4th year Architectural Technology, Napier Uni
"When I was younger I was brought up going to church with my mum every Sunday, I thought I knew of a God or knew of a higher power. At the end of high school my mum gave me the choice to stop going to church, and I said “yes” because I honestly didn’t enjoy going. All through high school I always had a feeling I was missing something in my life, I had a hole – and I tried my best to satisfy it and make me happy by getting better grades. I was constantly telling myself that if I got into Uni I’d be happy or when I got a job I’d be happy.
When I eventually did get into Uni I discovered it didn’t make me happy, I felt lonelier than anything else and that hole that I had in high school was still there. In the first year of Uni I found a temporary happiness - I was living a crazy party lifestyle that only lasted a night at a time. What I didn’t realise then is that I was in a giant downward spiral that was leading me to a pit that I couldn’t get out of. I would have to repeatedly carry on with this lifestyle to feel that “happy feeling”, but this “happiness” was actually more of an escape from reality.
In second year I was at my lowest point and my friend Emma asked if I wanted to come along to Christian union and I agreed to go. I remember we were reading Uncover Luke and we read the Parable of the Lost Son and this, if you don’t know, is a story that Jesus told his followers of a father and his two sons – the oldest son asks for the family inheritance early and the father agrees. He then goes off on his own and spends all the money his father gave him, because of this the son's only option is to go back home and he begs his father to allow him back into his home as a servant. But his father welcomes him back with opens arms as his son and even throws a celebration. When I read this story I could relate to the son. I had rebelled against God, taken my own path, and tried to control everything in my life to the point where I had cracked. This story gave me such hope that I could go back to God even though I felt like the son felt in the story, undeserving of his father's love - it gave me hope of forgiveness and that I could have this amazing personal relationship with Him.
I wanted to get to know Jesus more so my friend Alice took me to church and there I found all the answers to my questions. It brought me so much joy to know that Jesus had wiped my slate clean for me; that He had sacrificed himself and taken the punishment for all my sins. This to me was just the most incredible amount of love I had ever heard of, I hadn't realised how much God loved me.
I remember praying to Jesus one night and asking Him to save me because I had simply had too much. It was right at that second I knew God had forgiven me and that God was truly real. I honestly can’t explain the moment because it was such an overwhelming joy of the Holy Spirit. That moment I knew that this is why I was here and God was filling me with the happiness that I had been searching for, He had pulled me out the pit and shown me the light.
Today I love telling people how much I love Him and how much joy He has brought in my life. Knowing that I don’t have to be perfect, that I can come to Him as I am and He will forgive me and show me the right way. I have such a constant joy from having a relationship with God, knowing He is always with me and will never leave me. Since knowing God I can’t say my life has been perfect or always amazing but what I can say is that I have peace in my life, from not having to run my life myself and from not having guilt for what I’ve done in the past. I thank Jesus every day for giving me life and showing me true happiness and joy."