“Our hearts were made for You, O Lord, and they are restless until they rest in You.”
If I had to describe my faith journey in one sentence, I would steal these words from St. Augustine. From a young age I was consumed by a desire for perfection. I strove for perfection as a student, dancer, daughter, and friend. To me, imperfection was equivalent to failure.
This mindset led me to think of myself as a failure. The older I got, the tougher the work, the higher the expectations, and the harder I tried. Yet the more worthless I felt. Work had become the only way I felt remotely valuable, and this constant pressure eventually led to my struggle with anxiety. I held on to my relationship with God, but I was enslaved by the lies that said He didn’t love me or want me. I could recite Bible verse after Bible verse that said otherwise, telling me that I was “made in His image” and that “God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son…” I knew all of this in my head, but I simply didn’t believe it in my heart.
Bishop Fulton Sheen once said, “Sometimes the only way the good Lord can get into some hearts is to break them.” And in my case, this was true… although as it happened, I had to break my arm first.
I signed up for Life Teen’s Camp Tepeyac only days before it started, confident that God wanted me to go. It was the first night, second to last obstacle in the messy games course when I hurt my shin. I couldn’t put much weight on it but after some ice and bandages, it was doing better. While going to get cleaned up, I ended up slipping, falling on my arm, and breaking it. Waiting in the ER, despite the panic attack, extreme shivering, and shin and elbow pain, I still felt like God had me there for a reason.
Heading back to camp with my splinted arm, I had this idea in my head that I was going to do whatever it took to still be “perfect” for everybody else. So you can imagine my frustration when I found that I couldn’t tie my shoes, wash my hair, cut my food, or do almost anything else for myself. I had so many people, most of whom I didn’t even know, praying for me, asking how I was, and helping me with whatever I needed, but deep down I despised the fact that I needed their help. Why? Because it made me feel weak; it made me feel worthless.
I struggled with these feelings during the day as I watched everyone else accomplish wonders on the ropes courses and the paintball field. I smiled and cheered them on, while on the inside I questioned why I was even there. During one night session, the answer was finally clear to me. I realized that I may not have been able to participate in any of the daytime activities, but I did get to partake in the best thing camp had to offer: Mass.
The Mass that took place on that Wednesday night changed me forever. Before it started the main speaker read us a story, a story that broke my heart. It was John 3:16, told in a way I had never heard before. And for the first time, Mass wasn’t just a Catholic ritual, it was God saying, “I love you.” I cried through every moment of the consecration, because for the first time the truth of everything I knew in my head had finally penetrated my heart. There is no more real proof of God’s love that His body and blood placed in your very hands.
That truth changed me. It changed the way I looked at people helping me for the rest of the week. I no longer felt weak or worthless, I felt loved. And even more powerful than that was the realization that if people could love me this much, how much greater is our heavenly Father’s love for me.
His love is infinitely more than I could have ever imagined. His love is stronger than all my fears, insecurities, and worries. My heart had to be broken for His love to come in, and now that it has, I feel my heart healing a little more each day.
Editor’s Note: This blog is part of a series of blogs that relate to our 2014 theme Inspire[d]. If you would like to submit about a blog about an Inspire[d] story that you have, please see these guidelines.