Today we have a special blog post by one of our high schoolers, Zoe Gilliam. Her family has become a huge part of our college ministry and they are such a huge blessing to everyone they encounter. Whether they are inviting everyone over to their beautiful home in Watkinsville for some of fancy John's cooking (the best) or serving at the church, this family has blessed us immensely and so we wanted to feature Zoe's side of the story. As a college student, you have a special opportunity to get involved in the lives of the families at this church and experience the beauty of the church through its generations. With Second Sunday coming up on April 9th, keep in mind that that Sunday could turn into so much more than a free lunch - it could mean forming relationships that will have a greater impact than you could imagine on your life and others'.
Zoe Gilliam // Sophomore at Westminster Christian Academy
Okay, so when I was asked to write this post, I honestly had no idea where to start or what to start with, so this may be a little scrambled. I’m not sure where this will end up so just bear with me.
To start with some background info, I was raised at Watkinsville. My family members have always been very strong in their faith and there was never really a time during my childhood when I remember us not in the church or being in a dry spell of faith. My parents have always been very good at making sure that my siblings and I were taken care of if something happened or went wrong and I feel like that was due to their involvement in the church. All of my elementary school years went smoothly and we were great until about middle school.
Near the end of fifth grade a lot of things happened at the same time, most of them bad. This left my head spinning and it did the same to my parents. Because of this, our relationship was super strained and I began to feel more and more like I was on my own. I started lashing out because I had no one to go to about all of the things I was dealing with. This only continued to get worse as I transitioned into middle school, and it eventually got to the point where if I talked to my parents, I was yelling. Other than that I kept to myself. I became incredibly depressed and angry, mainly at myself and God. I didn’t know how to handle what I was feeling and thinking and so I just kept it in and went about my life. In seventh grade, all of these things came to a head and I just kind of shut down. My parents were concerned for my health and so were my friends. I was completely unaware of what I had done to myself, but I still didn’t know what to do. So, I continued to push everyone away out of anger at myself because I didn’t think I deserved to have anyone listen to what was going on.
Around this time is when my parents got really involved in college ministry. They had helped out on and off for a few years but this is when they became seriously invested in this specific part of the church. Once again, I didn’t really know how to deal with this change. All I knew was that it felt like these college kids were taking my family away from me even more (which was totally untrue). Literally Satan was feeding me so many lies throughout this time and I was completely oblivious. I wasn’t in my bible, I was only going to church because I felt forced, etc.
Then, my dad asked me if I was interested in going on a mission trip to New York that was being led by Vic Doss. I jumped at the opportunity to go to a new place and hardly even noticed that I was going to be with my dad for a straight week. The trip was incredible. The college girls on the trip took some serious time to invest in me and get to know me and asked what I was struggling with. For the first time in awhile it felt like someone was finally listening to me. This was the first time I came to really appreciate the college group and the fact that my parents worked with them. I met one of my former small group leaders through this trip and made really awesome friends in New York and I also became increasingly interested in missions through that trip.
As my middle school years went on, even though I still felt insanely lost and confused, I now had people investing in me and pouring into me almost every day. I wasn’t trying to handle everything on my own anymore, and it was pretty much all because of the college girls I met on the New York trip. There was a feeling of safety within those friendships, and I knew I would get godly advice from these people. I feel like being able to be open with people older than myself has been super important to how I’ve grown since middle school because I feel better knowing that I’m not the only one struggling anymore. The main source of impact on my life so far would have to be Courtney Lovingood, my small group leader of three-ish years. She came to our small group in eighth grade, I think, and she’s almost become the older sister I’ve never had. Instead of worrying about being an example to my siblings, now I can look up to her. I know that no matter how stupid of a thing I do, Courtney is going to do her best to give me advice from the bible. She has influenced me more than anyone else. She is the biggest way that college ministry has impacted me.
All in all, my main point is that even if you as a college student reading this think that you are insignificant and can’t impact anyone at this point in your life, you can and you probably already do. My faith has grown so much in the past three years simply because I have been surrounded by college students that honestly want to invest in me. So from a fifteen year old girl, thank you and please keep it up.