By Maddie Gee
“Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.” – Proverbs 3:5-6
I went to a Christian private school from fourth to twelfth grade. I remember having to go to chapel every week, wearing itchy uniforms and cramming for Bible class. A moment I remember very clearly is when I learned the verse pictured above.
I had to take Bible verse quizzes every week, so my teacher made that week’s verse into a song to try to help us learn it. It never truly applied to my life until my second semester of my sophomore year of college.
I was raised to be a Christian from the moment I took my first breath. I was given a Bible every Christmas as a kid. I went to church every Sunday, no matter how I was feeling or how bad the weather was.
My parents have been going to the same church for decades — they even got married there. It was a given that me and my brothers would grow up and go there too. I remember sitting in the pews… really confused.
I wasn’t sure why people were so excited about God. Why they would run around the church, throw up their hands or even burst into tears. Did I believe there was a God? Of course. I had a fantastic childhood with loving parents and a roof over my head. I knew that He was there somewhere.
I was scared to say anything otherwise to anyone else.
Growing up, I was mostly just repeating all of the same reasons I heard from my parents on why they loved God. He was merciful! He provided for us! He was awesome! But I never felt like I had my own personal relationship with him.
I remember the day I accepted Christ. I was sitting in children’s church in the front row, and out of nowhere my mother sat my brothers next to me and said, “You are walking up to the altar today.” I knew instantly what that meant — every time I heard my pastor call for the unsaved to come and accept Him, I would sit there with a terrified look on my face as my parents stared at me like I was already a goner.
I would get cold sweats and my eyes would try to look anywhere but the altar or my parents. My parents are the Obamas of my church — I know that sounds like a reach, but it’s true. People LOVE them, and subsequently, love me and my brothers. So when my mother put us — completely panicked — in front of the altar, people were LIT. Everyone was shaking my parents’ hands and coming up to me and my brothers to congratulate and hug us. I remember being led into a back room and a woman told me as I officially signed the forms to join the church — “This is one of the biggest days of your life!”
It didn’t feel like it to me.
My baptism was an experience I really can’t describe. It didn’t really feel like my own — it felt like a day for my parents. I remember putting on the white gown, a swim cap (because my natural hair is no joke), and being led barefoot to a pool in front of the thousands of people in my church’s congregation.
In the very front sat my parents and relatives, ecstatic and clutching cameras as I stepped into the water. I took a deep breath, and my body was submerged. I was expecting to feel like a completely new human being. Instead, I choked on water and felt completely the same. Nothing changed. There wasn’t a halo on my head now, and people weren’t blinded by “the God in me.” I was even more confused as to what my relationship with God was.
Life after that continued on. I suddenly found myself walking across the graduation stage. I was ready to leave high school and its negativity behind. I was ready to start fresh at Baylor.
During my freshman and early sophomore year, I was miserable for a multitude of reasons. My anxiety ate me alive. My depression was right there to kick me while I was down. I was doing well academically and had a great support system, but everyone seems fine on the surface. On the inside, I was a ticking time bomb, seconds away from explosion.
I had technically accepted Christ and had a relationship with Him, so I was confused as to why was I suffering so much. Why has the God that is supposed to be so “awesome” and be my “provider” seem to turn His back on me?
I gave up on trying to find Him and tried to find other things to fill the void — going out, movies and books — anything so I could feel safe cared for. Eventually, I realized that I had to stop running. One of my best friends told me during a rough night that I was trying everything to fix my pain but God — so why not try Him? This sentence completely broke me. I realized that I had to come to God on my own without anyone trying to pry my eyes open to see His face.
I immediately set the intention to pray every night to feel His presence — to truly feel His hand in my life. He came through.
I began to feel better and started to feel more like myself again — something I hadn’t felt in years. I realized that He is always there, but you have to go to Him. Even when I feel doubtful, I continue to pray and find Him in everything I do.
It took me nineteen years to fully acknowledge Him, but now I feel like I have a true and personal relationship with God — and I am never letting go