April 10, 2013

Baptism Profile: Angel Stidham

Name: Angel Stidham
Hometown: Walton, KY; Houston, TX
Vocation: Technical Support at Austin startup, ShipStation
Favorite Ice Cream: Rocky Road

1. Tell us how your story started
I grew up in Walton, KY. I lived on a long windy street where I enjoyed playing outside, roaming on haystacks, up in the trees, and probably playing a few not so safe games. After elementary school, my family moved to Houston where I had a difficult transition adjusting to the suburbs. I eventually moved to Austin to go to the University of Texas. I studied within about five degree plans, before I settled on Speech Language Pathology and English.

2. How and when did you meet Jesus and experience resurrection?
Although my parents met at a church, they had stopped going to church when I was born. A lot of what I knew about God was vague and equated with moral rules. When I was around 12 years old, I found out that there was a deep and terrible secret in my family. I was devastated, and as a result no longer knew who I could trust.

I didn’t know what to think about God, my life, or my family. The pain and confusion I felt seemed too unbearable. At around this same time, a new friend in high school invited me to church. Eventually, I heard the Gospel in response to the brokenness of the world. The man explained that we couldn’t save ourselves, and God knew this and wanted to be our perfect Father. This struck a chord with me in light of all the hatred and confusion I had toward my earthly father. It was so attractive for me to think about a holy, good Father. I craved for something good. The man then shared that there was a brokenness in our relationship with God that could only be resolved by Jesus’ perfect life and forgiveness. He forgave everything we ever did. It brought me so much comfort to know that Jesus forgave me for the hate and the guilt that I felt. I hadn’t heard or experienced anything so true, and in that moment.. I knelt and asked Jesus to show me how to live. To lead me to God. I needed Him to be my father. My life seemed to depend on it.

High school was still a really tough time for me at home, however I found a lot of comfort from God and was blessed with people around me who seemed to care for me. It was within my newfound church community that I learned to share some of my hurts, and was eventually led to see a counselor during college. I am still working through the pains and affects of my past (and present), but the Lord has done some significant work, especially in the past few years to lead me to healing…

3. Tell us about what you’re passionate about and how that connects with what you do now?
I like to create art and use it as a way to connect myself and hours to our pain. Although I can’t really make a living on my love for writing and for art, I have been able to use it in small ways even now. I participated in a small art show, where I created a mixed media piece on cardboard. I white-washed with cardboard with acrylic paint, the brown undertones of the board representing to me the remnant and scars and pain that is here until Jesus returns. There is a large, almost ethereal, sketch of a woman crying golden tears into the Well of Sorrow that is referenced in the poem.

As I prepared for the art show, I suddenly felt extremely vulnerable. Not sure if the poem’s words would be relatable. The greatest consolation I received was when a friend told me that the word’s in the poem articulated a feeling for her that she didn’t know was there, because she hadn’t known how to express it. I was grateful and humbled.. I believe that poetry can gently lower our defenses and help us to see the deeper pain within that I believe God wants to know and grieve with us. The healing takes time and feels elusive… which the poem attempts to express.

4. What were you doing in East Asia ? What excites you about what God is doing there?
I joined a small team of Cru staff and business men who were giving lectures to university students. These lectures helped the local team to meet students and help start natural conversations about spiritual topics. I get excited when I think about how many people have never really even thought about God. I believe that many people are coming to faith in this area of the world, and I truly think it will be them that helps to share Him with the developing places in the world. Knowing God gave me hope and faith during a desolate time, and has continued to fuel my life with a greater purpose. I see people coming to know more about their purpose in East Asia, and I love getting to be a part of it.

5. How would you describe your body part within Vox?
This is a bit strange, but I think I would say a bone on the rib cage. Because the rib cage aids the body in breathing, and helps protect the heart. I have enjoyed the moments in the past several months when my friends in the Vox community have chosen to share something that gives them energy, makes them sad, confused, lonely or grieved. I don’t often have any answers, but I am honored to leave room for the rest that God offers and hold in confidence these gifts of their soul.

[Photo by lainers @ Flickr]