Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do; forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead. I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.

Philippians 3:13-14

I grew up in a home where Christ was a big part of our lives.  My mom was the one who really promoted staying in Christ and getting into the Bible.  She made sure we went to church every Sunday, she read us Bible stories every night, and she made sure we prayed before we ate, slept, or left the house.  My mom woke up early and turned on her audio studies while she worked.  This was the way we lived, it was like a routine rather than a want to get closer to God.  It started to fade as softball took over our lives.  We were always traveling on Sundays so we missed church and all we did was pray frequently.  It faded even more as my mother got sick.  She had a terrible cough for a year that turned into a sickness.  She kept living normally and was diagnosed with different diseases and problems.  Finally, it took her over.  The doctors realized she had cancer… by then it was in the 4th stage.  She fought so hard and even got better at one point, just to become seriously bad again.  She stayed in bed and started having terrors.  She was so skinny and frail, and could barely talk.  When she died, I lost all faith.  I didn’t pray, I didn’t even look at the Bible.  It felt like God had left our home completely.  I became angry with God, angry with Christianity.  I was just filled with hate.  I started acting out, I hung out instead of going home, I helped with illegal things my friends got into, I left campus on my free period, and I just didn’t care as much.  In college, I went out a lot, hung out instead of studying, I had a guy’s outlook on relations/relationships and was just irresponsible with a lot of things.  My dad and I never had a close emotional relationship, so I couldn’t talk to him, I had to show my stability for the family anyways; I couldn’t show weakness.  I hated church so I never went, I didn’t have a Bible, and I just put all my effort into softball.  It took a toll on me because I was never satisfied with my performance and I couldn’t find a happy medium between life and softball.  Anything I did bad, I automatically thought “I’m letting my mom down, I’m a terrible daughter”.

 The one year anniversary of my mom’s death was the time that truly tested me.  I couldn’t stay happy over a few hours, I wasn’t doing well in softball, and school got harder.  I felt like I had no friends although I knew so many people.  One night I just broke down crying.  When I decided to give my life back to God, it wasn’t miraculous and there wasn’t a burning bush or talking teddy bear, but I just felt it.  It was like all the darkness and hatred had lifted from me & I could breathe easy again.  I knew in my heart that I had needed to stop being angry at God thinking that He took my mom away from me.  I knew I had to start getting closer to God to get closer to my mom as well; I thank Marla Stroup and LSU FCA for teaching me this and helping me along the way.  They gave me my motivation: growing in my relationships with Him could help me to hear His voice better over all the outside world’s constant chatter & maybe even hear my mother’s advice when I prayed.  The growth was slow at first, and there were up and downs, but each step made such a huge difference in my life.  I got back to remembering how my mom was and how great life was.  God was the center of her life so I felt like it was time to make Him the center of mine.  I’m still not perfect in my walk with Him, but I am definitely getting there (Philippians 3:13-14)

Simone Heyward