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Paul Morales '09

Year: 2009
Residence: Sigma Nu
Major: 7
I was born in a hospital on William’s Air Force base in Arizona. Due to my father’s position in the military, my family was forced to move from place to place. As a child I think it’s normal to put faith and find your comfort in your family. For me this natural emotion was exaggerated. My family was the one constant part of my life, the one place of refuge, the one part of my life that I could count on, and I put all of my hope in them. Even my belief in God was an extension of my parent’s faith: it was just another part of my routine.

My family was my real source of hope, and, as always happens when we place our hope in something other than God, my hope was dashed. When I was eight years old, my parents divorced. It was an event that decimated my world and shattered my very brittle faith in God. I simply couldn’t conceive of a God who could let this happen and still claim to love me. My mom continually clung to the hope that God was in control and attempted to reassure me that He had a plan for our lives, that he still cared, and that it would work out in the end. I couldn’t believe her and so I decided, if only in my heart, that God didn’t exist. I didn’t tell her, she believed to strongly and I knew that if I told her it would only add more pain. She’d been through enough, and so I decided to go through the motions for her sake.

My life continued to be dictated by the routine of going to church, memorizing Bible verses, and being a “good” kid. At first I really liked it. I was a smart kid, able to memorize verses quickly, I obeyed my parents and teachers, and because of it, I received praise constantly. I was a picture of the ideal kid. However, my attitude and personality started to depend on who I was around. At school I was one person, at church another, and after a while of drifting from group to group I started to realize that I really didn’t have even a shred of confidence in myself. I didn’t know who I was, what was important to me, or why it seemed that I always had to agree with those around me. I don’t really know what would have happened if life would have continued that way.

Typically middle school and high school are times when people are struggling to find their confidence. I don’t know, but what I do know is that the summer after 7th grade God found me. That summer I went to Lakeside Bible Camp for my first teen camp. The speaker talked about the letters to the churches in Revelation. He spoke about a lot of the issues I needed to hear: why we had to suffer, where to find confidence, and God’s love for us. Finally, by the end of the week, I understood where I stood before God. I understood that I was sinful, that I didn’t deserve God’s love and that I was completely incapable of earning His love, yet somehow he managed to love me anyway. He sent his son to die for me so that I could have a relationship with Him.

It would be a lie to say that I found my confidence immediately. In fact it was a slow, often times very painful process to figure out that my worth doesn’t come from actions and that I had value just because I was His. Little by little I became more comfortable with who I was and found myself able to take real risks for the first time in my life. In Isaiah God commanded “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” (Is. 41:10) Though God did not offer a quick fix or an easy out, He strengthened and encouraged me for the fight, and I’m confident he’ll continue to do so because “He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” (Phil. 1:6)