The other day I turned 21. I look back on these 21 years of my life and reflect on how many great and terrible things have happened, how many memories I have with my family, my friends, and especially in how God has tested me beyond measure. And in these 21 years He has made me His own. When I was fifteen I struggled with doubt and questioned God’s sovereignty. It’s taken a long time to fully grasp what He has done for the world, what happened on the cross 2000+ years ago, and how it has changed history, all of creation. One of the most precious things to me is how God has protected me in the midst of life’s natural turmoil. For instance, the boat accident when I was six.
Now, that day on Grapevine Lake (which we now call God’s Lake), is all a blur. I only remember bits and pieces. I don’t remember any pain, but worse than that is the fear and panic in the voices of my family and loved ones there on the boat that August afternoon. I believe it was worst for them, to see the damage inflicted by that coiling rope as it pulled my best friend Megan and I off the boat into the water. My mother had to hold my arm together, as the rope had nearly severed it in half. And my Dad and Megan’s Dad had to get the boat back to the marina for the paramedics. My older sister called 911, and my younger sister and Megan’s sister watched everyone fall apart. Now we can all look back and tell this story from a safe distance. But that day is one that defines my life. There’s always Before the Boat Accident and After the Boat Accident.
But now I have full use of my right arm! Our church prayed for its healing and for the complete recovery of Megan and I. God and His angels were watching over us that day, and I’m sure they guided the hands of our surgeons in the following reparation surgeries. Megan and I now sport scars, which are stories to tell of God’s care and faithfulness. I have the one around my right arm and on my back, from the rope lashing against me in the water. Megan has them on her thigh and ankle.
All of this to say…I can see God over the course of my 21 years. He gave me exactly the parents I needed, the family and friends who teach me and push me to become a better person. We came through the time of the boat accident, stronger than ever. God lead me through a time of spiritual darkness, when doubts and frustration plagued me constantly. Now I hope to glorify Him in everything I do, whether it be academics or relationships, or my passions for writing and drawing.
This past Spring semester I studied abroad in Europe, and there as I stared up in awe at the intricate majesty of St. Peter’s Cathedral, Notre Dame, and countless other churches that have stood for centuries. The beauty in those sacred places, and the centuries old history that abounds in Rome, where the early Christians worshipped underground, drew me closer to God. How strange and wonderful it was to kneel and pray in a beautiful Dominican church in Florence. The peace of those moments will stay with me forever, and throughout the course of that semester we read of the Church fathers and patriarchs. For the first time, this Spring 2017, I completely surrendered to God. It was slow, gradual, but undeniable like gravity, pulling me back to Him and His will. In April I attended a Catholic silent retreat, near the Rome campus of Due Santi. Mass was held multiple times over the weekend and each time I found myself increasingly drawn to the solemn reverence in the quiet environment. I cannot begin to express how glad I am that I chose to go that weekend. Bottom line, this retreat made me more excited to pursue further knowledge about the Catholic church, and it taught me to find God in the silence. It taught me to be still, and know that He is God.
God bless and Happy Fourth of July,