For most of my life, I’ve been a little hesitant to share my testimony, because I felt like I really didn’t have one. I’ve been attending the same church since before I was born (literally in my mother’s womb), and I grew up around my church family my entire life. Other people remember the exact instant when they accepted Jesus Christ as their Savior, but I can’t seem to pinpoint when I decided that God was no longer my mommy and daddy’s God, but mine. Although I can’t cite a specific altar call that led to my salvation, I do have a specific experience that has helped me to continue to believe in the existence of God.
Growing up, my two brothers and I didn’t get along very well. We argued about the silliest things, and the small bickerings sometimes evolved to violent fights. In the heat of the moment, harsh words were exchanged, and being the sensitive little girl I was, I would run to my room, shut the door, snuggle under my comforter, and sob. My mom didn’t like involving herself in what seemed to be daily quarrels and my brothers seemed to side with each other, so the only person I knew to turn to was this God-figure that I had been learning about every Sunday and Wednesday. Tears streaming down my face, I would call out to God as if he were my personal therapist. After justifying my actions, venting my anger, asking for forgiveness, or a mix of all three, I would calmly leave my room feeling refreshed.
One day at church, the Pastor held an altar call for anyone who wanted to be prayed over. I stood in line just for the sake of imitating the adults around me and anxiously waited for my turn. When it was finally my turn, the Pastor began to speak words over me. Surprised that she had a message specially catered towards me, I listened very closely. “God hears your cries in your room, Mariko,” she gently said. At that moment, I became overwhelmed with confusion and shock. How does she know that I talk to God in my bedroom? Did my mother tell her? Wait, that’s not possible, because even my mom doesn’t know that I do that. It was then that I realized that God was real after all. All this time I had called out to God for consolation, His presence was right next to me. It didn’t matter that I was a first grader or that I was complaining about trivial problems; God was attentively listening to everything I— his precious daughter— wanted to say.
This experience, along with witnessing how God has worked through the lives of those surrounding me, served as a foundation for my faith in God’s existence. Reflecting on it now, I realize that testimonies aren’t always exclusively about the conversion. Sometimes it’s about the process, the growth, the steadfastness of one’s spiritual walk. It’s about the goodness and joy that God has personally brought into one’s life, and for me, this was it. Being in a relationship with a God I can call Father and a God I am confident will comfort me in my sorrows was a privilege I knew that people of other religions couldn’t enjoy. Though this experience may seem insignificant in comparison to some testimonies, this small memory is what reminds me that no matter how silly others perceive the concept of an invisible almighty deity, I know myself that God exists and will forever continue to listen to my bedroom cries.