At the beginning of our journey together, my fiancé, Jake, began his journey into Christianity. We bonded over shared experiences, values, and goals. Cute stuff. We were friends in high school, and we both remember the first day we met each other. He had grown up atheist, while I grew up Catholic. The summer we came together was when we both were feeling lost. In the classic phase where everything and nothing make sense, we were stuck in a loop of "Huh? What is this life? What do I do? Where do I go and when?"
Meanwhile, the frontal cortex is still in development and all that fun stuff. We were searching for a sense of home. When we came together, it felt like a step in the right direction. As you can imagine, there was a mega culture shock from coming from our diverse backgrounds and then trying to form a union. When I would I ask the Lord, "Am I on the right track here? Am I helping him get on the right track and closer to You?" All I got was, "Yeah, chillax, just stay the course, and everything will be okay."
Eventually, Jake got baptized through Chi Alpha, a Christian student organization at his school. It was interesting to hear about his experiences in a non-denominational church. I appreciated every moment he had during this time, for it was the beginning of a new life for both of us. Soon, he expressed that there was something he was searching for still, as "our hearts are restless until we rest in Him." The Lord may have been calling him to the Eucharist, so I brought him to mass with me. I was hopeful that he'd at least appreciate it since it was so different than anything he had experienced before. It turned out he resonated with that portion of the liturgy! Phew!
Weeks go by, and he calls me, saying, "I'm deciding that I want to become Catholic."
"Okay, cool :)" I thought it was pretty neat, to say the least. This decision opened the door to a world that was about to get a lot bigger for him. The anxiety of feeling like he had to "catch up" and make up for lost time started to creep upon him. He spent days trying to get everything right.
I had a reoccurring question while trying my best to guide him through the RCIA process: Will we ever know all there is to know about our faith? Will we ever get everything 100% right? Only God knows. He wants our love and for us to love His creation. So, as long as that is unwavering through the waves of life, He will take care of us and won't allow us to go astray. Like any other relationship, the closeness with Christ will feel like it ebbs and flows, but we must not let this discourage us. Don't get caught up in the shenanigans so much that you forget the point: to allow your love for God to grow in the ways He has planned for you and ultimately to say yes to Him. We know that love grows stronger through trying times. We must draw closer to our Lord and our loved ones during struggles that are simply new opportunities to fall in love in disguise.
Now back to the story...
There were Sundays where my fiancé, Jake, would yearn to receive the Eucharist so much that he'd get deeply emotional about it. This was amazing to witness - the sheer amount of love for Jesus present here woke me up in a whole new way. I began to feel a new love for Jesus, myself. As a cradle Catholic, it was hard for me to fully understand this feeling of urgency. It was inspiring for me because obviously, we all strive to be so on fire with the Holy Spirit. At this moment, I truly learned that because God made every individual with their unique beauty and talents, the way that the Holy Spirit works through us as instruments will be different. We shouldn't expect people to see, feel, and experience things exactly how we do and vice versa. Every unique thread in the tapestry is meant to come together to form the whole and be unified.
It hasn't all been peaches and cream; he and I worked through every struggle with the perspective that it is us together approaching the issue, not me vs. him. Our anxieties settled more as time went on, especially as he learned more about God's mercy and unconditional love. Learning how to offer our struggles to the Lord is one of the biggest things to learn in order to bring more peace into our lives. Trusting in Christ and the path he had laid for us was an area that we both are continuously growing. A lot of things that seemed obvious to me were incredibly eye-opening to him. (I am NOT calling him or his faith childish or immature, but differences in understanding are simply what happens when you grow up in one world and then discover something entirely new!) I learned a great deal about my faith that I would never have known if Jake wasn't on this journey toward Christ. He wasn't the only one going through faith formation. I had grown up in the faith, yet there were many things I took for granted that I didn't realize.
During the Easter Vigil of 2021, Jake received all the sacraments of initiation in the Catholic Church. This was a mark of the next chapter. Being his sponsor was the first time we stood at the altar together, and I can't fully describe how it felt to look into his eyes during that moment. It was indeed something otherworldly. We now have the privilege of discerning marriage as two initiated Catholics, and we got engaged on March 26th, 2021. The engagement has been a whirlwind, and having a solid foundation is a total game-changer. I'm thankful and deeply honored that God used me as one of the many instruments to help Jake on his journey and help him enter his Christian family. It is something that we hold dearly in our relationship. (I joke that I just showed up to shake up his life in every way possible. I can't help it, sorry, not sorry.)
I am deeply grateful to have someone to take on the world with. We help each other stay on track when things get shaken. We often shake each other up, but that's part of what makes life exciting and focused on Christ. (Who knew that we could drive each other crazy AND grow deeper in love. All in one day? I wouldn't change it for the world.)
Through these experiences, I feel a new appreciation for my relationship with God. I didn't fully realize until this journey came about just how much stability Christ's presence brings into my life. My life has always been jumping from one thing to the next, and the Lord has been my one consistency and center of my life. Everything other difficulty seems much easier to bear, and thanks to these experiences, I see the life of faith much clearer now. The best risk I ever took was saying yes to going on this journey with Jake. I was a wanderer, not sure where my life was going to go, with only a vague idea of what God had in store for me. This journey took me by the ear and changed me for good in the best way I never could've imagined. I could not have planned this journey myself. Together we found a home in Christ.
If you're experiencing a time in life that feels like wandering, remember that "not all who wander are lost." You will find a sense of home, wherever and whenever, in God's good timing. Each person we encounter in our lives plays various roles on our way to discovery and meaning. You never know when and where you'll be that catalyst for someone too! It's exciting. It truly amazes me how deeply connected God's creation truly is. So keep it going one day at a time, with your heart open to Christ, and everything will be okay.