There are days I wish I could have just grown up Christian; however, this is the journey God laid down for me. For that, I am thankful and would not have it any other way. To truly understand my faith journey, you need to understand where I come from. I was 14 years old when I wanted to learn more about the Lord. I grew up in a very poor community. I grew up in a very poor community and gang violence was very evident, sharing a 550-square foot one bedroom apartment was what my parents could afford since my father was an alcoholic and both my parents were agricultural workers.
Growing up, my house was noisy, not the good way, my parents would yell at each other, yell at my sister and me. I cannot tell you how many times I saw my mother cry. My mother tried to leave a few times, but our culture really frowns upon single mothers. I can still remember waking up in the middle of the night to hear my father banging on the window, after a long night of drinking. “Let me in”, he would yell. My mother in tears would say, “No, you’re drunk”. I layed at the other end of the bed, pretending to be asleep so my mother would not have to lie to me saying, “Everything’s fine, go back to bed”.
My family has had generational alcoholism and domestic violence generations before me. Growing up, I believed my parent’s marriage was normal, however I was not happy. I hated my father and blamed myself for their problems. Inflicting self-hard and arguing with my father was how I relieved myself. One day I got home from school and noticed the new girl was also my new neighbor. My mother was no longer allowing me to hangout with the “cool kids”, because they were affiliated with gangs. I never wanted to be at home.
I was willing to introduce myself to the new girl, just to have someone to hangout with other than my little sister. It was then that my new friend, Jessica, and I started to hang out everyday after school. Every other weekday she would leave to church. Bored, one day I decided to accept her invitation. My family was very religious in the Catholic faith. My parents at first didn’t want me to go anywhere near her church. Her mother had to go over to talk to my mother about allowing me to go to church, nowhere bad, just church. She took me to her Christian church and after that day I was hooked.
Something I’d been longing for, indescribable joy, love, and peace. I never wanted service to end, however my parents made sure I was to not make it a habit of attending her church. It was confusing to me at the time because I wanted to attend her church, but I didn’t understand why my parents had such opposing views. I soon started to take my sister to church too. My mother would wonder why we never wanted to be late to church. She thought it was odd that I asked her for a Bible. She let me have one, on the condition that it was a Bible from the Catholic church.
Throughout this time, my family remained the same, but I sister and I found a place we felt secure. My friend moved away and later so did my family, I was blessed with a beautiful baby brother. I stopped going to church for almost 2 years. I later met a new friend, Denise, she is to this day, overflowing with the love of Jesus. I asked her where she went to church and invited myself to attend. Freshman year was the year I actively gained an active relationship with God again. My family was still rocky, my parents did not yell as much.
A woman who I knew loved the Lord lost her battle against cancer. I still had resentment toward my father, but I was actively praying, asking God to take it away. My closed family members would tell my parents not to let their kids go to Christian churches. During my high school years, not only was I able to see God’s grace but so have the people around me. I had friends who were in gangs, one of my closest friend was sentenced to jail on accomplice for murder. My family close family members were running away, going to jail, and were becoming teen mothers.
Thankfully my sister and I had church to lean on. Soon after my mother started to see a change in my sister and I. She began to get curious about the Lord. My sister, little brother and I get dropped off at church and then my mother would pick us up. I soon moved off to college, I was thankful I was able to see my family go to church together. We had to be strong, my father was in and out of jail. It felt like it was getting harder and harder to love and forgive my father. The Lord opened doors after graduation, I went to Eastern Washington University my first year of college.
I was an active member of Christians on Campus. After, I moved to Lynnwood, WA to attend the University of Washington Bothell. I knew God had a plan, but I did not expect it to come so soon. I prayed the morning because school started that I wanted to serve God at my new school. That very day there was an event for all the clubs on campus. I ran into YoungLife. We talked and the opportunity to be involved and lead came up. As the vice president of Christian Student Union, I was able to grow in my faith by talking to students from different backgrounds and beliefs.
During this time, my home was still not perfect, it still isn’t. It’s been so easy to get mad at my dad. The Lord has showed me how I’ve tried to play god. I act like my father is undeserving. The biggest revelation I’ve received was a night I was restless. My father had once again been unfaithful to my mother, and she was in tears unable to speak. God told me, “I love him unconditionally. Who are you to decided whether he is deserving or undeserving of love? ”. Now thankfully, I am able to love my father. I am a first generation college student.
Life after college has not been easy. I’ve learned that I never actually saw God as a father figure. It’s hard to imagine a father being as long as God. It’s been hard looking at God as a father who does not break promises and values my hurt. I’m thankful I am able to have a relationship with God where he not only is my savior, friend, comforter, but also my loving father. I’m thankful for the person I am becoming. I’m thankful I have Christian friends, a wonderful mother, and great pastors to help me stand firm and keep walking. The book of Ingrid has yet to be finished.