By Page Austin
I grew up in New Orleans in a broken home. Though our dad was still very involved in our lives, my younger sister and I lived with our mom. She wanted us to grow up in the church, because she thought that was the right thing to do. We attended a Christian school and were at church twice a week, but we were just going through the motions. I didn’t really grasp the concept of a relationship with my heavenly Father.
Because of God’s love for me, He pursued me and placed people in my life to point me to Him. On a youth trip when I was 13, I accepted Jesus as my Savior. For the first time, I repented of my sins and wanted to live a life that honored Christ. I made a public profession of my faith and was baptized. I spent the next few years being mentored by my youth leaders and learning the spiritual disciplines.
In high school, our family moved out of our Christian bubble and into the suburbs, which meant going to a public school for the first time. Changing schools and churches shook my world. I didn’t know anyone and felt very alone.
Instead of relying on God, I took control. I pushed God to the side and started trying to earn the approval of my peers. Using humor and sports to be popular, I became consumed with what others thought of me. I drank, lied to my parents, and constantly tore others down. I thought I would be OK as long as I didn’t do the “big” things, stayed just above the world’s standards, and continued to go to church on Sundays. I wanted to have the best of both worlds.
My mom would always tell me that God was not going to give up on pursuing me, and that He would use a circumstance to get my attention if necessary. But I just let her words go in one ear and out the other.
After high school, I went away to college with my best friend. We were finally free—no curfew or parents telling us what to do! Still walking the fence, I spent my freshman year partying it up on fraternity row and in Bible study with Campus Crusade. I thought I was doing a good job at balancing being a Christian and being accepted by the world.
The summer after my freshman year was a defining moment in my walk with Christ and it’s when I lost all control. My mom went on vacation that summer and never came back. She was murdered in a third-world country. I was in total shock and completely devastated. It was like a dream world. My life forever changed that day. I immediately blamed myself for her death. I thought if I had been a better Christian, God wouldn’t have taken her from me.
I carried that burden back to school my sophomore year. The Campus Crusade staff surrounded me and pointed me back to God’s truth. God showed up in a big way. The love and support of my Campus Crusade community helped me surrender it all to God and find joy in the midst of the storm. It was that year that I learned what it looked like to have a real relationship with Jesus and what it meant to abide in Him.
After college, God opened a door for a job in Washington, D.C.
When I moved there, I did not have a community to speak into my life and hold me accountable to God’s truth. So, I soon got caught up in my career and in the world. I had an all-consuming and high-powered job, and it defined me. In D.C., it’s all about who you know and who you work for, and that became my identity. It distracted me from focusing on God.
But God is faithful. He kept pursing me despite myself. After moving to Dallas and getting plugged in at Watermark, I realized how much I was focusing on and relying on myself. Watermark and The Porch have taught me that I can’t do it on my own. I need constant community, and need people to push me towards Christ and hold me accountable. Left to myself, I will isolate and let the distractions of life steal God’s glory. God is continuing to work on my heart, and is showing me that He is all I need.