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Why am I Majoring in Religion at Baylor University?

Updated: Apr 17, 2020

My decision to study Religion has been a journey that began while I was in high school. During my senior year, my mom walked into my room with a word she felt that God directed her to give: “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future… You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” (Jeremiah 29:11, 13 NIV).

This word from God came to me a couple of months before my high school graduation and the timing was perfect. Until this point, a real relationship with God seemed unattainable to me. I knew God was real but I did not know He was personal. Hosea 4:6 reads, “My people are destroyed from a lack of knowledge.” In my life, I was perishing emotionally and spiritually because I did not have an understanding of the character of God and His affections towards me. Yet at that moment, I realized that God had not forgotten me and that if I chose to pursue Him with my whole heart, I would get to see His true character. However, I regretted all the years I let pass not knowing and experiencing what it means to walk intimately with Christ. I remember asking God to forgive me for the years that I did not take advantage of learning from Him. I felt I had missed out on everything He previously wanted to teach me, but I recall God speaking to my heart a promise that He would restore and pour in an abundance of wisdom.

Graduation picture at the Student Life Center in front of the Baylor Bear Statue

It is for this reason that I am a majoring in Religion.  My studies here at Baylor are a part of God’s plan for restoration within my life. God has taken my four years of undergraduate to begin to reveal Himself to me. Through my personal study of the Word, Religion courses, wisdom from professors, and involvement in a local church in Waco, I have learned considerably more about the character of God. Majoring in Religion has replaced a once superficial understanding of God, with a personal witness of Christ that goes deep and a desire to continue to seek Him and gain understanding. I have seen how standing on the truth of Christ’s revelation of Himself and the Father has made me a more faithful believer and a whole person in all aspects of life.

My freedom and continual progress in relationship with God that has come from knowing His character in my heart, has sparked a passion in me to see others restored as well. The reason I did not pursue a relationship with Jesus in the past was because I had a distorted picture of who He is. I based my revelation of God on past bad experiences with people instead of from His Word. Though I will never know God fully, there is freedom found even in the pursuit to do so. I desire to write books, travel and speak to women and get involved in ministries where I can help disciple believers to know who our Lord is, so they may follow Him well. I presently, and plan to continue to do so in the future, present a message with my life that God still heals, restores souls, pursues, brings freedom and that relationship with Him is possible and life-giving. God has called me to a major in Religion at Baylor University because it has facilitated a personal journey of transformation so that I may be a part of the transformation of others.

- Gabrielle Michelle Leonard

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Gabrielle Michelle Leonard

Gabrielle M. Leonard

Founder and Director of
Returning to Joy

Gabrielle Michelle Leonard is a dynamic speaker, facilitator, certified mental health coach, minister, and podcaster. She is known for being a captivating storyteller and bible teacher who imparts practical wisdom that heals the soul.

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