I was born and raised in a strong Catholic environment. I was baptized as an infant, received my first communion when I was 10, and eventually I received my confirmation when I was 13 like a good Catholic child. My mother took every measure to ensure I was following Catholicism and its practices and rituals.
Our family would attend Friday evening prayer and Sunday morning service like a good, religious, Catholic family week after week. We recited the rosary every Wednesday night at home. The rosary is a set of prayers that consisted of 15 Hail Mary’s (which is a prayer to the Virgin Mary), “Our Father”s and “Glory Be”. We utilized a string of beads to keep track of number of prayers that we did. I was so religious and never missed my prayer time. This was important for my family as it identified to us who we are, so that we could follow our heritage as a practicing Catholic family. These were our rituals and traditions for decades. However, the prayers I had recited didn’t give me a better understanding of God, nor did it help me grow in faith. This way of life as a practicing Catholic became redundant and routine. As I grew up, I followed what I was taught and didn’t realize there was more to God than the traditions and rituals I followed.
As a young child growing up in Germany, I had the chance to briefly attend a church that encouraged personal spiritual growth. I enjoyed attending Sunday school because I learned new biblical stories that intrigued my attention. I was able to get a glimpse of the hope that God gives us. As a young child, I remember coming to a conscious understanding that there is someone or something greater and is watching over me. As time passed, my parents refused to attend any non-Catholic churches and meetings associated with this other church; they decided to stay fixed in the conservative Catholic faith.
Once we moved to Canada, we became more “religious” since most of our relatives here in Canada were strong and active Catholics. I didn’t have any opportunity to attend Sunday school any longer since it was not offered in the Catholic Church at the time. We were taught to believe what was spoken and we were never encouraged to learn on our own. Once again, church attendance, prayer, and the rosary became routine for my family and me. These prayers that I memorized or recited after the priests held no meaning for me. The Bible became to me like a fiction book full of good stories that we never read or learned for ourselves, as it was apart our life’s curriculum in the Catholic faith. This pushed me to eventually question the very existence of God.
In my teenage years, I struggled with many aspects of my life: meaningful relationships, family dynamics, school. The struggle eventually drove me into depression. The friends I grew up with ultimately departed. Relationships with my family were deteriorating as we continuously fought. I didn’t know what I wanted to pursue in life as a career. I was at a point of confusion and felt lost with no sense of direction in my life. I felt no purpose and knew identity in life. I had no foundation to rely on, nor did I have anyone to turn to for comfort and support.
After graduating from high school, I took a year off and eventually fell into depression. My mom took me to a health clinic for help and the doctors prescribed anti-depression medication. It finally hit me; I knew I couldn’t live like this anymore. I did not want to start taking medication for my depression! In my culture, education is given such high importance and value. I figured if I had a good education, I would have an identity, purpose and fulfillment in life. I came to the conclusion that the only source of happiness would come from my education.
I enrolled in college again, and then in university. I had very few friends but really never kept in touch. My goal at that point was to focus on my education, as I figured that it would give me a sense of identity and satisfaction. The years at school didn’t really change much of how I felt; I felt a void and miserable. I couldn’t explain the feelings and anxieties that would arise out of nowhere. Throughout school, I was never happy, and I would come home from school and start crying out of nowhere. I would turn to the church for answers, but never got any response. There was a point in my life when, out of such desperation, I would pray to Mary and saints like St. Anthony and St. Peter. I pleaded for them to answer my prayers – but I didn’t get any answers. I felt trapped in a box and found myself growing more uncertain of who I was.
Then in September 2006 I met Sajanth through a mutual friend. Sajanth had a campus ministry at the university of Toronto called ‘Faith in Action.’ He reached out and invited me to the meetings. I was very hesitant that day, and didn’t want to attend another “hallelujah!” meeting. I had the wrong impression of “radical” Christians, and was even afraid and intimidated by them. But something deep inside of me urged me to go. I went to the meeting and, after worship, a girl that I knew from high school shared her testimony on how God changed her life. I was so in awe of her testimony, and the words she spoke felt as if God was speaking to me! Every word that God spoke through the preacher penetrated my heart that day.
It felt like an explosion of happiness in my heart and I knew that it was God moving in my heart. I went home on September 25, 2006 cried out to GOD – not Mary, Joseph, St. Peter or St. Anthony – but the Living, Almighty God. I wept and cried out, and that very night I had the sensation of heat all over my body. I felt God healing my hurts and pain that night. I knew at that very point, God was with me all these years. Christ touched my heart and I was forever changed.
After I accepted Jesus into my heart, it wasn’t an easy walk; but His strength helped me carry on. The struggles with family, relatives, my heart and mind continued but His grace also continued to be sufficient. Through all the trials and tribulations, God was with me and has never forsaken me. The old ways had to be broken, mended, and molded in God’s way. But throughout the process, He was with me and helped me to become the woman He has called me to be today. The feeling of void, of loneliness and emptiness was gone. God poured out blessings upon blessings into my life.
I have found a new purpose and meaning to life. I am forever grateful for the all Jesus had done even when I did not know Him. Since September 25, 2006, my life has changed dramatically. I married the person that introduced me to Jesus Christ, Sajanth, and we now have two beautiful children. God blessed me in all the areas of my life. After my salvation, my sister, a close friend and two cousins received salvation. My dad started attending church with us and just recently received baptism! I am serving God through several ministries at church and outside of church.
Jeremiah 29:11 states “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” God has a purpose and plan for every one of us. His plan is not limited to certain individuals or by our limited thinking. God invites all of us to accept and follow Him. His plan extends to the future if you trust and believe in Christ. God already knew you before you came into existence. He sees everything that no one else can see. He will give you a purpose, a hope and restoration if you give your life to Jesus. God has impacted my life dramatically; I was lost and now am found in God. He gave new meaning to my life. God can do the same for you, if you trust and accept Jesus as your personal Saviour.