In life, we seek freedom.
Freedom from bad relationships.
Freedom from vices and addictions.
Freedom from being coerced into thinking and believing in a way that we know, deep down, just isn’t right.
Or perhaps freedom from a past that we feel we just can’t escape.
And whatever freedom may look like for you personally, whether it’s within your reach to obtain, or if it feels completely unobtainable … it’s really only through Christ that we will find true freedom.
Growing up as a child, I had no faith. Not just in God, but in anything. My father was abusive and my mother was emotionally distant. Let’s just say neither of them provided me with any type of support system for handling issues that went outside the norm.
And after my father died at a young age, when I was only eight years old, I learned to cope and adapt to life by following my mom’s method — closing off my emotions, and keeping people at bay. I developed a dry sense of humor as a defense mechanism. I was sarcastic.
And it worked well. Very well.
As I turned inwards both spiritually and emotionally, I became successful outwardly. Not Bill Gates successful, but successful given my upbringing and social and economic status (i.e. growing up, we were very poor)
After graduating high school, (which by the way was tortuous for me, both as an introvert and someone who didn’t really want to communicate with anyone) I went on to graduate college with two degrees. I had become the director of marketing for a company by age 29, making a very good income, and with the ability to purchase things I never thought possible – especially having grown up in a poor family.
In fact, as I became an adult, if I wanted to buy something I never gave it much thought – I just bought it.
In time I moved away from my small hometown to live in a more urban environment, where there were more things to do, and hipper, more educated people to do them with.
I had escaped my past. I had found freedom through status and things. I was happy and content.
Or so I thought.
I was often congratulated for becoming successful, but strangely, I never cared for the word “success”. I had no interest in being successful. I found the word “career” to be off-putting and nauseating.
After turning 30 I started to develop an empty feeling. Not empty in the literal sense, but somewhere deep down inside of me.
I had no idea why though, so I pushed the feeling aside. Heck, I had learned to navigate life without the bother of emotions, so why would I care about this feeling of emptiness. So I just ignored it.
But the feeling persisted, and I started to wonder, if I had found my freedom, my happiness … why was I suddenly feeling empty?
For a while I just kept doing what I did best. Spending money on things I didn’t need, and putting my focus on things that didn’t matter.
And as that feeling of emptiness persisted, my thoughts turned to something I never thought they would.
As I mentioned, I grew up with no faith. My family was agnostic at best. No one ever made a declaration of being an atheist, but no one ever considered or spoke of God or faith either.
My only exposure to God was when a very nice woman, who was also a Jehovah’s Witness, would knock on our door every few months, with hopes of talking to my mother.
And even with this complete lack of God in my entire life, I started to realize that the empty feeling that I was experiencing was coming from my lack of knowing Him.
But I literally had no idea what to do next. I had already chosen the path that my life was to go. I had chosen materialism. I had chosen strength through a refusal to ever show weakness. I had chosen self.
I was too far down the road I had travelled to change now. My destiny had already been mapped out.
It was soon after this time, that I made some new friends. And some of these friends were Catholic. I didn’t know much about the Catholic faith. The word “Catholic” up this point meant priests, nuns and lots of rules. Oh, and some saints.
It was after spending more and more time with these new friends that I became exposed to not just the Catholic faith, but to a relationship with God – in the person of Jesus Christ.
This all happened, not because I was running away from something, like I had my whole life, but because I was running towards something. To Him.
And it’s through Christ that I finally found the freedom that I had been seeking my entire life.
In 2004 I was baptized and confirmed into the Catholic faith. And one of the friends who had introduced me to God became my Godfather.
I moved back to the small town that in time I realized I always loved. And now my friends are true friends, regardless if they’re hip or not. (btw, I’m definitely not).
And it’s only through Christ crucified (and the full understanding of what that means) that I was finally able to wholeheartedly love and forgive my both my father and my mother.
And when my mother became seriously ill and I had to become her caregiver, it was Jesus Christ who gave me the strength, determination and the good friends to help me do it.
And as my generosity with Jesus grew, my self-interest began to fade.
Quick reality check: I still struggle with buying things I don’t need, or some times putting on an outward appearance that matters to no one. And the introvert inside of me will always seek solitude.
But I fight against these things. Daily.
But what miracles the love of Jesus can work within me, within all of us, if we only surrender ourselves to Him.
He will put us to the test, so that we may see ourselves as we really are. Flawed and beautiful at the same time.
And when we have proven our readiness to give our selves to Him, He will raise us up to new heights of knowledge and love.
It’s never too late.
And remember, if you ever feel stuck, if you ever feel tempted to give up or give in because you feel trapped — at any given moment you have the power to say …
“This is not how my story is going to end.”