Some people who knew me back in the day may read my blogs and think, this is not the Mary I knew. When did she become all religious?? She wasn't very Christian like when I met her.
I was quite the person before October 2013. If you met me during college, you probably saw me as a party girl. I lost focus of the goals I had set for myself to accomplish during college. I worked, went to school full-time, joined a sorority and had a lot of fun. I wouldn't say I completely wasted my college years, but I could've done so much more.
Now, here I am talking about how I turn to God and encouraging others to do the same. I'd like to believe that by sharing my stories, I've got you thinking about how God can work in your lives, but imagine if I had let my past get in the way.
What if I kept allowing my past determine my future? What if I let thoughts such as, no one is gonna listen to me, I was seen on 6th Street too many nights, or I've committed "big" sins, determine my future? Would I be as happy? Would I be as blessed? Would I positively impact other lives?
I highly doubt it.
One Sunday in October of 2013, I embarrassedly walked to the church alter and my life changed. I didn't know that Pastor Mark at Grace Christian Church in Killeen, Tx was going to ask me to go to the alter. He asked if anyone believed in Christ, but got off track and wanted to know Christ again. At the time everyone's heads were down and I had my eyes closed. I remember thinking, oh that's me and just raised my hand without even thinking of the consequences.
When Pastor Mark asked everyone who raised their hands to approach the alter I initially said I wasn't going to go up there in front of everybody. Then I looked at my husband, who was my boyfriend at the time, and he said, "I'll go with you."
Oh no! I thought. Now I have to go. One, I'm in church! I really should obey and two, Antuan said he'd go with me.
That was THE best decision I've ever made. I gave my life to Christ that day without even thinking. I went home and thought about exactly what I did.
Whoa! Can I really give my life to Christ? What exactly does that mean?
I figured I should buy a Bible and go to church on a regular basis. I started attending church on Wednesday nights and Sunday mornings with Antuan. I never used to attend church on Wednesdays and rarely made it to Sunday services. But I fell in love with the church, the people, the Word and especially the choir. Oh my goodness! The choir was so amazing! I would actually sing out loud at my seat because they would just welcome God into the building like I’d never seen before. The spirit would just fill the room and my heart. I would often forget others were around me and begin to sing out loud. Oh! I would even lift my arms and sway side to side! Haha! I would let loose! It was awesome!
God spoke to me plenty of times before and after I gave my life to Christ. I just wasn't listening before. Afterwards, I listened and sometimes questioned him. I did not quite understand why I had to do some things, such as not argue out of anger or pray to him all day.
What took me a little longer to realize is that by giving my life to Christ, meant I had to trust Him with my entire life.
I stayed committed to bettering my relationship with God. I STILL have to stay committed to my relationship with God, and through this commitment, I learn the answers to all my questions.
I recently learned that I was born again!
When I learned this from Pastor Aubrey at Heritage Church in Radcliff, KY, I thought about how I am today and how I was before I gave my life to Christ. I'm pretty different. My desires for sin have ceased. I sometimes still sin because I'm not perfect but I don't have a desire for sin.
Before October 2013, I drank a lot. I lost control, acted stupid and became mean. My husband said when I drink, Maria comes out. Haha! You don't want to meet Maria.
I realized my outlandish life style was putting a toll on my happiness. My drinking had gotten me into some serious trouble and it was haunting me. Antuan knocked some sense into me one day when he said, "See, this is why I don't like going out with you if you drink. It never ends well."
I was trying to change on my own and I was failing. I remember thinking, I'm not a bad person. I just make mistakes like everyone else. So I drink too much sometimes. It's just sometimes. Other than those times, I'm actually a really good person who loves and cares for others.
I was trying to justify my sin by saying I deserve to sin once in awhile. Haha! I can't help but laugh at this mentality I once had. That was obviously the enemy tricking me to sin even more and keeping me from progressing in my life and relationship with Antuan and Jesus.
I've acknowledged my past decisions and experiences but I am moving on and not dwelling on them. I'm not thinking about what I could've, should've and would've done because I've made a decision to think about NOW. What am I doing for myself, NOW?
Right NOW, at this very moment, I am sitting up on my bed typing my story to share. My son is napping right next to me. I just read a daily devotional on YouVersion and prayed. I am so grateful for this moment. These daily moments won't last forever, which is why I am so glad I took advantage of these opportunities. Right NOW, I am appreciating my life as I continue to better myself for the future.