Robin Castro Child of God the Father, Brother of Christ, Dentist
My journey with God has been an interesting one. I would like to point out that I was raised in Godly home, and my parents, particularly my father, is a powerful man of faith. I also attended Catholic school from kindergarten until the end of high school. During my youth, there was not really a time where I doubted God’s existence or even the death and Resurrection of Jesus. I was always surrounded by people of faith at home and my teachers at school. While I believed in God, I do not have a real relationship with Him. I understood God being ever-present, responsible for creating everything. I even believed Jesus’s tale was an example of His greatest love for us.
"All of these beliefs, combined with me trying to do more morally good than morally evil acts...
I thought was enough..."
(Enough to be in good graces with God. Enough to call myself a Christian.)
At the time, I didn’t care to look into the matter any more than that. I was more concerned with all the things in my life that I wanted to do or what I wanted to have. I will admit that I still prayed, but most of my prayers were only to ask God for things I wanted.
I left high school with this mindset, and events in college made it worse. I knew I had to be a good student for fear of losing financial aid and pressure from my parents. It took me a couple semesters, but ultimately I was able to do well in school and balance a hectic social life. One thing I learned about myself is that the desire to be liked by everyone is one of my most significant weaknesses. I was never the most popular person in high school. I was blessed with a tight-knit group of friends. I also stayed out of trouble. No drinking, no staying out late, etc.
In college, I started drinking and going to parties. Almost every weekend and sometimes random nights during the week. I had found more people “liked” me. More people would even acknowledge me on campus. I will even admit, I enjoyed it at the time. By the time college ended, I had earned good enough grades to get into dental school while also being able to maintain my social life. I felt like I was on top of the world. I had definitely built-up overconfidence in my academic abilities and my social abilities. While all this was going on, I had put God on the back burner.
"I was having the time of my life, and I didn’t believe that I needed God at that moment..."
All I can say is that God has interesting ways of making himself known to us, even daily. I started dental school a couple months after college ended. I moved about 5 hours away from where my undergrad program was and start over in a new town and environment. The majority of the friends I had amassed during my time in college were gone overnight, and it did not take long for them to start losing touch. I had made a new friend or two, but I didn’t seem to fit in with a lot of the other students. My new friends were also very studious, so I found myself alone most of the weekends.
On the academic side, I was also struggling. I had put an increased amount of effort into my studies compared to college, but I found myself barely scraping by. To make matters worse, our school gave us a class rank, so I could see exactly how I was performing compared to my peers. When our first set of grades came out, I saw that I was in the bottom half. This broke me.
"Everything I had believed that was important to me: Having a lot of friends, an active social life, and academic success had all been taken from me in such a short amount of time..."
It was at this moment that I started reevaluating my life. I began asking myself questions like: “what am I even doing here?” and “who am I without all these things?” At this point, I started turning more to God. I had always prayed to him when I needed something, and this time was no different. There was a part of me that realized that praying was not enough. To truly be in touch with God: One must live in faith-communities. I had decided to go back to Church. My parents always took me every Sunday to Church, but while I was in college, I realized I started going less until I wasn’t going at all. Luckily, I had classmates who were regular churchgoers and had let me tag along.
My efforts to actively seek God helped me learn one important thing: That God has a plan and purpose for everyone. While I did not understand what was happening at the time, looking back and reflecting has helped me see the big picture. God saw the direction my life was going. He saw how I was chasing after my own desires while growing more distant from Him. I believe that He had to strip away the superficial things I valued in order for me to turn back to Him. I had the realization that we need God more than any of the other things we pursue. This awareness sparked my desire to pursue Him. I now desired Christ’s will for my life instead of my own, often misguided, desires for myself.
"As I started to prioritize God, my outlook on my situation, and life in general, slowly began to change..."
My schooling continued to be difficult, but I realized I was still able to pass exams and finish projects. While I did not have as many friends, the ones I did make, I grew really close with. (10 years later, and we are still all really close today!) I started to see that if I focused on God, He would take care of the rest. Even the way I was praying started to change and grew more mature. Instead of just asking for things, I also started to thank Him for all the things that were going well.
Today, I still look back at that time whenever I face troubling times. I remember that God can sometimes use hardship as a reminder that I still need Him. To pursue God is not always easy. We can easily get caught up with the busyness of life or even the severity of our own problems. All I can say is when your prioritize God before all things, He makes it worth your while.