Jesus again straightened up and said, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” “No one, sir,” she replied. “Neither do I condemn you,” said Jesus. “Go away, and from this moment, sin no more.”
I was a pretty blessed child growing up: my family loved me, and taught me to love God. But somewhere along the line, things started getting derailed. By 18, I was still, on the surface, a convincing enough Catholic. I went to Mass regularly, prayed before and after exams, and was active in two ministries. But below the surface, many cracks had formed.
I disagreed vehemently with the Church on many issues – sex, sexuality, abortion, contraception, euthanasia, to name a few – and I was vocal about it. But at the same time, I struggled on the inside with “a thorn in the flesh”, lust that – try as I did – I could not quell on my own, and the shame that kept me from going to Confession.
At this time, no one condemned me; the world was pretty fine with me denouncing the “archaic” views of the Church. And as for my sins, no one could condemn me, because I made sure no one was ever allowed to know me as I truly was.
But there was one saving grace. In the Adoration Chapel, face to face with Jesus’ True Presence, I was able to confront the truth of myself. I was stuck in my sin, and confused by my many disagreements. And with Truth itself before me, I had no darkness in which to hide. I asked Him to remove my sin from me, but somehow I knew He was far too gentle to barge into my life and take it away. I asked Him to change His mind on some issues too (the nerve!) but on that He was also silent. I was trying to keep a distance from Him, and He would not bridge it – no matter how much it was killing me on the inside – if I did not first allow Him in.
AWAKEN X was my first turning point. I learned the true grace of Confession. In it, I was like the woman in the verse – standing with all my sin on display. But just like her, that was not the end of the story. The grace of reconciliation and healing could then take root, and begin its work. While I still fell, and still fall in many ways, there is always this open door to come back to Him, to hear again: go in peace, sin no more.
The second turning point was when someone challenged me to show that my faith was true. I was only two months into my new walk with God, and I was still stumbling all over the place! After AWAKEN, I was wandering amongst several denominations during this time – seeking out the parts of them wherein I felt God’s spirit very much alive and well – but somehow still going for Mass on Sundays. It took someone bold to point out the elephant in the room: I could not just wander while claiming to be part of the one true Church.
She asked me to defend my faith, or leave it behind. This shook me to my core, because I had already begun to believe the Church’s truth but hadn’t looked into the reasons yet. She also presented me with arguments that seemed plausible, but if true, would completely strike off all my experience of God thus far. By another miracle of grace, I stumbled upon a time of Adoration almost immediately after. Sitting in front of the Blessed Sacrament, I asked Him to let me learn the reasons behind my belief in Him, and His Body, the Church.
After that, there were many more days of reading up and talking with the good, godly people God put into my life. I am still finding out more, but all these knowledge only means something because it relates to someone: The Person of Jesus Christ; who He is and the ways through which He loves us.
A friend of mine put it beautifully: in Confession, we give our whole self to God, and in the Eucharist, He gives His whole self to us. And if anything, this is what I keep coming back to – He gives us these beautiful sacraments, these ways to come back to Him as we are, so that he can forgive us, strengthen us with His love, and then send us off again, to bring the message of His love to other people.
Written by Anne of VITA Social Media
Top photo: Daron Tan