One major impact on my journey of building communities with the L.I.F.E project that Orrin Woodward founded falls into the category of faith. I know this can be a controversial topic and is where most people plug their ears and shut the eyes; my intention for writing about this topic is not to tell you how you should believe, it is only to give insight to the impact this information can make in your life if you choose to study this area of the 8 F’s.
When I first started getting around the community, one of the key questions I would hear all the time was, “do you know why you believe what you believe?” And honestly, from the beginning, I didn’t. I am going to tell you a little of my story to help you understand why this area of the 8 F’s has changed my life to offer you some hope if you are searching.
I grew up not talking about God. In fact, neither of my parents went to church so my brother and I never went to church. Because I never knew anything different, I never questioned why we didn’t go. It was when I got a little older that my grandma started talking to me about this God thing. In fact, I would sleep at her house and she would take out this thick black book with really thin pages and she would tell me how every night before she goes to bed she reads from this book. The interesting thing about it was that she never really told me what was in the book. I am not sure if she didn’t know how to tell me or if she didn’t think I was old enough to learn about it but I always had a fascination for her hunger to learn what was in there. The only thing I truly remember about my spiritual development as a child was my grandma told me, “Kristen, the only thing you ever need to do to go to Heaven someday is recite the Lord’s Prayer each day.” So night after night we would practice the Lord’s Prayer until I memorized it. Funny though how once I memorized it, we stopped practicing and I stopped saying it. Now at this time, I had no explanation of what the passage even meant. All I knew was that if I said it every day, I would go to Heaven. Even crazier, I didn’t know what Heaven was until I got to be about 15 years old when I went with my friend to a Catholic church and got a brief explanation. I didn’t understand one thing they were talking about but I heard them talking about Heaven and Hell and how that’s where you go after death based on how you live your life. But I still had no clue what any of that meant. Later, I found out my grandma’s interpretation of eternity was a little off.
Now at that time I was entering high school and was going through some struggles personally and had no spiritual relationship with my creator. In fact, those words would have never even flowed from my mouth at that time because I knew nothing about it. I talk to a lot of people who grew up in the church, who learned about the bible, ect. and they had all this head knowledge but no heart or spiritual connection. Well, I had no head knowledge or heart. Not a good combination for a young teenager. I watched loved ones die at a young age. In fact my mom’s beautiful sister (my aunt) was murdered blocks away from our home and my mom was literally seconds away from being next. It was a tragedy that still makes me quivver. I didn’t know anything about eternity so when people died, in my kid eyes, I only knew half the story, that their body was in the ground forever. I didn’t realize that their soul was in Heaven. I got myself into some mental, emotional and physical battles that I could not face on my own. In fact, the reason those battles occurred was due to the fact I wanted some type of control in my life. But the control I took over actually began to control me. Professionals couldn’t do anything. I was a perfectionist so even though I played all the sports and got good grades, my life as a teenager was an utter mess. When I got out of high school and into college, all I could see was this new beginning. I could finally start a new chapter of my life where not one person knew my history. Life would be great.
It was great! In fact, I started playing ball, loved my classes, enjoyed being away from home, ect. Fast forward about a year and I had gotten myself into another mess. I was working crazy, ridiculous hours 40-50 hrs a week on 3rd shift in addition to playing basketball (which is a big commitment in college) and averaging 17 credits a semester. Let’s just say there were times I went 3 days without sleeping and the time I did sleep was only about 2 hours for a nap in my car before work. I was completely oblivious to the madness I had created yet again. My past had crept back into my lifestyle and again I was looking for more control over something, and since everything was out of control, I needed this one thing. It was obvious from an outsiders perspective, my life was a complete mess.
Around my senior year of college, I remember buying my first book at a Team leadership convention that talked about God. It was called, “The Purpose Driven Life.” I have no idea what made me pick it up, I think it was on a ‘discounted books’ table. I always read when I work out and I remember spending hours on the treadmill reading this book because I was so intrigued by what I was learning. Physically I felt no pain with my workouts because I was lost in the word of God. Everything this book was telling me was exactly what I needed to hear. It indirectly told me that if all I ever tried to do was be the one in control, I would NEVER be in control. It wasn’t until I surrendered my life to Christ and allowed Him to be in control that things truly started to change. At that point I knew I didn’t need professionals, I needed Christ. After this book I went and bought my first bible. The beginning of my spiritual walk was completely under the table. I didn’t talk to anyone about it, I almost felt ashamed that I knew nothing about the story of Christ until the end of college. I felt like a baby learning how to roll over. I didn’t know that I was created in the image of God and that He created me for a purpose (growing up I was always told I was an ‘oops), I had no clue that Jesus died for my sins and that was the only reason I have life today. I had no idea the brutality Jesus faced for me. To think, a man who lived a perfect life, the son of God, was brutally beaten and nailed on a cross for my sins. ARE YOU KIDDING ME? I knew I had sinned, a lot! I was so convicted after learning these truths that my emotions took over and I dropped to my knees and prayed, and prayed and prayed more. I didn’t even know how to pray but for the first time I felt like I had someone to talk to that would be able to help me get rid of all my baggage, forever. Psalm 118:5 says, “In my distress I called to the LORD; he answered me and set me free.” All my life I had lived in guilt, mostly which I created for myself. When I found out I could leave my baggage at the cross and develop a deep relationship with God and my sins would be forgiven, it darn near took my breath away. You have to remember, I am an adult learning all these truths. When you hear the term Good News, it truly is good news! It was about a year after all this knew information and knowledge started to enter in my life that I truly fell in love with the gospel of Jesus Christ. I knew for the first time in my heart that I developed a true relationship with my creator. I was saved shortly after this, I found a church home that I am committed to and I have been hungrier to learn about biblical truths than any other area of my life. EVERYTHING CHANGED!!! When you hear people say, their life changed, it’s not cliché.
I have a passion for helping people, teenagers especially, learn the gospel of Christ. In fact, when I was teaching, I would ask many of my students if they understood their faith. I asked them straight out, “do you have a relationship with God.” Sadly, the majority of them were in the same boat I was. I had one student tell me, “Ms. Seidl do you realize you could get fired for talking about God in a public school?” All I said was, “Eternity is a long time and I care about where you go after this life way more than I care about this job.” This young lady knew nothing about the Good News and is now a believer today all because of learning some different truths that she was never taught.
As Tim Marks would say, “all we encourage you to do, is do your own studies. Know why you believe what you believe.” I am such a student to this new life in Christ that this post was not meant to teach you any biblical stories, or preach, or even sway your thinking about God, it was only meant to give you HOPE. It was to tell a story of how even if you don’t know who your savior is, even if you have a list of sins you think will never be forgiven, you can be saved. God loves you! Surrendering my life to Him saved my life and He can save yours too.
For quite some time now, I have been learning consistent and deep spiritual truths from a program the TEAM offers through the AGO (All Grace Outreach) CD and book series. I would highly recommend looking into this as it’s the only scriptural source of information that I have seen value in besides the bible, church and mentorship from policy council of the TEAM and LIFE founder George Guzzardo that has been able to put me on the straight path eternally. The L.I.F.E program will allow you to learn more about the faith category and will have books and CD’s produced by pastors and all the top leaders including L.I.F.E founder Orrin Woodward. If you choose to study the straight path of Christ, you can rest assured it will change your life!
“I can do everything through him who gives me strength.” Philippians 4:13