I grew up in a family where spirituality has always been important. For many years, at the urging of my father, we all practiced different Eastern philosophies - we studied the teachings of various yogis, ate macrobiotically, and practiced yoga. My father strictly followed this way of life, even at a time when it was still completely unknown and strange to most people around us. This was reflected in many details of our everyday life.
We brushed our teeth with black eggplant paste instead of "Bivacin", and we put propolis on our wounds, and the only candies we ate as children were made from propolis.
I, of course, watching my father, believed with childlike faith and participated in yoga exercises and meditations.
My mother, a political scientist by profession, worked as a journalist for a local newspaper in Duga Resa. In the early 1990s, she was given the task of writing an article about an event in the Baptist church there. Although I would not otherwise go with my mother on her field assignments, this time my father went with her. In the church he heard the message of salvation and realized that he had found what he had been looking for all along. He accepted the message of Jesus Christ, called Him into his life, and changed completely.
The whole family went to church with him. Suddenly we were allowed to eat everything, so popcorn was on the table without prior warning. Although we had all been vegetarians for years, the transition to a different type of diet went well. It was not strange to me then. I quickly accepted going to church because there were children there with whom I hung out. For me, it was a shift for the better. However, as a teenager, I began to categorically reject anything that had to do with my parents’ beliefs.
I understood going to church as a necessity, an obligation to fulfill which would get me permission for other things which interested me more.
My Christian life then looked like a prison, a life devoid of all the good things I wanted to experience. However, during my sophomore year of high school, I began to read the Bible more intensely. But even though I lived the life of a “good Christian” for almost a year, I had a feeling I was holding my breath below the surface of the water. It was only a matter of time before mere instinct would drive me to the surface.
That is exactly what happened. My "emergence" was actually another bad period of my teenage years, full of defiance against my parents, disobedience, going out and searching for meaning in the fun that was offered to me in society. I was a nervous and confused teenager and I didn’t know how to help myself.
However, in 1999 I got the opportunity to go on a student exchange to the US and live with an American family and attend my senior year of high school there. The timing was important given my feeling that I was at the bottom and that something drastic would need to happen in order for my life to get better. And so it was. I had the opportunity to live with people who were my real role models in the Christian life at the time.
Living with that family and the experiences I had in their church and with their fellow believers put some things in the right place for me, and for the first time I saw God with different eyes.
For the first time, I recognized His ‘cool’ dimension and gained a sense of freedom in His love and acceptance of me exactly as I was.
Upon my return from the US, I continued to question my identity. Christians in initiatives such as "ROM" and "STEP" played a big role in this. They helped me become aware of the fact that my Christian faith and worldview must be manifested in all areas of my life - family, work, and in the society that surrounds me. I accepted Jesus and decided to follow him in everything I do and am. And I haven’t stopped following him since.
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