HomeArticlesPersonal storiesMy Story: Emma Järvinen

My Story: Emma Järvinen

March 15, 2024
Emma Järvinen repentance

My repentance was the work of God

When I moved away from my childhood home in the autumn of 2021, I was living in the darkness of the world. I allowed other people to mistreat me, and my understanding of things like sexuality was distorted. I sought solutions to my distress and emptiness in New Age practices such as yoga and meditation, but in vain. After living on my own for a while, my conscience awakened.

Perhaps for the first time, I pondered the existence of God and whether everything in my life was truly alright. I wasn’t raised in a spiritual home, and my parents spoke of God mainly out of obligation. Memories of those few moments when God was mentioned were warm, but I had no concept of right and wrong because there were no clear boundaries at home, and my upbringing was quite liberal.

I got a believing friend

When I started my studies at the university, I met a believing girl, and we gradually became friends. I hadn’t met believers before because there weren’t really any in my hometown. My mother came from an area where there were many believers, and I had heard her speak negatively about them. However, I wanted to approach the matter with an open mind and form my own opinion. My great-grandmother, described as warm and loving, had become a believer towards the end of her life, but it was perhaps seen as a bit shameful in my home.

By the end of the school year, the believing girl and I were already very close, and we also talked a lot about matters of faith. There was something wonderfully beautiful about her that I couldn’t quite articulate. Some kind of trust, peace, and childlikeness. Her gaze was always calm and sweet, and I felt good in her presence. She was so trusting, and genuine joy radiated from her eyes. I also admired the peace and strong sense of belonging emanating from the group of believing youth.

The restless time of seeking

In early 2022, my life had calmed down, and some things in the world no longer felt right to me. I started dating seriously, and my studies were going well. Sometimes I felt peace, other times I was restless. One of the biggest insights given to me by the Heavenly Father after repentance has been that a person can only experience one type of peace at a time. The peace I experienced during my time of seeking was actually the peace of hardening, for I felt it only in the vanities of the world. If, for example, I was picking berries, I felt great distress and a sense of sin. Especially in my relationship, I felt sinful because I knew deep down that I wasn’t acting right.

My relationship with my believing friend grew even closer, and I wanted to understand her way of thinking better. I was particularly interested in the daily life of a large family. I spent time with my believing friend even on a daily basis, and we could talk about life and faith for hours. My friend has told me afterwards that she noticed my time of visitation and wanted to stay close to me. In the autumn of 2022, I began to think that perhaps peace could still be found among the Laestadian Lutherans, but I quickly dismissed the thought.

In early 2023, I started attending youth evenings at a certain church, but I always felt like something was missing. For example, prayer circles troubled me, and I wondered why members of the same church acted differently compared to each other and why sin was tolerated. Also, it was strange that the path didn’t feel narrow at all. I realized quite quickly that there was no Kingdom of God there. I felt distressed.

I also felt jealous of the believers. I wanted to be like them and live like them. I especially dreamed of a large family and being a stay-at-home mom. By the autumn, I was already living a life similar to that of the believers, and going to youth evenings at another church no longer felt right. On the second day of October, I told my friend about my feelings and my desire to attend services. She gave me a book, “I Found the Kingdom of God”, and I devoured about 50 pages of it at once. The stories in the book deeply touched me, and I started to cry. I told my friend that I now knew where the Kingdom of God was. However, I wasn’t yet ready to ask for the gospel because I was in a relationship with an unbeliever.

The grace of repentance gave me deep peace

Two days later, I was ready. Excitedly, I told my friend that God had opened my understanding, and I asked for the gospel. So I received the grace of repentance. I cried and trembled with joy, and at the same time, I felt deep peace. The Kingdom of God had been near, but still so far away. Now the step felt light, and the feeling was wonderfully complete. My friend also said that my demeanor and gaze changed immediately. Although I was still the same person, there was now a gem inside me.

The following weeks were not easy. I encountered much that was new, and I didn’t understand everything. The enemy attacked, and there were many doubts. I was even close to drifting back into the world, but fortunately, God was patient. The books, podcasts, and songs were a great support, and I enjoyed listening to them when I was alone. Gradually, things began to fall into place, and it was wonderful to attend services. I had never heard such beautiful singing and speaking, which emanated from living faith. I also felt that I had never heard the Bible explained so warmly in the sermons.

The love between the believers was visible, and I watched them with emotion. How beautiful it was to see friends blessing each other for the first time. The youth welcomed me warmly, and I was well taken care of. I also began to see God’s guidance in my life: the Heavenly Father had truly prepared me for this moment. Somehow, I began to understand what heaven might be like, and I had never felt such a thing before.

My life changed but God has given me back manyfold

Receiving the grace of repentance initiated a life change as if by itself. Yet I feel that I haven’t had to give up anything. I haven’t been forbidden anything, but I want to act in a certain way to remain in faith. Besides, God has already given me back manyfold as I have wanted to believe. For example, I got to spend a weekend at a youth camp for believers, and it was a truly beautiful, wonderful, and faith-strengthening experience. I now have peace with God, and it is a much deeper peace than the superficial and unstable peace with the world.

Of course, life as a believer is not just full of happiness. Although as a believer I see myself more valuable than before, the enemy torments me and feeds me with thoughts, for example, that I am not as good as other believers. Despite all this, my life is wonderful when there is living faith in my heart and when I can always ask for forgiveness for my sins, doubts and temptations. Sometimes I wonder how I, of all people, have received such a gift. However, it’s not about my merit but about the grace of Heavenly Father.

Text (FI) and image: Emma Järvinen, Finland

Translation FI-EN: ChatGPT & A.J.

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