I was born in March 1996 to a semi-religious Methodist family. My sister and I were never forced to go to church, and although we were somewhat encouraged, no strict rules were put in place and we usually talked our way out of going. It’s reasonable that a little kid won’t understand much, but most children raised going to church usually decide what they personally choose to believe by around age 12.
When I was that age, I pretended to be sick every Sunday and spent every morning watching old TV shows and eating out of a large bucket of ice cream. My lucky high metabolism didn’t cause a weight gain, but my poor diet and lack of church experience weren’t helpful. At only 10 years old, I had to leave my house with all my old friends and move away which, for a 10-year-old, is a huge deal, especially for the Harry Potter-loving nerd I was back then.
We still kept going to the same church after we moved, but at the time it was the least of my concerns. I started 5th grade in a new place and for the first time, was completely alone. From 5th-7th grade, people picked on me more than I could even imagine, especially as kids started maturing in 7th grade. I had only made one friend in those three years, and the kids at the school pressured me to turn from a happy nerd into a quiet, gothic dressing teenager. There were times in my 7th grade year I contemplated suicide or switching schools, anything to just get away. It was around the end of my 7th grade year that my friend invited me to our church spring break retreat that changed my life forever.
So after some convincing, I finally let me friend talk me into going on this retreat when she said there would be a beach. I remember getting in to find we spent only a little time on the beach, and most of our time focused on learning about God through worship and bible study, ending with multiple small groups.
They started off singing a song called Song of Hope by Robbie Seay Band that really stuck out to me, at first just because I liked the beat. After a few more sessions I really started getting into it and having questions. During small groups, I shared some of my questions with our small group leader and I started opening up some feelings, which I hadn’t been able to do in years.
On the last night, they played soft music on the guitar and asked anyone with sins or anything going on in their life to come up to the altar and write it down in a book they had provided. God came into me that night in more ways than I can even imagine, so I tearfully went up and wrote all the things that had troubled my heart for so long. As they threw the book into a fire to get rid of our sins forever, I spent an hour talking to my friend about everything that had happened and how powerfully God had worked on me that night. Afterwards, we went down to the beach to do communion and I knew then that I accepted and loved Jesus Christ with all my heart forever.
As 8th grade started, I was prepared for those gossipy people to give me there worst, because I had God to protect me from harm. I came in that day, and after only a week of school, had made a bunch of new friends. I spent that year so happy to finally feel accepted, but there was something important missing in my life, something I needed desperately to keep all those new relationships strong, and that was Jesus.
When I realized I had made friends, I ignored Jesus and put him in the back of my mind, not realizing how much I still needed in my life, because my time before him still left me weak without those friends to mask Jesus’s love from me. I lied about my life to those friends to make myself sound more cool and would’ve done anything for them. When 9th grade started, I 100% expected things to be just as fun as they were in 8th grade, but I was wrong.
All I did in 8th grade was meet a few friends that I became attached to, more attached than I was to God. 9th grade started, and all these friends made new friends and got tired of how I always wanted to be with them. By October of that year, I had lost almost all of those friends, and was more fragile than I had been before I met Jesus.
The suicidal thoughts started up worse than ever, and so did the cutting. I told all those friends in 8th grade I cut just as a joke, and they thought it was funny. It didn’t turn out as funny when it was actually happening. I seriously started to doubt god’s love for me and was at a point where I felt like I couldn’t trust anyone.
I was in a severe clinical depression until I finally made some better friends that were also Christians. They made me want to be honest and be actually able to talk about Jesus, which I could never have done with the atheist friends I had before. In the few months between October and January, I had gone from an almost non-believing atheist into one of the crazy obsessive religious Methodist. I got to a point where I was more involved in my church than a youth age person can be.
Those old friends and past experiences drifted to the back of my mind, and God took over from there. I did so many things at my church, I started becoming bored, like I wasn’t really receiving god’s full love, like I needed something more, but I couldn’t think of what it was at the time. As summer started, I had scoliosis surgery. I’m sure a large part of what happened afterwards were the painkillers reminding me of the past, but I’m still not sure why it happened.
As the surgery ended, the medicine made me think weird thoughts. I looked around and realized I was all alone, and I was still recovering so I couldn’t go anywhere. The entire month of June, every day I sat around, watching tv and waiting for texts and calls that never came. It was obvious I was slipping off into another deep depression, a place I didn’t want to be but I was falling hard.
The cutting and the fights with friends started all over again, but this time there was a difference. Last time, I was friends with atheist, but this time, God was working through me and my supportive Christian friends that wouldn’t give up and knew I could get through this somehow. I got invited by a friend to a Catholic retreat called Steubenville, which I really didn’t want to go on since
- I’m Methodist, not Catholic, and I didn’t know how to do anything
- I wasn’t allowed to take my scissors to cut with or my phone to sit by and get worse. For some reason, I ended up deciding to go, but I was planning on having a horrible time. I was completely wrong. Only maybe an hour after I got there, I had already made 5 new friends, double the amount of friends I had before Steubenville.
The only problem was my clinical depression was still there and was doing its best to not let me have a good time. That first night in my sleeping bag, since I didn’t have scissors I dug into my wrist with my fingernails, but this time my friend caught me and we talked a while, but it didn’t change anything. The next day, in one of the sessions, the depressing pain just wouldn’t go away, so I did something completely stupid. I saw a cut on my leg I got from running into something, and although I was sitting next to the same friend that caught me cutting the night before, I stupidly decided to peel off the scab and scratch the scar till it bled. My friend saw it at the end of the session, and it made her cry which I felt sad about, but I still wanted to do it again.
It wasn’t until adoration that night that changed everything. The soft music was playing, and Jesus was brought it, and I had this strange feeling that I still can’t explain come inside me, and I instantly was on my knees with my hand stretching out and almost crying. I prayed harder than I had in a long time to ask God to forgive me and that I promised to never cut again, and he could do whatever he wanted with me because I am completely his.
Afterwards, I got this idea in my head that I want to become Catholic. I’d never really thought of it too seriously before, knowing my parents rude, stereotypical jokes towards Catholics and their decision that I can’t choose my religion until I turn 18, but after that moment none of it matter, only God mattered to me.
Since that night, I have so far won the battle against the devil and his tricky schemes to try and make me cut or lie again, and I have decided to learn everything I can about the Catholic church until I turn 18, which is when I’ll start taking classes to become fully Catholic, which I think is why I always felt like there was something missing when I was just wanting to be Methodist. I hope God can keep helping me to learn more so I can remain faithful to him.