Tag Archives: twin cities

Living a life of SUBSTANCE

14 May

Second blog post in a week! I must be on a roll! But this is back to a “let me tell you about the dramatic saga that is my life” post. Because I haven’t written personally in forever! And so much has been going on lately. I went through about a six-month lull in my life where basically I was just focusing on getting through the work day and not much else, so I didn’t have much to write about. But just over the last few months things have literally exploded. I’ve always been a pretty busy person, but lately my calendar has been full to bursting in the absolute best sense, I’m so excited about everything that is going on!

Let’s start at the beginning. First things first, this winter I knew I needed a new church. I was hardly ever going because the church I started attending when I moved here was about a 35-40 minute drive from my apartment, which brought me through both St. Paul AND Minneapolis rush hour traffic, on a Friday evening. Not only was it hard to get to weekly services, it was virtually impossible to get involved with anything else. So, after multiple relatives and family friends had suggested a church called “Substance” to me, I thought I’d check it out. I started going mostly because I just had a feeling that I SHOULD be attending church regularly and getting involved during the week as well, and that if I was going to be doing that again I wanted it to be the most fun church I could find. I definitely enjoyed my first visit: the praise band rocked, the announcements were funny, and the message was pretty relevant (even though, at the time, I thought the pastor could probably stand to lay off the caffeine for a week or two). Regardless, it was super close to my apartment which was convenient, so I kept coming back. That was about five months ago, and it was right around that time that my life basically took off running underneath my feet.

The next thing I have to say is that by week two or three, Pastor Peter definitely grows on you (Keep reading, I got to meet him!). His energy level makes it so obvious how passionate he is about the message, and it is impossible to not get pumped up yourself! The church I had attended prior to Substance had a great, Godly pastor, but he had a more somber approach to the world. His messages were applicable, and I thought that I loved how “real” and “raw” the church was, and when I first started attending Substance I thought that everyone seemed just a little too happy-go-lucky. I tend to get a little pessimistic about the future, and I thought there was no way that this many people could be so happy about trying to be a Christian in today’s world. As it turns out, they really are that happy and like I said, the attitude definitely catches on. Instead of being just another obligation, I would find myself literally counting down the weekdays until Sunday because I was so excited to go to church! I got involved in a recovery subgroup, which has been absolutely amazing and completely revolutionized my recovery, and I started the 8-week beginners course that the church offers. Since then, I have felt genuinely called by God to do things in my life for the first time in so many years.

For starters, I felt called to finally allow myself to wipe my slate clean and start my life fresh. Completely. Now, that meant letting go of something people and things in my life that were really really hard to let go of. I tried to hang onto some of the things that meant the most to me, but I could not shake that voice in the back of my head that kept telling me to just trust in God and quit hanging onto my own will. So finally, I relented. I cleaned house. Literally, I actually went through my apartment and got rid of a lot of random sin paraphernalia that I had been hanging onto “just in case”. I ended a relationship. I quit regularly attending AA (Now—I know this part is controversial to some. So give me a quick minute to explain. Don’t get me wrong, I am still 100% supportive of AA. I needed that program to keep me sober and act as a spiritual grounding point for the majority of my recovery. However, as my spirituality is growing into a strong and distinct belief system, and as I have begun building a community in a solidly planted church, I believe that I’ve been called to bring my faith to the next level and pursue God himself in a group of other men and women who are also pursuing God himself, not a mix of self-appointed higher powers. I felt that AA was beginning to hold me back spiritually, and I also believed that God could and would free me from the bondage of my addiction, including the bondage of having to sit in a circle and discuss my addiction three times a week. I do still attend various AA events that are of interest to me. And I regularly attend my faith-based recovery meeting, which provides me with a totally positive and encouraging atmosphere. So I have not quit working on my recovery, I have not gone back to drinking, I have simply changed my approach.) I even severed contact with certain friends. All of these things were hard to do. I mean, SO hard. But in literally a matter of days my anxiety had almost completely dissipated and I felt a freedom that I have never before experienced. Another place I felt calling in my life for the first time in many years is in missions. Nothing is official yet but I am working on getting involved with a mission trip to Thailand with Substance Missions this winter. I cannot even express to you how excited I am about this opportunity! It’s huge to me, and I feel like in the last month I’ve uncovered this part of me that I thought I had lost over five years ago. It’s like, ever since an abusive boyfriend tore my life apart, I have spent years searching and searching for the ticket to a “normal” happy life again. I’ve searched high and low and in all directions, without ever just looking up. That’s the awesome thing about God, it doesn’t matter how many circles you’ve walked in, how far you’ve travelled in this direction or that direction, no matter where you are, you can always look up. You don’t have to make the trek to the top of a mountain, or get out of a storm, or move in ANY direction first. All I keep thinking is, why didn’t anybody tell me this sooner?! How did I not know that it was this easy?! But then I remember, I’m an extremely stubborn person, and someone probably did try to tell me. I just had to figure it out for myself.

With all of these awesome changes happening as a result of finding Substance, and the amount of inspiration I’ve gained from listening to literally hours and hours on end of Pastor Peter’s messages online, I became completely determined to meet him. Now, I knew I wouldn’t get to tell him about everything that had been happening, after all, across all of Substance’s campuses there are literally thousands of members listening to the sermon every week. But still, I just had to shake his hand. Not to mention meet his wife, Pastor Carolyn, who I had heard speak at a women’s event, and is also (not surprisingly) an amazing messenger of God who brings some pretty great sermons to the pulpit herself!

So a few weeks ago I went to the Saturday night service at Substance since that is the live-recording service, in hopes to cross paths with at least one of the Pastor Haas’s.  After the service my friend Mindy and I went on a hunt for Pastor Peter, and later learned that he had to leave early for another commitment. Dangit. So I was pretty bummed out. I went to church again on Sunday because I had some things to do at the Northwestern campus, and I accidentally stumbled into a baby dedication going on between services. I was about to sneak back out, when in the front row I spotted Pastor Peter’s unmistakable hair, and next to him, his wife Pastor Carolyn! SCORE! I was super happily surprised because they aren’t usually at this campus! So I acted really creepy and went and sat right in the second row so that I could catch them as soon as the dedication was over. And I did! I grabbed Pastor Peter first, and as I introduced myself and shook his hand I was kind of caught off guard by the fact that he continued to just stand there and smile at me as if he was waiting for me to say more. Now, there are a TON of things that I have wanted to be able to share with both Pastor Peter & Pastor Carolyn. But I kind of prepared for this introduction the way you would prepare for meeting someone famous—come up with just one really great sentence that encompasses the most important thing you have to say to them, because you know that that’s all you’re going to be able to blurt out before they need to scurry off and tend to everyone else. So when I realized I had room for more than just a one-liner, I was pretty excited. So I did what I do best… I just started rattling off things about my life. And Pastor Peter was fully engaged, smiling and nodding, and at the end of every little part of the story he’d throw out a fist pump or an “AMEN!” or something that just encouraged me to keep going. It was awesome. And normally when I’m invited to “tell my story” I end up stumbling over it or I focus on the irrelevant parts and then later when I think about it I realize that I forgot the most important things, etc. But as I was sitting at home later that evening I was replaying the conversation in my head and I was like man, I literally shared with him every single thing that I have been wishing I could tell him about over the last several weeks, and basically my entire life story. It truly was a great experience, like I already said I was just so amazed at the amount of time he gave me, how genuinely interested he was in the things I had to share, and that after the conversation ended (because I ran out of things to say, not because he had to hurry off to someone/something else, which is amazing in itself because since when do I run out of things to say?!) he just kept telling me how he was so honored to meet me and talk to me, and thanking me for sharing all of that with him. I just laughed like, whaaat? You’re crazy! So then he brought me over to meet Carolyn and she and I chatted for a little while too, not really as in depth as my conversation with Pastor Peter but still it was really awesome to finally meet them. I’ve talked to a few people at Substance in the last couple months about wanting to meet Pastor Peter & Carolyn and most of them were like “oh we’ve been coming here for years and haven’t met them, that’s what the campus pastors are for” and I was like NO I’m not okay with that! I’m from a small town and I’m used to knowing my pastors personally, and I think it really helps me take the messages to heart more when I have at least had personal interaction with the one preaching, so it was a really awesome experience to not only get to say hello and shake hands with the Haas’s, but actually get to know them a little bit.

Another huge thing I’ve been praying about, and one of my reasons for leaving some people behind in order to focus on my life in the Twin Cities, was meeting new friends. One of the main things that is stressed at Substance is the importance of having 4-7 amazing Christian friends. And I have, well, one. Who lives four hours away from me. So it’s definitely been a need in my life that I am very aware of. And literally I was at Substance for four months without meeting anyone, and in the one month since I have made a commitment to seek out God’s will instead of my own, I swear I cannot go to a single church service without being introduced to someone new! Not only am I meeting people, but they are people I’ve connected with on a deeper level and have already started to blossom into some really amazing friendships. It’s crazy! Not to mention I’ve lived in the Twin Cities for a year now and these are the first new genuine friends that I have made. It’s awesome. And there is no rational explanation for it other than that supernatural things can happen when you let go of the control of constantly seeking your own will.

ANYWAY that is my big advertisement for Substance as well as some updates on what has been happening in my life lately. I’m super busy and obviously everything hasn’t been rainbows and butterflies but I have a sense of peace about my life that I haven’t had, well, really ever. So that’s pretty cool. AND I have got some really exciting things coming up, the first thing being an entire week with my wonderful cousin Rachel visiting me here in the cities! I’m so excited! So I’m actually shocked that I’ve been able to get this writing done considering the fact that she flies in…TODAY. So with that, I’m going to end, and head to the airport :)

LOVE YOU GUYS, and also:

Here is a link to Substance Church’s website if you want to learn more

Here is a link to an AMAZING message series of Pastor Peter’s on dating/relationships

Here is a link to another amazing message series of Pastor Peter’s on DE-STRESSING