I grew up in a Christian household with my mother, father, and two brothers. We attended several different churches throughout my earlier years, but despite this we were constantly involved in the church. As many young people do, I attended church because that is what my parents did. It was fun and something to do but I was too young to have a personal relationship with Christ. I barley even understood faith and never read scripture. Moving forward, middle school gave me the opportunity to attend a strongly developed youth group. Two friends gave me this opportunity and constantly encouraged me to be a part of it. At this point, I started getting more serious with the content of the message rather than just the environment of hanging out with my friends. I eventually attended a Winter Retreat in January of my 6th grade school year. I was intrigued by my other friends' relationships with Christ, and I knew that I wanted that same connection. I made the decision to give my life to Christ after worship one night. I had spoken to my leader about what this commitment meant. She prayed over me and guided me through asking Christ into my heart. After this, my life was never the same, and I am so grateful for this.
From this point on, the remainder of middle school and the beginning of high school felt so easy. I had like-minded friends, a great family, and support for everything I was involved in. I was simply going through the motions of school, three sports, and church on Sundays and Wednesdays. I could feel the Holy Spirit in my life, but I was never challenged to really step out of my comfort zone and stand up for my Savior.
The first time I had to make a stand for my faith was in my junior year of high school. My closest friends who had been by my side since the 5th grade made the decision to hang out after prom and partake in drugs and alcohol. These were choices they had never expressed interest in before. After sorting through all of this in my head, I knew my morals and beliefs would not support me joining. It was time for me to make a choice that was hard but necessary. After attempting to change their minds, I made the sacrifice to lose the friends that had been my only outlet for years. My identity was changed and stripped away from with the loss of these friendships. It was at this point that I realized I was idealizing these people, and that their love for me was conditional. Through this situation I was finally able to see the only person in my life that would love me unconditionally was my Heavenly Father.
It took me until the following summer to step back and see how I could live out my faith daily. I went into my senior year of high school on fire for the Lord. Senior year was the best year of my high school career. I found new faithful friends, joined more clubs and new activities, and had so many amazing opportunities come my way. Most importantly, I found my home for the next four years, McDaniel College.
Coming into McDaniel, I was scared and nervous, but I found my friend group on the Hill quickly. I was able to connect with my lacrosse team and even find people outside the team to hang out with and balance my social life. Throughout my freshman year fall semester, I was peer pressured into doing things I regret more than anything. I became wrapped up in the wrong crowd, because I was doing all I could to fit in and be accepted by people I had barely met, even though it was through decisions that were not supported by my morals and faith. That fall was filled with mistakes; however, coming back to my home for winter break I was confronted by Christian friends and they spoke encouraging words to me about the changes I needed to make.
When I returned to campus for the spring semester, I started coming to FCA on Wednesday nights. I immediately felt welcomed and loved by everyone in that room. I listened to Joe speak about college life and ways to avoid peer pressure and felt accepted and loved by God rather than the crowds of college. After attending FCA for the whole spring semester, I knew FCA was where I needed to be, a group I needed to identify myself with. When I tore my ACL and MCL at the end of my freshmen season, I immediately knew to only praise God as a way to push through. This was a valley that He needed me to get through. I prayed more and more and found strength in the limitations that a 9-month recovery gave me. My injury only made me stronger in my faith and more grateful for a healthy body.
My second year at McDaniel started much more positive than the year prior. I knew from the beginning that if I surrounded myself by Christians at FCA, I would find the drive and motivation to worship and praise God. My relationship with Christ just kept getting stronger. I was more and more involved in FCA and by the summer before junior year, I was able to play for the FCA Women’s National Team at Lake Placid. I was able to connect and meet so many other girls that were going through the same phase of life as me. To this day I am inspired by the people I have met through FCA.
Currently, I have been given the opportunity to speak at Fields of Faith in Carroll County, be a huddle leader, sign up for FCA leadership camps, and now I look forward to spending my summer doing two of my favorite things; praising my Lord, and playing lacrosse. He has blessed me with a body able to compete on the field and has given me the passion to worship and spread his holy name across McDaniel College, Maryland, and hopefully beyond these state lines. FCA has impacted my life so positively and helped instill in me a stable and passionate life for Jesus Christ.