Welcome to our Remember series, where we pause to reflect on how God has proven faithful in the past so to help us place our trust in Him in the present. We look to the future, knowing that God always keeps His promise and that He always makes a way. We invite you to pray with us, to write your own Psalm (see the end of the post!), and share with others about how God has been faithful in your life.
My entire outlook on life altered during my senior year of high school. I began my first “real” relationship with an older college guy on whom I had been hard-core crushing since middle school. He was a “good Catholic boy,” a family friend, someone with an incredible level of intelligence, and a guy who truly cared about his Faith.
What I did not know was that he was carrying deep wounds that he naturally brought into our relationship. These were then projected onto me through verbal and emotional manipulation. Because of my inexperience, I could not identify what was wrong—though it was incredibly clear something was unsound. I thought I was at fault; that it was my own lacking that was causing issues. I sunk deep into my own psyche, developing raging anxiety and crippling depression. My friends noticed, but sadly abandoned me. My family also noticed this drastic metamorphosis, but even after countless conversations and emotional support, they were unsure of how to help me.
I became unrecognizable. I transformed from a confidant, self-assured person to an antsy mess who could not even decide which homework assignment to begin working on without experiencing crippling anxiety attacks. Worst of all, my view of God and the way He loves became twisted into the way my abusive boyfriend addressed me.
Finally, I acknowledged that the relationship had to end when I realized that I no longer desired to live. I was not suicidal in the sense that I wanted to hurt myself, and I cannot even say that I wanted to die. I just thought it would be easier for everyone if I was gone. It was then that I finally had enough strength to cut the toxicity out of my life.
A New Start
Within the same month, I arrived at college. Broken, I now had to deal with everything without my usual familial support. Since it was a Catholic university, the chapel within my dormitory became my escape as I had no place else to cry. What was unintentional on my part was that I learned to pray from my heart and to hear God speak to me just by frequently placing myself in front of His presence. Slowly and surely, over the next eighteen months, God showed me that His love is the exact opposite of what I had experienced. Jesus made it obvious His desire for a relationship with me came with freedom, acceptance, and love—not pressure or accusations.
This realization was completely authentic, but I was not completely healed from the abuse. Hearts and minds can take a lifetime to heal. My experience was no different. Making decisions—even minor ones—kept me incapacitated. I had a hard time trusting others and making friends because I had a hard time trusting myself. After all, I had made the horrible decision to enter into that debilitating relationship in the first place. What if I made the wrong call again?
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A Pull and Providence
During the Fall of my sophomore year, a canceled weekend trip resulted in my resting alone in my dorm. Suddenly, I felt prompted to go to Confession. Though I thought it weird since I had recently gone, the interior pull grew heavy, so I yielded and walked to church. As I waited for confessions to begin, I asked God to show me what he wanted me to say, because I had only a couple of venial sins in mind.
When it was my turn, I experienced a normal Confession. I stood up to leave thinking we were done, but the priest started asking me questions. Many of his inquiries were very specific and had nothing to do with items confessed, almost as if he was reading my soul. In any other circumstance, this kind of conversation might have been unsettling. However, for some reason, it had the opposite effect. All the insight and wisdom shared were clear, concise responses to open wounds I had been dealing with because of that relationship. It was the specifics of what the priest said that were so striking, his main point being that I needed to learn to trust myself and my ability to make decisions again (something I had not mentioned during the sacrament).
A New Call
Dumbfounded, I left with my heart aflame. Everything I had experienced about God’s healing love over the past two years had rebuilt and restored me. Exploding within me was a strong desire for everyone to know God’s love. So I decided, right then and there, to change my major from Nursing to Theology/Catechetics and become a high school Theology teacher. I was transformed from an indecisive, anxious individual, to someone who had made a major life decision over the course of thirty minutes.
Twelve years later, I still marvel at this sacramental experience. It was pivotal in my own healing, and just the beginning of God paving the way for my ministerial teaching career. Every step of the way, God opened doors that should have been locked shut. To this day, He continues to sustain me within a profession with an abnormally high burn-out and turnover rate.
Sometimes I feel like I am thriving, sometimes I feel like I am just surviving, and sometimes I fall somewhere in between those extremes. However, remembering God’s faithfulness never fails to inspire a reciprocal sense of faithfulness in me. It makes it easier for me to trust Him, relying on the certainty of His fidelity which has never wavered (though it is sometimes quieter than I prefer). Ironically, it is this authentic work to be faithful and trust in God that makes me effective in evangelizing hearts within my classroom.
From Glory to Glory
Within the Gospels, Jesus gifts his Apostles the experience of witnessing the Transfiguration right before the suffering of the Passion. This surety of God’s glory is meant to sustain and strengthen them through the difficulties of that coming week and also the remainder of their lives (which Jesus knows will be full of difficulty).
For me, my experience within the confessional over a decade ago remains one of my greatest “Transfiguration” experiences within my life.
What experiences have you had which have assured you of God’s glory? Have you ever had a powerful sacramental encounter which served as a spiritual buoy through difficult circumstances?
If you would like, we invite you to write your own psalm to help you remember the marvelous works of the Lord. We walk you through it here. Keep this psalm handy. Pray it when life makes it difficult to see Who reigns sovereignly.
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