My name is Joy Ruffa. I recently graduated from Liberty University with a degree in Elementary Education. Now I am in my first year of teaching as a 4th grade teacher in Montgomery County. When I’m not with my fun, vivacious group of kiddos, I enjoy being outside and exploring God’s green earth!

I had the blessing of being born into a family that loved the Lord. Both of my parents are strong, Bible-believing Christians and created a Christ-centered environment for my brothers and me. I am thankful to have known about Jesus and His sacrifice for my entire life. I accepted Jesus Christ into my heart at a young age in Sunday School class.

My love for God and desire to know more about Him grew as I got older. However, there was a point where I found myself relying more on my parents’ faith instead of seeking Him on my own.

Instead of taking the initiative to know God personally, I chose to maintain a surface level relationship. I put myself at the center and lived for what I wanted. I picked and chose what parts of the Bible I wanted to follow. I compartmentalized God and put up barriers to protect myself and maintain a false illusion of control. My pride and desire for control clouded my thoughts until I was tangled in a web of confusion and shame.

When I felt low and ashamed, God stretched out His hand and revealed Himself through the people around me. I was reminded of His unconditional love and endless mercy. The story of His death, burial and resurrection, a story I had heard for as long as I could remember, suddenly had a new meaning.

Even though I had always known that Christ’s love was something we could never earn, I had never felt that I was truly undeserving until that moment of being caught in guilt and shame. God sent His son, Jesus Christ, down to Earth to save people who do not deserve mercy and grace. I was reminded of the unconditional, incomprehensible love of God.

He used this moment to change the trajectory of my life. He led me to Liberty University, where I was spiritually sharpened and challenged by professors and speakers who loved the Lord. During my time in college, I was able to begin an intimate relationship with Jesus Christ.

Instead of striving to seek perfection and control, I am learning to trust that God is wholly perfect and in control. He is changing my desire for control into a desire to see His will be done. It has been awesome to see how much closer I’ve grown to God since deciding to pursue a personal relationship with Him. He is changing my perspective from being inwardly focused to being Christ-focused. I am continuing to see that seeking God’s plan provides peace and joy that surpasses all understanding. Throughout my first year of teaching (so far!), He has placed students in my life that have challenged me to put my own plans aside and to look for Him first. During these challenges, God has given me peace to help me relinquish control. I am continuing to see how He carries and protects in ways I could have never predicted.

— Joy Ruffa, Baptized April 2018
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