When I look back on my life, I am amazed that I am a Christian. I don’t consider myself to have been raised a Christian, I was raised to be a Catholic. I could not see that Catholicism and Christian were one in the same. I mostly saw it as a “we and they” sort of deal. What I witnessed of Christianity was television evangelists who yelled, cried a lot, and often times they seemed to be sweating profusely. To me, there was a big difference between the passion of Christianity and the reverence of the liturgy. The two did not make one.
During my formative years I was antagonistic toward Catholicism. I attended parochial school which meant I attended mass at least once a month as a part of my schooling. I received the sacraments as a part of my schooling. Being a part of my family meant that I attended church every Sunday, whether I wanted to or not. I did not understand what going to church meant, I did not experience anything but sitting, standing, and kneeling in a pew before the altar with Jesus hanging on the cross. I did what I was told I had to do. Religion was a function and I resented it.
As an adult, I was very cynical. I rejected God and Catholicism altogether. I couldn’t see how the function of my religion brought anything good to my life. I blindly pursued the opposite of what I was being taught. Rebellion became the substance of my life and I really enjoyed it. Until, one day, I got myself into a lot of trouble. But even with heavy consequences, Jesus would be no part of my life or pursuit of it. I’d rather be “spiritual” knowing there was a higher power. I’d rather just keep trying to change myself, force myself to be what I thought I should be, rather than see a Man who came to earth for my ultimate freedom so that I could be who I was created to be.
Well into adulthood, the pressures of life became too much for me to handle. I would briefly get some relief from my overwhelming emotions by reading a self help book, doing yoga, working out in the gym, drinking wine, taking anti-depressants. I knew there was something very wrong with me. I just couldn’t get it together. I found myself at a crossroads, a moment where I said enough was enough. I walked into our local non-denominational church, there, I had an encounter with Jesus. I met someone who had given her life to Jesus and really meant it. Because He loved her and she loved Him, she loved me. A love encounter is what turns us to the One who loves us most.
So, what was so wrong with me? Most Christians would say that sin is what was wrong with me. I believe that to be true. However, I would say that being separated from God was my problem. Not being able to see God for who He is because of how life turned out and because I was offended by those who represented God. That is what kept me from God. That kept me away from unconditional love. While I was separated from Him, He still loved me. That is the key that won my heart. What I had done in my life, what was done to me in my life, the current circumstances of my life didn’t matter. I am loved, dearly loved. That is why I chose to follow Jesus.