Liz shares her journey of experiencing and living in the Fatherly love of God.
“I knew you before I formed you in your mother’s womb” (Jeremiah 1:15).
What a powerful statement! Jesus knows everything about me – more than my parents, my best friends, and my future spouse will ever know. He notices the silent tears that trace my cheeks on my bad days and celebrates with me when I am smiling ear to ear on my good days. I am his daughter and he is my best friend.
As I reflect on my life, I don’t have a particular faith moment that changed my life. Rather, my faith was fostered and formed through my Christ-centered family, Syro-Malabar parish, and retreats from various movements. I have always known that God was alive and present in my life.
In a sense, I had a good relationship with God. However, it was not until the summer of 2013 when I participated in the World Youth Day that I was able to experience Jesus in a more authentic and profound way. I could feel the genuine peace of the Holy Spirit as well as the compassion and mercy of our Father. During my time there, I took on the practice of journaling. Looking back at those pages in my journal, I recollect those wonderful moments – the joy and love I felt during adoration, the inspiration from attending mass with Pope Francis, and the contentment of being surrounded by a wonderful community. The genuine, raw faith of others, and the vibrancy of Jesus Youth Elders was a beautiful thing to witness. Sharing my faith with the rest of the youth, I was able to see the beauty of the Catholic Church and how unique and special the heavenly Father has made each of us. It was during this trip that I went from just knowing God in my head to knowing him in my heart.
The timing of that World Youth Day could not have been anymore perfect as I was heading to my freshman year of college that August. During my first few months of college, I really struggled with my personal prayer. I did not know how or when to fit prayer into my schedule, as I had sporadic classes throughout the day and shared a small dormitory room with non-Catholic roommates. As my personal prayer waned, my relationship with Christ grew more and more distant. Gradually, I began to recognize a void in my life – I felt empty.
ALL HE WANT E D ME TO DO WAS
T O SURRENDER MY FEARS AND WORRIES,
AND HE TOOK CARE OF THE REST.
During this time, I made the difficult decision to drop my major. For a few months, my major read as “Undecided” in my academic profile, and it was terrifying to admit that I was unsure of my future steps. Confused and stressed, I desperately needed the one person in my life whose advice I could trust completely –Jesus. I quickly began to understand that I needed to dedicate both time and a place to pray within my daily schedule. That place happened to be the church on campus, and I tried my best to schedule my classes around the weekly Mass schedule. Some days, I could not make it to Mass, but I always tried my best to at least spend a few moments in the chapel just to talk with the Lord. These moments were the glue that gave meaning to the rest of my years in college.
It became evident to me that though I often tried to plan my life, God had other plans for me. All he wanted me to do was to surrender my fears and worries, and he took care of the rest. Don’t get me wrong, there were many challenges – I struggled in academics, especially after switching my major. Likewise, it was oftentimes difficult to find a strong group of friends at college, and my dad also struggled with health issues during this time. During these struggles, I stressed – but I also tried my very best to cling to the Eucharist and Mother Mary. I can honestly say that it was during those harder moments of life that the Lord spoke to me the most. Looking back, I am filled with awe at how much God loves me. He is watching over me, he is guiding me, and he will not abandon me.
In this present chapter of my life, I still get the worry-bug syndrome. But I try to remind myself to just surrender to the Lord – to surrender and listen. So next time you are anxious, confused, or lost – run to your Father. Close your eyes and allow yourself to be hugged by God. Imagine him embracing you tightly, take a deep breath, and exhale out your worries. Cast your worries upon him and let him guide your path. He knew you in your mother’s womb; trust that he has the rest of your life under his shield.