If you missed part 1, you can read it here.
Early High School: Trusting Christ Our Savior
Throughout middle school and into high school, I continued to pray to God as my Father and started to come to understand Christ and the beauty of the cross. It was sometime during this time period that I had a dream where I came to understand the joy of the sacrificial love of the cross.
The dream was very simple, yet profound: I was sitting in my church, and the crucifix was above me, where it always is. But this time, rather than the carved image of Christ, I saw Christ Himself on the cross. It was as if, simultaneously, I was in my church and yet present at the Real Cross at the same time. I expected to feel deep sadness—and yet, for the first time when looking at the cross, I felt overwhelmed with joy. I’m not sure I even fully understood it then; I just knew I had been filled with this supernatural feeling of joy. Now I look back and see that this was the joy of Christ’s Sacrifice, of Christ Himself, that is made present to us in the Eucharist! It was the joy of knowing that God loved me so much that He would die for me, that He would offer Himself to me—the joy that He found in sacrificing for His beloved—the joy that He wants us to experience with Him because He has overcome death and welcomes us home to Heaven with Him.
Another experience in high school continued to draw me closer to God, and also drew me gradually out of my shell to express my ideas to other people. I’ve struggled with shyness since I was very little, but the yearbook class at my Christian homeschool co-op was a big milestone for me to start growing in confidence. The teacher (if you’re reading this, you know who you are haha) was always so passionate about talking about God and so encouraging in helping us grow and contribute to the class. She would always say “You’re value is not in what you do—it’s in who you are in Christ.” Even so, I was so nervous and stayed under the radar at first; but it was when I joined the writing team that I really started to share my ideas and come to love the class (big surprise, right?). The even more amazing part is, I never actually had the guts to speak up before this—not even to ask to join the writing team. Ironically, God actually used a situation caused by my weakness (shyness) to get me on the writing team and eventually grow in my own strength (confidence). God’s funny like that, huh?
A few weeks into the second semester of this class, God had a plan to get me more involved, even if I was too shy to do so myself. One day, my teacher (we called her The Boss) said she would download my photos for the yearbook after class, so I waited, not realizing at first that she may have forgotten. Even when I began to suspect this, I was too shy to ask, and she didn’t understand why I was waiting there. Eventually, to my relief and embarrassment, my mom came to find me. She told the Boss what I needed and, while downloading the photos, they started talking. My mom mentioned that I loved to write and The Boss suggested I join the writing team. I agreed. That was one of the greatest blessings of my high school years. How awesome that God brought something wonderful even out of my weakness!
Gradually I began to share my thoughts and engage with the class more, and my self-confidence and my love for writing, photography, and God continued to grow. Her class taught me not only the techniques of photography, but also how to look closely at the beauty around us. I began to look at the world a little differently, noticing the beauty in little details. What I loved most, though, was working with the writing team, because the writing was centered on a Christian theme with real substance. Following a unique theme each year, we wrote content that connected our co-op and the precious memories in the yearbook with a message from the gospel. It’s amazing to look back and see the many ways God blessed me through that class. Our Savior is always drawing us to Himself, to save us from our fears and instill us with the confidence of who He created us to be.
Late High School: Falling Deeper in Love with Christ the Bridegroom
Another breathtaking spiritual experience I had later in high school was the dream I spoke about in my blog post, “Why Beloved Dreamer?” In this dream, I saw Jesus, about to be scourged, and He deeply touched my heart with three simple words: “I love you.” I learned the valuable lesson that we don’t always have to have all the answers—we just have to know that God loves us. You can read my blog post about the experience here.
During this time I came to know Christ more deeply, not only as Father and Savior, but as the bridegroom of the Church. I’ve always been a hopeless romantic, and as I inevitably went from high school crush to high school crush, I gradually come to a deeper understanding of Christ as the fulfillment of this desire for romantic love. One specific night I remember well, when I laid on my bed gazing at the cross on my wall, my heart aching for God as the answer to this longing for love. In that moment I made a promise to my Lord: “Until I find the one you’ve called me to marry, You will be my love. Whether I get married or not, You will always be my first and foremost love.”
(Well, this testimony ended up being longer than I expected, but I didn’t want to leave out any of the beautiful details about how God has worked in my life. Read the final part of my testimony here.)
May God bless you and keep you!