A Follower

 
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WORDS + LETTERING | SAM PALENCIA
PHOTOS | JONATHAN LODGERSTEDT

The story of Sam Palencia

I go by Sam, never Samantha, and definitely never Sammy. I am 22 years old, a recent grad, and honestly, I'm struggling to navigate this after college, before “real” life, season that I’m in. But that’s ok, I’m growing and learning and I’m not alone in this space.

I am a friend, artist, daughter, fiancée. I label myself with all these different names, to let others know who I believe myself to be, but often I have trouble labeling myself as a follower of Christ. I mess up and fail every day, but I am trying to remember that Christ does not identify me by my sin, but rather by the love that he has for me.

 
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I didn't grow up with an understanding of who Jesus was and I couldn't comprehend the idea of having a relationship with him or even with other believers. I am introverted and building relationships with others has never come easy for me. My first instinct is to rely on myself and keep all of my thoughts and feelings on the inside. Relying on God was not something I ever thought I wanted. God felt very distant and I felt very alone. But honestly, that was more comfortable and was what I wanted.

 

I started attending church consistently when I was 18 and I absolutely hated it. Church was a new environment. It was new people. It was lessons that I didn’t want to hear. I dreaded going every Sunday... but I kept showing up.

This attitude stuck around for awhile, until I decided to just read something in the Bible for myself. I flipped through page after page, unsure of what to read. Somehow, I landed in the Old Testament and started reading 1 Samuel chapter 1. This small chapter tells the story of Hannah and how she is devastated over not being able to have a child. She prays to God and pours out her pain and struggle to Him.

After she prays, it says, “..her face was no longer downcast.” That line stood out to me like crazy. I couldn’t get over it. Hannah had such trust in the Lord, that after a short conversation with Him, she was completely at peace. After that realization sunk in, I knew I had to pursue what it meant to have a relationship with Christ.

So now, here I am. I have been working full time at a church for the past four months and striving to not let myself get in the way of what he wants to do with me. And you know what? I am failing at it all the time. But despite my failures and my flaws, as long as I get back up and show up where God is calling me to, I am a follower of Christ.

 

 
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