GETTING PLUGGED IN...
My boyfriend first invited me to Eastside during Easter of 2021. My first thought was boy it was HOT (I attended Eastside for the first time prior to service moving back inside)! But I remember so many smiling faces from everyone I encountered. Not just the Change Makers, everyone who was there seemed genuinely happy to be there and to be a part of it.
I was so nervous, I was meeting my boyfriend Chris’ dad for the first time and attending church for the first time in who knows how many years. Each smiling face I saw put me more and more at ease until it was hard to be nervous for all of these new experiences happening all at once. Pastor Gene’s message stood out, there was a whole plaza full of people but it was like he was talking directly to me. So I decided to come back again, and again…and again. That’s one thing I love about Eastside, it’s so easy to feel at home here! I can easily find myself spending hours on campus with my kids, having dinner at the grill, playing at the playground and just being around so many genuinely kind people.
At that time, like everyone else, I was feeling pretty isolated due to Covid. I had finally met a really great guy who was very open and honest about how important his faith was and he hoped I would want to attend service with him one day. I had held off on attending church for quite some time because I knew I wasn’t living “like I should”. I felt like it was never the right time. I struggled a lot with decisions I had made in my past, and was finding myself lost and angry more often than not. I almost never felt peace in my heart, and I had walls built up keeping everyone as far away as I possibly could, especially God.
A lot has changed since I started getting more plugged in at Eastside. God has always been pretty real to me, but I always felt like I wasn’t deserving of his love and grace because of the choices that I’ve made. Even when I knew something wasn’t the right thing, I would do it anyway because I could or because I wanted to.
When Chris and I took Next Steps together, I took a really hard look at myself and my faith and I knew what I had to do. I knew I had to let go of the past that I had been holding onto and give it all to God. It was then, while I was going through Next Steps, that I decided I needed to be baptized. Even though I had been baptized as a baby, I needed to do it for myself and my renewed relationship with God.
As Chris and I got more involved, taking Next Steps, FPU, and Hitched together, I began making more connections at Eastside. I’ve made some really good friends, and I’ve found something I’m truly passionate about. I’m still getting more involved, doing things with local compassion with my kids and Chris and his kids, and I’d like to start volunteering with JHM and Next Steps.
I find myself more at peace now than I’ve ever been. Even when I get angry, I find myself praying on it. Big things aren’t so big anymore. I honestly feel like I have such a brighter outlook on life. Reflecting on this past year, I can honestly see how much has changed in my life and it’s amazing to me to know that by the grace of God I have the opportunity each day to be grateful for the life that he’s given me. My heart feels so much lighter.
Eastside has been an amazing place to call home and as Chris and I start building our lives together, one thing we know for certain is that no matter where we go, we want to continue going to Eastside because being a part of Eastside has been nothing short of amazing.
If you were inspired by this story, we would love to tell you more about Eastside. We have a relentless love and commitment for all to know God. We are committed to finding unique ways to serve in our local communities and help our global neighbors. We are passionate about finding solutions, building bridges, and bringing the love and hope of Jesus to hurting communities. We would love to invite you to join us in person or online. At Eastside we believe that this is a place for everyone, wherever you are on your journey. If you would like to find out more about Eastside, please visit eastside.com.