Story Month: Hello my name is Jackie, I am a speech language pathologist assistant and I’m from California.

Music has always been important and present in my life. I grew up in the Seventh-day Adventist Church and was a part of music and worship in church from a very young age. I remember being about 4 or 5 when I joined the kids choir at my church and my love for music and singing took off from there. I was always active in church, it was rare when I wasn’t doing something on Sabbath and honestly made me feel like a fish out of water.

I think those who grew up in the church might find my story relatable. If you grew up in the church you see the good that can come from ministries but you also see the brokenness that exists within our church. For a while I was very jaded with our church. I knew of Jesus, had memorized verses, had followed all the rules but yet felt like something was missing. People spoke of the joy that the Lord brought to their lives but I didn’t quite have that.

Fast forward to my college years and I was the farthest from God than I had dared to realize. I faced loss, grief, depression, emotional abuse, and anxiety in a way I had never experienced before. To be completely honest I did not deal with my wounds well. I tried to cover up the pain in very unhealthy ways. For the first time in my life I felt lost in every way. I felt like a series of terrible events had pulled a rug from under me. My goals, dreams, and identity were out of sight. So, I decided to come home and start over.

I became active in church again but I still felt like I was on the fence about God. I had been toying with the idea of leaving church altogether but the praise team I was part of was asked to lead out worship at youth camp held at Camp Cedar Falls. To be honest the jaded part of me always avoided camps but my friend convinced me and I thought “okay one last event and then I’ll quit”. On my drive up the mountain I had an open and honest conversation with God. If He led me to this camp it was for a reason but if not then I was about ready to walk away from everything. I felt like a fraud, leading worship and wanting to leave church. I got there led worship but that Saturday night something changed. A series of conversations that I can only think of as divinely inspired opened up those old wounds I never healed. I felt as broken as I did in college, as if someone had ripped a bandage off of me and I couldn’t do anything about it. There was a war inside of me that could no longer be ignored. My pastor called me out on this crossroad that I was facing. After hours of prayer and tears, I surrendered. I felt God holding my broken heart together, there was an indescribable peace that washed over me. I then realized I was having a real encounter with Christ. Despite my brokenness, shame, and pain, He was ready to receive me with open arms.

The Lord was relentless in His pursuit of me even when I was ready to walk away and showed me the truest form of Love. Love that is unchanging, unwavering, and undying. This is why I won’t stop singing, why I will never stop worshipping.