My journey as a Christian did not begin until the beginning of 2016. I grew up in Puerto Rico and went to a Catholic school for a few years, which gave me some religious background through taking a religion class. I was also christened as an infant and did the first communion at the age of 9, however, the topic of God, the Bible, and Jesus felt very distant to me for most of my life. Also, from my perspective, God was only talked about at school or at funerals. Th e religion class became irrelevant to life – it was just another class I had to study for and was graded on, just like math or science.
I feel like the world and society shaped most of my identity in my teenage years. Most of the time my standards were based on what family considered acceptable, and when I was tired of trying to live up to their expectations I would rebel and look for acceptance and value in relationships, people pleasing, and partying. This was a never-ending emotional rollercoaster.
At the age of 17, I joined the Army Reserve as my way of taking control of my future and finding financial stability. I don’t regret this decision; at that point I felt like I was doing what I was supposed to do in life. While in the service I started university, had a job, and was living on my own. In this I found independence, productivity, and value as a young woman thinking I was headed in the right direction. Throughout some years I felt like I was accomplishing all the right goals, yet emotionally something was always missing, and I ignored it.
During a military training I met a wonderful man who was very different than the ones I had dated before. He was so down to earth, responsible, and handsome (I thought he was the full package to complete what I was missing emotionally). He expressed love to me in so many ways that I completely fell for him. I know now that God put him in my path to change its direction.
After a few years of dating, marriage, deployments, moving, and many life events we hit a hard season in our marriage. I thought it was going to end, and this destroyed me in more ways than I can explain. Simultaneously I was one month into a new job, and, because I was emotionally overwhelmed and hopeless, a day came where I just walked out of work without saying anything. This was completely out of character for my overachiever side. My actions were completely unacceptable to my supervisor, so much so that the owner of the company was notified.
The next day, when I finally decided to show my face, the owner decided she wanted to speak to me. Against all my expectations, she listened to my explanation, was understanding, and offered me grace and a Bible. She used that situation to speak to me about God. She helped me seek Christian counseling and became a spiritual mentor for me.
This event marked my life forever and there began my journey to seek intellectual understanding of faith. I wanted to know, why do people believe so deeply in Jesus and how could he ever help me through my life’s struggles?
Now I see that God knew exactly how to engage my soul. He knew that I had to go through a season of researching, analyzing, and questioning to humble me so that I could understand that wisdom is a gift from him and that life is about much more than reaching goals and getting paid.
I don’t feel like my research is over, in fact it still feels like it’s just beginning, but I now believe that Jesus came to save me and give me a new life. That he loves me, and he is love. That he can fill my emptiness and give me deeper purpose than what I can find in my own achievements. I have been getting glimpses of his love, mercy, and wisdom, and I want more of him. I want everyone that I come across to know that I am committed to Jesus. As a declaration of this lifelong commitment I want get baptized.
— Walaine Hernandez, Baptized April 2019
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