Story of Hope: Aaron S
My background is probably not all that uncommon, but the personal significance of events in my past have a profound effect on the conviction of faith I experience now. That all important word was the piece missing for me for most of my life. I did not grow up in a traditional church setting, and carried with me a kind of critical opinion of churchgoers at large. I felt a strong moral compass, and shared a belief in compassion and forgiveness, but I struggled with the idea of submitting to an authoritative power to achieve salvation from something I didn't entirely understand. I also did not want to be an intellectual believer, which was a term I used to describe someone who shows the outward appearance and can express a working knowledge of their faith, but their actions and lifestyle might leave you wondering.
What I was seeking was that conviction that I thought I saw a difference in with close friends and acquaintances I've met over the years. The more mature version of me looks back at my younger, cockier self and understands that I was waiting for God to convince me. He came to my trial and won me over on my terms and my turf in 2010.
Looking back on that moment, I understand that living out your faith is much more complicated than the simple "click" I first thought my newfound conviction would change things to. I'm still the flawed and messy individual I have always been. What's more is that I still struggle with some of the same things I had difficulty with all those years ago. I've become one of the hypocrites that I wanted so desperately not to identify with, so one might ask, "What's the difference?".
In a word: peace.
Using many more: Contentment, patience, persistence, GRACE, community, giving, prayer, gratefulness, confidence, hope and love.
The past seven years have been the best years of my life. There was no absence of pain or frustration or doubt. I made plenty of additional mistakes along the way, but despite all that, I know that I am in a better place than I ever have been. That explanation is contradictory to say the least but the secret I would share and hope all Christians realize is this: The assurance I feel now has nothing to do with what I've done in the past. It has everything to do with what God has done for all of us before we ever knew to ask.
My friend Chad challenged me some time ago to share what I considered to be my favorite Bible verse. I knew right away. Psalm 46 contains the phrase, "Be still and know that I am God." This command has been my balance. It is a constant reminder for us control freaks that the universe isn't really ours to obsess over. At the same time, it is a comforting plea to let go and let God take care of things. I firmly believe that 'Type A' personalities struggle the most with this, and are rewarded with the greatest sense of liberation when it can be pulled off. It has become a meditation for me and a necessary one given my personality.
Whenever I sense myself becoming agitated or uneasy about something, I remind myself of who's really in control and how senseless it is to worry over. Once I am able to loosen my grip and let God lead, the stress of being the driver turns into the pleasure of enjoying the ride.
That's my story of hope, and I'm sticking to it.