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Wednesday, March 14, 2007

My Testimony

My mom put me in Christian school from the very beginning (Kindergarten), where I learned about God and Jesus and Christianity. I memorized Bible verses, pledged to the Christian flag, and learned a million hymns and children's worship songs. But I never really understood it until I was 7. It was at Nazarene Elementary School (which doesn't even exist anymore) during Bible class on the day that we learned (which happened once a year) about the crucifixion. For some reason, it just hit me harder that day. And it was the fear of going to Hell that made me pray for salvation that night. I was so happy when I did!

I was 7 years old, and I considered myself a Christian until about 12 or 13. That's when I started public school. No matter what I did, I couldn't fit in. I didn't have friends for several months, and even then it wasn't the world's greatest/closest. By my freshman year of high school I had overcome my social awkwardness. I instantly got sucked into an older crowd along with a couple other freshman girls who turned out to be two of my best friends ever. I started doing everything I never should have done, and I forgot all about God. I started dating a junior who should have been a senior, and I had practically no boundaries. I didn't want to think at the time that I was naive, but I was. I was slightly more mature and responsible than my friends, however, as I watched them make mistakes that I managed to avoid. But I had really lost touch with God.

By the middle of my sophomore year, surrounded by the friends (and myriad of ex-boyfriends) I had made already in high school, I found myself inexplicably and inextractibly depressed. I would cry and cry and I felt like everyone hated me. The music I listened to, the poetry and stories I wrote, the TV I watched, and the company I kept didn't help that much. I felt like I wanted to die. I began self-injuring. (I know now that God wanted me to minister to those suffering from SI, but let's get back to the story for right now.) I didn't cut myself; I have qualms about that and mental...things...with it that I can't even put into words. I would instead starve myself, and suffocate myself with a pillow.

One night when things were especially bad I was sitting on the floor of my room with my back to my closet door and my knees to my chest just crying, when I FELT God. I just all of a sudden thought about Him, remembered my first salvation experience, remembered everything He did for me, and just FELT Him there. The way I remember it was that God just picked me up off the floor, because I remember being standing and not crying, but not how I got that way. A few days later I asked one of those same friends from freshman year if I could go to church with her (she had been going to Life because her boyfriend was, and he was going there because his mom was making him). She said yes, and I went to my first epiCENTER service all kinds of skeptic.

When I got there, I fell in love with it. I loved the upbeat worship music you could dance and jump to, and I equally loved the quiet worship music you could lift your hands to and get lost in God to. I loved the worship. I loved Trey's preaching. It was like nothing I had ever experienced. I loved the whole service from beginning to end. At the close, Trey said something that had been on my mind for a while: "If you died tonight, do you know where you would be going? If you don't, I want you to raise your hand." Those exact words, "Where will I go when I die?" had crossed my mind just the night before. I threw my hand up before I knew what hit me. One of those same friends from freshman year did it with me, though she unfortunately is not exactly living for God right now. Trey prayed for us, then he sent us in his office to be prayed for by Heather. I felt so good all over again! I had gotten saved again!

It wasn't long after that until I lost every friend I had. I became lonely again. When I got saved (the second time) I changed everything. I broke all my old CDs and started researching and buying Christian music that fit my taste. I stopped watching those TV shows, telling those jokes, doing those things, acting that way, talking that way. I became a completely different person. I began to encourage my friends to come with me, but none of them would. By the time I finished selling out to God, He was all I had. I had some friends at church, but they were more loose aquaintances than friendships, and it would seem today that none of them ever blossomed beyond that and no new ones ever formed. What an incredible test of faith it is when you first get saved and everything around you changes in reaction to the radical change that's happening in you.

To this day that situation has never really improved, but I've come through it. I wouldn't trade anything in the world for the relationship I have with God Almighty, Creator of the Universe. I wouldn't let go of my personal, intimate friendship with Jesus Christ for anything in the world. I love Him with all my heart, with all my soul, and with all my strength. No human friend could ever take His place.

And God is so good! He answers so many prayers! I prayed for a companion that would always be with me, that would be my future husband, that would be my one best friend; and God gave me Anthony within 3 weeks. God is so awesome! I am so happy to be His daughter! I am so happy to be going to Heaven! I can't wait for my streets of gold and my personal mansion, but most of all, I can't wait to see His face. I can only imagine, as the song goes, what that will be like.

Catch a revelation of God's glory! He is so awesome and He loves us all more than we can ever know!

Sunday, March 4, 2007

Why I Left Alpha Gamma Delta

I signed up for Rush right after Southbound Orientation. I can't say why I wanted to sign up. I guess it's partially because I could and partially because nobody at the DJ pary talked to me except for a Pi Chi (Rush counselor), which automatically made me partial to Greek life. When the Pi Chi left and I noticed someone I looked up to in high school walking around in a "Great Women Go Greek" shirt, I decided to sign up. What's funny is that the Pi Chi and the high school friend are both in different sororities (Alpha Omicron Pi and Chi Omega, respectively), neither of which is Alpha Gamma Delta. I've also recently found out that there's a possibility I might have a legacy, also in a sorority other than Alpha Gamma Delta (Kappa Delta). Three different sororities that I might have pledged had I continued Rush.

But, I didn't continue Rush. I called my Pi Chi (haha, she's even in Phi Mu--meaning I had connections to all BUT Alpha Gamma Delta in Rush) the very first day of actual Rush (the day after the parent-daughter orientation) and dropped out. I blamed it on money and time (and little did I know how true that would become), but I can pin it to a subconscious reason that I believe led me to the decision. At the orientation we all went with our Pi Chis to separate rooms to get acquainted while Emily Ulmer talked to our parents. Well, we finished before they did, so we had to stand in the hallway outside of the Student Center Ballroom. They said we could talk quietly. So everyone immediately formed circles and pushed me against the wall. It's not like these people were previously friends or anything, they were introducing themselves to each other. And I couldn't get into any of the circles. I thought at that moment, "If this is how Greek life is gonna treat me, I'm not gonna pay extra for it. I got this kind of treatment in high school for free, and college won't be any different." I thought that would be the end of Greek life for me.

Then the Alpha Gams came. I got a call from the head Pi Chi on Bid Night saying that, even though I had dropped out, one sorority still wanted to meet me. I thought for sure it was my high school friend's sorority, so asked who it was, hopefully. "Alpha Gamma Delta," she said, and my heart sank. Not because I didn't love those girls (I didn't even know them then!), but because I felt so unloved. I declined and began searching the Alpha Gam member roster online to see if anyone knew me to want to meet me. I wondered why they still wanted me after I dropped out of Rush.

After that I started getting Facebook messages from Whitney (my sister-mother now), and friend requests from a couple members. They invited me to so many things, and for months and months something always came up to prevent me from coming. I think part of what made me want to meet them was the fact that they understood my persistent absence and still wanted to meet me.

Once I finally did get to meet them it took less than a month for me to pledge. Looking back on it, I have no idea what came over me when I agreed to pledge. About 12 hours before I said I would do it, I promised myself (and Anthony, who I happened to be talking to at the time) that I wouldn't do it, because I would just have to drop out if I did. I had decided that I was going to follow some advice that Whitney herself had given me: "If you can't come to all the events, just be our friend." But when they handed me that bid card and smiled at me with wide eyes in anticipation, I couldn't say "No thanks, guys, I just want to be friends." It would feel the same to me as having told Anthony no when he proposed. I didn't want to hurt anyone's feelings, and the love of the sisters is really what I was in it for to begin with. I don't think my heart was in the sorority itself, but in the people who belonged to it and the feeling of belonging. It wouldn't have been fair to the sisters if I wasn't willing to bring my full share to the table.

Time and money also really did play a factor. Unlike most of the girls that I've talked to in AGD, I pay for all but my car note. I pay my own tuition, my own books, my own fees, my own car insurance, my own gas, my own oil and tire changes, my own food, my own clothes, my own EVERYTHING except my car note (and I guess rent since I live with my parents). Most of the girls said "My parents pay everything," or "My parents pay for all but my sorority stuff," and other things like that. When you're not paying a bill I think you can lose touch with just how much it costs.

Luckily, I have a really good job that pays pretty decent money, and I'm doing what I love for 20 hours a week, Monday-Friday. The problem is, that conflicts with alot of sorority events, and work is not an excuse to miss them. So if I'm missing work to go to the events, I'm not making enough money to pay dues. If I skip the events to go to work, I get fined as much as if not more than what I just made working. So, catch-22, I didn't have the time or the money to continue pledgeship, much less continue on into initiation and full-time membership.

Then the whole study hours and Intramurals thing, gosh, don't get me started. Between church, homework, a fiance, chores, and parents that are somewhat reluctant to let me go out very often, I had enough going on after class as it was. There was really no way to do it. Let's just face it: I'm not (nor can I be) committed enough. I would LOVE, absolutely LOVE, to be an Alpha Gamma Delta sister, but it's just not happening for me.

I keep saying to myself and others, "I think I'll try to pledge again later," but I keep getting reminders of how impossible it is for me. I just hope that this time the reminders are louder, clearer, and more frequent than they were the last time I pledged. I don't want to hurt anyone's feelings (including my own) again.