How to create a more personal relationship with Jesus Christ

Let me tell you a little bit about my friend, Kristen Woods. When my family moved to Colorado last year, she was one of my first friends. Our mutual friend, Joy (who is another incredible woman and believer in Christ), connected us and our kids through a play date at the park and I’m so glad she did! Kristen is one of those people who shine with the Light of Christ. She is confident in herself and confident in God’s love for her and all those she meets. She is an outstanding mother, wife, medical nurse, friend and disciple of Jesus Christ and I’m excited to share a little bit about her story and how she has created a more personal relationship with our Savior!

Kristen was raised going to church to learn about Jesus Christ. Her parents divorced when she was young, which took her on a unique faith journey. Due to her parents’ divorce, Kristen saw different styles of thinking and worship as she attended church with her mother and father separately.

When she was in high school, Kristen had the thought: “Is this my faith or my parents’ faith? Where do I stand with this?”

Kristen would visit her mom’s church and then her dad’s church, trying to figure out what she really believed. She settled on the simple truth she knew—she knew that she believed. She believed in God and Jesus Christ.

Now what?

God Knows What We Need

“I struggled a long time growing up in the Christian church because people would share these horror stories about how bad their lives were until God made a dramatic change and turned their lives around,” Kristen said. “I didn’t have anything bad happen to me, so I felt I didn’t have as much value as those who had overcome major life changes to follow Him.”

However, she eventually felt His reassurance that it is in the small steps that she had been building her testimony. She felt God speak to her:

“’You’re not perfect and you’re never going to be. You make mistakes, but you always let me guide you back to the straight and narrow.’ I’ve really learned to embrace that,” she said. “I haven’t had those huge dramatic experiences because I have chosen to follow Christ and the way He laid out for us. God knows all of us individually and we all need each other and our unique experiences.”

Kristen moved forward with this testimony and knowledge of God’s individual plan for her as she served in church youth ministry, where she met her husband. They have served together and in separate capacities ever since.

Strengthening Our Roots Against the Storms of Life

Accepting Christ into our lives doesn’t mean that everything will be easy. As Elder Jeffrey R. Holland once said: “Christianity is comforting, but it is often not comfortable.”

The past two years of Kristen’s life have been what she calls a “needing Jesus time.” She grew up with a more legalistic view of Christ, but she felt she needed a more personal relationship with Him.

“Who is Christ to me?” she asked. “Why did He die for me? What does this mean for me? I really let him step in and work on the parts of me I didn’t like so much. We aren’t meant to walk alone.”

During this time of self-discovery, Kristen really felt like God was pruning her spiritual tree. While the tree of her testimony might have looked good and healthy on the outside, it might not have had the structure it needed, and it might not have been producing the fruit it could be producing. She was worried the roots might not stand up against the storms of life.

“God has to prune the parts that won’t stand up in the storm,” Kristen said. “Sometimes that’s liberating. I can be stronger by letting God lead me through this. I’m really discovering who I am and not being ashamed or sad that I’m not someone else or that I am a certain way. God made me this way and I am working to step into that by forming a relationship with Him.”

Invest in Your Relationship With God

God has specific things He loves about each of His children. “God loves you” is not a blanket statement. He knows our strengths and our weaknesses. Kristen mentioned some of her weaknesses and how she has let God help her work on them. Being comfortable with silence has been hard for Kristen in the past, but with God’s help, it is slowly becoming a strength.

“I’ve had to get more and more comfortable with silence so I can hear that gentle prodding…that little whisper,” she said. “It is so easy to ignore. If you’re always shoving in sounds or different (distractions), it’s hard to hear what God is trying to tell you.”

Kristen is learning to calm down and take some time with God. That’s how you get to know someone more intimately, after all. Like any relationship, if you don’t work on it and if you don’t invest in it, it doesn’t grow.

“I know things can be hard in this world, but the truth of the matter is this is where we are meant to be (right now),” she said. “This isn’t our destination. God has set up an eternity for us. I have so much trust in the fact that I don’t have to figure it all out or know what’s going on in the world. I just have to remember what God says and rely on his promises.

“As I’ve let God into my life, it has been confirmed that He loves me, and He cares about me. He is truth. I hardly ever heard His voice 10 years ago. As I’ve become an adult, I’ve asked myself who is Christ? Why devote my life to this? What does it mean to follow Him? I truly believe I now see how he has spoken to me as I’ve taken the time to get to know him better.”

And there you have it, everyone!! Kristen with the mic drop! A huge thank you to her for taking the time to do this interview. It certainly strengthened my faith in Jesus Christ, and I hope it helped you too!

Here are some takeaways I learned from Kristen about how to come closer to Christ:

  1. Build a relationship with Him and come to know Him through scripture study, sincere prayer, and personal worship.
  2. Build meaningful relationships with others. Focus on building others through kindness and service. “As I have loved you, love one another.”
  3. Spend time in silence to better hear Him. Take time to ponder and listen for the gentle promptings of the Spirit.
  4. Fill your life with goodness and light—gospel music, podcasts, devotionals, etc.
  5. Have faith in His promises and trust Him. He has a plan for you.

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