Milkshakes got me to Mass

I was brought up in a Catholic family and we attended church every week, but that’s all my faith really was growing up. And I suspect that the only reason anyone in my family went to church is because my mother joyfully went. As a child I happily went to church but I have to admit that is was because my family always went out for milkshakes afterwards. When we grew out of the milkshakes there was nothing to keep me happily going to church and it turned into a slow hour I dreaded on a Sunday morning.

When I was thirteen I started to altar serve and attend youth groups and I really enjoyed the more active side of faith, but more importantly I enjoyed being around other people who were faithful. We had a group of young people who ran our youth group for a while; they were called Trojan (now called U-Turn). I loved them so much. They sang songs and got us moving, they told us stories of how they found God in their life and it was fascinating and inspiring and I knew that God was real in these people’s lives. I remember thinking that that could never be me; I could never amount to something as incredible as that. Faith really was starting to become a bigger part of my life, I would turn to God in prayer when I least expected it.

High school is always a bit of a different story. I had a friend, who was very passionate about his faith but he would be constantly put down and judged for it by the people around him, I didn’t want this for myself and so I hid the faith I was beginning to love, I put it to the side and left it there for a long time to protect me from any harsh attention.

When I was in year 10 I did a student exchange program to Colorado, USA. My exchange sister and I really didn’t get along, our personalities clashed in an ugly way and I handled it the only way I knew how; by shutting myself in my bedroom to avoid interaction with her. There were days were I would stay in there all day and get lost in the books I was reading. I felt completely dependent on her about whether or not I enjoyed my 6 months in America. At school one day someone handed me a miniature good news Bible and I took it out of politeness and went home and shoved it in a draw and didn’t think much of it. However, one day when I found myself in my room again I took it out because I felt like I had nothing left, no one I could call or go to, I had to surrender myself to this faith I put aside. So I started reading it every day and praying every day. I could feel my relationship with Jesus becoming stronger and I was comforted by this. I found reassurance in what I felt Jesus was trying to say to me. I pictured him sitting on the edge of my bed and I would talk to him as if I would a friend. Suddenly instead of being dependent on my exchange sister, I became dependent on Jesus. I found a scripture passage that really stood out for while I was in America, Mt 17: 20-21; “Because you have so little faith. I tell you the truth, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘move from here to there’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.” It was when I read this that I promised myself that until I can move mountains I will work at my faith and relationship with Jesus, for I realised that Jesus loved me and this was the least I could do for him.

Afterwards I no longer dwelled on my feelings of being an unwanted house guest but I concentrated on making the best of what I had, I put more effort into my relationship with Kayla and there would be moments where we could be like true friends. I ended up having an amazing time once I realised that Jesus was always beside me, to support and protect me. After America I had a much greater appreciation for my church community, and I started being more open and expressive about my faith. I discovered in America that Jesus is truly my saviour as he saved me from a very difficult situation, and I am thankful everyday because it led me to deeper faith and to joy.