I grew up in Fergus Falls, Minnesota, a small town right in the middle of the farm plains of North Dakota and lakes country in Minnesota. I was raised in a Lutheran home and attended the same church that my dad grew up in. I considered myself a christian, but it didn’t mean much to me. I genuinely believed that Jesus was Lord and died in my place, but I didn’t know how it should impact my life. I didn’t even know it was supposed to change my daily life.
In seventh grade my grandparents took me on a camping trip up the North Shore. I knew right when I drove over the big hill and saw Lake Superior for the first time that I wanted to live there one day. So I moved there right when I turned 18. I didn’t want to live on campus, so I got an apartment a 20 minute walk from the university. (You know that old phrase “When I was your age, I had to walk to school in a snowstorm uphill both ways? That was me. Because that’s Duluth.)
I didn’t know anyone in the whole town, or even the entire part of the state. I went to college planning to join a fun outdoors group, craft group, or community group. I was actually planning on not joining a college ministry because I thought it sounded boring. But I was invited to an Intervarsity Christian Fellowship event by one of the only people I’d met in Duluth, and I never stopped going. After about a month or two of going, I decided to give my life to the Lord. I realized that Christianity doesn’t start and stop with believing that Jesus is God. It starts with that, but after, we are supposed to do something, and let it affect our everyday lives, goals, and mission in life. I started to understand that I don’t have to do certain things and not do others. I don’t have to follow a set of rules to try and live a life that’s good enough. Instead, I’m supposed to be obedient in my sinful capacity to God because He’s worthy of my praise and because it expresses my gratitude for what he’s done for me.
I met my husband Reed when I was 19 and we got married 11 months later. I was 20 and he was 24. We got married two weeks before our last year of college, and spent a lot of that first year road tripping the country. We traveled to California, Maine, Glacier National Park, Florida, and Arizona. Those are some of our favorite memories. We camped the entire time out of our Honda Civic, so between the good gas mileage and cheap camping costs, the trips were affordable for our college budget.
We spent our second year of marriage praying for a good job to pay off all of our student loan debt. Then we spent the next two years working at that “good” job. Reed worked as an engineer on the railroad, and it paid well but they treat workers terribly and required Reed to be gone most of the time. After 20 months we’d managed to pay off 65K of our debt, or about 75% of the total amount. Then we found out we were expecting our first baby, and we had to figure out how to get out of the railroad. My husband started his first business, we bought and renovated our first house, had a second baby, and began renovating our second house. That’s a one paragraph summary of five years.
I don’t have an “exciting” testimony, but it’s still important to share. God says that we are to “run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the founder and perfecter of faith” (Hebrews 12:1-2), so stories of slow growth are what God is wanting from us. I know there are people with stories similar to mine. Be encouraged that your faithfulness and not-that-exciting testimony is just as important as the dramatic testimony. And that there is no such thing as a “mature” christian, only maturing christians.