I haven’t blogged in awhile… I meant to post this 2 months ago… but then… *sigh* … life got in the way… I had written this Salvation “talk” for a retreat …actually it was called The Holy Spirit, the Gift of God Parish Mission of renewal back in June… it was an awesome retreat. … and for several weeks afterwards people who had been to the retreat/mission came up to me praising my courage and told me I was an inspiration. I was quite surprised at how many people approached me about my talk. I thought, I have to post it (blog)… but I put it off. Well, It’s funny, tonight at a Daughter’s of Isabella meeting I was thinking about blogging and thinking about posting my talk… but feeling lazy and wishy-washy about it …again …. BUT then after the meeting a Daughter came up to me and told me she was at the retreat in June and she said I was an inspiration…. I thought, okay, okay… I need to post it… so here it is…:
God is good. All the time …. all the time, God is good…
Wow. I never thought I would be here, doing this, saying that. If you told me 12 years ago that I would be a passionate “on fire” Catholic~ I would not have believed you. No way.
Fr. Joe already explained what salvation is in his talk. SALVATION is The forgiveness of sins and restoration of friendship with God, which can be done by God alone. My favorite bible verse about salvation is from Ephesians “For by grace you are saved through faith, and that not of yourselves, for it is the gift of God; Not of works that no man may glory.”
I am saved and I give all the glory to God!
Since I only have 5 minutes to tell you my “salvation” story I will quickly explain what that means to me and highlight who I was and who I am now.
I like to think of myself as a “Born again” catholic… I am a revert, meaning: I left the faith for a period of time and then came back. I grew up in a good catholic family, but like many others, I left the faith in my late teens. Being religious didn’t interest me and I wanted to do what everyone else was doing. So I and lived a very sinful secular life for over 20 years. You name it… sex, drugs, alcohol … I lived a wild crazy immoral life style… and I was even proud of being a wild woman. I thought I was the coolest chic.
So what happened? By the grace of God I am changed. That is the only way I can explain it. By His grace and because He loves me so much I am a completely new woman. The catalyst that got me here to where I am now was seeing the movie The Passion of the Christ back in 2004. I wept as I drove home from that movie. That intense movie opened a door inside me and a curiosity for my faith was set on fire… I didn’t just go back to my faith; the Holy Spirit ignited a desire inside me! Sure I went back to mass, but I was so incredibly hungry for my faith that I needed to consume as much Catholic stuff as I could.
God worked in me and in my life for over ten years getting me to here, to where I needed to be and helped me become who I am today … through mass, ministries, book clubs, retreats, bible study … I did it all… I had many Holy Spirit moments. I even felt God speak to me and push me into teaching religious ed …. Which terrified me… I had never taught anything in my life! …and now look at me! I am a special education teacher, go figure. If you had told me ten years ago that I would someday be a special education teacher I would not have believed you. That is God working in my life. That is grace! That is His love and mercy. He loved me so much he grabbed me back, set me on fire and gave me a place and purpose.
It has not been easy. Trying to be a good Catholic has been a long difficult journey. At the beginning I had a hard time being the “Jesus freak” that the Holy Spirit was calling me to be. It took me years to be really comfortable in my faith and to talk about it with others, especially non-Catholics. It was really hard to “live the gospel” in my life especially when friends and family were doing and saying things I no longer thought were appropriate. I could not laugh at crass jokes or watch certain movies anymore. I would watch 5 minutes of a rated R comedy and would have to turn it off; horrified, mostly because the old me would have loved it and would have thought it was hilarious. And it was hard to be with old friends and not get caught up in the gossip and swearing. I so easily reverted back to my old self when I was with certain people …. it was disturbing. I actually had to walk away from friendships that were bad for me and that was very difficult. But God was leading me in the right direction, cleaning up my life, and I knew that…. So I just kept following Jesus.
He changed many aspects of my life: I had a drinking problem since I was a teen… now I have been sober for almost 5 years. God literally spoke to me to get me to stop drinking.
I was militantly pro-choice. For over 20 years. Now I am adamantly pro-life and part of an abortion healing ministry called Rachel’s Vineyard.
To get my second marriage right with the church (and God) I had to go through a lengthy annulment process, which took a year. When it was over I remarried my husband in the Catholic Church and then that same year he took RCIA classes and became Catholic too. and is now a Knight (of Columbus).
Getting right with God was hard … but I got the strength from Him to do it. My favorite bible quote is “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” and I pray that often!
This long, hard, crazy journey has been so worth it. And I am still amazed that I have changed so much. Who would have thought wild, crazy me would belong to a religious order: the Secular Franciscans… One of the things I love about St Francis is that he was blown away by what God did in his life too. He also had a conversion. He said, “If God can work through me he can work through anyone” and I feel the same way.
Saint John Paul the Great said it best “Life with Christ is a wonderful adventure.”
That is what salvation is to me. God taking me, a prodigal daughter, a wretched sinner and completely changing me, bringing me back into His friendship… and making me into who I was meant to be.
God is good….
all the time.