The Paradox Church

Jesus Wants Me Still

I grew up in a Christian household here in FW. My parents brought us up at McKinney Memorial and were volunteers in the middle school ministry until I entered high school. My parents were both believers, but raised us with the mentality that your personal relationship with God was just that, personal. It was not something we openly talked about outside of church. While I was really involved in the middle school ministry there, it was purely social. I went to Christian summer camp and did an altar call, even got baptized in the swimming pool, but there was no genuine heart change towards Jesus. In high school I became more involved in school and sports and the church compartment of my life completely fell away. I still called myself a believer, but I wasn’t doing anything to pursue a relationship with the Lord.

In the summer after my freshman year at college, my mom called me and told me my dad had dropped dead from a heart attack while on a business trip in Hawaii. My world imploded at that moment. I was my Dad’s girl and he was the person who I looked to for everything. To say his death was devastating is an understatement. It crushed me and made me put up walls that I’m uncovering even to this day. I moved back to Fort Worth from Auburn to be closer to my mom and help take care of her. She was not wanting to deal with her grief at all and was looking to everything but Jesus to fill the huge void now in her heart. I became a parent to my parent at 19 and it sucked. In her hurt, she became verbally and emotionally abusive towards me, which just crushed me all over again. I felt like God had taken both parents away from me. My heart became totally hardened and I started to believe I was completely on my own. My heart believed that if your own mother did not love you unconditionally, then no one would. She then started dating a guy less than a year after my dad died and crappy got even crappier. He was not a good guy and he ended up moving into my childhood home, convincing my mom that my sister and I did not really care about her happiness because we did not want them to be together. During this time is when I first went to Paradox.

My godfamily really loved and cared for me during that time and took me in as their own. I would have lunch with my godbrother and just talk with him about the insanity happening and he would say he wanted me to come to church with them, but I would always say “no thanks.” Then finally one day he followed up my decline with “Ok, but why not?” It totally stumped me and just made me be like “Well, OK lets go.” It was fantastic. Real, authentic and made me want to pursue the Lord in a way I hadn’t ever before. But my heart was still resisting, still proud and still untrusting. I liked the idea of Jesus and Christianity, but did not trust Him to have me. My entire world had imploded and did not appear to ever be improving, so why should I believe that He would take care of me? My head was there, but my heart was still not. For the next 3 or 4 years I would float in and out of Paradox. Getting close, but never genuinely opening myself up to the community here. I went through bad relationships, bad jobs, drinking, going out and essentially doing the exact same things my mom had done that had hurt me so badly.

Then in 2016, I started working at Hull Historical. I work directly under the owner, Brent Hull and work closely with his wife Krissy. They are the most authentic, caring, Jesus-loving, bold people I have ever met. They have totally enveloped me into their family and shown me what genuine faith in Jesus is. This job is hard and I’ve been humbled by it over and over again. I think by being here and spending time with the Hulls, God slowly yet surely chipped away at my heart and wrecked me to the point of just finally throwing my hands up and being like “Ok Lord. I am not god. And I’m tired of trying to be” I started to feel this way about a year after working here, but the moment I genuinely felt my hardened heart crack and Jesus flood it was February 2017 when I got arrested for a DUI. I was 2 minutes from my house, had not had nearly as much as I’ve driven home drinking before, and got pulled over for speeding not swerving. I passed the field sobriety test twice, but was .02 over the limit. I’m not listing that out as an injustice, but to show what a total God thing that was. To be just enough over that I would get taken to jail. It was terrifying especially for a girl who’s never even had a parking ticket. They take your cell phone when you get booked, but they let you make one phone call. All the numbers I’d memorized as a child were gone. My dad’s cell (he’s dead), my mom’s cell (she changed it after she finally broke things off with the guy from earlier) and my childhood home (she sold the house after that same guy took all of the money my dad had set us up with). I literally had no one to call.

After about 30 minutes inside the larger holding cell with all of the other women watching White Ophelia (worst movie to play in prison by the way), a number came to my mind: Brent’s cell phone number. By the grace of God, his cell popped into my head and I knew that was the only chance I had of getting out of there that day. I called and he was in total disbelief it was me. I like lists, can be direct with the boys in the shop and try to take on as many tasks as possible just to prove I can do it as the one of two women at Hull. Me calling him from jail was a total shock and not something he ever expected from me. But he said he would take care of it. Three hours later they called my name and I walked out to see Krissy standing there with her arms open to me. I lost it.

Up until that point I hadn’t cried or freaked out. I was totally calm because I knew it would do me no good. But seeing her there ready to embrace me after I’d just been arrested with dirty clothes, no shoes, and sitting in a jail cell for 18 hours with feces wiped on the walls. I was literally at my ugliest, but she wanted me anyway. That is Jesus. that is Christlike love. That is the grace that people need to know about. Up until that point I did not trust Him to take care of me. But I was so so wrong. Admittedly I still struggle with pride and being confident in my trust of Him because I’m a sinner and I’m human. But despite that, I feel like my head and my heart are finally aligned and they both genuinely know that I am His. God had to do a lot of work in my heart, but He pursued me over and over and over, knowing exactly what I needed when I needed it. It’s insane and something I want others to experience.

 

Alice Conlin
Partner at The Paradox Church