Our Stories: Claire DeSantis

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I grew up in a Christian household with strong Christian parents, but my faith journey was a gradual one. When I was six, I was baptised, but I remember that I just wanted to be baptised because my friend Dillan had been baptised, and he got to go on stage, and I wanted to go on stage. When I was eight or nine, I attended a Christian summer camp. After a chapel meeting, we had a small group discussion, and my leader asked us what it meant to believe in Jesus. I remember confidently raising my hand and saying, “it means that you believe that Jesus was a person and that He walked around and did stuff.” “That’s part of it, but not quiiiite,” my leader responded, and she explained what it means to really believe in Jesus “in your heart.”

Later that week, I rededicated my life to Jesus. I remember someone in the cafeteria hall saying, “if you raised your hand earlier to say you want to be saved or rededicate your life to Jesus, come with me.” I turned to my best friend at my table, and whispered “I did that!” And she encouraged me to go. We went into the chapel, and I remember sitting in the back of the little chapel, and I prayed, rededicating my life to Jesus.

Although I don’t remember a lot from that age, apparently there was a significant change in me at that point. My cousin says that the Christmas following, I walked up to her, gave her a big hug, and said, “Emma, I’m so sorry for everything mean I’ve ever said or done to you. I know now that’s not what Jesus wants me to do.” And, according to her, I treated her differently after that point (I was a bit of a bossy, mean cousin before that point!). I also know that I became extremely sensitive to sin in my life, and quite sensitive in general, and began reading my Bible diligently, every day, no matter what, and I joined my church’s worship team in 7th grade (12 or 13). I am SO thankful that I had amazing adults in my life who mentored me so well throughout.

Throughout the rest of my childhood, God walked with me through different significant stages. Even though I was saved, I didn’t really understand the concept of grace. I was still very trapped in legalism and judged both myself and others very harshly. Jesus freed me from that trap and set me free over the years, whereas the judgmental mindset was healed in a moment. A friend totally called me out on being judgmental, but I didn’t know what the word meant! She showed it to me in the Bible and God just changed something in that moment.

I think that throughout uni, I started pressing into the questions I had about God more, and learned how to be bold for my faith on a widely secular campus. God put a lot of empathy in my heart for those who believe differently than me, and I think He both strengthened me and softened me a lot during university.

I am starting to see how God prunes us and shapes us one layer at a time. He works through the same issue in our hearts over and over again, creating a greater awareness of our dependence on Him and need for Him. There is so much more that needs pruning in my heart, but I am so thankful to know a Father who promises to make us more like Himself every day. We are becoming more and more like Christ, and it has nothing to do with my abilities. Praise God!

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About the Author

Claire DeSantis is a member of the City Students team and is currently doing ID (Intentional Discipleship). She is from Columbia, Missouri and studied Fashion Communication at University.

(Fun) Fact: Claire doesn’t like tea or coffee.