My family didn’t go to church when I was little. I was baptized when I was born in Australia; so my mom is Australian and my father is British-American. I was baptized Serbian Orthodox and my father was not happy because he’s a “science man” and sometimes that means no faith at all.
We moved from Australia, and we moved around a bunch because of my father’s work. That was always put first in our family. It was weird because my father worked so much and was never really around; so I didn’t understand why we were moving so much.
I never really saw him and when he was home he wasn’t really happy either. So the whole thing was just kind of confusing.
I remember as a kid I was just very confused and cried a lot. I still cry a lot.
Since my dad wasn’t home much and my mom worked remotely from home (before that was what everyone was doing), they would drop me off at the neighbor’s house across the street. When I was there in the basement with this Vietnam War vet, he eventually began touching me, and that wasn’t really cool.
I remember closing my eyes – and I didn’t even know what praying was – but I said that I don’t want to remember this. And I don’t remember. I have the general sense that it happened a couple more times after that, but I don’t remember; so that’s cool.
As I grew up I was a very weird child turning into a weird young adult. I always liked computers a lot. I would run home, so that I could get on the computer. I didn’t just play video games, I just liked reading stuff and researching stuff and looking at things.
It’s tough to explain my group in high school because they were a bunch of people who were really smart but would not try. They would not apply themselves, but they had brilliant minds. For some reason I decided that I fit along with them because it was easy, and that’s the one thing that was easy at the time.
I constantly struggled against my parents. As a teenager I really put up a good fight. I was always sneaking around with boys and never really doing anything good. I never got into drugs and I never got pregnant, but that shouldn’t be a sign if your teenager is doing well or not. I certainly wasn’t doing well, even though I wasn’t doing those things.
But then there were things I was doing just on my own without putting thought into them. They were all beautiful. I was doing robotics and I made it to the world finals, but it was effortless. It was just like my body was leading me through these things.
I’m also a multi-instrumentalist. I play the piano and the viola. When I got home from school I practiced for hours, and I never had to put my thoughts into it.
But I was putting all my effort into struggling, and I think that’s a pattern I saw a lot in my life. I would put effort into struggling, but the things that I was guided to do would be beautiful.
After graduating from high school my parents were divorced, probably because my father was never home. I would get passed back and forth between my mom’s house and my dad’s house. At first they would kind of pretend like they were fighting for custody over me. But it was really just them pushing the problem child off to the other adult.
Eventually I applied to colleges and got into a lot of really good schools, but I chose to stay close to home. I actually flunked out of the university because I was just struggling against everything good that was coming my way.
Eventually I ended up back at my dad’s house. Living in the city was nice, but he had a girlfriend. She began spending more time there, and it was a really small condo; so there really wasn’t room for me anymore.
I was driving back from a friend’s house one night, and I was driven off the road by a drunk driver. I didn’t get any insurance money from it because the drunk driver crashed far enough up the road that they counted it as two separate accidents. There was no proof that he had caused me to swerve.
Then I put all my money into buying another car. I was still working after this, even though I was clearly concussed and just frazzled. My father told me I had to keep working. He said, “You don’t get breaks in life, you just have to keep working.”
I was driving to work at 6:00 a.m. to the Christian coffee house I was working at. I ran a red light and hit another car right next to the hospital. I feel like it was meant to scare me in the “Scared Straight” way.
I was laying in the hospital, and I didn’t really know what praying was at this point. I was just ready for life to be easy.
Luckily, I was working at a Christian coffee shop; so it was really cool to talk to the pastors and they gave me a nice Bible. I never actually made it to church because I was off on Sundays and that was the only day I wasn’t working or going to school. I needed to stay home and breathe.
After the second car accident that October, I was taking public transport everywhere. There wasn’t a super awesome infrastructure for public transport. I was taking a bus somewhere to transfer, and then I would get to work an hour early or an hour late. Those were my options.
It was really important to me that I stayed working there even though my father said, “I don’t get why you’re working for them, like, it’s a religion.” I said they’re really nice to me and I feel special when I’m there.
Now I’m buying a house with my boyfriend, which is awesome. God gave me him to remind myself to slow down. To remind myself to be at His whim, to calm down and breathe and stop struggling against everything in life.
Oh, I’m going to marry my boyfriend. We’re waiting until we’re 26, so we don’t lose our health insurance. It’s a very modern problem, but we both have medical issues.
I also have to think about how I’m going back to the school I originally failed out of with a full degree.
I’m very grateful for my church now. I actually love my church, and I look forward to Sundays. I know how to pray now, so I’m going forward in life.
I look forward to serving Him, and every connection that I’ve made along the way has been magical. God has put me in a lot of peoples’ lives for a reason and put them in my life for a reason.
So I look forward to spending the rest of my life with God.
Note: Someone reading this may be skeptical that I was recruited by a church when I was clearly going through a struggling point in life, which was the mindset my father had. I actually worked at a Jewish summer camp for two years before I had the coffee shop experience. We would have service on Friday nights, and they definitely had the option to “recruit” me into Judaism. That didn’t happen.
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One Sunday the music director said the handbell choir needed more members. I thought, “No, I wasn’t ready to get involved.” At the end of the service I found myself volunteering for bell choir!