I was introduced to Summit for the first time in 2008. To this day, I can vividly recall walking into that Sanctuary with such an unbearable weight upon my soul. No one knew, of course. I had been putting on my “church face” my whole life; it was second nature at that point. The next four years, I continued to attend Summit on and off. Those years were filled with both intensely beautiful highs as well as desperately dark lows. In the midst of the chaos though, Christ’s relentless pursuit of my heart was so wonderfully evident. Despite uncertainty in every other aspect of my life, I felt confident in my decision to make Summit my home in 2012.

As I slowly stepped into various spaces of community here, I began to form relationships with people who became pivotal parts of my story. For the first time, I was invited into a community where I felt truly known and loved unconditionally. God used these people to boldly speak truth into my life, and I made the decision to be baptized in fall of 2013.

For me, baptism was the first chance I had to publicly acknowledge my faith, and actively take part in the symbolic process that matched the spiritual transformation occurring in my heart. It was such an intentional step in recognizing my own brokenness while also allowing Christ to move into the spaces I had previously hidden out of shame. While I wasn’t entirely sure what it meant at the time, I knew that I wanted to start living in a state of grace rather than fear. I’ll never forget the moment I emerged from those waves. After inviting God to transform my heart, it seemed so right to run into the arms of the family who had so boldly exhibited His ceaseless love for me in the face of my imperfection.

After being baptized, I started spending a lot of time re-examining my story with God’s perspective in mind. In doing so, I began to understand grace in a way I never had before. I was able to recognize that I had spent most of my life rejecting this gift out of shame, and in turn, struggled with extending it to anyone—including myself. Through these revelations, I was able to boldly step into new areas of community, ministry, and even leadership, as I began to allow God’s grace to permeate every aspect of my life. My brokenness still remains, but the simple act of allowing God’s glory to shine in those dark places has changed the entire trajectory of my life and mindset. In this current season, I have been challenged to more boldly share my story, in the hopes that God’s power would be evident in my weakness.

As I’ve recently stepped into different areas of community, God has continued to lead me into areas of incredible healing and growth. Through a yearlong process in reGROUP, I was able to dissect my story and invite God and others into even its darkest chapters. Through volunteering in Base Camp and teaching preschoolers that God wants to be their friend forever, I am continually reminded of what it means to have a childlike faith. Through leading a Connect group of young women, I am able to see God work in unique ways in every one of us on a weekly basis.

Through engaging in these groups of beautiful and broken people, God has chosen to display His grace and unconditional love to me in a way that I can no longer ignore.