BY DEBBIE DUNN, GRACE ATTENDER & ROOTED PARTICIPANT
As an early teen I felt God in my heart first. I was in an emotionally abusive home with an alcoholic step-father with a personality disorder and I felt trapped and alone in this oppression. At a particularly low moment I considered taking my life, but as I sat there I was suddenly overwhelmed with a feeling of being completely loved & protected and I felt hope and strength that could not have come from myself; I knew God existed for me in a personal way starting at that moment.
I did not grow up consistently in the church. I went to church mostly on holidays. I did the obligatory 1st communion and later confirmation classes, but I wasn’t really feeling God in my mind. I didn’t have answers to my questions, so there was always doubt and, therefore, I didn’t live a life completely surrendered to or living like Jesus.
So my life was filled with daily struggles with insecurity, loneliness, anxiety, and worry. I was quick to anger when I lost control of a situation or experienced failure. I coped by not showing weakness, but really just yearned to be accepted and valued. I conformed to worldly ways, putting my worth in parties, gossip, and material things instead of the things that would truly make me content. My heart knew there was a God for me, but I didn’t trust in Him yet. I still needed my questions answered, and God did not give up pursuing me with the answers.
Fast forward to a move to Carmel, IN in 2012 with my husband and 2 school aged kids- In my loneliness, Grace Church provided a convenient women’s group I could join while my kids were in school; learning about God would be secondary or so I thought. God had a bigger plan for me & the Holy Spirit opened my eyes. By 2015 I felt comfortable to ask my questions and share my lack of clarity on some foundational issues in Christianity. I had access to fantastic resources-the Bible of course, but also many apologetics books, fabulous speakers, preachers & programming, patient small group members, an inspirational Way of Discipleship mentor, and conduits to find more reliable information. And, with the help of the Holy Spirit, the feelings in my heart and the knowledge I was gaining began to click together.
Through a surrendered life to Jesus and our Trinity, I now feel less anxious, less dependent on others and worldly things to try to make me content and give me my worth. I gossip less and forgive more. With clarity, I felt excited and super-charged to lead others to this same cure for our brokenness in this world. I’m currently praying and patiently preparing for whatever my next opportunity to give glory to God in his kingdom might be.
With this new life in Christ, I felt compelled to be baptized again in the church, even though I “had it covered” as a baby - this time with my own mind and heart behind the ceremonial sign of worship and obedience to God. I had 2 women, instrumental in my growth & always encouraging, by my side doing the honors of baptizing me. It was an overwhelming feeling of love & celebration in that moment - one I will never forget and I hope to inspire others to follow as well. It was through these relationships and through Rooted that this decision was possible. If you have questions about God, are struggling with loneliness or want to find a community of people who will love and accept you right where you are, join a Rooted group!