You know the type—twice a year church-goers attending Christmas and Easter.
No one could blame my mother. Getting four unenthusiastic children dressed in Sunday best with no help from our agnostic dad was like parting the Red Sea. She did, however, make sure we each attended Sacramental classes in preparation of receiving First Communion. After the monumental taste of an unleavened wafer washed down with real wine from an ornate chalice, I considered myself a full-fledged Catholic. Especially when I carried a Rosary.
But wafers and wine and rosaries didn’t fill the emptiness that lived inside me.
A New Church
After spending the night with a friend at the tender age of 14, I had a new church experience. Nothing like the rigid, boring services I knew—her church had a youth group. With cute boys. And they did fun things. Every Wednesday and Sunday I went, the hole in my heart seemed to shrink.
When the youth pastor announced a trip to Colorado, I convinced my parents to let me go.
Fundraising included a haunted house at the church that ran for three weekends and took a month to construct beforehand, including an all night lock-in.
I realized hard work could be fun.
Almost as much fun as skiing in Colorado.
But looking back, sadness grieves me.
A Missed Opportunity
The months I spent being part of the youth group.
The countless hours of fundraising.
The week-long trip.
And not one person introduced me to Christ.
Not my friend. Not the leaders. Not even the youth pastor.
Did my profession of being Catholic keep the questions away?
The truth was, all the wafers and wine in the world couldn’t make me a believer any more than standing in a garage would make me a car.
Searching for Love
Years later, I married a man who made me feel whole. Complete. But the man of my dreams turned on me and left me emptier than ever. After years of suffering under his control and abuse, things ended badly.
Through the trials of my poor choices, I finally came to know the Lord. To know true love. The void in my heart filled perfectly with Him.
Haunted by a Question
To this day, one question haunts me.
Why couldn’t I have known Him sooner?
If only one person had taken the time to ask me more. To find out my definition of being a Christian. To ask if I knew where I’d go when I died.
Knowing true love sooner, my choices would have been different.
I could have been spared so much pain.
How about you?
Do you have the heart, the compassion, the love to ask more?
Do you avoid the hard questions, assuming your friends understand?
Maybe you’re the person who calls yourself a Christian without understanding what it really means.
The Real Questions
If you died today, would you go to heaven or hell?
How can you know?