Scott and Olivia's story
I grew up in a Christian home and have been a Christian for as long as I can remember. This has been a blessing, though I never had some “come-to-Jesus” moment that changed my life. Instead, my life has been marked by times of passion and dedication to my relationship with Jesus, as well as times of apathy and distance. While finishing grad school, I met my now wife, Olivia. Though she was not a believer when we met, I distinctly remember thinking the Lord was after her heart, and after us together. After getting jobs and moving to northern Virginia, Olivia became open to attending church. We eventually found Redeemer, a church where we both felt comfortable attending given our different places in our spiritual lives. The preaching, worship, and weekly communion fostered spiritual curiosity and growth within us, and Olivia soon committed her life to Christ. We also got involved in a community group, which allowed us to experience and participate in a loving, caring community of believers. The work of Christ has not only changed my life, but also orients my life. I believe the message of the Gospel – that I am more sinful and in need of a savior than I could ever imagine, yet I am simultaneously more loved, valued, and accepted than I could ever hope. This truth allows me to live ordinary life with Gospel intentionality because Jesus has given me purpose, hope, and passion.
My life three years ago, prior to joining Redeemer, now seems hardly recognizable. I grew up in a family that spoke of the Gospel and encouraged me to respond in faith, but I am convinced that I never once submitted to Jesus. I remember there was a time when I turned to God in prayer, but I secretly assumed a kind of revelation would ensue like a dream, an encounter with a stranger, or a pastor’s perfectly-timed, life-changing sermon. This internalization of my faith (and false assumption) led me to live a double life. I appeased my parents by attending church on Sunday mornings, reluctantly joining the occasional youth group retreat and bible study. But in my heart I grew deeply prideful, judgmental of others, and skeptical of the Church. Ironically, I was quick to comment on the hypocrisy of Christians who could preach about God’s love and yet act and speak so disparagingly toward others.
As I got older, I expressed this distaste for the Christian experience by announcing I was agnostic and reading the Bible only when I felt fleeting pangs of guilt. I became friends with non-believers so I could shamelessly engage in new found “loves” like drugs and alcohol. Always the one who took pride in independence, I thought, “I am finally in control!” I couldn’t be further from the truth.
When I first met Scott, now my husband, I didn’t realize he was a Christian. There was nothing obvious about his demeanor or our initial conversations that revealed he was fundamentally different. As our friendship matured, however, he shared with me his dire need for a love much greater than any human being could provide. He was referring to God’s love for his children. In our conversations about faith that took place over the course of the next 18 months, Scott not only testified to his need for a Savior in a broken world, but he also questioned my harsh criticisms and helped to restore my belief in Christ—the one who died to save me from my sins, even though I most certainly did not deserve it. He pointed to grace, not as a result of earning it, but as a gift freely given to us. I could not help but burst into tears one Sunday after church when this truth finally became my reality. But it wasn’t because of a well-timed sermon or a scripture verse in that moment. I was reminded of something I read in Total Church two weeks prior about the nature of God’s rule over the earth: “The reality is that the rule of God is a rule of life, blessing, peace and justice. God rules through his word, and his rule brings freedom and joy.” Letting go of my pride, I finally found rest in this truth and submitted my life to Jesus.