Growing up in a Christian home, I always found myself feeling overwhelmed with religion; however, I continued to appease my family and the church, so I'd check things off my “Christian To-Do-List.” From leading youth groups to raising my hands in worship, I deserved a golden star for my Christian participation.
In my last year of high school, the anticipation of leaving my family and adventuring off to college consumed my thoughts, so my parent's mention of a gap year with YWAM after graduation went in one ear and out the other. My stubborn 18-year-old self wanted to prove not only to them but also to everyone else that I was in control of my own happiness and future, and college was the answer to my questions of purpose in life.
So like many others my age, I embraced college life. Yet after three years of searching for joy and purpose, I came up empty-handed and found myself in a place of pure exhaustion and desperation. I finally snapped and reached out to my mom, spilling out to her my lack of desire to continue on journeying through life. I emphatically and emotionally expressed that I didn’t know what in the world I was doing anymore.
So guess what she advised me to do? Yep, you guessed it – take some time off and do a Discipleship Training School with YWAM.
So, I did, but I went into DTS continuously telling myself, “Only five months, Emily. It will go by in no time, and afterwards you will be back with your friends. Just push through and put on a smile.” I convinced myself that this journey was not going to be the answer, but I had run out of options, so why not try it out and actually listen to my mom this time.
And I hate to admit it sometimes, but my mom was actually right in thinking this was the step that I needed to take. DTS has radically changed my whole life, starting from shifting my fake smile at the beginning to a glowing smile that can rarely be wiped off now. Each week I am not only learning more about Christianity and the beauty of God, but I'm also discovering the beauty that was actually within me my whole life. I'm digging deeper and deeper into what a relationship with God looks like, and it turns out He wants to and actually enjoys speaking to even the lost and confused. Once I became honest with myself and vulnerable to God, I began to find that He was speaking to me my whole life; I just hadn't been listening and engaging in a relationship with Him.
It hasn't been an easy journey though. I have been challenged in my beliefs and worldviews, but looking back now, those hard nights battling with the teachers and wrestling with my mind has ultimately made me unrecognizable to everyone around me. Sometimes I want to slap my old self for wanting this journey to rush by. Just thinking about saying goodbye to the people I’ve met here instantly makes me tear up. These are true friendships; I’ve gained forever friends.
I am now walking in a relationship with God. Wow! He has made all the difference in my life. My body and spirit physically feels different now. I no longer carry around the burden of controlling my own happiness. I am no longer searching for my purpose because it has been found. This Discipleship Training School isn’t my purpose in life, God is, and I have to thank YWAM for ultimately helping me in my lifetime search.
Guest Author ~ Emily Rae Fish, a current DTS student at YWAM Tyler.
Looking for your purpose in life? Join us at YWAM Tyler for a DTS! It'll radically change your life!