“And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.”
-1 Corinthians 13:13 (NIV)
This bible verse is one of the most popular verses. Many people use this at their weddings, on their engagement announcements, or sometimes even pregnancy announcements, but for me, this verse is a reminder. It’s one that I keep close and reminds me of how great love is and how great God’s love for me is.
I was born into a Christian family. We went to church every Sunday. I went to Sunday school where I learned about stories in the bible and worship songs. I stood up and sang along during worship while I watched others raise their hands with tears running down their face. I heard people pray for each other. I watched people get water baptized. I sat in each service and listened to the message the pastor delivered from the pulpit. I went to bible study when I could. I did all these things and more, but my heart was never really in it. Even after doing all these things, I never really understood what it meant to know God.
For the longest time I hid my faith and everything I believed in because I wanted to fit in with my friends. I brought them back out when I needed to, around my family, at church on Sunday, and at bible study. But when I went to school or hung out with my friends, I pretended that I was like everyone else because I didn’t want to be “that weird Christian kid” around my peers. In doing this, I became someone I never wanted to be and I lost sight of what I believed in.
As I got older, I experienced heartbreak, brokenness, devastation, and emptiness. There was a void in my life that I needed to fill, so I began searching for something to fill it. I didn’t know what I could put in that void, so I tried whatever I could: attention from those I looked to with lustful eyes, time with friends who left me when my friendship was no longer convenient, TV shows that gave me an altered perception of what my life should look like, books that gave me a fake definition of love – I tried all of this but always turned out empty.
Each time something changed, I would get knocked down. What I didn’t know at that time was that the reason why I got knocked down constantly was because I didn’t stand for anything, so I fell for everything. I was searching for something that doesn’t change, something that I can stay grounded in, God was what I needed.
Somehow I found my way back to church, back to the cross. For so long I was searching for love, real and unconditional love, and finally, I found what I’ve been searching for. I rededicated my life to God and was no longer ashamed to show or talk about my faith. It was tough at first. I was so accustomed to my old life that I was always tempted to fall back.
I’ve been asked many times why I believe in God. I’ve been made fun of because of my relentless faith. I’ve had people judge me before meeting me because they knew what I believed in. But no matter what people said, no matter what tried to destroy my faith, I knew where I stood. It was in those moments where I realized what it meant to know God. Yes, there were and still are many times where my faith is tested, but even if I may slip up, I know what helps me back up and where I will continue to stand.
I’m so thankful that I’ve found my constant in a world where the only constant is change. I’m thankful that I’ve filled the void in my life. I’m thankful for a God who loves me regardless of my past, who will meet me in my mess and help me clean it up. I’m thankful that I have found what I can stand for.
Most of all, I’m thankful for my FAITH that has given me HOPE and has taught me what LOVE really is.