Even though I was baptized and confirmed Catholic, studied religious education and/or at a parochial school from elementary through high schools, and attended Mass on a fairly consistent basis during my childhood, I’ve always struggled with religion, spirituality and my personal relationship with God.
For far too many years now, I have missed out what I am discovering to be an amazing spiritual life. I have believed in God all my life because I knew in my heart there are too many miracles in the universe for there not to be a Higher Power. Yet, I struggled with things like not always agreeing with the Catholic Church’s teachings or not knowing how to connect with/feel/speak with God in a way that felt genuine to me. This left me feeling empty inside, as though I was lacking a crucial part of my life. I didn’t correlate this void with my emotions and behavior until recently. I’ve come to realize that when I feel most sad/depressed, lonely, angry, anxious, fearful about things, I let my emotions and thoughts take over my actions. This repetitive negative behavior cycle was destroying precious parts of my life. Though I yearn to feel and act differently, it has been extremely difficult breaking the cycle. For a while, I thought I was purely struggling with the transition from young adulthood (being guided and supervised by a parent) to full-on adulthood (hello, sink or swim: marriage, parenthood, bills, career path…). Then, I realized that it wasn’t parental guidance I was craving so much as it was God’s guidance. How did I realize this? From reading a book, of course! And not just any book, but THE book… the Bible.
With all of the reading I have done in my lifetime, I have never picked up and read the Bible of my own accord. Sure, I’ve dissected passages in a Christian Studies course and heard the Gospel at Mass on Sundays, but just sitting down to read it had never appealed to me. This was mostly because I had a horrible time understanding what it says. Lucky for me, my husband found me a Bible that has footnotes throughout, translating the ancient words into modern explanations. Now, I love reading the Bible because it is filled with the instructions on how to live a happy, healthy and peaceful life. It feels like I have discovered the secret to living the life I have always dreamed of but never knew how to obtain!
One of the recommendations Joyce Meyer makes most often is to get to know the Word in order to get to know God and live a godly life. After hearing this a few dozen times, it finally started to sink in — if I didn’t read His Word, I would never be able to receive His message. For the past several weeks now, I have been finding time most every day to spend at least 10-15 minutes reading the Bible. This normally leads to a few moments of personal meditation and prayer, where I reflect on and thank God for my blessings. Before I know it, I have a lighter mind, a happier heart and a better outlook on life – a.k.a. my own personal relationship with God as I know Him. My positive thoughts and attitude leads to pleasant words and kinder, gentler, more loving behavior. The best part is the peace I am beginning to experience in my heart and in my life. It is a slow and steady process, but I am making progress and that is the important part. My days are still far from perfect, but they are getting better and I am getting stronger in faith every day.