I grew up in a moderately religious household. We observed all the holidays, recited Grace before our meals, and went to parochial schools. I am thankful for the foundation this gave me in the knowledge that God existed. It also taught me to fear the wrath of God. I understand this was used to keep kids inline. I can remember the scornful eyes of the nuns if our uniforms were out of sorts, a button on our blouses undone showing too much cleavage, or getting too close to our boyfriends at the dances. There were lessons of humility, kindness, shame and modesty. What I didn’t learn until much later was that it was possible to have a relationship with my Creator.
Instead I learned to fear God. I think that was the intention in my formidable years. I would like to say it prevented me from doing things I shouldn’t, but it didn’t. When you fear something, human nature tells us to stay away from it. So, I figured I was just another sinner, a lost cause and I would end up in hell anyway, so why not hit the accelerator and have fun getting there?
I did just that. In doing so I developed the byproduct of my actions, guilt. I entered my early adult years with so much damn guilt and condemnation for myself that I didn’t even want to enter a church or pray. I was angry. I didn’t have balance in my life and I certainly had zero faith. I was part of a denomination in name alone. I didn’t realize how terrible my thinking was about this until I had children and started the same process my parents had started with me. I felt nothing and I desperately wanted to feel something.
I decided to leave the church I had grown up with. I wanted them to experience something different from the road I had been put on. Enter my friend who brought me to my faith walk. It was a slow process and I had a lot of forgiving to do and letting go. I was burdened with guilt that wasn’t entirely mine, mostly a consequence of life’s circumstances and skewed religious teachings as a child. I don’t even remember what I did to earn it! Yet, there it was, holding me back.
I also had to get comfortable embracing my new-found faith. I went from a lost soul filled with negative emotions, to a child of the Lord, overnight. A clean slate and it felt great. But, for some reason, I thought I had to defend where I was in my faith walk. I had changed and not everyone was comfortable with that. Guess what? Not everyone is going to be happy if you change your hair color, your job, your outlook, your address and certainly not what we believe in.
How happy am I that I took the leap of faith? Thrilled. I have relied on the word of God, the guidance of the Holy Spirit and the example of Jesus, each and every day since then. Faith has healed sickness, lifted me out of despair, delivered hope, promised me a future and brought amazing people into my life who have helped me when I needed it, including times when I didn’t realize it. Having a relationship with God has prepared me for life that includes many bumps along the way, not just green pastures and sunshine. I have taken my experiences and learned from them. Acceptance when things don’t go my way with Grace and peace, and when they do, abundant joy.
One of my favorite sayings is; Let go, and Let God. I lean on Him to bring me through the trials. When I can’t figure something out, have a decision to make, a medical issue or trouble with a relationship, I send it up. My faith has sustained me and I continue to marvel at how far it has taken me and what has been put in my path, to help or heal me. I take nothing for granted.
If you would like to start your faith walk with the Lord, here is a simple prayer that helped me get started and opened the doors to living free from guilt and leading a purpose filled life:
Lord Jesus, I need You. Thank You for dying on the cross for my sins. I open the door of my life and receive You as my Savior and Lord. Thank You for forgiving my sins and giving me eternal life. Take control of the throne of my life. Make me the kind of person You want me to be.
Here’s the beauty of faith, it’s free and it’s for everyone who wants it. It doesn’t matter who you are, we were all made by the same Creator. Having Him to rely on during my journey and being in a faith-based accepting church, to guide me, is something I cannot imagine being without. Please feel free to reach out to me on your journey!