How this girl met God
s I stood in line to receive my university student ID card, I felt out of place. My tan was shades darker than everyone else’s, I didn’t dress like the other girls and I did not listen to country music. It took me a while to realize I was experiencing the culture shock of moving from Toronto’s east end where I was born and raised to Antigonish, N.S.
Still, I was convinced St. Francis Xavier University was where I was supposed to be and surely I would make friends.
I did make many acquaintances in my chemistry classes. But the dancing group Lady Step was where I met my friends – whom to this day I affectionately refer to as Root, Indy, Juda, Bdot, Tito and Bre.
There was something about these women I had never seen before. They loved people who were very different from themselves. They shared all things with each other. And even in difficult circumstances, they seemed secure. These ladies were Christians.
I was definitely not a Christian. My parents were universalists and my siblings were atheists. I had seen movies about Jesus and I was aware that consumerism’s mascot, Santa Claus, had hijacked Christmas. But that basically summed up my knowledge of Christianity. And when these friends shared their faith with me, I was not receptive.
The R.I.P. T-shirts were the catalyst.
I remember hearing the news that Ace, a 16-year-old from my high school, had been gunned down just a few blocks from my parents’ place. When I saw the memorial T-shirts, all of my existential assumptions crumbled.
The campus around me was filled with vain pursuits. Some lived for the weekend, others for the grade. Some for status, others for a wage. At the age of 18, I suddenly knew all these quests were ultimately meaningless.
There were no snacks, games or gimmicks. It was just a group of students who gathered to – well, study the Bible.
It was then Indy invited me to Rob’s Bible study. This group had no organizational affiliation. There were no snacks, games or gimmicks. It was just a group of students who gathered to – well, study the Bible. Good Bible-studying Protestants at a Catholic university.
So there I was faithfully attending a Bible study without being Protestant or Catholic. I asked controversial questions, but Rob always had an answer and his answer was always based on God’s Word.
As I studied the Bible, it was like pieces of a puzzle being fit together. I was beginning to see Jesus as the centre of it all. He was drawing me to a decision.
Prior to that decision, however, I had to solve a pressing dilemma. What to wear to church?
At that time I understood God’s presence to be associated with the church building. So my deliberations on what to wear were especially careful for my first visit.
I sorted through every outfit I owned, but had nothing fit for entering His presence.
For the first time I felt the conviction of sin in my life. I knew I was not worthy to be in God’s company, but at the same time knew I needed Him desperately. I settled on a pink shirt that, alas, had a low neckline at the back. I hoped God would understand.
Indy picked me up but, to my dismay, she sat us right at the front where my exposed back would be visible to everyone behind me. My wish for different clothing was just a fraction of my wish for God’s forgiveness.
Tears streamed down my face as we sang and they continued as Pastor Bob preached a gospel message. My thoughts were confirmed – I am a sinner and I deserve death.
But God showered grace and mercy on me.
I understood the life, death and resurrection of Jesus for the very first time. He lived the perfect life I could not, He died in my place and rose again in power. I had purpose and hope.
After the service I prayed with Pastor Bob. I confessed my sins to God and asked for His forgiveness. I placed my faith in Jesus as my Lord and Saviour, and felt as if a weight had been lifted off my shoulders.
In hindsight I see His fingerprints over all of it. Hallelujah!
Diandra Singh is assistant professor of education at Crandall University in Moncton, N.B. Find more of these columns at FaithToday.ca/ChristAndCulture.