Thursday, January 19, 2012

The Long and Winding Road, Part 2

As you'll recall from my earlier post, I was starting to tell the story of how I came back to Christ and had my soul renewed.  My faith had been deeply shaken by a tragic scandal, and I had started to rebel against any sort of good image that I was known for.

Here is where you probably expect to hear about my slow decent towards rock bottom via drugs, sex, and alcohol, but you are sadly out of luck.  I was still a good kid at heart and didn't really start "being bad" till I got to college.  I'd kept my nose to the grindstone in high school and it earned me a spot at a top university, and once I got here I let loose a little.  I would get really drunk when I drank, hooked up with boys, and even smoked pot a few times.  To me it was just about finding the next thing to shock people when I talked to them.  But I didn't go all that crazy: sure I made a few not so smart choices, but I luckily managed to not get myself in too much trouble.  It was all just a means of getting a little attention when I told a story with friends.

But this was not the final path for me--God had bigger and better plans, as He always does.  In September 2011 I started my junior year of college, and it was to be a month that would affect me greatly.  For it was in September that I met that man that would quickly become the love of my life and my light in the dark to help me back towards God.  I met my boyfriend through a mutual friend, and we instantly clicked.  I had been warned by said friend to watch out because he was "really Catholic," but I quickly saw that she was dead wrong.  She had made his being religious sound like a bad thing, when his love for God is part of the reason I fell in love with him.  (Rather than gushing about how crazy I am for him, I will instead move this story along) It's true, he was Catholic, but he was never pushy about me having to belong to any sort of religion or faith at all.  And it was this calm and kind nature of his that allowed me to start asking questions about his faith, wanting to know more about something I had only seen in passing before.

I had had several friends in high school who were Catholic, and had even gone to mass with some of them a few times.  While I had found it interesting, I really didn't understand what it was all about.  However, unbeknownst to everyone else in my life, the idea of Catholicism stayed in the back of my mind for the next several years, just waiting for the right outlet.  Finding someone who was willing to answer all of my questions, no matter how small or silly they were, and to do so with love and patience allowed me to rediscover my desire to have God in my life again.  I went to mass with my boyfriend one Sunday and that decided it for me.  As I stumbled through the mass parts and tried to follow what was going on, I suddenly felt like crying.  I stubbornly held back the tears and tried to muscle through, but soon I couldn't talk or sing because I was so choked up.  I felt such a wave of love and acceptance flow through me during that mass that I knew what I had to do: God was calling me to join his Church.

The rest happened rather quickly.  I enrolled in a local church's Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults (RCIA) program the next week.  This class is teaching me all the things a person needs to know to be a Catholic and help me to grow spiritually.  This Easter I will be confirmed and be a full Catholic, and I can not wait for that day to come.

But converting to Catholicism was not the only thing God had planned for me.  In the area around my university there is a movement among chuches (Catholic and others) called the Charismatic Renewal.  I won't go into too much detail about it just now, but here is a link where you can get a basic understanding of it.  Shortly after deciding to become Catholic, I went to a prayer meeting held by my school's ecumenical and charismatic Christian group.  While I won't detail the story here, because I feel it needs its own space, I will tell you this: the night of that first prayer meeting I became Charismatic.  My boyfriend likes to lovingly tease that "God wanted you something awful" in regards to how quickly and extremely I was called to Christ, but I wouldn't change a thing about it.  I'm so happy to have God's grace in my life, and I will do my best to meet His calling.

So that's my story.  For 20 years I wandered through life.  My 21st year is the start of a new chapter and a new way of life.  I hope you found it helpful, and if not then I hope you at least found it interesting.

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