I lost touch with God for almost five years after my Dad passed away unexpectedly. I was fifteen and had expected to wake up on Friday morning to go to school, but instead had to come to terms that my family of three was now a family of two.
My parents raised me in the Catholic church and sent me to Catholic schools from Kindergarten until my high school graduation, so I was raised with a strong faith in God. When I lost my Dad the first and only thing I thought to do was pray. I remember asking God to stop my pain and to let me go back to a normal sophomore year of high school. I spent my study halls in my high school’s chapel crying and looking for answers, but I never felt better. After awhile I felt as if God had completely abandoned me. The church I grew up in never felt like a home or a community of people that I could lean on in a time of need, so I decided to stop attending church and I stopped praying.
I hated talking about my faith for the rest of my Catholic high school experience. God was my enemy in every sense. He took my Dad from me, he caused me pain, and he abandoned me in my time of need. I never planned on going back to church until about a year ago I had another unfortunate life event take place where the only place I felt I could turn was God. I knew my previous church was somewhere I felt uncomfortable and unwelcomed, so I asked around and decided to try a non-denominational church in the Rockford area. Walking into a new church was intimidating, but everyone was welcoming and made me feel comfortable in a new environment. I started attending regularly and praying a little more each day until I felt like I had formed a brand new relationship with God.
Coming into a non-denominational church, they focused a lot more on reading the bible outside of church time. I thought this was absolute insanity considering I spent so much time reading the bible in grade school, but I decided to try it and see what I could get out of it. One day while I was reading, two words stood out to me, “Jesus wept” (John 11:35). Just those few words made me realize that in Jesus’s time of need, even when he was weeping, God was there. God may not have changed his circumstances or helped him, but he was there. God knows where we are going in life and knows that we need to go through rough water to get there. He is weeping for us and a long with us. I selfishly never saw that God never abandoned me. He loved me through my triumphs, through my tears, and even through my defiance in him.
Church was something that was always really important to my Dad, so adding that back into my life has not only made me feel closer to God, but closer to my Dad. I’m not perfect and I forget to go to church and I forget to read scripture, but it’s comforting to know that I always have a loving Father waiting for me with open arms every Sunday.