Oh y’all, I am so excited about this one! Meet my sweet friend Hannah H! Hannah is a junior business marketing major at Freed-Hardeman and we’re in the same social club together! I first thought about interviewing Hannah for GMM when I saw her passing out little flyers about the girls singing nights she has organized on campus (next one coming up soon!). Hannah has a gentle spirit and a servant’s heart, and I’m so excited to share what she has to say about her faith!
Her faith story: “I was born to a dad who was a minister and a mom who stayed at home and helped out at our church. I’ve been attending the same congregation since I was six months old, making my time there closing in on 21 years. On July 1, 2009, I was baptized. A few days prior to then, my parents had talked to me about baptism to see if I was getting to a point in my life where I was ready for that. I think that for the most part, I only got baptized that day because they had brought it up and I knew it was the right thing to do. Had you asked me on that day why I got baptized I probably would not have said what I say now. I really believed that I was “ready.” Honestly, I don’t remember that day because I was spiritually full; I remember it because when my dad leaned me back under the water, my foot popped up to the surface. Nevertheless, I was baptized and for the right reasons. I was, as of that day, a new baby in Christ. I would stay a baby for the next several years. I did a lot of “going through the motions.” Aside from my parents and family, I didn’t really have many incredible influences around me that I was close to. I am most definitely a follower and I was following people who were lukewarm and partly cloudy in their faith. The result? I didn’t exactly grow a whole lot for a long time. I would go through spiritual highs because of camps and retreats, but nothing stuck for very long. I would sing out in worship because I like to sing, but then I would fall asleep during the sermon and even the prayers. I liked coming to church to hang out with my friends, but when it came to worship I just kind of sat through it with a generally uncaring attitude. In a weird, unappreciative way, I was always jealous of people who didn’t grow up with God. I wanted that feeling and experience of finding Him somewhere along the way. I had grown up with Him, and yet I still felt so lost. I blamed my uncaring attitude on the fact that I’d grown up in church. In reality, I am blessed beyond belief to have been born into a Christian family, had the opportunity to go to church my entire life, and to not have to experience persecution for worshipping God in my country. I was taking my blessings for granted and using it as an excuse to be lazy in my faith. I wasn’t praying outside of church, I wasn’t studying my Bible, and I wasn’t spending intentional time thinking about God.
I stayed this way until about eight months ago. This may sound cheesy, but Freed-Hardeman changed my life. In my first week of school, I was completely overwhelmed by all of the people around me who were so openly on fire for God. I was all of the sudden consumed by the desire to be crazy for Him like these people were. I looked up to them. I wanted what they had.
I started going to devotionals and singings all the time. I would take notes in church to help me pay attention. I would take the time to pray for people who asked for prayers. It has taken me eight months, but I am finally at a point where I read my Bible and pray on an (almost) daily basis. I make intentional time for Him like I’ve never done before. Though I am still far from perfect, I’ve finally hit a point in my life that I legitimately feel on fire for God, and what an amazing feeling to have.While I would definitely say that a defining moment in my walk with God would be my conscious decision to grow, I would add that the time I’ve grown the most since then was when I started admitting my sins to my friends and going to them for help. I’ve always been a fairly private person, so my sins were something that I only ever discussed with God. I wanted people to see me as a good person and I felt that if I told them about my sins they would think less of me.
‘For all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.’ That’s a verse that I should think about and pay attention to far more often than I do. When I started opening up about my sins and temptations, they became a whole lot easier to resist. It’s been amazing to see the change in my life since then. Speaking of, God has really been working in my life through my friends. I have been welcomed with open arms into a group of friends who are just so crazy about God. They encourage me daily. I look up to each and every one of them and their love for God and people is both evident and inspiring. The closer I grow to God, the more I see Him working in my life.”
Her favorite passage of Scripture: “I’ve been crazy about Psalm 119 lately. I have this devotional book from The Daily Grace Co. that is a daily study of Psalm 119 and it has been my constant source of encouragement. It seems as if each devotional that I read ends up being exactly what I need to hear that day. The entire time, the psalmist is talking about how he is so in love with God and His laws. He wants to be obedient and he wants to praise God all of the time. It tears him apart when other people don’t follow God’s laws and he despises the things of the world. Just seeing that amount of love, admiration, and faith through the psalmist is both encouraging and inspiring. Every time I read the next portion, I am uplifted by not only the love that the psalmist has for God but the love that God has for the psalmist.
I would definitely say that Psalms is my favorite book of the Bible if it’s even possible to choose a favorite! It is literally a book that is just stuffed full of joy and praise for God. I used to read Psalms and think that it was all pretty much the same thing over and over again. That’s not true, but even if it was, would that really be such a bad thing? A book full of repeated joy and praise for God? I think that would be an amazing read.”
Her practical tips for getting into the Word: “I’ll start by saying that I am still learning for myself. That being said, what has been the best thing to help me stay on track with my Bible study is devotional/study books. If I have a book that gives me an assigned daily reading and a devotional to go with it, then I tend to stay more on top of my studies. Since Christmas, I have completed a study of John, am currently doing a study of Psalm 119, and have future plans of working through both a study of James and a study of Hosea. While it has taken me almost four months to complete one book of the Bible and one chapter of one book of the Bible, I still feel like I’m making progress. These have been so helpful because I’m generally not just doing the one devotional and calling it a day. Working through the devotional motivates me to keep going or encourages me to pull out my Bible to read at other points in the day, as well. I think just finding your niche is the way to good Bible study. I know a lot of people who do Bible journaling and it has helped them so much! Yet when I tried it, I found it to be more like a chore to have to pull out all of the supplies and put hours of my time into a just couple of pages. We all need to figure out what best suits our own individual taste.”
On her prayer relationship with God: “Wow, my prayer life is essentially my source of life support! If I didn’t have prayer, then I literally don’t know how I would handle all of my petty, small problems on a daily basis because they would just completely consume me. Sometimes I almost feel like my prayers are ridiculous because I’ll pray for things like: “help me to be able to concentrate so I can study for my test”, “give me the willpower to not eat chocolate all of the time”, or “I really like this guy so let me know if he’s the one.” Yet, I continue to pray for those things! The crazy part is that I actually see answers for those types of questions. The answers are less so in the form of a response so much as they are in the form of an opportunity. For instance, when I ask for concentration, I find myself actually being more drawn to my phone or Netflix. I see it now as God’s way of saying, “hey, you wanted to concentrate? Well here’s your perfect opportunity to resist the temptation to get distracted!” It all seems kind of silly, I know, but I have benefitted from praying about my first world problems. I have actually started relying on prayer more because of it! One thing that I have consciously tried to do more is praying for other people. I’ll literally just sit down, close my eyes, and say “Dear God, please be with this person, this person, this person…..” and I just name them. One by one, all in a row I name every single person that pops into my head and I pray for them. Nothing specific, just that God is with them. I’ve really enjoyed doing that because it always makes me feel like I’ve helped someone in some way that I may not even be aware of.”
How Hannah defines “delighting in the Lord” (I love this one!!): “Delighting in the Lord, to me, is the ultimate faith. A person who delights in the Lord has basically “arrived.” I imagine people in Heaven as those who delight in the Lord 24/7. That “delight’ that we aspire to have and work toward is so simple in Heaven. Honestly, I don’t know why it seems so hard on earth! We are so blessed. Just getting up and watching the sun rise in the morning can send chills all through me. And yet it takes awe-inspiring instances like that to make me think about God. I see delighting in the Lord as being completely, head over heels, no turning back, in love with Him. That feeling of literally not being able to help but talk about Him, praise Him, serve Him, and love Him. And I could say without doubt or hesitation that this is so hard because we love the world. We don’t want to give up the world, no matter how toxic it can be. One cannot delight in the Lord if one is still delighting in the world.”
On the “desires of her heart”: “My mountains are so big that they just seem daunting. I tend to just try to ignore them, but when they’re that big, how can you? My mountains include fear (of the future, of losing people, of the unknown, etc.), stress, and things of the world. While the first two are pretty self-explanatory, I’d like to elaborate on that third one. By things of this world I mean that I listen to music that promotes sin, I watch TV shows that promote sin, I look at articles on Facebook that promote sin, I idolize celebrities who promote sin. (The whole “idolize” part is another issue, as well.) We literally look at things and listen to things every single day that are all about sin and we don’t even think about it. The reason this is one of my biggest mountains is because I’m not conscious of it at all, and that scares me! Right now I am just working on this through prayer and listening to what God has to say. Every mountain can be moved, but I know I can’t do it alone!”
To others seeking to grow their faith: “I would say that you are AMAZING and God loves you so much!! Anyone who is striving to increase their faith is already headed in the right direction. I think that one of the things that God wants the most is for us to be growing. It doesn’t matter whether we grow by leaps and bounds or by the tiniest of baby steps, as long as we are moving, He is pleased. The best advice that I, as a human being who is flawed, can give is to seek help from God and seek help from people. Seeking help from God is a given, but we tend to take the people around us for granted. The church was put in place for a reason! We should take advantage of every single opportunity to grow through other people and in turn help them grow, as well. For example, in striving to increase my own faith, one thing I have been working toward lately is trying to make myself available to people. I want them to feel like they can come to me when they want to celebrate, vent, cry, or just have someone to talk to. I may not have the best advice, but I’m always good for a hand to hold, a shoulder to cry on, or a listening ear. Opening yourself up to people is mutually beneficial, and helps you grow closer to God.”
Right now, Hannah is wrapping up a service project to collect eyeglasses for New Eyes for the Needy. When she graduates, she wants to teach high school business education classes, but she is also really interested in working with teenage girls in a youth group setting.
Hannah is a wonderful example to me of active faith, and I hope what she has shared here is as uplifting to you as it is to me! I’m thankful for her example and I hope it inspires you!
Until next time!