There is something that I always enjoy when I meet new people and it has become pretty consistent. It doesn't matter if it's a Christian or otherwise, everyone seems to think that I was raised Christian.
I was not.
Now technically I was, my family is Catholic and I went to Catholic school until 9th grade, but not really. My family more just believes in their own god and have no concept at all of the true Christian God. Plus by 5th or 6th grade I already considered myself an atheist along with both my brothers. I later considered myself to be agnostic as I got older but I still acted like an atheist. I made fun of people that believed in God, acted like it was a joke or a flaw in any person that believed. I was nowhere close to being a Christian, I was actually the opposite. Despite that, I was even foolish enough to consider myself moral until faced with the ten commandments that I barely knew anything about. Fun thing about Catholic school, they never had me read a Bible and neither did my parents, so it was all very new to me. I fought it hard, not wanting to believe that I was wrong my entire life and definitely not wanting to accept all the rules it would entail. But I did, after many arguments and basically constant talking for a month, I became a Christian when I was just turning 20 years old. At the time of writing this I am 25 years old and still growing, but I want to talk about where I started at 20 to where I am now at 25. Hopefully you will all be encouraged by it, knowing that even with how bad I was, people now think I was raised knowing Jesus!
When I first became a Christian I was almost exactly the same as my old self. I sinned in all the same ways, the only thing that had changed at that time was where I was going when I died and my willingness to admit that I believed in God. I can't say I really knew Jesus then, or even a fraction of what I know now. It wasn't a miraculous change where suddenly all my flaws vanished and I was the perfect Christian. Honestly I am nowhere close to that even now but I hadn't even started on the path back then. It took me months just to stop taking God's name in vain and 2 or 3 months to ditch pornography completely. Cursing took a little longer but I got rid of that habit as well. I started reading the Bible 5 chapters a day and made progress faster than people expected of me. But I didn't stop watching shows that were riddled with sexual content. I continued watching things that had that sort of content for several years even after I knew it was bad. I still had anger problems which made me feel about as far from Christian as possible. Considering the Christians around me were perpetually nice. These are just some examples but honestly I have sinned in just about every way possible and it took awhile for me to stop doing all these things. On top of all this my faith was immediately attacked since Satan likes to uproot people while we are just starting to know Jesus and the Gospel. My brothers basically interrogated me on why I had converted, my whole family treated me like I was insane. My oldest brother to this day thinks he is trying to save me when he talks negatively about Christianity because he thinks I got indoctrinated. I knew basically nothing, I couldn't articulate the things that had convinced me to put my trust in Jesus and so I just felt stupid and rushed off to Hannah to find out the answers. It was not a good time for me, and if you had met me then I doubt anyone would have thought I was Christian.
Today I still struggle with anger sometimes, but I have drastically improved and continue to get better at controlling it. I openly condemn anything that has sexual content in it and have written posts about it that would have made me angry to read a couple years ago. I never take God's name in vain and I don't curse. I have read the entire bible and even understand a lot of it despite feeling like a crazy person most of the time. I act very different from modern Christians but when I read about Jesus I see that I actually represent how he was better than the ultra niceness of modern Christianity. I don't generally struggle to give people the answers that matter, I have answered the questions so many times it is almost routine for me. In a few years I became a totally new person, and I don't regret it at all. It seems crazy to me that I used to be mad because I felt like the things I liked were being taken away from me. Now those same things are casually discarded and I don't even miss them.
It can be hard sometimes as a new Christian because you are going to see so many people that seem so much holier than you. Don't let it discourage you and keep walking the path that God has put in front of you. He can take the absolute worst person there is and make them something great just like he did with me. I preach his word to people and share the gospel with anyone I can despite being a very reserved person that usually barely talks. I even call myself a shepherd because I know that is what God has called me to be. I do this despite the fact I came from being the worst, and knowing absolutely nothing to tell people when they asked. Other people are going to tell you fantastical stories about how they changed 100% overnight and act like they never sin anymore. Don't let that deceive you into thinking that your conversion wasn't genuine. The real sign that you are truly saved is your intentions, if you live everyday for Jesus and always strive to be better and walk away from sin, you are almost definitely saved. I hope this aspect of my testimony has encouraged some of you, I know it can be hard sometimes but keep going and it will all get better so long as you put in the effort!
Dedicated to making strong disciples of Christ.