How I have Overcome my Challenges with God’s Help

Editor’s Note: “In My Own Words” is a section of blogs on that contains submissions from our readers. If you love reading and want to contribute a blog about how you, as a teen, live out your Catholic Faith, feel free to email your submission to Please keep submissions under 750 words.

My name is Anya. I was born and raised Catholic. With God, I have over come a lot of struggles in life. When I was just a very little girl I was diagnosed with Autism (Asperger’s) and cognitive delay. Having this made it very hard for me to make friends or even communicate with people, because I didn’t know how to explain things verbally.

Well, I was one of those kids who always loved God no matter what was to happened. But at times I would get very stressed at my family for maybe doing something that would make me very mad so I would freak out. (My family calls this my ‘meltdowns.’) The older I got I realized that yes, it is still hard for me to have problems that make me get angry at situations and other things, but that I had a God that I could pray to for help. God is my friend so I can talk to him. It was very hard for me to make friends, because I didn’t have very good social skills. One time, I was in 6th grade and I heard about LifeTeen Mass and youth group. I knew some of my siblings went and I wanted to go a little, but it didn’t really sound like my thing. I didn’t really like to be separated from my mom and she knew the only way she could get me to go (because she really wanted me to) go was if she went. So my mom started helping out at youth group so I would go. So I did.

I felt worried, because I didn’t have any friends at youth group, but I kept on going back because I wanted to grow in my faith. As I kept on going, I started to make friends. As the months went on I knew that saying okay to trying out youth group was a good thing. Not just did it help me to make friends, I learned more about my faith.

Another time I overcame a challenge was when I went to the Franciscan University of Steubenville Youth Conference and I wanted to go to Confession. I knew I would not know any of the priests there and that made me very nervous about going. I was scared because it would a priest that I have never been to and (up until then) I only would go to confession if I knew the priest (because of my issues). My mom would always go first and explain my issues to the priest, that decreased my anxiety and fear. I was afraid because my Confessions were fast and just other things. Well I prayed about it. I just said to God, “God, I trust in You. If this is what I need to do to be happy, then I need the grace to go.” I was hoping the line would not go fast, because I didn’t want it to be my turn and all of a sudden it was my turn and there I went. The next minute, I realized that I just went to confession! I felt so great after that and I realized that it doesn’t matter who the priest is, because it is Jesus sitting there in front of me and Jesus is happy that I went to confession and realized what I did was wrong, wanted to have those sins gone and to be happy again. That was all that mattered. Since then I can just walk into any confession now and not be afraid.

Another great challenge for me is school. Between my cognitive delay and my Autism, school has been very difficult for me. Well, it had to be around the middle of freshman year of school and I was thinking about how I wanted go to college to do something with photography or working with children. But I was really struggling, because I wanted to be successful and go to college, but with school being so hard already for me how could I ever pass college? So what did I do, I prayed to Jesus Christ. I just talked to him. I was like, “God, you know what is the best for me and I know you have a plan for me so please give me a sign of what I should do.” I prayed that constantly and one day I realized that I don’t need college to go far in life. All I need to do is something that made me happy. I took photography classes at my school and my sister, Katya, and I started our own business called Puzzle Pieces Photography. We specialize in ‘special needs photography.’ Through this decision, God showed me how I can be a big help in other people’s lives because, since I have Autism and sensory stuff, I know first hand how people with those issues react. So I use my love for children and photography is a good way.

St. Gemma says…

“If you really want to love Jesus first learn to suffer because suffering teaches you to love.”

Justin Fatica (HANM) explains it this way, “God allows us pain to teach us to depend on Him. Those who have handicap,challenges and mountains to climb, give Jesus Christ the chance to be victorious, we’re not victims we are victorious with Jesus one person at a time. We will share memorable and powerful messages that Christ came, not for those who have it all together, but to take impossible situations make them possible.”

With all of the struggles I have faced, it helped me to love God even more than I did before. God lets me struggle and have to climb mountains to get to Him. When I can’t manage my struggles, I have learned to depend on him. One of the mountains that I have struggled with is, as I mentioned, whether I should go to college or not. God directed my decision.

When I get frustrated, I have to find a way out the problem. That is the same way I think of a real mountain. When you climb a mountain you may come upon a big rock and have to problem solve a way to get passed it to continue to the top. The top I am trying to get to is Heaven and I can’t go to Heaven if I don’t love God and work on my struggles. I learned that Jesus is my friend, so He will listen to what I have to say. He takes what I think are impossible situations and make them possible. Part of making them possible is working on them myself, but also remembering to for strength to continue, when I can’t take it.