I grew up in the Catholic faith, and I was raised to believe faith is important; however, it now feels like this practice was mandatory, based more on rules and works, rather than a personal relationship with Jesus and the transformation this brings. Being a Christian was something I had to do as opposed to something I got to do. After moving out of my parents' at 18, I drifted away from Jesus, pursuing ungodly things—regularly aiming to please my flesh rather than Jesus. My struggles with sin have been action-based—such as consuming unhealthy substances and sexual immorality—and emotion based—such as indulging despair, fear, doubt, anxiety, apathy and other destructive mental patterns. I viewed God as very distant, as opposed to a being who lived a fully human life, a being who can relate to all humans and a being who came to save the entire world.
As I consider how God has intervened in my life, key themes include dependence, relationships, deep pain, and awareness of sin. I've realized that I cannot and do not need to "do everything in my own strength;" and, when I've tried to do this, I'm actually missing out on all that God has to offer. God has made me aware of my need to depend on Him. In terms of relationships, God has unexpectedly brought people into my life: he has transformed what family means to me through a painful and beautiful open adoption experience. Further, He has brought more Christian people into my life over the past year than any other year I can recall. Through my own pain, God has taught me I cannot suppress pain, erase pain or change any past event; he is teaching me that instead of trying to "self-manage" pain, I can depend on him for emotional healing. Lastly, he has made me very aware of my sin and how I fall short. Based on a sermon a counseling pastor suggested to me, I can either treasure my own wants, wishes, and desires, or l can treasure God's wants, wishes and desires. Learning to want what God wants has helped me watch God overcome my own shortcomings.
In my new life, Jesus is continuing to emphasize my need to depend. Depending by learning to be vulnerable in my relationship with him and in my human relationships. Depending on him and believing he can transform my own sin and pain, even amidst my own doubts. And depending, in order to be transformed into a picture that looks more like him. In summation, I'm publicly proclaiming my faith because God has led me to realize no worldly pursuit can provide satisfaction that compares to God's everlasting satisfaction.