Building Authentic Faith: Jill’s Story

Born and raised in Trinidad, I was brought up in a mixed-faith home. My dad was a non-practicing Muslim, and he passed away when I was quite young. My mom came from a Hindu household, but she never really identified with Hinduism. While there were influences of different faiths in our home, I always gravitated towards Christianity. My eldest sister and I first heard about Jesus from a lady who lived down the street! She took my sister and me to the local Presbyterian church regularly (I still have the Bible I got from when I was baptized!).

When I left Trinidad for Canada, everything was so new to me (but interestingly, my parents lived in Calgary before my siblings and I were born!). And when I began university in Halifax, Nova Scotia, my mom—who never joined us for church growing up—started going to the same church my sister and I went to as girls! As a university student, I would attend chapel on campus and I would go to different Christian and Catholic churches with my friends. I had always felt drawn to God, regardless of the denomination. 

Then in 2014, I separated from my ex and it was an extremely difficult season of life. One day, I was driving on Deerfoot, and in my desperation and sorrow, I remember thinking, “I need God.”  I recall seeing the cross on the FAC Deerfoot building, (which I often saw while driving past as we had lived in the southeast) so I immediately checked online and saw there were Saturday night services. At that moment, I said to myself, “Okay, I think I need to go.”

That’s how it started. And I brought my son with me; he was 14 months old at the time—so he grew up in DiscoveryLand!

That same year, I did DivorceCare. It changed my life. Doing the course changed the trajectory of how I could have chosen to live those very, very hard years. I also fostered meaningful friendships. I still keep in touch with the person who facilitated that course and in addition to meeting so many people, I was introduced to one of my now very best friends!

Fast forward to the present, I recently took part in the Emotionally Healthy Spirituality course. It stood out to me as it seemed to go deeper than the superficial things—it talked about doing the actual work required to build that relationship with God. It spoke about unleashing the Holy Spirit inside of us so that we might experientially know the power of authentic life in Christ. The course focused heavily on listening to God, especially in the quiet, silent moments, without Instagram, Facebook, dinners, appointments, and everything that distracts us from Him!

I learned that when we don’t make that quiet space in our hearts, minds, and environments, it can be very difficult to hear from God and cultivate a two-way relationship with Him. He longs for us to build our faith and our relationship with Him. And the enemy wants to pull us as far away from our journey with God, often using distraction. This class really opened the door for me to begin doing more of the inner, heart work. Sometimes I still struggle, but I learned to make it a priority. It’s a lifelong process but it is also a beautiful journey!

Throughout this course, I felt that the Holy Spirit was challenging my faith in the area of forgiveness and trust. He was challenging me to allow Him to take control. And one thing this year that I felt so strongly is that I want to give back more and more. I have been looking closely at doing a missions trip sometime soon, and I feel that for me, this year is the year of giving back!

In that class, the facilitator encouraged me personally, “You should serve, Jill.” Initially, I hesitated, but I mustered the courage to sign up and started helping as a greeter. And now, I love it. It’s been such a lovely thing to look forward to!

What I would say to people who are on the fence of pursuing a relationship with the Holy Spirit is that it is the only way to live a truly fulfilling life. You can have many things that promise a fulfilling life: money, a great career, a beautiful house, a nice car, and everything that looks good on paper. But a truly fulfilling life is one found only in a relationship with the living God. 

Sometimes, it can be awkward and hard starting or attending a small group because you may not know anyone. But if you keep your focus on becoming closer to God, all of the little things become insignificant. Being challenged, encouraged, and learning surrounded by a faith-filled community with the purpose of growing closer to Jesus Christ is such a true gift. I would encourage anyone to be brave, step out, and sign up!

And if you find yourself in a stage of life where you are dealing with deep hurt, remember, the Bible is full of hurt! Look at Joseph: it was his family that betrayed him. But no matter where God put him, he just rose. God elevated him—quite literally from the bottom of the pit. And my life is a testament of that, too.

Thank you Jill, for sharing your story of joining Jesus and what you are learning along the way! What could “joining Jesus” look like in our own lives? Whether it’s starting a small group, attending a class, or asking, “How can I help?” there are many ways we can walk alongside each other as a church community. Check out what’s happening now!

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