So picture this: 13 Year old Alexis just met Jesus. I never heard of Him in my life, never went to church, and didn’t know what the Bible was. No, I did not live in the boondocks, I grew up in Laguna Beach, CA. The only Christian I knew invited me to church twice a week and I said no every time for months. One day I caved (we were dating) and he dragged me kicking and cussing all the way there. My only expectation had been to get in and get the heck out of there. Soon as I walked into the building, emotions of fear and embarrassment rushed over me. I didn’t want to be there. It reminded me of my life back in 6th grade when I was constantly afraid of being harassed, made fun of or attacked for something socially awkward I didn’t know I was doing. Since then I subtlety lived my life in anguishing fear and anxiety of what other people thought of me. I controlled, manipulated, and climbed my way to the top. I spent years developing my image to be strong, beautiful, and confident and boy was I exhausted. You know those people who seem to be naturally cool and good at everything they do? I was never one of them. I built a life that may have looked beautiful on the outside, but fear provoked every motivation in me. I finally had everything I thought I wanted but deep down I never felt I was special or that people actually liked me. I went to school with some of the most beautiful, athletic, and intelligent people in the world and was constantly comparing myself and falling short.
When we walked into Calvary Chapel’s youth room I scanned to see what was happening and took a seat. They stood up shortly after to sing worship songs and I sat there listening to the words knowing nothing about God. The preacher stood up and began speaking about Jesus when a heavy presence came and gently rested on me. I didn’t know what was happening but I could not deny something was happening. That presence went home with me that night and stayed at my side till I returned the following week. As worship began once again I sat listening to the congregation sing about God and felt His presence increase over me again. All I could ask myself was, “who is this? This presence was undeniable but who is it?” I watched all the words scroll down the projector and read about who He was. Song after song would come up and I couldn’t read enough, hear enough, know enough. I became fascinated to know who this was. The man stood up again to speak about Jesus, he spoke about his life, death, and resurrection. The power and love I felt that moment was unlike anything in world. I’m sitting here trying to write about it and have nothing to compare it to. That one encounter changed my whole life. I always wanted to be loved. I did absolutely anything and sacrificed all I had to get momentary affection. It would then go away and I’d have to sacrifice even more all over again. I couldn’t win. I placed the value of who I was in the thoughts of everyone around me until that night when everything changed.
God got closer to me as I turned my attention toward Him and all I could feel was affection blazing over me. Completely overwhelmed by affection, suddenly every fear, torment, and chaos was silenced. In the stillness I heard His whisper, “I know you”. Suddenly I felt laid bare, more naked than ever in my life. All I could think of was everything embarrassing I did that I tried to cover, looking at Him knowing He sees it all. Then a thought crossed my mind, “how is it possible for Him to see all that and still feel affection for me?” In that moment I realized He was everything I ever wanted and what I fought so hard to get he couldn’t wait to give me. Suddenly my mind transformed from feeling shame and rejection to feeling loved and cherished. I will never forget when He traded me all the torment in my mind for adoration and complete peace. For the first time, I was home.