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lenten interviews - part 6

“Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.” -James 1:27

Ali Gerber

Tell us your name, age, and current background (job, family, school, etc?) 
I’m Ali Gerber. I turned 31 in March. I’ve been married for about ten years. I have two dogs and a cat. I currently work as a nurse practitioner in the ER. But in a few months I will be working part-time in the ER and will also take a part-time position with Safe Families as a case coach.

My husband and I are also currently a host family for Safe Families, an organization that takes in children when families are in crisis. Parents are able to place their children voluntarily with a host family to be cared for while they arrange safe housing, start employment, have a hospital stay, seek addiction treatment, etc. I’m really passionate about the Church’s role in hosting children in this way as a means to bridge the poverty gap.

When did Jesus become real to you? Tell us what led to that? 
Jesus becoming real to me was a process. I was raised in a Christian home, and I went to a Christian school. But I often felt distant and disconnected. I viewed Christianity as a set of rules.

There were moments in my youth where I knew Jesus was there. Even when I felt distant, I knew that I should be pursuing Jesus. So, I did.

In 2010, my husband and I attended CG Midtown. They were doing a sermon series on Matthew — specifically on the Sermon on the Mount. In listening, I was blind-sided by how much freedom and release there is in Christ. When I listened to things like Blessed are the poor in spirit in Jesus’ words, I could see how much deeper and more freeing He is than a set of rules.

How do you experience him on a day to day basis? 
I often experience Jesus through relationship with others. Love, and particularly servant love, has a huge place in my relationship with Jesus. I seek out opportunities to be loved and give love. Sometimes this comes through my job and sometimes through my community. I have had many sweet moments of connection with others. I also experience God through prayer and study, but I more often find Him in social spaces.

Have you ever felt really far from God? What did you experience in that time? How did you move through it? 
I struggled with my relationship with God when I was a nurse in the ER. I was only twenty-two years old and new to nursing, and I had never seen the kinds of abuse and brokenness that I saw as an ER nurse. I was flooded with sad stories and had to face how corrupt mankind can be. My whole world view was shaken and turned upside down.

I struggled with anxiety and depression at that time, even though I didn’t realize it was connected to my profession. I sought counseling, and after a few sessions I was able to reconcile what I was seeing with what I knew of God. I came to understand that the brokenness is not from God. He does not create the sin in our world. And that helped me move past it.

What is one thing (or a few things) that make you feel close to Jesus? 
I feel close to God when I am serving. There was one time when we were hosting two new girls through Safe Families. They were about five and nine years old. I was just thinking about how deeply I loved these girls even though I had known them less than 48 hours. And I thought, if I can love these girls this much, God’s love for us must be enormous.