Because I was born and raised Catholic, I don’t really have any big conversion moment, but I do have many moments of my life when God has worked to draw me to that daily conversion, to bring me into an ever deeper relationship with Him. I want to share with you some of these experiences from various stages of my life. It’s mind-blowing to look back at these experiences and see how God has revealed Himself to me personally as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—how He has lead me to Him through His mother and as our Father, Lover, and Living Spirit.
Early Life: Following My Spiritual Mother
My Faith has always been an important part of my life; however, when I was very little, I didn’t yet understand much about God or the meaning of Christ’s sacrifice. The cross just seemed so sad and I didn’t want to think about it. During this time, it was Mary whom I turned to—there was just something so beautiful about her. She became my spiritual mother and role model. I remember dressing up as Mary one year for All Saints Day, and I wanted to be as kind, prayerful, and peace-filled as her (even if I couldn’t express it in those words then). (Also, fun fact: I decided to change my favorite color to blue because Mary wore this color, and it’s never changed since). Though I didn’t realize it then, God was drawing me to Him through His blessed mother, who loves and exemplifies Christ more than anyone else.
Middle School: Holding on to My Heavenly Father
As I grew older, I gradually came to understand more about who God was and to turn to Him in prayer as my Father. I knew He was all-powerful and all-good, and He held me and the whole world in His hands.
During middle school, God started using my struggles with scoliosis to teach me how to endure suffering and overcome challenges by turning to prayer. As my scoliosis was growing worse, the doctors highly suggested I wear a back brace. There wasn’t even a guarantee that it would work, but it would hopefully prevent the possibility of back pain or the need for surgery in the future. I remember standing outside in the dark looking up at the stars and praying, “Is this what you want me to do, Lord? Is this what will be best for me in the long run?” After a few days of thinking and praying, I told my parents I would do it.
Wearing the brace was incredibly hard; I had to wear it almost every night and sometimes during the day, and it was extremely uncomfortable and embarrassing (what middle schooler wants to tell their friends that they’re wearing a big plastic thing under their clothes that makes them feel like a cyborg? Okay, I just wanted to use that cool metaphor). So I never told my friends about it and was careful to hide it when they came over. But, through prayer (and often tears), I made it through those long months, reminding myself to just get through the next year, the next month, the next week.
We had to check in with the doctor regularly, and one experience I had at the doctor’s office will always stay with me. I was sitting in the lobby waiting to see the doctor, feeling miserable and wondering how much longer I could endure this. And then I noticed something I will never forget—there across the waiting room from me was a little baby, wearing a back brace like mine. I almost cried as I realized: “If that little baby is going through this, then who am I to complain? If that little baby can do it, then so can I.” I believe the Lord placed these reflections on my heart. Thinking back on it now, that baby reminds me of someone else too—the Christ child, the Most Innocent One who came to bear our human suffering and offer Himself on the cross. It is a reminder of how Christ is always with us, bearing our suffering alongside us.
Thanks be to God, the curvature of my spine progressed less and less with each doctor’s visit. Finally, it stopped progressing entirely (and even straightened a little)! That day when I said goodbye to my brace, my mom and I went out for milkshakes to celebrate and I felt so joyful and free, like a physical weight had been lifted. And I knew from this experience that, through prayer, I could overcome any obstacle I encountered in the future.
(Read “Part 2: Christ Our Savior an Lover” here)
God bless you and keep you!