After attending twelve years of Catholic school and being brought up by a hard-working moralistic family, I found myself at age 18 burned out and exhausted. I was fearful of hell, very unhappy, and fed up with trying to live up to the standards of school, perfectionist parents, teachers, church, and my own driven self. No matter how hard I’d tried or how well I’d done, it was never enough.
Because I was in high school during the 60s, I heard true freedom came from throwing off the shackles of society and certainly the church. I was so ready to believe that my misery was all God’s fault. After all, he was the author of all these restrictive rules. Authority figures were his enforcers whose job was simply to keep me in line. I was ripe to believe all the lies swirling around me and primed for the message of my outspoken atheistic college professor whose idea of fun was mocking people of faith. He was singing the song I wanted to hear: get rid of God! Happiness and freedom will be your reward.
For the next eleven years or so, I did what I wanted and ignored all I’d ever heard about God. I hated church and picked arguments with any Christian that happened to cross my path. I’d tried transcendental meditation (TM), attended Erhard Seminars Training (to transform my thinking), volunteered for a crisis hotline, went from one pseudo relationship to another, and made just about every foolish decision a young woman could make. At 27, I remember thinking that if I got sick and died, no one would miss me, the world would go on, and my existence didn’t matter to anyone.
One day, a fresh-from-college young woman showed up at work as a substitute for a regular employee out for several months of maternity leave. She was always smiling, extremely capable, obviously a Christian, and off to seminary in a few months! Her attitude was always positive, and she viewed tedious work as an opportunity to “get paid to pray.” I couldn’t argue with her because her “witness” wasn’t so much her words as her lifestyle and attitude. I despised her.
Before she left for school she sent me an invitation for a meeting about “How to Find Meaning in Life from a Biblical Perspective.” Given my attitude, I would have expected someone like me to take a hard pass. But as I held that invitation, I had a settled understanding that I would attend. The rest is history.
It turned out the meeting was a presentation of “The Four Spiritual Laws” by Campus Crusade for Christ. I heard that Jesus paid it all, took the punishment for my sin, experienced the hell I was so fearful of, offered me eternal life, and did what I couldn’t do. What relief and joy flowed through me as I accepted his free gift of salvation! I wanted to tell everyone about him. He had been the One I’d been missing.
I can’t say the last 45 plus years of walking with Jesus have been carefree, but this I know–that Jesus has been with me through it all, faithful to the end, and holding me when I didn’t have strength to hold on to him. Because of him, fear of death is gone, and my life has meaning, purpose, and joy. He is everything I’d been yearning for.