I thoroughly enjoyed reading Emily’s ‘joy story’ when she first sent it my way. Her encouragement to make the most of our current opportunities is a message we all need to hear! For young women still wondering what the future holds or working toward a far-off goal, her words are a well-timed exhortation to seek God in the present moment. Enjoy meeting this young woman after God’s heart! -Phylicia
P: When and how did Christ become real to you?
Growing up in a pastor’s home, Christ was always the center point of my family’s life. He became real to me personally when I was almost four. Dad had been preaching a series on salvation, and somewhere in my four-year-old self I realized that I needed Christ to save me. I memorized the “template prayer” and a couple of nights later prayed it in the backseat of the car on the way home.
P: How does your faith influence your life?
I feel strongly that if you truly believe something, you’ll live it out. I by no means have this completely under control, but I try my best to live my life in light of the knowledge that Christ wants every part of me to give Him glory. Because of this, I’m at a Christian college, dating a Christian guy, and preparing for a life of full-time ministry, hopefully overseas. But even more than future plans, I try to make sure my “little” decisions reflect a life lived for God’s glory, whether that be what kind of music I listen to, how I interact with others, or even how I treat my body.
P: Tell us three things you have found most helpful in your walk with God.
Something I’ve recently done that has been very helpful would be setting a specific devotion time. For me, it took waking up half an hour earlier (insert groan here) and going to my sister’s dorm room (she’s my suitemate at college so it works out wonderfully). Her being there keeps me accountable, and spending quality time with God (and some coffee!) first thing in the morning starts my day out on the right note.
I touched on this in the last one, but having godly friends that can keep you accountable is a huge help! My Christian friends keep me encouraged when I have to make decisions that my non-Christian may not understand. They also aren’t afraid to call me out when I’m doing something we all know is not pleasing to God. Having such a wonderful group of brothers and sisters has proven to be invaluable in helping me grow and develop as a daughter of Christ.
Something that was instilled in me as a teenager was that our walk with Christ is not about emotions alone. Sometimes I don’t feel very Christian. I don’t always want to wake up early and spend time with God. In fact, most days I would much rather sleep in! But it’s not about simply what I feel. It’s about what I choose to do. I’m not saying heart attitude doesn’t matter! We shouldn’t just go through the motions. But our relationship with God is just that – a relationship. And sometimes my sister gets on my nerves. Sometimes I argue with my boyfriend. But that doesn’t mean that I should just give up on those relationships. The same thing is true in my walk with Jesus. I may have things I should work through, and emotions are great indicators of that, but sometimes I have to choose to serve Him, even when I don’t want to, and trust that He’ll give me the “want to” later on.
P: Many young women struggle with insecurity about who they are and what they look like. Will you speak to this?
I don’t like my hair. Or my hips. Those two things cause me no small amount of grief. But most days, those insecurities don’t really compare to the struggle I have on being confident with who I am. There are probably quite a few psychological reasons for this, but ultimately it all boils down to this – I don’t think I’m good enough. Sometimes it’s because of my appearance. Sometimes it’s because I’m a bit of a nerd. But here’s what I’ve learned – having more friends doesn’t fix it. Having a boyfriend doesn’t fix it. These insecurities are ultimately me not being good enough for myself. And until I come to grips with who I am as an individual (not to mention a daughter of God), my relationships will struggle as those insecurities continue to bubble to the surface. So what do I do about it? The best way to experience peace with myself is to constantly focus on being made into the image of Christ. I know that sounds like such a Sunday School answer. But it’s all I’ve got.
P: What aspects of womanhood do you identify with the most?
At this point in my life, I’m not a wife. I’m not a mother. Frankly, those concepts scare me to death (but also make me a teensy bit excited). However, I am at the point in my journey where I’m more independent than I’ve ever been. This is the time in my life where I actually get to make my own choices, rather than having them made for me. I don’t especially like that. But at the same time, these choices show who I am as an individual. And depending on the choices that I make now, I know that I can either better prepare myself for the days when I am a wife and mother, or it can cause me a lot more heartache. That is both ridiculously frightening and humbling.
P: In your own life, what does it look like to be a woman after God’s heart?
I think that being a woman after God’s own heart implies desiring and even yearning for the things that God wants. It means allowing Him to do redemptive work in and through me. I need to have a broken heart for the lost the way that God does, while standing up for injustice the way that He does. David did a lot of things the wrong way, but at the end of the day he was a man after God’s heart because he wanted what God wanted. I am not in any way a perfect woman. But if I seek after the Lord and His desires for my life, then I will be seeking after His heart.
P: How would you encourage young women in their walk with God?
So much of this part of life seems like just an “in-between” time. But if we treat it that way, we will miss out on so much of what God wants for us! There are such great opportunities that God gives us to grow and to minister to others now that we may not get in the future. Yesterday in chapel, one of the senior guys here at the college spoke on ministering now. He said that just because we are preparing for ministry does not give us an excuse to quit ministering now. Seek out opportunities to serve in the “in-between” time. Say yes to things that might be out of your comfort zone. Don’t waste these years, because you won’t get them back.
P: What aspect of God’s character has been most influential in your life?
As someone well acquainted with the moving process, great chunks of my life have been filled with uncertainty and fear. Because of this, I am SO thankful for God’s sovereignty – He ALWAYS has a plan, even when I have no idea what I’m doing.
About Emily: I’m an almost 20-year-old college sophomore. My dad’s a pastor, so when people ask me where I’m from, it’s really hard to give a simple answer. I guess I’m from the Carolinas. I claim a small town in South Carolina as my home, but my parents live in North Carolina right now. Home for me has always been where my family is. As for what I do, I’m a student at the moment. I go to Welch College in Nashville, TN, and I absolutely love it! I also work as an intern at a publishing company, which makes the grammar Nazi in me insanely happy.