Discovering Faith and Family
Before. I grew up in a family of six, with my parents, older brother and two younger sisters. My parents raised us to go to church regularly, so much so that I went to Catholic Mass daily. I knew of God and knew Bible stories, but I did not have a relationship with God.
I was a rule-follower, and I was legalistic. To me, knowing God meant reciting prayers and knowing truths about him. I didn’t truly know him through a personal relationship. I thought I was pretty good and ranked myself on what I was not doing. I feared what others thought of me, but I did not realize my need for God and his Word. One of my family members battles mental illness, and I placed my hope in this family member getting better, and in the future when I knew I would have more control over my circumstances.
A Shift. I lived this way, comparing myself constantly to others, up until college. I attended University of Illinois, and for the first time, I was outside of my bubble. Providentially, I had the privilege of living in a Christian cooperative house, among 36 girls, many with genuine faith. I was asked questions and forced to dig deep about what I believed.
I got involved in Campus Crusade for Christ (CRU) and felt as though I was hearing the gospel for the first time–the weight of my sin and Jesus’ once for all death for my sins, so that I could have hope of eternity with him. I received his great mercy, grace and love, and was hungry to know him and his Word better.
In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. — 1 John 4:10
Due to my family member’s mental illness, my newfound faith was not warmly welcomed and received with a lot of difficulty. I was disappointing my family and stepping away from something they held dear. To them, my choice to follow Jesus meant I no longer wanted to be a part of their family. I could lose my relationship with them entirely, and I felt the weight of their disapproval.
I knew God had placed me where I was for a reason, and he was guiding me through this difficult season. He is faithful, and he was bigger than my circumstances. I took steps of faith I never could have made in my own strength. I was tempted to fall back into my old ways and back into fear, yet he richly provided for me in the middle of this difficulty.
Eventually, my dating Michael (now my husband) continued to bring out pain with my family, yet God saw us through it. The Lord continued to draw me near to himself and he answered many prayers.
As Romans 8:18 reminds us, “for I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory to be revealed to us.”
I can say there has been a lot of pain with my family, but God is good and has brought a lot of healing in my relationship with them. My hope does not rest here, though, but in him.
My Current Walk. Now, I am privileged to be staying home with our nine-month-old son, Zeke. I am in a new season, adjusting to parenting. And I am constantly reminded that my hope is not in naps, alone time, keeping a clean home, an uninterrupted night’s sleep, or how I perform as a mom, wife and friend.
God has called me to abide in him and he has a purpose for me, even when my days seem to be filled with diapers, laundry, caring for Zeke and not much else. There is a call to cast aside my finite hopes for the steadfast hope of the gospel.
Practically, seeking Jesus daily looks like me taking intentional moments to pause–to cast my cares on him in prayer and to read his Word. I often listen to the Bible on audio. I focus on letting go of my mental to- do list and anchor my hope to God—only he can satisfy the deepest longings of my heart.
My father-in-law often shares this quote from Warren Wiersbe:
Yesterday God helped me, today he’ll do the same.
How long will this continue? Forever—Praise his Name!
Annelise has been married to Michael for three years now and have a nine-month-old son.
She became College Church member about four years ago, and has enjoyed serving in HYACKS, the 20s Ministry and the Hospitality Committee.