Emily Girgis | 12 February 2020
Emily Girgis is a second-year student studying kinesiology at Texas Tech University. She hopes to become a physical therapist in the future.
Choosing to go away from home for college was a decision made mostly to “get the full college experience.” I knew I signed up for years of being on my own… learning to cook my own food, taking my car to the shop when it needed work done, going to the doctor by myself, buying my own groceries, learning to fund for my own needs, etc. It was scary, but it was even more exciting. We all know that living in an Egyptian household, especially being a girl, doesn’t really call for too much freedom. So once I had the chance to be free, there was no way I would pass up on that offer.
However, what I didn’t know was that being on my own comes with a lot more responsibility than running my own errands. It came with a responsibility that was greater and scarier than anything I had imagined. Being solely in charge of my own spiritual growth. Living in a small college town, there aren’t many strong resources to push me to continue growing in my faith. Back home, there’s a huge Coptic Orthodox community behind my back to encourage me to keep coming to church and to feed me with more knowledge about Christ. However, in Lubbock, there was no fellowship of this sort. I was all alone in my journey as a Christian, in a community filled with people who are not even near as like-minded as me. I didn’t have my parents waking me up to go to church early in the morning or to read my bible every day, and that’s when I realized how truly weak I was. It didn’t take much time until I was a completely different person than what I was raised to be. I strayed from the church more than I would ever like to admit. My prayers were minimal, and materialistic. I was having so much fun blending in with everyone else, that I began to wonder why I wasn’t doing this my whole life. Don’t get me wrong, I still loved Jesus, but why wasn’t he letting me have fun?! I gave myself excuses to ease my conscious. “I can still be Christian and love Jesus, but it’s okay to do things that other people are doing too. If Jesus truly loves me, he’ll forgive me. I’m not even doing anything too bad… nothing that Jesus won’t forgive, it’s okay.” But part of me knew that the fact that I still had Jesus in the back of my mind was a sign that the Holy Spirit inside me was yelling at me to wake up. You would think by now, someone smart would get it together and realize their sins… but nope, not me. God allowed me to have my fun, knowing I was abusing my freedom of choice. But it got to a point where my fun and excitement turned into depression, guilt and misery. I would have nightmares every time I fell asleep about horrible things happening to me, and I felt an unexplainable void that I didn’t know how to fill.
I had hit rock bottom at that point and had no other choice but to turn to God. I prayed more than I have ever prayed for anything in my whole life. And every time I poured my heart out to God, I felt him touch me. I began to see scattered signs that gave me hope, dreams that gave me peace about my future, and day by day, my void was fading away slowly. Going to church became an exciting thing for me, rather than being a chore. Of course it wasn’t easy getting there, it took lots and lots of training to wake up early for church, to thank God in my prayers rather than asking him to grant me favors, to read and understand the bible and to show kindness to myself above all. However, being where I am now, I couldn’t be more thankful for the hardships that God allowed me to go through. I feel stronger in my faith than I have ever felt before. It’s an exhilarating feeling that I honestly have a hard time putting into words sometimes. With the grace of God, we were able to expand our community in the Lubbock church and start a bible study every week to keep everyone grounded. Around a year ago, I saw no hope in anything. But Jesus restored my hope, my faith and my happiness. Above all, I believe that he allowed me to face these bumps in the road, in order for me to provide hope for someone else going through what I went through. The Lord gave me identity in order to inspire others that their identity is not fully lost. “Taste and see that the Lord is good.” Psalm 34:8. This verse hits home for me, I now understand it beyond measure.