“Always be ready to give an explanation to anyone who asks you for a reason for your hope…” 1 Peter 3:15

If I only had 30 seconds to share my faith story, here’s what I’d say: I was born a “cradle Catholic,” and when I hit my mid-40’s or so, Jesus started inviting me in varied ways to “get out of the cradle” and learn to “walk” and “talk” with Him and for Him…to truly enter into a deeper relationship with Him. Even today, though I find He still has to coax me here and there, “Come on, another step, another step…”, I have also found joy and hope in those toddling steps, and I know the Lord’s invitation is real!

This is what’s called an “elevator speech, in this case, a basic, stream-lined version of one’s faith journey. If you only had a short amount of time to share with someone the “reason for your hope,” what would you say? What was life like before you encountered and engaged with the Lord? What was that experience that brought you closer? How did your life change or look different afterward? An elevator speech takes your “faith journey” down to the basics, but to get there, it really helps to think about the full “story.”

My full story began, as I said, at birth. I was born into a devout Catholic family who attended Mass here at St. John weekly and lived life led by the Lord’s commands. I received my sacraments, married John (JB), my husband, and taught 8th grade English and Literature at Jackson Catholic Middle School. When our children were born, the process repeated as we attended Mass here, they received their sacraments, and attended our Catholic school system.

Then, as I hit my mid-40’s, an intention that I’d lifted for 25 or so years was answered in the way that I’d prayed it would be. My husband said “yes” to attending RCIA (you see, though he had always attended Mass with us, he had not grown up with a faith nor had he ever been baptized). Well, RCIA (which is also “Catholicism 101” class) was actually what we both needed! I discovered how much I didn’t know about the Catholic faith. And the more I knew of Christ, the more I felt drawn to really know Him! We began going to weekly Adoration, reading books about our faith, and listening to Matt Maher (still one of my favs!) The Lord used these experiences and so many more (homilies from Fr. Chas and Fr. Brian, the Alpha program, life experiences in the loss of my father and other hardships), and I felt the call of the Holy Spirit like never before. Or, as I’ve discovered, maybe I’d never really listened, so focused on other things as our children grew up. But when John received his sacraments at Easter Vigil, I was his “sponsor”; I felt that in that moment I was “re-Confirmed” myself!

All I knew is that my life could not be the same, would not be the same. I needed to make more time for prayer and “re-configure” my thought processes around Jesus. And when, through being a member of the Pastoral Council, I heard of some needs at the parish, I kept wondering why I was so drawn to find out more about them…I still had several years of teaching ahead of me before retirement. Well, one thing led to another as I realized the draw I felt was a prompting of the Holy Spirit, and I resigned from teaching to take a position as Coordinator of Parish Life.

But my story doesn’t end there, of course. It’s a continual journey of learning more and making more time for prayer and continually discerning what the Lord desires of me. Currently, John and I are taking the first of the Catholic Biblical School of Michigan classes, delving into the Old Testament Scripture with Genesis, Exodus, etc.

And, the Lord is still calling, and sometimes I still need coaxing, but more and more I find myself asking Him, “Lord, align my will with yours. Tell me what you would have me do today.”

And wherever one is on their “faith journey,” that’s a good daily prayer: “Lord, what would you have me do today to draw closer to You and to help another do the same?”

—Shayne Slough