I grew up in a Lutheran church where I attended semi-regularly and participated in first communion and confirmation at the designated ages. By high school, I knew I wanted church to be part of my life, but I was easily distracted by busyness and the pursuit of success. I prioritized putting my attention and mental energy into temporal accomplishments and did not leave room in my schedule to grow in my faith.
I really did not start to place Christ at the center of my life until the summer after my freshman year in college. It was around this time that I started to have ears to hear the gospel message and recognized my need for God. During that summer, I reflected on my first year of college and recognized that everything I was striving for did not fulfill my desires.
Through the transition to college, I had been stripped of many idols, which I was unaware of at the time. I was no longer a three-sport athlete and my grades were not as good as I was accustomed to. I was also struggling to secure stable friendships that could function as family since I was now living 6.5 hours away from my hometown.
God used these reflections to help me recognize that idols of success and people pleasing were bound to disappoint in this life and that perhaps the piece I was missing was faith in him. As a result, I started attending church with some family friends that summer in Ocean City, NJ. Slowly I began to clearly hear and comprehend the invitation of the gospel message for the first time.
I specifically remember one sermon on Psalm 42 in which the pastor challenged the congregation to consider the question: What are you thirsty for? I remember sitting on the beach that afternoon, looking at the ocean, and acknowledging to God that my soul had been thirsting for so many things of this world instead of a relationship with him. I asked God to show me how to become thirstier for him.
A couple weeks later, I returned to Duke for my sophomore year of college and was suddenly surrounded by Christian community that God had creatively placed in my life. My resident assistant, engineering classmates, and even some new friends I made on campus were all part of the same Christian ministry. I began attending the Summit Church and getting plugged into the ministry Campus Outreach.
In hindsight, it is very evident that God was faithful in pursuing me. He intentionally placed people and organizations in my life that would help me to grow in my faith at a time when I was hungry and searching to learn more. Throughout and after my college years, I continued to grow in my faith and learn what it looks like to live a life centered around a relationship with Christ. I still have a lot to learn but have been grateful for God’s faithfulness to continue to increase my thirst for him through different seasons of life.