An undeniable and awesome love for Jesus, God and the Church!
My story needs a little backstory:
My mom grew up Protestant, dad grew up Catholic. They married in the Church. When they had me, they baptized me in the Church, too, as they agreed to when they married. :)
According to my mom, we went to Mass as a family when I was young, but I have no recollection of this. When I was 7, the year I was to have my First Communion, my parents' divorced, unfortunately, so no First Communion took place. And, then, I guess no one went to church anymore.
Fast forward to 7th grade, and I wanted to do everything my best friend at the time did, and that was a lot of fun things with her youth group at church! So, I joined her and then decided to receive a few more sacraments: First Communion AND Confirmation. It was a joyous day, I remember. ALL of my family was involved. :)
And, then. I just stopped going to church. Nothing. Zilch.
But, let's fast forward again because there really isn't much to report on from high school. I was a good kid, didn't get into trouble, got along (and still do!!) great with my momma. Overall a pretty "drama-free" high school career.
College. Well, by happens-stance I went to a small Catholic university (really b/c they have a well known nursing program and my dad liked the school- that was the biggest draw). I hated it my freshman year. I was your typical freshman: partied, drank too much, not involved with the best crowd. Ya know, things like that. I still made school a priority, and went to class and all that. But, my school and I just didn't mesh well that year.
|Colly and I... one of the very first pics together!|
We often matched...
Well, she must have convinced me a few times, but I don't remember much. What I do remember, though, is hating it. I hated going to Mass. I cried every time I went. I felt unworthy and like people just knew that I didn't belong. It was horrible. (I chuckle now, because let's be honest, no one really pays attention. No one really cares! ha. But, that's what I felt back then, ya know?!)
Alright, Coll and our other RA friend, Amy, were both going on Alternative Spring Break. This was a week long service trip down to Charleston, SC where we helped rebuild/repair homes hit by Hurricane Hugo back in 1989. They were both going, and I didn't have plans for spring break, so I went, too!
|I believe the last day on site.|
I never wanted to leave!
The love that we experienced with the family we were serving and amongst the volunteers was incredible. To give and to serve is such an awesome way to love, and it was HUGE for me to witness.
God grabbed hold of my heart that week and has never, ever let go.
ASB completely changed my life. After that week, I made the choice to live for Him. Now, it wasn't easy (never is!). I still struggled with Mass. It was then that I decided to try other churches out there, thanks to my other best friend, Morgan. She is a devout Christian woman who was, and still is, completely in love with Jesus. I accompanied her to different Christian churches in the area. It was... interesting. I enjoyed spending time with my friend, but I always felt MORE out of place in those services than I did at Mass. Imagine that!
I love me some good structure and routine and tradition. Mass provided that for me. It was familiar and pleasant. Well, it became pleasant after I had been going again for a while!
The Catholic Church
I went home for the summer, and really tried hard to stick with Mass. But, it's hard when you are doing it alone, ya know?? So, I slipped a little behind. But, when I went back to school that August (early, for RA training), I was ready to see Coll again and get back to it.
I read a ton. I dove head first into our Campus Ministry programs. I asked questions. I prayed. Went on some incredible retreats. I met some amazing women who taught me how to have a personal relationship with Jesus. I found a love for praise&worship. I even helped lead our ASB trip that year!
I absolutely fell in love with the Catholic Church.
And there was no going back. :)
That, my friends, is how it began for me. It's not the most dramatic story, but I think it's a pretty good one. God spoke to my heart through service. He just knew how to get me! This life we choose to live isn't the easiest, but it's the best. I am so thankful to Him for opening my heart to His love. To His church. To the amazing friends that I have made along the way. To the awesome opportunities He has provided for me. The most supportive family (even though they may think I'm crazy, sometimes!). His grace is the only way I have made it this far.
There are no words to ever express my love and thankfulness. All I can muster, Jesus, you rock!
Now, go check out all the other awesome conversion stories over at Amanda's!!! :)