Bren Shantz, 2012

My story began, as they often do, in a Christian home. As a result, I knew much about God from an early age. This familiarity was helpful in some ways, but challenging in others. I never really had to live outside the Christian life. I didn’t appreciate what it meant to believe in a loving God who was interested in my life. I didn’t value prayer; it was just something we always did. Religion became mechanical. God became dusty and restrictive.
The first few years of college were a difficult time for me. Life became complicated in ways that I had never experienced. Gone were the “simple” days of black and white, replaced with scary, ambiguous shades of gray. My faith, which had seemed so easy to accept, left me feeling empty in a world full of tempting entertainments. I wandered, swayed, and fell.
Fortunately, my story didn’t end there. Really, it was only getting started. God rolled up his sleeves, waded in, and pulled me from the mud. I changed universities and met new friends and mentors who helped me rebuild my faith. He redeemed my life and gave me purpose and peace.
I would like to say that life is no longer complicated or painful and that life’s temptations hold no sway. Such is not the case. Instead, my ever-maturing faith has brought at least one new element into the fight. I have hope. I have hope that my creator God is still interested in my life, that he likes me and desires that I talk to him in prayer, that he is big enough to handle the complications and pain, and that he will ever be there when I fall.