hometown and we were driving...
and we came across someone that she knew and he was walking on the side of the road.
She picked him up and he wreaked of alcohol and looked sad and sickly and weak as he
stumbled into our car.
I was just a young nineteen year old girl, and although I had heard stories of alcohol related accidents
and disease fairly often, alcohol was really never apart of my life.
It shocked me. It made me sad to see him look this way. So given over to a life that had no hope.
I remember after she dropped him off, there was a song playing on the radio.
It was by an old Christian rock band called Petra. The Lyrics said "We are strangers. We are aliens.
We are not of this world." And I remember busting out in tears.

I remember thinking how different our lives were. Thinking how do people live this way?
This isn't normal. At least to me it wasn't. This isn't happy.
And that week, I was praying  "Lord, give me a heart of compassion. I want to see people the way you see them. I want to hurt for them. I want to love them the way you do."
That moment was the beginning of who I am today, why I blog the way I do.
When I see people that are bound with depression or addictions, when I see their families hurting as a result, when I see people shoving God out of their life, sometimes purposely, sometimes not even realizing it, my heart aches for them. Because I know it will only end up in confusion
or heartache for them.
My heart aches for God as he must want so badly to help them.
I truly believe that moment was a defining moment for my life. Why I think and talk
and act the way I do today. That moment had an eternal impact on my life and will forever
move me to love people, tell them the truth that can only set them free.
Sometimes, people don't want to know the truth. I know there have been times where I didn't,
but truth & hope in God is the very literally the only thing that can help humanity.

That summer forever changed me to want to see people through God's eyes.
After seeing how excited the Albanian people were to have the opportunity to serve God and tell others about Jesus, how could I just sit by having all the freedom in the world to do so, and let my world, the people I came in contact with, how could I let everyone just hurt and be lost in confusion without hope when I know the truth? 
Up until I started my blog,  I never realized the impact even just having compassion on other people's stories and sharing my own story could have on people.
And I am forever grateful that I can share my ups and downs, trials and errors, and still be able to glorify God and direct people to Jesus in all that I do and say!

This is a big part of why I started this Suburbia to the Streets project. It's close to home.
It's both near, yet far...feeling the hopelessness of these women, and young girls.
Bound by addiction. It's not a story far away. It's a story I have heard many times over as
I grew up. People needing love. And if we don't see them with the eyes of compassion,
we can very easily overlook the heartache of other people, because to us, it's just a story.
But to others, it's a reality.
I only have 7 more days left. I've raised enough to help 2 women off the streets, which was my original goal...But with my remaining last few days, I want to help one more.
Will you help me, help one more? Please? If you can give even $5, please click below.


Elizabeth Trull said...

I love this post. I'm always fascinated with the events that truly change people and shape them into who they are today.
Thanks for sharing something so personal and meaningful.

Cody Doll said...

I understand your story. I grew up in church, so I don't really have a "Story". But in someways I do. Anyways, I love that you shared that. I love that you wanted see people as God sees them.

Thanks for sharing,

Lisa @ MMT said...

I don't even know where to begin... I love this post! I love your heart! Your compassion for people inspires me! You may not think you have a story because you grew up in the church, but because I grew up the complete opposite, I find your story quite interesting!

Also, you look gorgeous in your photos. Just thought you should know :)

Annie said...

Lisa said it all. I love your heart for people, Julie. You have a beautiful story and I'm so thankful you've shared this part of it!

Krysten @ Why Girls Are Weird said...

I LOVE this, I love learning how people get to where they are and what makes them tick. And I love your heart Julie, you're really inspiring.

Tatiana said...

that was absolutely fascinating and lovely. thank you for sharing your story!

TicoTina said...

did you have really short hair??? I think visiting other countries or at least places of poverty is one of the very best things people can do to better understand greater realities. I've been thinking a lot lately again about being too comfortable and how bad it is for people... me. what great pieces of your story!

mare ball said...

so interesting. I'm of Cherokee heritage. I learned about Christ at a retreat type thing too. I remember Aquire the Fire events. You have a great way of sharing, and I love finding other believers in the blogsphere. I'm a follower. :-) from The Dugout

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