Personal testimony. It’s a term that people throw around a lot in Christian culture. “What’s your testimony? Tell me your big God moment”. It’s intimidating to be asked about or to have to talk about because it’s so individual. Yet that’s supposed to be our big pitch, the thing that connects your experience to someone else’s. Right?
Maybe it was just me, but that was the impression I got when it came to personal testimonies. Before I understood what it was to have a relationship with God, that’s how I thought of it.
What’s the Deal with Testimonies?
A recent conversation with a friend reminded me of this. He asked, “What’s the deal with testimonies? It always sounds like it’s some crazy story! Someone was homeless or a drug addict, and God came to them in a big spiritual moment with lights and a choir of angels, and they realized they needed Jesus.” Then he said, “What about the normal God moments? Why doesn’t God ever happen to just an average person, with an average life, who’s looking for something more?”
Questions like that always throw me off guard. I never have the right words to say in the moment, but it did force me to think because, in a way, he was right. The testimonies that people tell the most are the exciting one, the real heartfelt juicy ones with a true epiphany moment. Those are the ones we publicize.
My Simple Testimony
For a long time, I felt like my God story wasn’t enough to entice anyone, let alone make them want to listen. I would pepper in things that I heard from other stories or make mine out to seem more dramatic than it was. As I’ve come to know God more, though, I realize that He never intended for my testimony to be an epic blockbuster. It has always been about the journey.
My story is more of a gradual one. I grew up Catholic and only knew God as something to be feared. I went through the motions of religion more than anything. When I was older, I started going to Pentecostal and Baptist churches, but I was so accustomed to religion and rules that relationship was foreign. Through my college years, I grew so far from God that even my parents would say, “You’ve changed,” and I would argue back “It’s called growing up!”
Then, at 21, God found me. One day, I was alone in a church that I had stumbled into as I was traveling through Barcelona. I was crying and feeling sorry for myself when I heard God whisper over me “What are you doing? I’m trying to do something with your life, and you won’t let me.”
Although that moment sparked my journey to find a relationship with Christ, I didn’t entirely change right then and there. My story turned into seasons of growing close to God and taking ten steps back.
This continued until I was 24. By that point, I had lost my job and moved back in with my parents. They lived in a town where I knew all of three people, and there was nothing for me to do but start over. Church seemed like the right place to start. So, one day in service when the pastor said, “Who here needs to recommit their life to Christ?” I knew he was talking to me.
The Power of Testimony
That was five years ago, and my life has since erupted with blessing and a deeper spiritual understanding of God. By no means is mine an overnight success story, but I think that, just like any relationship in life, it takes time to truly get to know someone and understand them and their character. God is no different.
God’s Word tells us in the book of Revelations that we will overcome “by the blood of the lamb and the word of our testimony” (Revelation 12:11). Our testimonies all have power, whether they be dramatic or more gradual and straightforward like mine.
My testimony comes in the form of patience, time, growth, and spiritual maturity. I’ve made plenty of mistakes, people have hurt me, I’ve hurt others. I’ve felt terrible about myself, and I’ve been on top of the world. But all of those things demonstrated new sides of God I hadn’t known before. Through my walk with Him, I’ve seen His love and sovereignty as well as His gentle yet firm guiding hand. I’ve learned to listen and wait as well as when to act and take opportunities.
I may not have the most interesting God story, but it’s mine. It’s made me the daughter I am today, and that, to me, is enough.