On the surface, Erin Miranda is a tall dancer who wears sorority letters. To many this could seem intimidating, but that isn’t the whole picture. You will likely find Erin standing quietly away from the crowd, dodging the spotlight. But when she speaks, people truly listen. Unbeknownst to most, several events in her life have led to her gentle demeanor.
The first time Erin attended a Resonate service, she felt Maris there with her.
Maris was a friend of Erin's who committed suicide in high school. After Maris' death, which was quickly followed by the passing of Erin's uncle, Erin began to suffer from anxiety and panic attacks, which encouraged her desire to assume control over every aspect of her life.
"I didn't understand why someone would choose death," she said.
Ultimately, through Resonate Church and the summer discipleship program Elevate, her definition of 'death' evolved as Erin began to understand the life and salvation Christ offers and wanted her to accept.
The sensation of Maris' presence motivated Erin to frequently attend Resonate services. As Erin became more involved in the church, she began to realize she was living what she called 'a double life.'
"I struggled because I didn’t understand the benefits of following Christ and didn’t want to give up a life that I thought was fun."
Drinking on the weekends wasn't entertaining her or soothing her stress the way she hoped it would be. Erin struggled with anxiety-driven stress that skewed her priorities, and caused distant relationships with her friends and with God. As time went on, Erin began to realize it wasn't Maris' watchfulness and comfort filling the atmosphere during services; it was God.
Erin felt called to Elevate the first summer Resonate launched the program. She applied, was accepted, but at the last minute backed out, convinced that she had been mistaken about God's intent for her.
But still, Erin felt as if she hadn't answered God's call to attend Elevate, and applied again the following summer.
Living in San Diego for ten weeks among 70 other college students taught Erin how to relinquish control over the things she couldn't change.
"I am so used to having my stuff where I leave it, but my stuff would get moved all the time," Erin used as an example. "It was a small thing, but it was consistent all summer, so I had no choice but to let go."
There came a day when her friends and room leaders Jamie and Kristen asked her whether or not she felt joy at the end of the day.
"Obviously the answer was no," Erin said. "I was still stressed and anxious trying to control things on my own. That's when Kristen and Jamie took the time to explain the Gospel in a way that really made sense to me. They made me realize that I can have joy in any situation because of what Jesus did on the cross."
Erin began to a see a change in herself as the community around her showed support and proved that they wanted to know her and wouldn't leave her alone.
"I was shown that I really didn’t have to worry about my fears."
Erin says her anxiety has improved dramatically as she has opened every part of her life to Christ. As university classes are in session, her situation has not altered much, but the way she processes her surroundings and connects with Christ has changed everything.
"If people around me can show this much mercy, then I can't even imagine how much mercy God has shown me."