Experiencing the Joy of the Lord

I had never really doubted God's existence, in fact, I never really questioned it at all. But, everything started changing during my middle school years; I had lost my friends, death had touched my life for the first time, and I had been bullied. I was buried in a flood of emotions: fear, loneliness, insecurity, unforgiveness, pain, and despair. Then, we moved. It was going to be a fresh start, but I still dragged my woundedness and insecurity with me . One Sunday, we went to Mass at a small church in the mountains and for the first time I had seen people joyfully attending Mass. They recognized something greater than themselves and for that hour they were able to forget their hardships, to leave them at the altar. This joy was undeniable and I wanted some. Without me realizing, God would begin to bring people into my life, people who had found their purpose in Him.  Slowly, and with the help of His grace, I found myself able to let go of some of the pain that was holding my heart captive and, as a result, found a little more room to fit God into my heart.

Even with all of this, I still had my doubts. "Why would God have let all of this 'bad stuff' happen to me?", "Why was He punishing me?" I asked myself. Slowly, as if drawing a curtain, God answered these questions for me. For the first time it really hit me, God loves me and He has a purpose for my life. He can use my greatest trials for the greatest of goods and that He desires what is best for me! Just as it says in the Gospel of John, " The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly."I soon came to realize that I was not living my life abundantly! I was letting my pain consume me and it wasn't allowing me to live life fully. I let it control my life, but this was not what God wanted for me. I had been pain's prisoner and my pain was what defined me, it was my oppressor. I finally had permision to let go and I had a promise of something greater to encourage me to do so. I had to continue, over time, to let go and once I expressed this desire, God helped me to do this. As I forgave, my heart, which was bound up, was loosed and I was able to live more fully, more freely, and much more joyfully, alongside the Lord. And all of those troubles which had been my captors for so long were replaced with the peace of Jesus.

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