"And when you stop and think about it
You won't believe it's true
That all the love you've been giving
Has all been meant for you."
-Moody Blue's "Question"
When I was about 12/13, I had a religious conversion - what Protestants call "being born again." I am a cradle Catholic, and have always been true to my faith. When God showed me His love for me and that there is nothing so bad that I experienced (being bullied, sexually harrassed at school) that He couldn't handle. Indeed, His love is greater than our sins, faults, and failings. That was one of two reasons I wanted to become a missionary - to give to others the hope and love God had given to me.
The second reason with which I didn't come to terms of understanding until just recently, and only on reflecting with a spiritual group on FB was I was looking for love to heal all the past hurt. The loner I was at school - the outcast, the ridiculed, the harrassed; the thouroughly unwelcome existence I lived as a religious (nun)....the positive social experiences I had with my family and with the 26th NC of the WCWA... I finally realized that I had been looking for love all the time, more than wanting to share my beliefs with others. Every person has a unique story to tell about their relationship with God. This is mine.
When Fr. John came to our parish for the summer in 1995, he spoke of the beauty of the his community parish, the place in Kenya that he came from, and it awoke something in my heart. I finally understood that God truly loved me, and that going to mass was more than a Sunday ritual. As much as I wanted to give, I had a subconcious ulterior motive in wanting to become a missionary. If these people were so wonderful and truly Christian, I wanted to be with them to experience the kind of love that Fr. John talked about when trying to reach out to us to support the missions.
We'll, I've been full circle, to the extreme some might think: I entered a convent at 17, having decided that being a missionary was my calling, having even prepared myself as best I could spiritually since my converion. But the convent was worse than anyone could have imagined, and after five and a half years, I left - broken, bruised, bloody and beaten. It has taken 12 years to get my life back in order so that I can move on and away of what I landed in, leaving the nest so young. And until this year, 7 years since I left, my religious battles were difficult, but being persistent and trusting in God, I had a second "born-again" experience.
It was all about realizing just what being human means, and truly understanding what God did in becoming human and dying for our sins. And now I sit here, typing the last pages to the chapter of my life that spanned 17 years. When I think of it all in retrospect, it's hard to believe what a mess we make of the gifts that God gave us. I could be a linguist, traveling the world...but I'm not. I could be a biochemist or pharmacist...but I'm not. God leads you to where He wants you to be, even though most of the time you are wondering 'what the heck is going on?'
I always wanted to make a positive difference in other peoples' lives. I just wanted to help in whatever manner I could. Mother Teresa of Calcutta was right: charity begins at home. And like Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz, when the memories of the past are quite vivid in reflecting, I keep thinking: "There's no place like home. There's no place like home...."