Dear St. John families,
I have always loved stories, from when I was three years old and made my mother read Cinderella to me for the millionth time, to when I went to college to study journalism. They’ve always fascinated me and excited me as I learned the details of one’s life and interests, joys and even sufferings.
Lately our staff has been sharing our faith stories and it’s been a joy to read some of them already. I love how the Lord is such a creative Author that He can write such different stories among us all. They reveal who we are in such a way that is very powerful and has the potential to change those around them. I know this to be true firsthand.
My story starts out simply. I was born into a large Catholic family, with 5 sisters and 3 brothers. My mom homeschooled us all and both my parents raised us to know the faith, even at young ages. To be honest, I can’t remember a time when I didn’t know who Jesus was. Obviously my understanding would only go so far, but even fairly young I had heard about a God made man, who loved me very much and wanted me to live in Heaven with Him someday.
However knowledge can only go so far, as I realized as I got older. Even though I had grown up gaining knowledge about who Jesus was, I didn’t really know how to experience a relationship with Him. By the time I reached middle school and my family started to face some difficult hardships, I didn’t really know what to believe about God anymore. There was this weight of darkness that seemed to rest on me that I couldn’t shake. It drove me to seek unhealthy habits and behaviors for part of my growing up, trying to get rid of the heaviness that surrounded me.
It was one day, when reading a story about St. Rose of Lima, that I saw someone’s story be impacted by the Lord. But not just impacted, transformed. I realized that this was the kind of transformation that I had been missing. So right then, I prayed probably one of the first honest prayers I had ever prayed and told Jesus, “Jesus, if you’re real like I’m reading in this story, then I need you to be that real to me.”
Honestly, I wasn’t sure what to expect. Nothing dramatic happened at that moment. I brushed my tears away and went about my day, putting it aside. Yet later that week however, I saw my reflection in a mirror and honestly? I didn’t even recognize myself. There was a lightness to me that I couldn’t explain. I remember squinting at myself in the mirror and almost daring myself not to smile. But I just couldn’t help it. There was something in me that, though the darkness had not fully vanished, it felt like I wasn’t bearing the weight alone anymore. I felt light. I felt free.
Nothing around me had changed yet everything had changed within me. That was when I knew there had to be a God that truly loved me and was everything that He said He was. The difference was I didn’t just know it in my head, I believed it in my heart too.
It was this change that helped me in the difficult years ahead, but also guided me in the joys of my life too. The consistency of a relationship with Jesus has withstood in the face of every up and down I have walked through in my short time of living. It’s taught me and shaped me to be more of who I am today.
I’m so grateful that my passion for relationship with Jesus and love of stories have led me here to what I’m privileged to do each day. It’s an honor to walk among you all and hear more of your stories and how the Lord has brought us all here.
If you’ve struggled to know what your story is or how the Lord has been present in your life, don’t be discouraged, ask Him! This week, I invite all of us to reflect on how He’s been moving in our stories. He’s got lots of imagination and He’s not done yet.
To sharing stories together,
Coordinator of Youth Faith Formation