I was born into a Catholic family and grew up going through “the routine” every Sunday. Mom taught me that church was important, God was great, and I needed to be good. But to be honest, I didn’t always understand the lessons and I never paid attention for the full service.
To me God was great, but he was distant.
I didn’t take my first step with God until my freshman year of high school. At Young Life Camp I went on a walk with “Young Steve” (we had three counselors and they were all named Steve). He shared a bit about his relationship with God which, to me, was like revealing your soul. It made me want to listen to him.
He said I should do more than pray for “big things” in my before-bed prayers. He encouraged me to talk to God throughout the day about the little things I saw and the little things I did. He shared how, on a walk that morning, he had seen a pretty bird and stopped to pray, “Wow God, that’s pretty cool.”
It resonated with me and I started praying throughout the day. It transformed my relationship God. He was no longer distant. He felt close. God became a parent with whom I shared what I did every day.
Wouldn’t it be great if we always walked forwards and never went backwards? Well I took steps backwards in my faith as I progressed in high school. As I became more self-absorbed church held less importance. And then all hell broke loose when I met my first girlfriend.
It was the most selfish time of my life. We were both completely self-absorbed and did our best to tear each other apart by pushing each other further into sin. And we had the gall to say “I love you”! This type of relationship is the furthest thing from love possible…worse than hatred, it was apathy towards each other while we fulfilled our basest desires. It was a dark time in my life.
God became a parent with whom I shared only the good things and tried to hide the rest. (Looking back, I bet this is how Adam felt hiding from God in Eden.)
But things changed when I went to college. You see my greatest source of strength and comfort had always been my family. The other, lesser sources were friends and church. I went away to college and didn’t have my family or friends. Church quickly grew in importance as my sole source of strength and comfort. I looked forward to my Sunday morning walk to church!
This increased importance led to increased listening, which led to prayers, which led to me questioning the way I was living my life. It wasn’t long before I broke up with the girlfriend and committed myself to a eudaimon way of life. I found new friends who were into what I was into and I formed edifying relationships that have lasted to this day. I was taking steps forward in my walk with Christ again!
God was a parent again, but he also became a teacher, someone I looked to for guidance.
In my last year at college I went to Longhorn Awakening and…it woke me up. (Working as advertised!!)
It made Christ real. And when Jesus is real, knowledge of His sacrifice is vivid. It brings painful recollection of your sins but it also brings joyful understanding of the scope of a love powerful enough to forgive and forget anything.
And if that wasn’t enough, this retreat was also my first time to experience the power of prayer...the transforming, supernatural, miraculous power of prayer.
God became my savior for the first time in my life!
I was on fire when I graduated! Ready to take on the world for Jesus!
But then nothing happened. All suited up in my armor, sword drawn…no (visible) enemy to do battle with.
Sure I had the sexy, international consultant gig, but it wasn’t meaningful work, I wasn’t helping people. The sights I saw quickly lost their glamour without someone to share them with. I began to question my life. Where was I supposed to be? What was I supposed to be doing?
Luckily, I knew the place to turn for answers.
I prayed and prayed to God. For years I asked for meaning and guidance…and God spoke to me. There were times lost in prayer where I would be overcome by His presence. Other times, He would answer a prayer immediately in a miraculous way. He let me know He was bearing this burden of uncertainty with me.
God became a companion on my journey.
But what was I supposed to be doing?!
Looking back, God was guiding me slowly, step by step. One of these steps was to bring me back to Margaret, the girl of my dreams. We fell in love. Real love. And I started thinking about marriage.
I wanted a Catholic family, but Margaret was skeptical and had lots of questions…and I couldn’t answer any of them! I couldn’t speak to the history of the church, I couldn’t defend its teachings…how could I ask her to be Catholic when I didn’t know anything about it?!
Then a miracle happened. God reached out to Margaret’s mother through Relevant Radio and she became interested in the Catholic faith. While my flimsy arguments did nothing but anger Margaret, she raced into the RCIA classes to support her mother’s curiosity in the faith. You want to talk about humbling?!
Through the nudge from Relevant Radio, Margaret’s mother converted, Margaret converted, Margaret’s father converted…and I learned tons about the teachings of the Catholic Church.
I had been asking God to put me where I needed to be and hadn’t known the first thing about my faith. I was asking him to do all the work. But it’s not about what He can do for me; it’s about what I can do for Him. That is a life in service. That is what we are called to do. That is the answer I have been praying for.
God is what matters.
The next chapter is currently being written.
Margaret and I got married one week after her conversion. She is a catalyst for deepening my faith, and I try to be the same for her. Also, I finally got a new job that will allow me to stay home and be more involved...an answer to five years of prayers.