So there I was… sitting in my room without any reason for hope. It goes without saying that I was looking for anything that could save me. The fix I needed had to be permanent too. I didn’t want this to be one of the phases that I was known to go through. I knew my future was at stake here and I did not want to mess around with that.
I had learned from my dad’s experience and from my limited church exposure that God would not only accept me back after ignoring Him for so long but that He could also change me into something that I was not. I didn’t care what people would think if they saw me turning into a “church boy”. I didn’t care if they called me a weak person because I needed religion as a crutch to get through life. I saw no shame in needing God. I see that as a sign of strength not weakness. I see that as an act of faith and humility when someone realizes that they can’t do it by themselves. In fact, that’s the only way we can really even get God’s help. Unless we are willing to go to Him and let Him lift our burdens we will never be able to truly overcome them.
Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it.
Sorry… I didn’t really have that deep of a realization at that time, it came much later as I matured. So to be honest, I just wanted the feelings of hopelessness and sorrow to go away. I was willing to do anything. What I did know though was that I needed Him… so what did I do next?
Well, I realized that for me being a Catholic was not going to work. I will not sit here and talk bad about any church, especially the one I owe my spiritual foundation to, so I will just say that me and the Catholic church agreed to disagree.
At the time I was working at Sport Chalet and there was a guy there who I really admired when it came to religion. He was a Southern Baptist and from what I could tell, was the most religious guy I had ever met. He was very intelligent and had a strong personality. So I started to ask him question after question about God. We would talk during lunch, at work, at my house… wherever really. I treated my discussions with him as Religion 101. I approached them as a chance for me to expose all the holes of my religious knowledge and he was more than willing to fill them. I didn’t allow my ego to get in the way of what I was learning. I wanted it to be as if I was a child learning it for the first time. I felt that I needed to have an open mind and allow someone with a lot more knowledge about God to educate me.
One of the first things he told me to do was to start reading the Bible. I had never really read it before, mostly because when I did I couldn’t understand it. He told me there were many versions of the Bible and then recommended that I buy the New International Version. I went out and bought it and was shocked to see the Bible in plain everyday English.
I began to devour that book. I would get so excited just to read it. I started in the New Testament- Matthew to be exact and for the first time learned about the life of Jesus very intimately. There were many stories about His life that I grew up hearing. I am sure most of us have but to actually read the details about them gave me insight that I did not expect. I began to marvel over the things He did. I was even more amazed at His teachings. I did not expect my reading to have such an affect on me. I slowly began to believe that I could escape from the trap my life had become.
As I read, Jesus became more real to me. I mean, I always knew he was real but I hadn’t come to know him as I was starting to at that time. I especially loved that he taught in parables. Those stories sunk deep into my soul. One day I came across a statement He made that hit me right across the forehead. This statement flipped the switch for me. I read it over and over again. My life has never been the same since and it still inspires me to this day. In my next post, I’ll share it with you and continue on with my story.