Mark and I have been attending Bloomingdale Church since 2009. We have two awesome kids, Sarah and Luke. Mark and I are hosts for a Young Families community group, I’m a table leader at Tuesday night Women’s Break, and I teach kids’ Sunday School.
You might hear that list and think that I’ve obviously been a “church” person all my life, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. I was not raised in the church. I didn’t become a Christian until the summer of my junior of college.
My family moved to Illinois from southern California when I was in high school and I had a couple friends invite me to youth group events. They were fine. But nothing really stuck.
Don’t get me wrong… I had no problem with the idea of being a Christian… it’s just that so many of the Christians I saw in the real world didn’t sound like the same type of people I’d hear about as we’d study the Bible in Youth Group. There is a famous quote: “I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.” That pretty much summed it up for me. I didn’t have issues with Jesus Christ or the Bible, I had issues with his followers, and I didn’t want to be lumped in with that crowd. To this day I still have some of the same issues of people “talking the talk but not walking the walk.” But I’ve made a decision that loving and knowing Christ personally is more important than that. I’ve realized we are all flawed, me just as much as the next person, so while the people around me may not look or act much like Christ, they aren’t my measuring stick, Jesus is the who matters.
I went to college to pursue my studies as a biology major. Many people likely think that it is my scientific study that kept me away from God for so many years. But that couldn’t be further from the truth. In fact, my growth as a Christian directly correlates with my advanced study in biology.
I guess you could say I’m an exception to the rule… except that I’m by no means the exception. A large number of my friends in the sciences are strong Christians, no matter what the world wants to tell you about science and faith. In fact, I became a Christian while I was at the University of Iowa for a summer research internship. Someone explained to me that I didn’t need to have all the answers and that I shouldn’t allow the actions of others to affect my decisions about the truth. I put my trust in Christ as my Savior that summer. To this day, I can say that I had the strongest spiritual growth of my life during my time at Iowa for my internship and, eventually, graduate work. Iowa… a large, secular, public “party school.” If I’ve learned anything over the years it’s that God is everywhere… even in a party school. We just need to seek Him.
I finished my PhD in cell biology and have spent my career teaching and mentoring students while researching the minutiae of breast cancer cells, I love to ask questions and determine how things work. I don’t always like the answers I get (similar to my life as a Christian), but it doesn’t stop me from asking tough questions. In the same way, I feel my faith only grows stronger if I’m willing to question it and make sure it can stand up to the test. God has never disappointed me in my questioning.
Contrary to popular belief, my knowledge of science has drawn me closer to God, not further from Him. My studies of cell biology, developmental biology, and human anatomy have shown me how miraculous it is that we are even here on earth. There is nothing that I have learned in science that disputes the Bible’s truths. And, in fact, there are things that I have learned that point to a Creator God. But my studies of the Bible have also taught me not to discount anything science tells me.
You could look at my life and say I’m an exception to all of the rules. I wasn’t raised in the church, I attended a “party” school instead of a Christian school, and I’m a science nerd doing research on breast cancer. But the truth is that God is real, he is here. Jesus Christ offers us hope, no matter our stage in life. Ultimately, we all have a choice to make. You can choose to seek and follow God with all your heart, which Jesus tells us is the greatest commandment found in the New Testament (Mark 12:30.) Or you can choose not to. God grants us free will to make that choice. And it’s not always easy. Because once you choose to follow God, the next verse of Mark tells us we are to “love your neighbor as yourself.” It’s so easy to pass judgment and make assumptions about others based on our own life experiences. But that isn’t what the Bible and Jesus tell us to do. There is hope for everyone, but we do need to investigate the truth that God tells us about ourselves, and take it seriously.