M Y   S T O R Y

 

  Raised in Southern California and brought up in a Christian home, I was too young to recall when I initially gave my life to Jesus. To be honest, for years I sort of struggled with that. The fact that I didn't have an 'altar call' moment made my testimony different and less dramatic from most others that I knew and loved. When Paul speaks of Timothy he says, "from infancy, you have known the holy scriptures" (2 Timothy 3:15). That word there is brephos which means 'an unborn or newborn child'. It wasn't until I read David's story in Psalm 71:5-6 that I realized the legitimacy of mine. He too had a relationship with God from a very young age. 

 

  While I didn't get caught up in the party scene, as I entered my teens I subtly slipped into a perfectionist mentality. People coined me as being perfect, and I did the best I could to maintain face; to be the strong one that had it 'all together'. Inside, however, I knew I was far from perfect. I was desperately in need of an extra large dose of grace. 

 

  The summer going into my junior year of high school there was an eagerness to get to know God on a deeper level. I had the opportunity to go to India with my youth group and while there I encountered a woman who will forever be imprinted on my heart. As I rounded the corridor of a rural hospital I walked up to an isolated bed covered with mosquito netting. Curious, I peered through the curtain. To my horror, I encountered a woman with burns from her head down to her toes. The hospital attendant said that she lit herself on fire- or so the story goes. I was a naive teenager, but not that naive. There are two sides to every tale and that woman had a story but her side had yet to be told.

 

  Up until that point, I was working hard in school to get good grades, to get into a good university, to get a good job and ultimately live the American Dream for Jesus. God apparently had a different proposal for my future. The first time I really recognized His voice He questioned me,

 

"Lauren if I had a different plan for your life would you do it?".

 

"Uh...what do you mean?". 

 

"If I wanted you to take a year off straight out of high school to do missions would you do it?" Silence. 

"Yes."

 
I've come to realize that surrendering my life to Jesus is a constant actThat yes marked not just one year of adventure, but many more to follow. Along the way, I discovered that I too had a story. Who would have thought? As I experienced more of #LIFE and heard the stories of people from around the world, I discovered that it wasn't all pretty and it definitely wasn't perfect.

 

  After an exhilarating trek around the globe where I witnessed miracles and God's direction like never before I arrived home on an absolute high only to discover that my family was in shambles. Pain had struck far too close to home. In only a matter of weeks, nearly every front of my life was shaken to the core. While my health remained intact, my heart was hurting and my faithful smile struggled to make itself known. Over the course of my life, I had witnessed God's nearness over and over again in the AMAZING, and when the poo hit the fan, I discovered His overwhelming comfort in the UGLY. 

 

Jesus experienced it all and He's with us in it all. The AMAZING, the UGLY, and everything in between.

 

# L I F E is quite the journey. 

Photo by Crystal Munoz

© 2020 by Lauren Michelle Dowler

Brand photography shout out to

Crystal Munoz

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MAMMOTH LAKES, CA