Metanoia simply means – change of heart.
I would like to share with you, my conversion story. So, growing up, I wasn’t raised in a ‘picture perfect family’… however my mother will be the first to tell you that I was ALWAYS trying to be picture perfect. I always looked at myself in mirrors, wanted to have my picture taken and be the center of attention. More on this later.
So I think it’s important for you to meet my family before we go any further…
Parents:Divorced | Siblings: 2- 1 twin brother + 1 brother who is 5.5 years older than me | Economic Background: Lower Middle Class??
So let’s start with the BEST, my mom. (No, I’m not just sayin BEST because I know she will read this…) My Mom is the best. She practically raised me and my two brothers by herself, working multiple jobs just to support us. She’s great! Now my brothers, we aren’t particularly close… and we are all SO DIFFERENT. I love them, I mean I am who I am because of my relationship with them, but there’s not much to tell… So, moving on — Padre, Richard… Dad. I only call him one of those things (Dad). My dad is a hard working man, we also aren’t really that close. Growing up, he was overseas serving in the Army. He is definitely a tough man, and I have struggled a lot with him, but that’s not necessary right now. This is my immediate family — we aren’t all that close so that’s why this is short. Maybe I will write a post about them later. [But right now, please stop reading for a sec and say a quick prayer for my family, please (:]
So, moving on… My family isn’t catholic. I was raised “Christian” but we didn’t really do much with that. I mean we rarely went to service. I participated in VBS and Youth Group through middle school… but it wasn’t because of the faith – it was because of friends and my social life #extrovert. So the next important thing to know is that I went to public school through 8th grade. I loved it. It was all I knew – until at the end of my 8th grade year, when my mom told me and Josh (my twin) that we wouldn’t be going to public high school… what?? Yep, that’s right. We were told we’d be going to a catholic school TWO cities away!! I was not happy about it. I mean… CATHOLIC?! How weird, worshiping ‘Saints’ and ‘Mary’, not to mention the scary nuns who hit people with rulers. (I heard that somewhere….) Needless to say, I wasn’t a fan of this idea.
***1st Day of Freshman Year**
So I know I have seen movies of people on the first day of school, not having a place to sit at lunch- but I never had to experience that awkwardness… Until today. (Sidenote I am an awkward human – this makes for great stories later, but in the moment I’m just an embarrassed mess.) So anyway, I knew NOBODY at this school. So at lunch time, I was THAT person without a place to sit. So there I was, little awkward mess of a human Jeremy, nowhere to go. I worked up the courage to ask someone, “Can I uhhh sit here??” Thankfully he was kind and said yes… Long story long, he became a friend and introduced me to other friends. These friends are LITERALLY the best. They welcomed me so well into their group. And the more I hung out with them, the more I realized how happy they were. This got to be annoying… I mean how can anyone be THAT happy. I thought, It had to be fake. But eventually I became jealous. They were “perfect” and so were their families. I craved what they had. So I asked myself, “how can I have that, how do they have it?” I realized that they had it because they had a relationship with God. (I didn’t realize/have the words for all of this until after we graduated). But because of their witness, I started listening in Theology class. Then pretty soon – I was taking classes to become Catholic!
During this process of becoming catholic, (as a senior in high school) I realized *I don’t have a desire to do college now, I want to share my newfound faith* So my friend/campus minister, Daniel pointed me to NET Ministries. (NET is a catholic missionary organization) So I looked into it, fell in love and applied. I thought– This is crazy, me… a missionary?!? I did not think that I would get accepted. But clearly God was calling me to serve him. This was becoming a difficult decision, because at this time I was also waiting to hear back from colleges. So, I told God, if you want me to serve you as a missionary – reject me from my dream college. Surely enough, I got rejected. I took this as a sign. I accepted a spot to serve as a NET Missionary for the 2017-2018 year.
Once I got to NET, I underwent a 5-week training program. The first couple weeks was spent on spiritual growth and prayer. I clearly remember receiving a talk about “God the Father”. This talk changed my life. During it, the speaker associated my earthly father with God my Father. I finally understood why I was so unhappy growing up. It was because of my difficult relationship with my Dad. Since he was overseas, I didn’t feel validated by him… so what I did was sought his approval from others. I constantly changed myself to fit in. But obviously this NEVER satisfied me. But what I finally realized was that I don’t need to win the approval of others. I was seen, known and LOVED by my Heavenly Father.
Realizing this, I was forever changed. Not everything became easy and perfect… no. Quite the opposite. But I finally knew my worth as a son of God. I finally realized I could run to him. It is still a daily process but knowing this has made all the difference.
Remember @ the beginning of this I said I’d come back to the “picture perfect” thing. Well what I have to say is this- I struggle with thinking I have to be perfect, but now I know that’s a lie. I don’t. My FATHER loves me as the mess that I am.
I am SEEN. I am KNOWN. I am LOVED. And so are you.