Don't misunderstand me. I was surrounded by loving family members and friends during my young life. There is much I do not understand, (none of us do) from the windows of our childhood eyes. I do not cast blame, but can tell you that elementary through middle school were very difficult for me.
My parents' faith hit a period of revival when I was nine years old. Our time in church shifted from a holiday event to a lifestyle. During this time, my father received his calling from God to be a preacher. Many have never witnessed a dramatic transformation such as the one I witnessed in my father. He was always a good man, a good daddy. But he was rough around the edges, with a 'what you see is what you get' demeanor. He didn't grow up in church, (again, not casting blame), but his relationship with God was precarious at best. Then, one day, he went to work and when he came back, he was a different man. A Jesus man. Imperfect? Yes. Redeemed? Absolutely! In fact, he was on fire for the Lord. When he told my mother, who had also recently fallen in love with Jesus, about his calling to go to seminary, she laughed. Then she realized he was serious. And so God was doing a mighty work, and the Reverend Gerald Hunter became a reality.
During my dad's training, we attended a large church in Jacksonville and at the young age of 11, I received Jesus into my heart. I knew exactly what I was doing. I knew all the answers. I wanted what Jesus had to offer. However, I know now, at 41, that children, pre-teens, and teenagers need an intense amount of discipleship. Even if they have accepted Jesus into their hearts, what do they really know about Him? Do they know He truly loves them? Do they realize what that love really means, how deep it will go, how vast forgiveness is? Do they recognized the quickening in their spirits when sin is so close and so tempting? I didn't. Instead of pursuing a RELATIONSHIP, I accepted the gift, checked off the boxes, and even got excited for a while. Then, things happened and I got angry. Those bubbles of joy turned to rippling waves of anger. I didn't know what to with it, but I thought I knew Who to blame. So, instead of keeping the Jesus who died for me close, I put him at a convenient arm's length away...
Amanda Williams is a forty-year old wife and mother of two who can still swing her pony tail and display just a tad of sass. She is also a Jesus loving girl who realizes she is nothing without the One who saved her. Amanda has two degrees specializing in serving students with special needs and is currently working in the field of Leadership Development. She is a Christian author, speaker, blogger, and publisher who loves serving beside her husband at her local place of worship, First Baptist Church of Ocala.