In the wake of posting some pretty deep and dark entries about specific events in my life, it’s with open arms that I embrace tonight’s writing topic.
The subject of tonight’s entry is a truly spiritual moment in my life. I thought long and hard about this. I tried to recall a ‘eureka’ moment with God, one that set me on a new path of growth and spiritual happiness. However, the more I searched for that moment, the more I realized there wasn’t one. Well, not just one.
Instead, what I found was a series of moments in my life, specifically in the last several years, that have brought me closer to God and have allowed me to look at life with a completely different perspective. It’s very much a domino effect, where the first moment leads the way to the second, and so on. The following is a very brief recap of my journey with Christ that helped get me to where I am today.
It was an ordinary weekend in 2005 and I just happened to be awake early on a Sunday morning. Usually I would sleep in late following some drunken stupor the night before. 2005 was my ‘being single’ year, and I tried to cram my twenties, as well as everything I felt I had missed by being in a relationship at such a young age, into that year. That particular Sunday, however, I was up at around 7:00 AM.
As I lay in bed, I had a feeling in my chest. It was a calling from Him telling me I needed to get up and go to Mass. I was raised Catholic, but I had not been to Mass in a long time. I tried to ignore it. I tried to shake off the feeling inside me. But the more I did, the louder the voice was and the deeper the feeling that I needed to get up and just go.
As it turns out, that particular Sunday was the ministry fair at my church. At the end of Mass, the newly hired director of Youth Ministry made an appeal to all in the audience to donate their time and help out the fledgling program. I looked up towards God and told him, “Okay. I get the message,” and I registered to volunteer. It was that experience as a volunteer youth minister that allowed me to participate in a leadership retreat the following year. It was at that retreat where I had a second spiritual moment with God.
I had been struggling mightily with forgiveness. I was still bitter about what had happened to me in my pursuit of ‘true love’, and I was also very much still mad and ashamed at myself for what I did to my family and ex-wife. It was there, following a discussion about reconciliation with God, where I felt the strength to let it all go and release that burden I’d been carrying. Not only was I able to extend forgiveness to the person I felt had wronged me, I also learned at that moment, through God’s amazing grace and kindness, how to forgive myself.
This experience has come around full circle for me as I sat in the audience at Relevant Church in Tampa this morning. Our pastor, Paul Wirth, was talking about the snapshots in life that lead to regret. It was then that I realized exactly how powerful that moment at the retreat really was. You see, although there are many actions in my life which I regret having done, I don’t at all feel the heavy burden of regret. I know the reason for this is because God showed me how to forgive and, more importantly, how to accept His divine forgiveness.
To me, forgiveness is like a bolt cutter. This specific bolt cutter, however, requires two cuts in order to work properly. We use this tool to release ourselves from our sins, which are attached to us at the ankle like a dead weight. We use it again to let go of the times we’ve been wronged, which are shackled to us at the other ankle. This weight pulls us under and drowns us. We can’t cut just one and be released from what is weighing us down. Instead, Jesus makes the first cut to forgive us of our sins. He teaches us through example, and we must then take the bolt cutters and forgive those who have hurt us. Only then can we rise to the surface and truly take in God’s love like a deep breath of fresh air.
I like to think I have spontaneous moments of spirituality every day. Some are subtle and may take some time to reveal themselves to me. Others, however, hit my like a ton of bricks. Either way, I feel I am so lucky and so blessed to have the relationship I do with God.
He truly does work in mysterious ways. All we have to do is be willing to listen ….. and learn.