The following is a guest post by a good friend, Shea. Check out her blog!
Contrary to many people’s beliefs about my life, I have not always been a lover of Christianity. As I’ve pointed out on my own blog, I was baptized as an infant and received the sacraments (praise God), but Christianity was something I did on Sundays, and sadly – I know I’m not alone in that regard. Sometimes however, just like any good parent, God must let us go where we think we need to before we realize we only need Him. My life is just one of billions if not trillions of examples since the existence of Christ on earth.
My conversion was more recent than it feels, in fact, it’s been 5 days short of 12 months. Just like John and Andrew in Jn 1:40, I had a 4 PM moment – I can remember the day and the hour, what I was wearing, who I was with, and exactly what happened when I had the most potent encounter with the unfathomable love of Christ yet. You see, I was one of those people that needed to hit my rock bottom before sprinting to Christ’s open arms.
My senior year of high school (almost exactly two years ago), an incredible tragedy struck my family. For their own privacy, I need not go into detail on the interwebz. An unexpected burden had fallen on my shoulders, my role as a child had been somewhat reversed, and I had no idea what to do. In the midst of this ongoing family crisis, I had no close friends at my massive high school because my close ones had graduated, I was struggling with schoolwork, freaking out about auditioning for colleges as a music major, trying to figure out college applications, practicing, keeping my seven year old sister and 13 year old brother in line (which was pretty much impossible) while my mom was at school to renew her nursing license, another sister had cancer, and I had to keep it all together emotionally for people – this tragedy was quietly swept under the rug. I kept these problems, anxieties, and emotions inside and figured they would dissolve once going off to college.
I was wrong, they only got worse. In high school, I was vehemently opposed to the drinking and hook up culture (which is probably why I had no friends), but when I got to campus I let my guard down. I felt like there was no point in caring anymore, because of this family tragedy. Thankfully, my run in with frat parties and apartment crawls was short lived when I was introduced to a Father Charles casually by a mutual friend, my old youth minister from my home parish who came to campus to visit her sister for a weekend. A week after attending a football game (on Saturday, October 15, 2011) with the two of them, I felt a sudden need to go to confession, and who is the priest in the confessional? Well, Fr. Charles of course. At the end of the confession he recommended I go on a Koinonia retreat. I remember bursting into tears and suddenly talking about how I knew I needed a community and that I was so hurt by what had happened, I needed the family atmosphere here at school. I had no idea what was happening to me, because community was something I didn’t really care about, I thought it was juvenile and stupid, and I wasn’t into my faith, where were these words coming from? He and I began meeting weekly to heal these gaping wounds, this transformation was not overnight, nor was it easy. After some slight resistance on my part, I decided to go ahead and give Koinonia a shot, I have never cried so hard and laughed so hard in my entire life, as I did on that weekend (November 4-6, 2011).
After that weekend, I didn’t know much in my head about the faith, but I knew I had encountered the love and face of Jesus that weekend. My most powerful 4 PM moment was November the fourth, the first day of the retreat. This was the most intimate and intense encounter with Jesus that I have ever had. I can point to that single evening as the pivot point of my life. Earthly words cannot describe the conversation of heart I had with Him, which is why it’s pointless to go into detail. But after that, I knew that what was in my heart did not match up with how I was living my life – and that’s when I changed physically, socially, and morally (what ya’ll see (or read?) now from the outside). I realized that if what I encountered truly was a Person of God, and if God is truly what we say He is, then why was I living the life I was? It wasn’t consistent, and it was painful. I was living a life of anger, hatred, and angst and had been given an opportunity for something better (it’s also for eternity, so that’s also a bonus), so why not take it?
This is why I am who I am today, should I now apologize to the world for my love affair? He gave me this cross and through my death I have been resurrected. We all have crosses, and Christ is waiting for us to pick them up, uniting them to His, and carry them to Calvary. Calvary is not the end, the Resurrection is. Because of that resurrection I will never leave His side and am not and will never be ashamed of my love of Him.