Monday, October 12, 2009

The moment God revealed himself to me

I've been searching for God for years.  I don't know how long.  I had no doubt in the existence of God as a child, but as I got older, and realized the Tooth Fairy and Santa Claus weren't real, I wondered if God and Jesus were also just constructs of my parents to keep me in line.

Neither of my parents were every particulary strong in faith.  Mom, every now and then, would decide we needed to be "good Christians" and go, and she and I went to a small independent bible based church.  Dad would go every now and then, but overall wasn't a fan.  I had no real religious compass to follow.  As I grew older and turned into a jaded teenager, I began to doubt the existence of God.  When I hit my 20s, I was positive God didn't exist.  I lived for myself today, rather than gambling that there was a Heaven.

I guess my story starts a little over a year ago, in my father's final days of his battle against cancer.  Now, I can't say that my father was a particularly great human being.  He drank, and there were times he could be wicked.  But he was my dad, and I'll always love him.  He finally accepted Christ when he got sick.  I sat with dad a few days before he died.  The cancer was doing a number of his mind, and he was doped up on morphine.  He babbled on incoherently all morning.  But there was a moment where he suddenly became lucid, and started speaking clearly.  A chill ran down my spine as I realized he was speaking to my grandfather, who had passed away 20 years earlier, telling him he'd be there soon.  And that moment, I knew there was something beyond this world, and I wanted to find my way to it.

It was almost another year before I found the next step on my journey.  I had been going to Mass with my fiance for a month, and trying to learn more about the Catholic faith.  I had no intention of converting, really.  But I knew Sharon wanted to raise any children we had as Catholic, so I wanted to find out what it was about.  I also started reading Catholicism for Dummies - a very good book whether you're exploring the Catholic faith, or a cradle Catholic who wants to learn more.

Anyway, I was in a period of trial and tribulation.  My sister had just taken her life a few months before.  I was planning a wedding.  I was swamped at work, and felt like I was unfairly carrying the load for my entire department.  I felt like I was being unfairly singled out and working harder than anyone else, and was getting nothing for it.  I was on the verge of either a nervous breakdown, or a heart attack, it was just a matter of whether my mind or my heard gave out first.

But one Sunday morning before Mass, God spoke to me.  I was reading Catholicism for Dummies, when I got to the section on sin.  Of course, I knew all about the seven deadly sins, but their explanation of pride hit me like a ton of bricks.  Pride isn't simply arrogance - which I admittedly am prone to.  It's looking down on others for nothing being as smart/strong/whatever as you are.  Guilty as charged.  And also, it said that pride KEEPS US FROM ASKINGN OTHERS - EVEN GOD - FOR HELP.  At that moment, the light came on.  I realized that 90% of the stress in my life was MY fault, because I REFUSED to accept the Lord's help in my life.  I didn't even HAVE to ask, He had been offering all along and I wouldn't take it.

It's like the story of the footprints on the beach.  Except, there wasn't one set of footprints in my dream - there were two sets at all times, but one was clearly limping, and on the verge of collapsing under his own weight.  But the Lord never gave up on me.  He kept walking along with me, ready to catch me at the moment I was ready to finally set aside my foolish pride and ask for help.

The moment I realized all this, I got down on my knees and asked God to forgive me, and to please help me with all the stress in my life.  And it was like a wave of love washed over me.  I knew at the moment, my life was changed.  God had sent me a very clear message, and for the first time in my life, I was ready to listen.

As if to drive the point home, the gospel reading at mass that morning was the disciples arguing amongst themselves over who was the greatest.  And Jesus told them whoever desired to be first, would last among them all.  And Father Ettner even touched on pride in his homily.  God was making sure that the message stuck with me.  There was absolutely no doubt that He was speaking to me, and I absolutely had to take the message to heart.

It's been over a month since that morning, and my quality of life has improved in an unbelievable way.  I no longer worry and stress out at work.  I'm much nicer to my co-workers, and have learned to take them coming to me for assistance as a complement, not a hinderance.  And most importantly, I've learned to not be afraid or ashamed to ask God for help when I feel overwhelmed.  Because with Him, all things are possible.

God speaks to us all.  We just have to listen.

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