About four years ago, I was fresh into my new terrain of San Diego, CA. Truth be told, I spent most of the first two months by myself wrestling with the side effects of change. Isolation, loneliness and fear kept me awake for many nights - well that and Netflix. Task number one on my list was to find a church in the area where I could soak up community and make new friends. I thought this would be a quick check on the list, but to my dismay at the time, it led to more wrestling and even greater discomfort.
I hopped from church to church week after week trying to find the right fit. The longer it took the more lost I felt. Faith had always been clear cut for me - right or wrong, good or bad, heaven or hell. I saw something good in every church I visited, but I wanted more than good, I wanted everything. I ached for something that didn't feel like I was settling for any aspect of my faith experience.
The more I journeyed, the more I found myself returning to mass. After reading Scott Hahn's realization in his first mass experience, it hit me like a brick. The liturgy spoke through each of my senses to the depths of my soul, "You belong here. This is home."
When the Lord called my heart to conversion on a cool autumn day nestled under the warm covers in the spare bedroom of my friends' home as Scott Hahn's words seeped into my bones, something changed in me. For the first time in my life, I felt as if I had truly found what I had been looking for.
It wasn't that I hadn't known Jesus before, because I did. I knew him intimately. But for the first time in my life I felt as if I had finally found a place of belonging. Becoming Catholic wasn't about altering my understanding of Jesus or restructuring everything I had learned up to that point. Becoming Catholic was about finally coming home.
Home in the sense that I felt known and drawn closer to Christ than ever before. It was natural, not forced. It was effortlessly beautiful.
God asked, "Will you choose me? Will you love me more than any expectations or norms of this world? Will you embrace my acceptance and love first?"
I grappled with these questions. Cried with these questions. Fought with these questions. Embraced these questions.
The Lord made it clear that coming home wasn't about the friends I may or may not make along the way. It wasn't about a label or from a place of spontaneity. Coming home is and was always about us, just us. The journey was mostly in solitude with deep aches, glorious joys, tender whispers and these two words:
These words changed everything. They changed my relationship with Him, my dreams, my faith, my future, my friends, my family, my hobbies... absolutely everything.
Jesus changed every part of me. He gave me courage I didn't think existed. He set my eyes on what previously seemed impossible, and wrote I AM over my doubts and fears. He breathed passion, hope, and determination into my heart. He satisfied my every longing and tended to every wound along the way. It wasn't easy or glamorous, but it was worth it. It still is.
He gave me every grace, many angels, and an inner strength unbeknownst to me to lead me to his table. He did it all. He never gave up on me and never looked away for a second. He saw me, he called me, and he drew me forth to sit at his table. The promise of his body and his blood plunged me toward the altar, hands shaking and heart trembling. Because after all, who am I? Who am I to sit at his table?
"You are the one. You are the one for me," he said, "You didn't choose Me, I chose you."
These two words, "Yes, Lord," have changed my life more than any others. They have filled my soul, challenged me to chase dreams, and stretched me beyond what I thought was my fullest capacity.
They led me to lifelong friendships, to graduate school, to forgiveness & healing, to exuberant joy, to San Diego and now to Madison, Wisconsin.
They lead me to his table no matter where I am, and as I look to him, he says, "This is home."