Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Statement of Faith


This week is incredibly busy - so in place of a To Be a Woman installment I'm substituting a statement of faith that I recently had to write for a job application. 

“In Christ alone my hope is found
He is my light, my strength, my song
This cornerstone, this solid ground
Firm through the fiercest drought and storm”

There is no worship song or hymn that describes more deeply my passion for Christ and faith in the Lord than “In Christ Alone.” Though my spiritual journey has neither been easy nor flawless, it has been blessed. My Christian faith defines me. It molds every aspect of my life and is my sole purpose for living.
“And as He stands in victory
Sin’s curse has lost its grip on me
For I am His and He is mine
Bought with the precious blood of Christ”

            I am incredibly thankful to have been born to parents who loved the Lord and sought to raise their children in an environment that stressed the importance of faith and God’s grace. Initially members of the Christian Reformed Church, my family joined a local Evangelical Covenant Church, during my early elementary years. Along with active church participation, my parents’ believed strongly in faith-based education and I consequently had the opportunity to attend private Christian schools for the duration of my primary and secondary academic careers. Surrounded by biblical teaching and guidance, I officially accepted Christ as my personal Savior when I was eight. I could not have asked for more loving parents and firmly believe that their faith and spiritual guidance was a defining factor in the development of my own relationship with Christ.

            Shortly before beginning high school, however, I began a long, arduous journey with severe spinal problems. The pain resulted in physical and mental exhaustion and I quickly found myself questioning God’s presence and provision at a time where it felt as though my young body was failing me. Around that same time God brought an incredible woman into my life. Melissa became my mentor and challenged and encouraged me to dig deeper into my faith rather than allowing questions and pity to separate myself from the love of the King.

At 17 I graduated from high school and moved across the state to attend a small Christian liberal arts school – Calvin College. I chose to attend Calvin because I wanted to continue my academic studies from a Christian worldview perspective. Additionally, attending Calvin allowed me to continue to take the religion and theology classes I enjoyed in high school while pursing a major in psychology and minor in communications. My years at Calvin were pivotal in the development of my faith. It was at college that I learned to truly make my faith my own. I not only learned to set values and boundaries for myself based off my convictions, but also how to remain steadfast to those beliefs when peer pressure and life temptations came knocking. Furthermore, I realized that spiritual growth was only going to happen if I made it a priority and strived to let my faith be the driving force behind everything I did (Colossians 3:23, “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not men.”). Finally, my time at Calvin provided me with the opportunities to study abroad in Kenya and co-chair an Embrace AIDS taskforce that raised funds and awareness for those suffering from AIDS worldwide.  Both experiences not only introduced me to others who strived to love and praise the Lord in seemingly hopeless situations, but also drew me into a world I previously knew nothing about – international human rights.

In August 2010 I walked through the doors of Wayne State University Law School with the passion and determination of a naïve first year law student. I was confident that I would be a successful, powerful attorney who advocated for international human rights. Yet I quickly came to realize that God often has bigger and better plans than we can imagine for ourselves. The last two and a half years have been some of the most rigorous of my life. I have been academically, mentally, physically, and spiritually stretched beyond anything I ever could have imagined. I learned what it means to truly trust in God and lean on him when there seems to be no light at the end of the tunnel. More importantly, I found that while my dreams were to work with missions on an international level, in the present God was calling me to learn about justice in my own backyard – inner city Detroit.

Currently I feel solid in my faith, although I realize there are always opportunities to grow and lessons to learn. To this day I continue to meet with my spiritual mentor Melissa on a regular basis. A decade older than me, she has become even more of an accountability partner as I have matured in my faith. Since returning to the metro-Detroit area for law school, I have also returned to my childhood church, where I have been active in the youth and women’s ministry programs, worship team, and co-founded and lead a post-college and career group. Recently I have felt the desire to dig deeper in my scriptural studies in a more formal setting and have since joined a local Bible Study Fellowship group studying Genesis. Additionally, since January I have been following a devotional schedule that calls for reading from the Old Testament at breakfast, Psalm/Proverb at lunch, and New Testament around dinner. This study has been an incredible blessing in keeping me focused on remaining in the Word throughout the day, rather than just during a specific devotional time.

Proverbs 31:8-9 has become my life verse – “Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy.” A friend had the verse framed for me at the beginning of my law school career and it has hung above my desk ever since. It reminds me of the advocate work I have feel called to and the responsibility I have to further Christ’s kingdom.

“No pow’r of hell, no scheme of man
can ever pluck me from His hand
‘til He returns or calls me home
here in the pow’r of Christ I’ll stand

5 comments:

  1. Beautiful statement of faith Julianne. I have been to Calvin and know several people who attended college there. It is a wonderful school. Your dedication to studying your Bible is inspiring!

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  2. Julianne you seriously are one of the most inspiring women ever! What a sweet testimony. :-)

    xoxo Miss ALK

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  3. You ladies are so sweet. Thank you for your thoughtful comments! Amy, what a small world! I loved my time at Calvin and would recommend it in a heartbeat!

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  4. This post is beautiful. I love your passion about what you believe and how clearly you state things. As for Proverbs 31, that chapter is chocked full of awesome verses but 8-9 has long been my favorite. That there sums up one of my deepest desires. It seems we have a lot in common :)

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  5. I loved reading this, Julianne! Our hearts are definitely similar. :) I have a strong passion for social justice and am working on my degree in International Studies right now. I want to do missions/ministry locally and internationally!

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