Where I have been…

Hi, dear reader, this is Alexandra Ehrhardt. Here’s a sneak peak into where I’ve been, and where I’m going. Perhaps this will give you a better perspective on what I write, why I write it, and who’s behind the screen, if you will.

Alexandra, what do you want to be when you “grow up“? I want to be passionately consumed with Jesus Christ….that is my primary calling. Out from there, I am still waiting on the Lord’s leading for the “secondary calling”, if you will. Over the years, my dream has been to be a devoted wife and homeschool mother. But I know that God is much bigger than my dreams, and has a great and grand plan for my life that involves more than I could possibly imagine.

“Lord, I would clasp The hand in mine, nor ever murmur nor repine, content, whatever lot I see, since ’tis Thy hand that leadeth me. He leadeth me, He leadeth me, by His own hand He leadeth me: his faithful foll’wer I would be, for by His hand He leadeth me.” (Joseph Gilmore, from the old hymn, “He Leadeth Me”)

Tell us your spiritual journey. How did you come to be a follower of Christ?

I grew up in a local church, with Christian parents, so I was surrounded by various gospel presentations from a young age. At age 4, I remember going out onto our back deck, bowing my head, and clasping my hands together on top of the blue railing. “Jesus…” I started my prayer, and then got too scared to continue. Trying again, I lisped, “Jesus, please come and be my Savior…for today.” I walked back inside and shut the door. Guilt overcame my little conscience, so back to the deck my little bare  feet  padded. “And, Jesus? Could you be my Savior for the rest of my life, too?” That  was the initial encounter with God. I was baptized a year or so later.

I believed in God from age 4 and on…I believed that He existed, and was important somehow, but it wasn’t a personal, daily important presence. Rather like George Washington was to me at that age–he had existed, but didn’t have any heavy bearing in my life.

Sadly, I began to turn my own way when I hit about 10 years old. I became lured by the glitz of pop culture, the seductive mien of the world, and the crushing desire to “fit in” and be as pretty and popular as the models. In fact, at about that age, I wanted to be a fashion model, so I could be cool and attract the boys. (to those of you who know me now, that may sound absurd, but it was true).

Age 12 was probably the climax of my worldly obsession. Few knew about it–it was hidden behind closed bedroom doors, inside purple notebooks with pony stickers, and in the recesses of my self-consumed mind. I respected my parents (and a few conservative friends) too much to let it show outwardly, but inwardly, I was most definitely not striving for a pure and godly existence.  Only God needs to know the soot that smeared the walls of the  inner sanctuary of my heart, but it was very far below His standards for His princess.

Age 13, I was an up-and-coming ballet dancer. Intensly, I longed to pursue my dancing passion as a career, but inside I knew that I had the wrong series of circumstances, physical conditions, and other factors to ever make it as a professional primaballerina. Fighting the deadly combination of passion and powerlessness, I succumbed to a secret obsession with my weight that turned into moderate anorexia. I weighed myself multiple times per day, counted every last calorie, avoided many foods, even read anoreixia help forums to read up on “how to be an anorexic.” It worked–my scrawny 85 pound frame dropped to a scrawnier 80 pounds. Perhaps that may not sound that dramatic, but for an already-underweight girl, it was not the way to go. But I fought so hard for the dream that had become my life–if only I could control the one thing I could control (my weight), maybe it would overcome the other things I could not control (my rolled ankles, flat arches, etc., etc.).

It didn’t work. It brought self-obsession, self-hate, narcissism, fear, anger, desperation.

At age 14, a lot of things changed. The biggest change was that I started my journey of really knowing God, not just as a historical figure, or a nice grandpa, or a stern judge, but as a personal friend and Savior.

At this time, ballet was over. I was disillusioned by the failure of my dreams, although it was much freer to be away from the idle and ocassionally dirty chatter of the girls, away from the pressures of the passion, away from the weight-god, away from all of that. I was ready for a new season…I assumed that to merely be the new season of high school. (I entered high school at age 14) Little did I know that I was being prepared for a new spiritual season. I had seen the emptiness of the life poured out upon worldly pleasures and fashions, and even though I mostly had only nibbled upon the rotten fruit of this world, I was sickened by it and wanted something more.

The second semester of my “starting-over” year, year 14, a specific story stands out. In our homeschool group, there was a family two kids about my age. Their father was in a tragic car accident that spring and died. Although I was not extremely personal with this family, I knew them…had been to their home…and it was far too shockingly close to my life. I remember that I was playing solitaire and listening to piano music when my parents told me the news. I felt shock flood my being, and could not focus on that card game at all. It felt like a rude awakening, a sudden splash of cold water in my sheltered world. The card game lost its interest, so I logged off the computer and wandered to my bedroom. “Comfort”, I thought…”I need comfort.” But where to find it? What would fix this aching pain for them, and my personal aching feeling of void and vulnerability?

The answer flashed across my mind and heart like a billboard–The Bible. That’s where people go for comfort. I rummaged through my dresser drawer, and pulled out my hot pink Bible. I didn’t even know what books were what, or what one to go to. I had no clue where the “comfort verses” would be, so I randomly flipped it open to Isaiah. I was searching…and, to my startled mind, actually finding. I don’t recall exactly what verses I read, but I remember partway through my reading, a startling thought came into my mind.

“Maybe…maybe the Bible really has something to say to me, right now. I should be reading it!”

The desire to know God more deeply had been skitting on the fringe of my brain for a few months…I would hardly call it a deep passion, certainly nothing like my all-consuming drive for dance. But, this notion of Bible-reading…it stirred within me a thought, a thought that I might just get to see more of this God through His scripture.

I started bouncing around in the Bible, rather lost and confused. Then, I came across a Billy Graham article on “New Christians”, and he recommended the book of John as a starting place. I took his advice. It was the first time Jesus became really real to me, beyond just a cute story or Sunday school craft project.  He was not just an abstract historical figure, but a real man. And it was then I realized that I knew nothing about Him, or about being a Christian.

I knew I had already gone through “usual stuff” involved in getting saved: said “the prayer”, gotten baptized, etc. But I knew that where I was was not a thriving spiritual oasis, but a dusty desolation. That summer, I remember struggling for assurance, wanting some form of concrete evidence of this new covenant. Finally, it dawned upon me that I needed to stop stalling, start believing from this day forward, and simply stand on His promises. I took a walk out to our west pasture, and signed a piece of paper that “officially stated” my new faith foundation.

That summer, we also read a book entitled I Kissed Dating Goodbye,by Joshua Harris. That did a lot to jumpstart my spiritual baby steps. You see, it’s a lot more than a book about dating. It’s a book about surrendering your love life to God…and giving Him the rest, too. It opened my eyes to a lot of areas in which I had been spirituall clueless. These were some of the many things God used to pull my closer to Him over this developing year. I was starting to “get it.” 

In the fall of my 15thyear, God brought about a wonderful opportunity to attend a local Bible study with old family friends. It was a blessing that answered an entire host of prayers and multi-factedneeds and wants of mine. I still am amazed at how many different areas He met with this one opportunity. There, I learned solid Biblical truth, made solid Biblical friendships, and started out on a new course.

By the time of my 16th birthday, I had been greatly changed. I was no longer drawn by the wordly glamour that had held my heart a few years ago. I was no longer enslaved by my body and a desire to control it. I was seeking God.

I still had a lot to learn. (still do, actually.)

At age 16, I began to attempt to get a job at a local Christian business I had desired to work at for almost 5 years. The process of “yes, we’ll hire you”, and dead silence, and “oh yes, we want you for sure”, and apparent abandonment, was maddening…..until I gave it to God. Having done that, I rested in Him, wanting to surrender this dream and others unto Him.

Well, at 16 1/2, on May 1st, I started that job, the one I still hold today. I thought I would learn about working, about money, about our product….but God had infinitely more in mind.

I learned about people, from my coworkers and my customers. In working with these people, I learned bushels of things about God.  Through the influence of a godly older brother, I was challenged to know what I believed, and be able to articulate it with zeal. Through interactions and struggles with other employees, I learned about having the fruits of the Spirit in ways I never had experienced. One of my coworkers saw the joy, peace, and difference in the Christian workers, and came to desire that personal relationship with God. I had the awesome privilege of meeting her for early morning, pre-work studies, and doing some discipling/counseling with this new butterfly of God’s. During this time, I saw the hurt and brokenness of the Christians around me, and was blessed to be able to reach out to them, pray withthem, encourage them, challenge them, and simply grow with them. It has been a spiritual journey disguised as a part-time job.

Things just kept getting deeper. Through an emotional crisis in the fall of my 17th year, I learned much about what it means to lean solely upon God. (although, I suspect I still know very little of such dependence in light of others.) He sustained me and grew me through the trials, and I became closer still. Through various friendship issues, I began to realize how much there is to learn about forgiveness, love, mercy, and grace.

A few more defining moments were yet to come.

I went on a mission trip to Mexico with a Spanish class of a local Christian high school. Being in a foreign country, with a  foreign culture, speaking a foreign language, with fellow mission workers I had never met, brought many exciting challenges. I learned so much about true dependence upon God, when all that I thought defined “my life” was taken away for a week and a half. But what peace, what joy, was still to be found! Reading God’s word, reaching out to lonely classmates, interpreting for non-Spanish speakers, serving with my skills, all these things….built up new spiritual muscles, and showed me that the circumstances indeed are trivial when one is focused on eternal things and not earthly things.

Perhaps the biggest defining moment of this time was a book. I’ve always been a voracious reader, sometimes of good books, and sometimes of bad…but in the spring of my 17th year, I picked up an exceedingly powerful book. It’s called Set-Apart Femininity, and it’s more than a book. It’s a rousing trumpet call to be radically transformed by Christ. Leslie Ludy provides intense conviction, encouragement, and wisdom that show the beauty and glory of a life totally poured-out and set-apart for God. Through the concepts in this book, I was greatly stirred in my heart. God showed my how much deeper, how much more intimate, how much more powerful, my relationship with Him could be. He challenged me to make Him the priority and core of my life.

The term I have come to describe for this radical change in my heart and life is “being utterly consumed with Jesus Christ.” This is what I am learning, and what I hope to become.

This is where the story trails off into a series of dot-dot-dots………….because this is where I am. The Mexico trip was this spring, and I finished Set-Apart Femininity the first week of May. I’m still seventeen, and God is just beginning to work His wonders in my life. He will not stop until the day of our Lord, Jesus Christ. I am so excited to see what wonders unfold in this new year, for we have reached another crossroads: Out of high school and into the big world. What amazing lessons, changes, challenges, triumphs, and glories will take place this year? Only He knows. Only He need know.

He leadeth me, O blessed thought! O words, with heavn’ly comfort fraught. Whate’er I do, where’er  I be, still ’tis God’s hand that leadeth me. He leadeth me, He leadest me, by His own hand He leadeth me: his faithful foll’wer I would be, for by His hand He leadeth me. (He Leadeth Me, text, Joseph Gilmore)

Anything else you’d like to see appear here? Any questions you’d like answered? Feel free to leave a comment here or on the other pages. I will do my best to answer your questions or supply additional material. Thank you for visiting me!

Published on May 12, 2009 at 7:35 pm  Comments (2)  

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2 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Alexandria….beautiful written delivery of your ‘Christ’ experiences. I recently purchased Set Apart Femininity for my college daughter. It’s a beautiful book. And you, Alexandria, in the early part of your life…have found the ‘pearl of great price.’ It will sustain you for eternity.

    Again, beautiful post. Enjoyed it.

    I am internetelias.wordpress.com

  2. Woops! I apoligize for the ‘i’ in your name.

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