Ordinary People Extraordinary Things

66. Awakening to Faith A Personal Tale of Discovery with Lauren Friedauer

February 18, 2024 Lauren Friedauer Season 4 Episode 66
66. Awakening to Faith A Personal Tale of Discovery with Lauren Friedauer
Ordinary People Extraordinary Things
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Ordinary People Extraordinary Things
66. Awakening to Faith A Personal Tale of Discovery with Lauren Friedauer
Feb 18, 2024 Season 4 Episode 66
Lauren Friedauer

Navigating the complexities of faith and identity can be a solitary journey, but Lauren's story is a testament to the transformative power of community and personal conviction. As our guest on Ordinary People Extraordinary Things, she opens up about her path from a non-religious upbringing to a profound embrace of Christianity, highlighting the moments of tranquility and truth that marked her spiritual awakening. With her insights as a Christian and a creative soul, Lauren's narrative challenges us to consider the impact of authenticity and honesty on our own lives, and the way they forge deeper connections and resolve conflicts.

Throughout our profound conversation, Lauren illustrates the evolution of her relationship with faith—a passage that began within the communal warmth of a youth group and blossomed into a deeply rooted personal belief system. Her experiences, from playing guitar at church events to being baptized, showcase the shift from shared rituals to intimate spiritual practice. She also shares the delicate dance of intertwining her creative passions with ministry, revealing how she uses her talents in filmmaking and photography to serve her church community. Her personal journey, including the challenges faced within family dynamics and the powerful growth of faith on a mission trip, offers an inspiring blueprint for managing faith in a complex world.

Our episode culminates with discussions on the relatable imperfections of the early church, the life-altering stories within the Bible, and the profound acts of compassion that unite us in our humanness. Lauren's reflection on the Book of Acts and the role of scripture during times of doubt encourages us to find solace in God's unwavering presence. The episode wraps up with an exploration of gratitude amidst adversity, urging our listeners to find and share the light of hope within their communities. Join us for this heartfelt exploration of friendship, creativity, and the enduring quest for spiritual fulfillment.

You can find “Ordinary People Extraordinary Things” anywhere you listen to podcasts or Check out the links below....⬇️

https://www.buzzsprout.com/1882033

https://generationstogenerations.com/podcast

https://podcasts.google.com/feed/aHR0cHM6Ly9mZWVkcy5idXp6c3Byb3V0LmNvbS8xODgyMDMzLnJzcw==?fbclid=IwAR247ak35J8RZi5b7yy5bLckHABNYCBnwYxGS0NU1spsVtKqsxhFH4PCaZM

https://www.iheart.com/podcast/269-ordinary-people-extraordin-89553427/

Https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/ordinary-people-extraordinary-things/id1596670894

https://open.spotify.com/show/5wVEm2IUT7lpVGBdbgqagd

https://www.youtube.com/@GenNancy


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All rights reserved: Ordinary People Extraordinary Things

Stories shared by guests may not always be shared views of OPET.
Being a guest does not mean OPET approves of every decision or action in the guests' life.

We all have a story, all of us, share your story. You don't have to have the perfect answer or the perfect life - share what Jesus is doing in your life. This is an easy, real way to witness & share your testimony.


Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Navigating the complexities of faith and identity can be a solitary journey, but Lauren's story is a testament to the transformative power of community and personal conviction. As our guest on Ordinary People Extraordinary Things, she opens up about her path from a non-religious upbringing to a profound embrace of Christianity, highlighting the moments of tranquility and truth that marked her spiritual awakening. With her insights as a Christian and a creative soul, Lauren's narrative challenges us to consider the impact of authenticity and honesty on our own lives, and the way they forge deeper connections and resolve conflicts.

Throughout our profound conversation, Lauren illustrates the evolution of her relationship with faith—a passage that began within the communal warmth of a youth group and blossomed into a deeply rooted personal belief system. Her experiences, from playing guitar at church events to being baptized, showcase the shift from shared rituals to intimate spiritual practice. She also shares the delicate dance of intertwining her creative passions with ministry, revealing how she uses her talents in filmmaking and photography to serve her church community. Her personal journey, including the challenges faced within family dynamics and the powerful growth of faith on a mission trip, offers an inspiring blueprint for managing faith in a complex world.

Our episode culminates with discussions on the relatable imperfections of the early church, the life-altering stories within the Bible, and the profound acts of compassion that unite us in our humanness. Lauren's reflection on the Book of Acts and the role of scripture during times of doubt encourages us to find solace in God's unwavering presence. The episode wraps up with an exploration of gratitude amidst adversity, urging our listeners to find and share the light of hope within their communities. Join us for this heartfelt exploration of friendship, creativity, and the enduring quest for spiritual fulfillment.

You can find “Ordinary People Extraordinary Things” anywhere you listen to podcasts or Check out the links below....⬇️

https://www.buzzsprout.com/1882033

https://generationstogenerations.com/podcast

https://podcasts.google.com/feed/aHR0cHM6Ly9mZWVkcy5idXp6c3Byb3V0LmNvbS8xODgyMDMzLnJzcw==?fbclid=IwAR247ak35J8RZi5b7yy5bLckHABNYCBnwYxGS0NU1spsVtKqsxhFH4PCaZM

https://www.iheart.com/podcast/269-ordinary-people-extraordin-89553427/

Https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/ordinary-people-extraordinary-things/id1596670894

https://open.spotify.com/show/5wVEm2IUT7lpVGBdbgqagd

https://www.youtube.com/@GenNancy


ordinarypeoplestories@gmail.com

https://www.facebook.com/ordinarypeoplestory

https://www.instagram.com/ordinarypeopleextraordinary/

X: @storiesextra

Any advice should be confirmed with a qualified professional.
All rights reserved: Ordinary People Extraordinary Things

Stories shared by guests may not always be shared views of OPET.
Being a guest does not mean OPET approves of every decision or action in the guests' life.

We all have a story, all of us, share your story. You don't have to have the perfect answer or the perfect life - share what Jesus is doing in your life. This is an easy, real way to witness & share your testimony.


Speaker 1:

Welcome to Ordinary People, extraordinary Things. I'm your host, nancy, and I get to talk to ordinary people just like you, about real stories. Do you know someone who would be encouraged or inspired by this episode Today? Could you take the time to send this to them? We are spreading the word about ordinary people, extraordinary things, to bring faith and hope into our communities. Well, welcome to Ordinary People, extraordinary Things.

Speaker 2:

I'm here with Lauren, lauren thanks for coming, thanks for having me.

Speaker 1:

I'm so excited, me too. If people don't know who you are, can you give three words or phrases that describe you?

Speaker 2:

Um, yeah, I'll just go cliche, christian, I'm an Enneagram 4. I am a filmmaker and photographer for Southeast Christian Church here in Colorado. And yeah, I'm a young adult 24.

Speaker 1:

Yeah.

Speaker 2:

I'll be turning 25 this year, which is crazy. But yeah, that's kind of a little bit about me.

Speaker 1:

Very good and I am not that good at the Enneagram. Which Enneagram is it?

Speaker 2:

Um, they are. The Enneagram 4 is their title is the individualist, so their pejorative is uniqueness, I guess. But that's like a very surface level way of what I really honor and value is my identity and, yes, standing out, but really just authenticity and valuing my truest self and like putting out my truest self for those around me, so you're not afraid to be yourself. No, it's my. Yeah, it feels very like. It's one of those things where, for example, like I really hate lying. I would hope that most people hate lying, but for me I just find it really difficult, even like I really, because I really value just wanting to be like my most honest self with people. So I, if somebody asks me a question, even if I don't want to answer the question, the way that is the truth. I might just, I'm probably just gonna give them the truth anyways.

Speaker 1:

You know.

Speaker 2:

so that's like an example.

Speaker 1:

I like it yeah but so then, do you value honesty in others? Do you expect them to be honest with you as well?

Speaker 2:

Expect is an interesting word. Sure, sure, I don't necessarily. I think, like subconsciously, I might expect it. I really value it in others as well. Just, I know that oftentimes when I am hurt by somebody or feel wronged in any way, it's usually because they are. I don't feel like they're being honest with me Oftentimes, that it comes across as if somebody's not communicating with me. Then to me, that tells me that I, that they're not sharing everything with me and they're not telling me the truth or they're like it's like the emission of truth. But so I oftentimes in conflict. That's the thing that, like burns me the most is when people are not being upfront, and I do believe that when you are vulnerable and honest, then it inspires it in other people, and so I guess if I am willing to do that for others, then I would hope that they would be willing to do the same for me. Yeah, so it's good.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, Well, I'm so excited you're here. You were so great. We were just talking with some other people and and I said well, you could be on my podcast too, and you're like yes.

Speaker 1:

I'm like really, yeah, absolutely.

Speaker 1:

So that's just so refreshing because sometimes I have so many people that are willing to be on and other times it's really hard, and I understand that, that it's hard to tell your story sometimes. But I think sometimes people are feeling more like very humble, like I don't have a story to tell or no one would listen or or something in that realm. And I can understand that because I actually don't share too much about myself, which I'm trying to be better about. But I think that we really lose something when we put kind of humbleness I'm using air quotes that no one can see that, yeah, above above, sharing our faith, and then we really we've lost something. Yeah. So I just wanted to say thank you for saying, yeah, I'll do this, happy to, and I think, just for anyone who's listening, that doesn't mean, oh, you have to be on a podcast, but I'm really praying that through this podcast, more and more people share their story and share their story of faith, because it's such an easy way to build God's kingdom in a very real way, Totally.

Speaker 2:

It reminds me a lot of in the Bible. I feel like with Paul and maybe I'm just pulling this out of nowhere but when he often speaks to the different peoples that he goes to, he is always talking about his own experience with God and with Jesus and his relationship with him and what Jesus has done for him. And I feel like ever since I became a believer, the one thing that I've been told is that I don't have to know all the answers. I don't have to know every fact, every theory, every opinion. I don't have to have hard yeses and nos to certain questions, but all I need is my story and my relationship with the Lord, and he does the rest. So, yeah, I think it's always important to share your story because someone might hear it and say, oh, that's like mine, and feel inclined or inspired to say yes to Jesus. Yay.

Speaker 1:

So, on that lovely segue, you gave us, what is your faith story.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, I was born and raised in Colorado and when I was four my parents got divorced. They have been friends ever since. It's not the typical divorce where they hate each other and things are complicated and weird. Like we've shared holidays together. My mom and dad have always been like. They both moved me into college together, so it's very civil and friendly. So I grew up going to different households. Neither of them were very religious. My mom was raised and baptized Catholic but didn't really instill that on me, so I was about 11. I found out that well, found out is an interesting term, I think it's more just like somebody. I was aware of it the whole time, but it wasn't until somebody said it that I was like oh, that's what this is. But I found out that my mom was an alcoholic, that she struggled with alcoholism, so you were saying, not until someone said the words where you were able to understand what was happening.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, there was one day where my dad had asked me if anything was strange and I guess in that moment I was just like, oh yeah, I guess this is kind of weird. I do notice these things and for me, growing up, in that situation I was just like this is normal and it wasn't until I think my dad provided another perspective that I was like, oh, maybe this isn't like a normal thing and maybe it is weird. Since then it just kind of like opened my eyes to a bunch of other things. My mom, when I was around 13-ish ages are fuzzy, but when I was in like the beginnings of middle school, tail end of elementary school, she attempted suicide. That was difficult. Just in a sense of when I was going through that, I didn't really have the reaction that I think some people might have. Where I wasn't exactly concerned, I mean, I think on a surface level as her child, it was concerning, but I was deeply hurt and angry that she would choose something like that instead of staying to take care of me and love me. So it really impacted my self-worth in a sense of like, oh, I'm not enough for my parent to stay and it shattered a lot of my trust in her.

Speaker 2:

But also like women in general, I have always struggled with like female relationships, like friendships.

Speaker 2:

When I was in high school I never really had any friends that were girls, or like I had friends that were girls but they weren't close.

Speaker 2:

It was complicated and difficult and I had a hard time connecting with my mom even more after that.

Speaker 2:

So before I spent less time with my dad and more time with my mom, but then in high school we switched custody, so I was now a week on, a week off, with both parents and then my freshman year of high school, I was actually in a school shooting. So, yeah, I went to a wrap-a-hole over in Littleton Centennial area and, yeah, my first year yeah, it was Friday the 13th, which is a crazy day to have that happen on experiencing like PTSD. And I still, even now, am not sure like how God fits into all of that, not that I don't see Him in it, but just how I really believe that what I said earlier, like my story and the things that I've gone through, god uses to help the other people around me, to like pour into or provide support for people who have gone through similar things or, you know, perspective for people who haven't the shooting. I'm still not sure where it all fits in, but I feel like it's important regardless.

Speaker 1:

Sorry, I don't mean to interrupt you, but. I just feel like that's okay, to say yeah, and I think that that I just wanted to stop you and say for anyone who's listening and saying I don't know where God fits into this part of my story. Yet this is really hard, that's okay. We don't have to have all the answers. Maybe we'll never have all the answers on this side, but I just like your honesty with that, so. So thank you for that.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, for sure, and who knows, the answer might be provided to me like years from now, but right now it's just I'm going through therapy for it. So that was my freshman year and then around my sophomore year the tail end of it I was in a pretty bad like friendship circle. They were kind of, they were just bullies more or less, and I felt very lonely and, yeah, just not valued, and conveniently we all got into a conflict through me hurting somebody. It was just like you know it's high school drama.

Speaker 2:

It wasn't like I like did anything severe. It just was like a high school conflict and that friend then told my other friends in our group and so it turned into this whole like Lauren is the worst and we kind of they like kicked me out of the friend group or I was fighting with all of them, so I just took it upon myself to distance myself from them and then through that, the only person that I could really think of to text about this was my friend, bella. I had known her like my entire life. We had gone to elementary school together but we were always school friends and not really like outside friends.

Speaker 2:

And I texted her because I was like I have no one to sit with at lunch anymore. So like who can I sit with? And Bella was the first person I thought of. So I texted her and she like I asked her if she had any plans and she said she didn't, which I to this day I'm convinced that that's not true. I think she just canceled them so that she could hang out with me. Yeah, because I found out later, like a couple years later, that in our high school small group she had told them about me and she was like Lauren has been on my heart. I want her to know God. So can we start praying for her and that was like October and this was before.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, I know it's not crazy.

Speaker 2:

So they had been praying for me for a while, so when I didn't, know this group, you were involved in churches. Some of them were like classmates, like some of them also went to a wrap-up, and so I knew of them.

Speaker 1:

But I wasn't.

Speaker 2:

No, I didn't know them personally or had any kind of relationship with them, but yeah, so she eventually invited me to meet our friends, Our old high school youth group. Our leaders had what was called a lunch bunch every other Thursday. Where A lunch bunch?

Speaker 2:

Yeah, because we had so many students from a wrap-a-ho in our high school youth group. They would meet us at the Einstein's Bagel across the street and we would just all have lunch together. Okay, so there were like 17 of us in this Einstein's Bagel, like pushing all the tables together, and it was really fun. But she took me to that and it was so intimidating. I was so nervous because the whole time I was there I was like they're going to know that I'm not a believer. They're going to not like me because I don't believe. They're going to like ostracize me and like be mean to me, and I think growing up I also had this idea that Christians were just weird.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, just put it out there. They're weird yeah.

Speaker 2:

And I was just super nervous. But I remember that first day feeling like it was the hardest I had ever laughed and it was so much fun. No one cared about how I like, what I believed and what I didn't believe. It was like I had always been there, their friend, and it was so cool. And why did you go then? I think because over time Bella had it wasn't like.

Speaker 2:

Bella texted me about lunch and I was like hey, tomorrow do you want to like hang out with my friends? She, we had been like spending time together for like weeks. So she originally, I think that first week that we got lunch because when I texted her it was a Sunday, so the first day that we got lunch together was a Monday, and that whole week it was just her and I at lunch. And then she actually did such a good job about it, about like the slow integration she, because then afterwards, I think, when she realized that I felt more comfortable, she started inviting me to lunch with her friends and then they became my friends and then it was like oh, we all hang out on Thursdays at this time like for lunch bunch, you should also come, and so, stepping into that environment, I already knew them, so you kind of felt safe because you had some relationship with at least one or a couple of them.

Speaker 1:

Yes, and Bella she.

Speaker 2:

I really like hockey and I was in deep in my hockey phase.

Speaker 2:

My sophomore year of high school and we had a high school leader. He, I think he was our youth director at the time. He was also really into hockey. So she was like, hey, you guys should hang out and talk, not like hang out, but like you guys should. I want you to meet him because you guys can connect on this. Yeah, I felt safe enough because I knew she would be there, but also because it wasn't like I was just walking into a, like a room and everybody turns to look at me and I'm the only one who doesn't know anybody. No, and and they didn't. Even if that were the case, I don't think they would have made me feel that way.

Speaker 2:

Anyways, eventually, she and all of them as I got closer and closer with all of them she, I did I wanted to go to youth group with them because it was like, oh, they all hang out here too. So I'm like these are all my friends, I want to hang out with them. So I started going to youth group and originally they had Saturdays and Tuesdays and Saturdays were like hangout days and then Tuesdays were like message and small groups and stuff like that worship. So I started going on Saturdays and that was a blast. And then eventually I joined Tuesdays for a couple months.

Speaker 2:

I really only went because I'm super relational and so like my friendships and my relationships in my life value, like I owe a lot of value to them, and I was really only going to youth group because my friends were there and I was like this is a way for me to hang out with them, not necessarily because I believed anything or like agreed with anything, not that I and I thought that I didn't disagree, you know just weren't ready to yeah, I just was kind of like OK, this is just what I'm going to listen to and I get to hang out with my friends while I'm doing it.

Speaker 2:

But I think eventually there wasn't like a huge moment I had where the heavens opened up and I met God and I was like, oh, he is real.

Speaker 2:

Like it was kind of like a slow introducing where I think eventually I was like I'm just, yeah, this just makes sense. The more that I hear it, the more it makes sense and the more I think that I was able to like look for God. There was a moment where, so I played guitar, I joined our youth worship team and the first night that I played on high school for high school, I was terrified. I was so nervous, but we had prayed before as a team and I, we prayed and I instantly felt this like other worldly peace and I remember getting on stage and feeling like Jesus was there with me and I think that was like the first moment that I really experienced like a personal interaction with the Lord. And then afterwards, bella gave me my first Bible and she had no idea she was like I was going to give it to you anyway. That night was kind of like I would say if you want a moment, the moment.

Speaker 1:

If I have to make you pick a moment, yeah, it would probably be then.

Speaker 2:

But even after that it's not like my faith journey was never like, oh, I know God and now I'm like diving into it. I think like nothing really changed. I still went and I started to read the Bible more and like obviously spending time in our small groups my small group was a very rare breed. We were all super invested in each other and we all showed up and cause. You know, in high school you can sometimes be super flaky, but like we were very invested in each other and it was really good like solid foundation for me in terms of what faith and exploring faith looks like. But I like nothing necessarily changed Nothing changed in your.

Speaker 2:

So I compared to like a couple, like a couple years later, when I left for college and my freshman year of college, I was like so in the word.

Speaker 2:

I like read every day. I was like hungry for it, and it was the first time that I was on my own and my faith was my own and I could decide where I was going to church and I could decide, like how I wanted to like act out my faith, like what I wanted to do with my time, and that I would compare to like the moment that I really like adopted this lifestyle in quotes, I guess but like started to really implement Jesus in my life, rather than just in high school. It was just something that I do and something that I said and relied on my friends for a lot of it. And so when I stepped into college and I was on my own and living in San Francisco, I was like there's no one around me that I know to do this with. So I guess I got to do it on my own, like I joined crew and met friends there and whatnot. But for the most part, it was like this is mine now.

Speaker 2:

My senior year of high school, I graduated and then I got it was. I had decided to go on a mission trip that summer because I was like this is what I want my life to be about, like I want people to know that I know Jesus, and a mission trip was a very big way for me to like step out into my life of this is me, and not from like a friend circle standpoint, but more from like my family aren't believers At least my dad's side they're not believers. Most of my mom's side isn't believers or aren't believers, and there were a lot of people in my life that like didn't know and I wanted people to know. So the mission trip was like a way for me to be like you know, asking for money, but then like, hey, this is the thing that I do and that I'm now a part of and I want, like you, to partner with me in that. But also I wanted it was you know, it's like kind of like another baptism.

Speaker 1:

You actually wanted people to know yeah.

Speaker 2:

That same summer I also got baptized. So and that was really special too, because it was in the mountains and it was in a lake, and it was one of the first experiences I had where I like I had this whole plan, like I wanted it to be a certain way, and our high school youth pastor, who was baptizing me we had this whole idea of what it would look like and he was like we're going to go on this hike and there will be hot springs at the end and that's when we'll baptize you. And I was like cool, but the hike was arduous and the worst. And at the end of the hike there were no hot springs. And I remember standing and we were like all of my friends were like what are we going to do? Like Lord needs to get baptized. How are we going to do this? And I was trying so hard not to like lose it because I had all these expectations and I was trying. It was like the first moment that I experienced where I was like OK, I need to like not make my own plans and allow the Lord to just do what he's going to do. But it was really hard and then eventually we all like again Lord's provision, we figured it out and it was better than the original plan.

Speaker 2:

But then my senior year is really when I dove into my faith and it was when I kind of started exploring like what it looks like to, in air quotes, work in ministry. Because I started, like, serving in youth group. I really wanted to do a summer internship with a few like missions programs where I like was just doing missions for the whole summer but nothing really panned out besides, just like volunteering in youth group. And then I was in crew leadership and like did all that stuff. And then around my sophomore year, I like Sophomore year of college.

Speaker 1:

Yes.

Speaker 2:

My second year because I graduated in three. My second year I had this like realization that I because I was studying filmmaking, so I was studying cinema, and usually the trajectory for that is the like textbook trajectory is you just go to Hollywood and then you try and make movies and I was like I do not want to do that. I woke up one day Well, I actually had a conversation with a friend and it opened my eyes, but I was like I don't want to do that. I want to be in ministry. I want to like figure out how I can do that.

Speaker 2:

I had a whole breakdown. I thought that I needed to drop out of school and, like and like or like, apply to CCU, and CCU is.

Speaker 1:

Colorado Christian University. Yes, sorry, yeah, no, I was hoping anyone out who might.

Speaker 2:

I thought that I had to go to some like Christian college in order to get a degree in ministry. Like, eventually, my I had friends who convinced me to like finish my degree and then just intern at a church over the summer, which is what I did, and it was glorious and I loved it and it was. It was a way I think for a while I had been struggling to figure out how I could unite both sides of me, like both passions, where I was passionate about filmmaking and photography and also I wanted to do ministry and pour into people and be relational. But how can I do both? And being able to like work at a church or just work in ministry and use my talents and the gifts that God has given me to build the kingdom and tell his story, I think that's super cool.

Speaker 2:

And then, regarding, like my parents, I feel like family is the hardest to evangelize and it wasn't ever necessarily a huge goal of mine. I really struggle with like having those Jesus conversations with people or just initiating them. It's really hard for me because it's not how I connect to people, and so I was open about my faith and I like I treated it as just like some, something that's a part of me because it is. My mom and my stepdad at the time were very they would like come to church every now and then. Oftentimes it was because I was like, hey, I made this thing and they're gonna show it at church, so you should come and see it, yeah, so they were just supporting you.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, and then eventually they like started to enjoy the message content and like actually attend. But they never really attended. It was very rare that they would come in person, so it was always online. And then I actually, when I switched churches when I got a different job, they started to. They went once to Southeast and have gone like every Sunday since, and it's super cool to see that. And my mom especially, like I never considered her the kind of person to join a life group or like a small group and she is in one and it's super wild to like see her transformation in that of like it wasn't super prevalent and super important. And then now she like attends our worship nights and like always goes to church and if she can't, she watches it online or like attending a life group and that's just super cool to me, like I bought her her first Bible and so it's super cool to see that.

Speaker 2:

And then my dad is. We had like a rough when I was in high school, like a rough start to this whole Jesus Christianity thing, because I think my dad has been very like. In high school at least, I went from like hanging out with him all the time and he was definitely one of my best friends when I was in high school to spending like four nights a week at the church, like Tuesdays, wednesdays, Thursdays, saturdays. It was kind of all the time and I think for him there was a lot of oh. This thing is taking my daughter from me and as well as my, his mom also committed suicide when before I was born and she had before she did she had become a believer, and so I think my dad has associated that aspect with something terrible. And in high school I actually was groomed by one of our, one of their tech guys, and that was I was at church.

Speaker 2:

Yes, at church, yeah, yeah, it wasn't great.

Speaker 1:

I was sorry just for anyone who doesn't know what that like they were trying to yeah, grooming, it's basically so.

Speaker 2:

Oftentimes I feel like it happens to very like emotionally vulnerable girls, girls who like, or, I guess, boys, kids who don't have a lot of stability in their lives, and so older people, men or women, will kind of like pray on them and it seems really nice at first, like you're getting this attention and somebody actually likes you and wants to talk to you and hang out with you and be your friend, and but then eventually, like this situation with me and this this man, eventually, like I got it in my head that we were gonna get married and I was 16 and he was 28. And so I was like I was convinced that he was in love with me, like that he had feelings for me. It was a whole thing when he got fired because I told people about it, and was he?

Speaker 1:

trying to be intimate with you.

Speaker 2:

There he would make comments. There was nothing physical involved, but he definitely like made comments to me that he should not have made to a minor and so that whole thing occurred. And I think with my dad he was very much like okay, so the church took my mom and has been taking my daughter and then this thing happened to her. So he was very much like not about it and then, but since then I went to a mission trip in Central Asia in 2021. And it just is seeing my dad. It was weird because when I was there, first of all, both my parents were worried, because Central Asia is where all the stands are.

Speaker 1:

Sorry again the stands in. What were you talking about with the like I like Afghanistan Central.

Speaker 2:

Asia is where like, yes, like there's Kazakhstan and Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan, and and that's where you were.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, it was in that area there were safety concerns but I was like we would not be going if it was wasn't dangerous or if it was dangerous. But then halfway through he sent me this random video and it was North Koreans eating Thanksgiving dinner and I was like, okay, I'm gonna watch this, because maybe he thinks I really into K-pop. So he was like, which is Korean pop? And I was like, oh, maybe he's just sending me this because they're Koreans and it mentions K-pop in somewhere another. Or when I watched the video, there were these. There was a girl, I think, who was talking about her flee from North Korea and Christian refugees or Christians, christian missionaries, like helping her to flee.

Speaker 2:

And my dad, when he picked me up from the airport after I come home, he was like, did you watch the video? And I was like I did. And he was like, did you see that part about, like the Christian, like that girl talking about the Christian people who helped her? And I was like, yeah, and he was like I thought that was really cool and it brought a new perspective onto like why you were where, you were doing what you were doing, like helping the people, like these Christians are helping people flee from North Korea, et cetera, et cetera, and I was like what the heck?

Speaker 2:

It was like 1 am in the airport and I'm like we're having this conversation in a baggage claim and I was shocked. I was like this is my dad, who doesn't want anything to do with this, and since then he's always been very like, I think, like, respectively, supportive in terms of like I know, I think initially he was like I don't want this thing to be a part of her life, but eventually he's been like okay, it is a part of her life and I just have to accept that and I, as her parent, will do what I can that I'm comfortable with to show her if that makes sense. There's no like wrap up.

Speaker 2:

And now I'm here living my life.

Speaker 1:

We need it tied up in a boat, I know.

Speaker 2:

I'm like, my life is ongoing. My story never ends until I'm dead.

Speaker 1:

but yeah, it's, of course. I loved how you said that things were really slow and there maybe not have been like a aha moment, though you can kind of see like, oh, I did feel him here and here, because, in a way, we love those aha moments and stories. And we love that, but I'm gonna just generalize. For the most part I don't know that that's how most people would have it.

Speaker 1:

So then they feel like I don't know if I'm doing this right, I don't know if I'm like really growing in my faith, because I haven't had this. So I appreciate that. What would you say to someone who like, logically, kind of like you were in high school, like okay, logically I believe, but they haven't really made that next step?

Speaker 2:

maybe is what I would call it.

Speaker 1:

What would you say?

Speaker 2:

I think that I think it's really easy to compare and contrast stories like other people's experience versus your own, and I even do it where I look at like, for example, I didn't have necessarily like a big pivotal moment with God, and there are so many people that I think we hear about at least the stories that we often hear about. There are people that are like I was on my knees and Jesus met me in it and I was sobbing and had all this like this huge, like a really emotional and spiritual moment, which are important. But I think, like even for me, I would sometimes get insecure where I was like, have I really experienced the Lord? And even now, sometimes I have moments where I'm like I don't necessarily, and I'm a feeler, I'm a deep feeler, so it's really easy for me to tie my emotions and how I feel to God's presence, and so I think for me, like a lot of it has been, I mean, I feel like it's so cliche to just be like the word. The word is God's voice, but it is, and so I think like when I took that dive, my next step was I was like my main focus was I just want to know God and know who he is and that is what a relationship is. You look at it as like anybody, like you and I, sitting across from each other, or your friend that you get coffee with on a regular basis, or like your siblings or whatever they like. You have to make that effort in order to know somebody and even when I have moments where I stray really far and I reach a point where I'm like I don't know who God is anymore, what always draws me back is the simple fact that, like looking at my relationship with the Lord as just like somebody who I get breakfast with and actually sit across from and ask him questions. He asks me questions like we just have a conversation and I think the word is a huge part of that, of it is a very detailed telling of God's character and who he is.

Speaker 2:

And I think whenever I, that's kind of like the thing that drew me in of this next step of sure, god is real, but to really experience him and know who he is, that is where that comes in.

Speaker 2:

And I think with the word, with like reading the word, because when I started I started in, I think I started in Acts it felt like I was reading like some crazy like fiction novel where I was like not like fiction in the sense that it wasn't true, but it's just the feeling that it gave me where I was like this is like every other book I've read and I love it and it was like I devoured the Bible and I think like that in and of itself allowed me to understand God's character and therefore like really fully experience him in my life, regardless of whether or not I had like a big pivotal moment or like, and then I think, deviating from my emotions, of just like head versus heart, of sometimes I'm not gonna feel him or experience him in the way that I want or I'm used to.

Speaker 2:

Especially, I think like in high school I feel like oftentimes when you're that, you're emotional in high school it's just kind of how it is and I know sometimes high school youth groups can be a little like, can play on that, and there can be big like moments where you're crying and you think it's the Lord, but like you might just be having a bad day. But I think like growing, going through that and then coming out of it. My biggest thing has always been I of learning how not to equate those like really emotional moments with whether or not God is there. One God is gonna be there all the time, but I think, learning how to distinguish, like head versus my heart, like, even if I don't necessarily feel it, he's still there, you know, does that make sense?

Speaker 1:

I think it's just that remembering, especially if you know that you're an emotional, like not emotional person. It's like a feeler and all of us will be that at some point I don't feel, god, I don't know, to go back into the word. I think that's such a good reminder for anyone. And then I love that you started with acts.

Speaker 2:

How fun. I know I feel like most people start with the Gospels, but I was like I feel like I have a generally good idea on how the Gospels go and I wanted to learn about, like, I guess, the beginning of the church and what it looked like for them to be believers without Jesus around.

Speaker 2:

I feel like then, because it's like the Gospel. Yeah, it was just one of those things where I was like I understand that Jesus has come and sacrificed himself for me. The way that I said that made it sound so light, but it's not. But I think like acts was really good because I did it really. I don't know how to explain it, but it just felt like I was reading one of my normal books.

Speaker 1:

Well, it's jam packed Like if you haven't read it. If you're listening and if you haven't read it, you need to dive in. There's like people coming back to life after falling out of like a two or three story window there's like transportation between places, and there's shipwrecks and I mean it's yeah it's fun.

Speaker 1:

And then also, what I love about acts is that I know at one time I was told, well, we just need to go back to acts because they like a church like acts, because they were kind of perfect. And then I started reading acts and I'm like, oh my, they were not perfect.

Speaker 2:

I don't know how we got that.

Speaker 1:

But I love that as well. I love that because the idea that we've never been perfect as a church, even from the beginning, totally and anyway, I don't know why.

Speaker 2:

No, yeah, I think I was also confused with Saul versus Paul, like I was like huh, no one ever really explained that to me, so I wanted to read about it and just like seeing his story of like where he had come from versus who he ended up being, like, I was like I feel like that is just such a really cool transformation.

Speaker 1:

Because he's the same person. If you don't know, yes.

Speaker 2:

Saul and Paul same person, just a different letter, which I feel like you're kind of inferred. But I was like who is like? They all call them Paul, but sometimes there are references to Saul. Like I was like, huh, and then there's Saul in Old Testament. So I was like who? Who are we talking about? Anyways? Yeah, I think a lot of it. Yeah, that was a reason, but actually it was great, and then I did read the Bible in a year.

Speaker 1:

Yes, I've done that. I'm on my second time, nice yeah.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, it was one of those things where I was like well, I guess if I'm going to like read the Bible, I might as well just try and do this in a year. I did not do it in a year. I tried my very hardest. I think I was maybe like a couple weeks behind. Oh my gosh, I know that's a win. I know it is a win. I've done it linearly too.

Speaker 1:

Yes, I like that one.

Speaker 2:

I was like I really want to know chronologically how the story all folds together.

Speaker 1:

So yeah, Yay, so many things to like. If you're like, hey, I've got to jump into that. Yes, you do, totally. So, as we wrap up, lauren, what is your favorite Bible verse or story?

Speaker 2:

My favorite is one of my favorites I really, really love. I think this is always resonated with me, but in the Gospels, when Jesus is in the house and there are all these people who want to talk to him, and these friends are like we need our friend who cannot walk to meet Jesus so that he can be healed and he can walk again, they take the roof off and they lower him in. I love for me as a relational person, as I've mentioned before, that I'm like dang, that is true friendship, right there. I love the act of. It feels so generous and compassionate, specifically compassionate, one of my favorite. Now I haven't fact checked this, but it's one of those things that I kind of just believe.

Speaker 2:

But I was told by a leader of mine, a mentor of mine, back in college that compassion means to suffer with and I feel like in this story where they lower their friend through the roof, they literally dismantle a building in order to get their friend to meet Jesus. I feel like that is the epitome of suffering with, of compassion for their friends. They know and experience with him the fact that he cannot walk, so and then for them to just like they're like, here you go, drop you in and for Jesus to use him as an example to like get up and walk. I think that miracle in and of itself is really amazing, but my heart is always drawn to the fact that his friends went to those lengths for him and it's the same, I feel like for me. That's a very big example of how I want to live my life, of like dismantling roofs for my friends so that they can meet God.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, so yeah.

Speaker 1:

No, that's such a, and if you've been around the Bible a long time, that's probably one that you've heard.

Speaker 2:

Mm-hmm.

Speaker 1:

Is that they came through the roof and he did say, get up and walk. And he got up and walked. But if you actually I think that might be the problem sometimes if we've been around church for too long it's like, oh yep, no the story. Yeah, totally, but to actually what does that mean? What is the story about? Like this is actually really crazy. Yeah, like that you would go to that lengths for someone believing so much that Jesus would do what you knew he would do or that you hoped he would do.

Speaker 2:

Yeah. Yeah, there's that faith aspect too of like I feel like if I'm I mean, you can get up and walk. You can correct me if I'm wrong. It is one of the very first examples at least in one of the Gospels, I think where Jesus tells somebody to get up and walk at least. And I feel like to have that kind of faith where, like, you don't know if this is actually going to work or not, and you you're just trusting that the things that you have heard about Jesus are going to actually come true or like be true, especially for your friend. And I know that like there are probably moments where people ask Jesus for healing and he didn't heal them Not because he didn't like them, but just because it was a part of their story or how he wanted to display his glory.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, I mean he obviously didn't help every single person that he came in contact with in that three years. Yeah, totally. Three years is a short time. It's a short time If you take about it.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, I think like that has always resonated with me, the whole thing, not just the miracle itself, but like the urgency in which that they they're like I mean, what a solutions-focused mindset they're. Like I can't get through the door so we're just gonna, like, take the roof off, like, and to think about also, that probably didn't take, like that probably wasn't five minutes, it was like getting on the roof, you know, it was probably like Like someone who can't walk yeah, it was a long time and to like arduously, like go through that experience, like that's cool.

Speaker 2:

I just think that's really cool. So, and I hope that it can also be an example for not just friendships, but also from a ministry standpoint, like a vocational ministry standpoint the church doing that for its people you know, Like dismantling roofs and traditions and things that might get in the way of your encounter or relationship or healing with the Lord, you know. So that's good.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, I like something. For me is just always saying like, do something. And that's what those friends did. They didn't just say we love you, we're praying for you, which I am a wholehearted believer in prayer but I think sometimes you have to do something as well. Not always. Sometimes, God says to be still, you know. So I'm not putting a blanket out there, everybody. But they did something. They were like we see a need and we're going to do it Totally. So maybe that's not, maybe yours is to be still, but maybe it is to do something.

Speaker 1:

Yeah totally, and what are you grateful for?

Speaker 2:

Yeah, it's a very interesting question.

Speaker 2:

I'm in a really difficult season of my life at the moment, experiencing a lot of grief, and so when you asked me that, initially I was like, what am I grateful for?

Speaker 2:

Doesn't really feel like anything at the moment, but the more that I think about it, I am constantly and always grateful for the relationships that I have in my life.

Speaker 2:

To make a long story short, there was a year where I kind of didn't really have that much community in my life and since then God has provided tenfold like so many people in my life that are like, so important to me and like wise counsel and support systems and like just really good friends. And it has made this past year was really difficult in general, but it has made it so much easier because of them, because of my relationships and because of my friends, that I am able to go through something really difficult and be able to still like for one for it to not hurt as much as it could versus, not versus but for it to not hurt as much as it could and for me to still be able to experience light and joy. Yeah, my friends, they're just very important to me. That's what I'm mostly grateful for that. I have relationships that can rally around me when things get really difficult and when it's difficult for me to see how God is moving in it, for them to remind me where God might be moving in it.

Speaker 1:

So yeah, that's good. And again, I like how you said that when I saw this question I didn't know what I was grateful for, because I think there's people listening that are thinking the same thing. I'm in a tough spot. I'm not don't know if I'm grateful for anything right now, yeah for sure, but that you're like OK, yes, there is something to be grateful for, but I feel like there's just been so many little tidbits in your story, so thank you for sharing, thank you, thank you for being honest, thanks for having me.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, of course.

Speaker 1:

One of your things is being honest, and I could tell you're being so honest with your story, and I can't wait to see what God's going to do with someone who's listening Me too.

Speaker 2:

I'm so excited. Thank you for listening. This is David and this is Rachel, and if you liked this episode, please share on social media.

Speaker 1:

And share with your friends.

Sharing Faith Through Personal Stories
Faith Journey and Personal Growth
Navigating Faith and Family Relationships
Experiencing God Through Relationship and Word
Discussion on Acts and Bible Stories
Compassion and Friendship in Faith
Finding Gratitude in Tough Times