Stories

When our faith story feels unspectacular

Today on the blog, Kirstin Yu, a Blackhawk Intern, reflects on her own faith journey and how there’s no such thing as a “boring” faith story.

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I was baptized in my freshman year of high school. It was a difficult decision for me to make for two reasons. The first: I was not a fan of either being in water or being in front of people, and I liked the idea of doing both simultaneously even less. The second: I didn’t think my testimony was good enough.

I grew up in a Christ-following household, and I can’t remember ever not believing in God. I spent the formative years of my childhood steeped, if you will, in God-talk—from church, Veggie Tales, my dad’s random theology Q&A sessions before bed—and when my prefrontal cortex was formed enough where I could start making rational(ish) decisions, I discovered that I was a Christ-follower. Sure, there were ups and downs, periods of doubt and growth or apathy and excitement, but there was no, as the Greeks would say, µετάνοια.

Metanoia, we learned this past Sunday, refers to a change of mind, or a shift in life direction. There was a time in our lives when we did not follow Christ. Then metanoia happened. Now we are following Christ.

I’ve heard countless testimonies from people whose lives have done a complete 180, who have been lifted out of the depths and set on a new path through God’s power and healing. These stories are awesome; they reveal God’s love for his people and the amazing ways he works in our lives. But to fourteen-year-old me, these stories were the exemplars, encompassing the essence of what it meant to follow Jesus. In comparison, my story wasn’t only boring, it was also lacking something fundamental—where was my total life transformation?

Eventually, my dad managed to convince me that a) Jesus commands us to get baptized, so deal with the water and b) you can still be a Christ-follower even if you have a boring testimony. So one Sunday, I stood in a pool of water on stage and listened as someone read aloud my boring story, and that was that.

After some time, I managed to make peace with my testimony. I picked out a few vignettes about random encounters with God, and I kept them in my back pocket to pull out when anyone asked me to share. They weren’t terribly exciting, but they did the job and answered the question.

Just this past spring, I was having lunch with a friend (a Christ-follower) when she asked me about my testimony. So I put down my fork and pulled out a story, and when I was done, I sat back and waited for her to say that’s cool and thanks for sharing.

Instead, she looked at me for a moment, smiling this smile that reached all the way to the corners of her eyes. Then she said, “Whoa. God just loves you so much.”

The words didn’t make sense at first. They were a non sequitur, a random encouragement—of course I knew God loves me. And then I realized that my friend was talking about the small moment I had just described. Where I had seen an unremarkable anecdote, she had seen something more, something so much greater. She had seen what I had not; she had seen God’s love revealed. The only response to that was wonder: “Whoa.”

I had been focusing on the wrong thing this entire time. All along, I thought my story was supposed to be a tale of how God changed my life, an account of my personal growth; but it was never about me in the first place. My story isn’t my story—it’s God’s story. When I said that my testimony wasn’t good enough, I was really saying that God’s work wasn’t good enough. When I complained my story was boring, I was scorning God’s love. My story is but one word in the whole novel of God’s redemption of the world, witnessing not to my life transformation, but to God’s awesome power and love.

God is at work during every moment of our lives, from the momentous, life-changing points of no return to the teensiest, most mundane seconds of our days. He is constantly moving, shaping our hearts and minds and showing up in our lives so that we might see how deep is his love for us, if only we would open our eyes and give him the glory that he deserves. And when we finally realize what God’s been doing, our reaction should be straight-up awe—a Keanu Reeves style “Whoa.”

Knowing what I know now, I wish I could go back five years ago. I wish I could be there as my younger self shivers waist-deep in water and waits for them to finish reading her boring testimony so she can get the dunking over with. And I wish I could look her in the eye, smile, and say to her, “Whoa. God loves you so much.”

Kirstin Yu
About the Author: Kirstin Yu
Kirstin is a summer intern who’s attended Blackhawk since she was in the womb. She is going into her second year as a religious studies/creative writing major at the University of Chicago where, when not studying, she’ll be doing InterVarsity stuff, making music, and playing contract bridge. She also likes The Silmarillion and clouds.