For my entire adult life, I have been superficially...unlucky. Small things, like getting stopped by trains on my way to class or having to come into work early only for the shift to be canceled right as I arrive. Never anything significant, and certainly not enough for me to ever complain. If I am honest, I've got a blessed life. I have a great relationship with my siblings and parents. I have a wonderful, loving, supportive girlfriend who cares deeply about both myself and my family. I attend a great, albeit difficult school and am receiving a robust education, which has helped form me into the man I am now. I love what I do, and my future seems to be bright. With all of this in mind, you may think my life is all figured out. It is not. Only our God knows the uniqueness of the journey that is set before each of us. I needed to learn how to let God take the lead.
Our God is in the heavens;
As a young man, I wanted nothing to do with Him or his church. When I was a child, my parents made me come to this house with a blood-covered man at the front, and I wasted an hour of my precious Sunday every week. I felt apathetic towards the church. I couldn't care less what this bloody, broken man nailed to a cross thought about me and stopped going to church as soon as I was old enough to pretend that I was busy. I can pinpoint that I felt the most disconnected from the church, and this moment was when I left for college. I was on my own. I was practically an adult. "I don't need the church. I have my personal code and set of morals. I'll stay true to myself and what I believe. The church is messed up anyway, what with touching altar boys and whatnot. I don't want to be a part of a church that allowed that to happen." These are the things I told myself to justify walking away from God instead of seeking a higher purpose and the road to sanctity.
Transgression speaks to the wicked
Unluckily, I had a group of friends as a freshman who shared the same sentiment, who disliked the church and had no faith. They nudged me closer and closer to a life of complete rejection of the church. I started dating, which I hadn't until college and tried things I told myself I never would. How rocksteady were those morals when confronted with momentary pleasure? They could never hold up. I was spending all of my energy chasing fleeting happiness and brief experiences of immediately evaporating pleasure. I craved the next buzz, completely content to live my life consumed by sin. I didn't care about anybody. What was the result? My relationships started to crumble. I spent so much time utterly ignoring my conscience, spending zero time in prayer or active discernment, and missing God's purpose for my life. I lost sight of what makes romantic relationships loving, viewing them almost machiavellian, merely a means to an end. The relationship became more and more abusive, and I didn't want to realize that I was the one being abused. I thought I was okay with being used for sexual purposes, as long as I felt that moment of happiness that made it all worth it. I started becoming upset with it but would always just be shut down for it by her. She was often telling me if I kept looking for love and a purpose, she would leave me. She was always disappointed. I was never good enough. Eventually, I was even losing what I thought I needed in the relationship. She would tell me repeatedly that I wasn't good enough sexually, I never lasted long enough, and that I didn't satisfy her.
You know the insults I receive,
In the lowest of the valleys, the devil comes to you to tell you that you aren't enough. And, we aren't. We must seek Christ to be complete. In the winter of my junior year, I was confronted with a good friend who challenged me to attend our church's retreat, put on twice a year by other college students. He knew I was previously catholic and managed to guilt me into going. It changed my life. I met a community of people focused intensely on one thing alone: get as many people to heaven as they could. On the first night of the retreat, I met a wonderful young woman who helped me relax, open myself up, and just to be myself. I was surrounded by people who loved me in a real way. They loved me because I was their brother in Christ. They showed me how to love to the full. They did this by showing me that the ways I was giving and receiving love in my previous romantic relationship could not functionally lead me to God. My eyes were opened, my spirit and soul awakened. I do believe that retreat saved me.
O magnify the Lord with me,
We can only know ourselves in the light of Christ. If we put barriers between ourselves and Christ or attempt to separate ourselves from his path, plan, or promises, we will walk from light into darkness. After the retreat had ended, the women that God used to awaken my soul didn't think I'd remember her, but we've now been dating for months. We place Christ first in our relationship. She makes me a complete version of myself. How does she do this? Together, we seek our Lord every day by walking on the path of holiness. On this difficult journey of faith, we can become genuinely ourselves; the people that God desires us to be. As for me and my significant other, we can become more united to each other and by serving God and lovingly seeking our vocation.
While I may be pretty unlucky in the smallest of ways, I can say that because Christ loves me and has given me so many blessings and reasons to fight for him, I am the luckiest man in the world.
Return, O my soul, to your rest,