Mary, would you rather have wings or a super long tail that you could pick things up with? Also, you could balance on the tail.
And be like Tigger of sorts? I still feel like I would go with the wings because I’m super into perspective, so being able to fly and be over things would be great. You could travel easier. Could you fly to heaven?
I feel like that’s a dimension thing. Plus you’d have to make it out of the atmosphere, and you don’t get to breathe in outer space- that’s not part of the deal.
Maybe the Lord and I will meet halfway.
How did you first come to Agape/Ecclesia?
It was Ecclesia, I didn’t go to Agape my first year here. I went to faith fest with Ms. Lauren Wells and met Katie Younkie and Mike, started coming on Sundays. I’ve always been a “church” person, always went to church and served in a church, so it felt very natural to me to get plugged into a church here.
What’s kept you here?
I would say one thing that’s been unique about my experience here is that it’s interdenominational- it has stretched me in ways that I didn’t know i needed to be stretched. I grew up in a community with people who were a lot like me and expressed themselves like me, and I came into a community where people had different beliefs or different expressions of those beliefs and that caused me to really dig down deep and ask myself why I had the beliefs I did. It also caused me to honor them and the way they express themselves to the Lord. It’s been really hard but also really good for me.
Why are you a Christian?
I would say…I think following the Lord and having a relationship with Jesus my whole life is the one thing that’s been consistent. Everything in my life (where I’ve lived, family situation) has fluctuated, and the one thing I could count on and the one thing that would always bring me joy was my relationship with the Lord. And I think it’s an adventure, signing up to be a Christian, which is funny because a lot of people nowadays see it as so restricting, but I see it as so freeing because a relationship with Jesus takes you places you never knew were possible.
Where has Jesus taken you that you didn’t know was possible?
I think that I’ve had a lot of “desperation” prayers where I’ve just got on my face before the Lord and said “I’m giving this to you, Jesus.” And from those moments God has been able to change my life in a way that I never could. In those moments of surrender, God has just really done some amazing things. Even with my giftings and talents, there were things that I didn’t see in myself and Jesus placed people in my life to draw those things out.
What draws you to Jesus?
It sounds cheesy but he’s my best friend. He’s been in the best and worst of times. He’s been through every season- every disappointment, every good and bad day, and he still thinks the best of me. I would also say that in the life of Jesus, he seemed to be someone who was moved to action. In the Church, we seem to have a lot of things to say but not necessarily a response, so I love looking in Scripture and seeing Jesus being moved to do things. He spoke out what he believed and then was able to follow up and in Christian culture, we’re all about “core values” but do we actually do it? I love referring back to the life of Jesus and saying “I want to walk it out like that.”
What breaks your heart?
So many things. This might be an overly spiritual answer, but honestly people who have grown up with Jesus in a box and have grown up with Jesus through the lens of rules and shame and religion and didn’t understand that he actually came and died for you so that he could be in relationship with you. It’s got nothing to with proving yourself to him or making yourself more valuable in his sight. That breaks my heart, but it also makes my heart happy when I see people freed from that. So many times I see people with shame and guilt and I know that’s not the heart of God, and I know that we’ve messed that up as people and as the Church. I feel like Jesus was all about bringing freedom to people, so getting back to that feels restorative and right to me.
What feeds your soul?
I love people. I love stories of hope and hearing that the world isn’t as bad as I think it is some days. When I get together with people who are excited about things that they’re doing and passionate about what they’re moving toward, that feeds my soul. So often I talk to people who feel like they’re drowning in life and have no direction, so to hear that some people are walking in line with the Spirit excites me.
Do you have a favorite book?
One of my favorite books and one I go back to a lot is called “Culture of Honor.” It’s all about living a life of saying “I am powerful and you are powerful. I get to be me and you get to be you in this relationship, and that’s okay.” That whole idea of honor has been really transformative in every area of my life.
Any parting words?
Stay humble in college. Even though it may feel like it some days, never believe the lie that you’ve “made it.” In school, in your job, in relationships I think as people and as spiritual beings molded by Christ, we have to be in a place of humility and hunger for God to change us and others to change us, and we need to be able to give that humility off to people. You need to say “I want your feedback, your input in my life,” and by saying “I’ve already reached capacity in this area,” we aren’t actually giving ourselves room to grow- we’re actually limiting ourselves. As a senior in college, that’s hit me in the face pretty hard. I wish I had been as humble as I am right now throughout my whole college experience. I think it can be really transformative if you stay in that place.