Phew. What a relief—at 24, I finally had it all figured out. I mean, how difficult could this whole religion and God thing be? Well, it turns out that I had a lot more to learn.
As this crazy year starts to come to an end, I look back at where my faith journey has taken me and let me tell you, it’s quite the roller coaster. It was a ride that I would gladly take again though.
Spiritually out of whack
I had come to the realization that I was not happy with my relationship with God or my relationship with the Catholic Church. But instead of pushing it away, I decided to dive in headfirst. In order to fix it, I knew that I had to pinpoint exactly what was leaving me feeling dissatisfied.
Well, the first thing that I recognized was that I wasn’t comfortable in my new parish. My family had moved and we chose a small church 10 minutes away from our home. Not only was this church very homogeneous, but there was something else missing that I couldn’t put my finger on.
The worshipping nomad
I attacked the issue by doing what I playfully called a ” church search ” on the web. After finding quite a few interesting Catholic churches in the Manhattan area, I began to visit them, one by one, like a nomad looking for a home.
I found a great church that had just what I was looking for—ethnic, racial, and socio-economic diversity, but most of all, a progressive and educated outlook and attitude. So, with new energy, I became more dedicated to incorporating my faith in my life. I went on retreats, developed my own prayer routine, and even started to read some books on prayer and church history.
To love is to be challenged
That’s when it happened—I fell in love. Pedro and I had been casual friends since college, but then our e-mail correspondence blossomed into a deeper and more meaningful relationship. We talked about everything, including religion and concepts of God.
A lot of people I know criticize religious practices without really knowing the facts. Pedro was the first person that I had ever met who made his decisions about faith based on careful research and reflection. He was not raised in any particular faith, yet he took it upon himself to look into different practices. He has studied the Bible , the Quran , and even spent some time as an observant Muslim. His initiative inspired me to continue to look deeper into my own faith journey.
Just when I thought I had stretched as far as I could, Pedro showed me that my limits went beyond what I had imagined. I learned to ask myself what I believed and why. I learned to open my mind and heart on a whole new level. Above all, Pedro reminded me that the strongest faith comes from questioning.
So, these days, I am in a state of questioning, reflection, meditation, and prayer. I was scared at first, but now I realize that I am happier than I have ever been; even more open to God, His presence and, most of all, His love.