Let me start by saying this is my personal story and conviction. I’m sharing my journey to becoming a Messianic Jew because it has been requested by a few readers and acquaintances. Others, whom I consider friends, may still not even be aware of this shift in my life. I am beginning today with my Catholics roots.
I never share anything with the purpose of condemning, belittling, or accusing, as there is no condemnation in Christ. However, if what I share convicts your spirit in any way or serves as a confirmation of what you have been feeling, I would seek God and prayerfully consider why you are feeling that way. We are all on our own journeys according to the great and special plan God has for our lives and I am excited that we each have access to the One who knows it all.
First Stop: The Catholic Church
I was not raised in church in the sense that neither of my parents were avid churchgoers. My mother tried out one or two Christian churches along the way, but nothing really stuck. However, she and my dad, did send me to Catholic school from k-8th grade where I learned many Bible stories and attended mass with my classmates every so often. Like many others, I was more concerned with who I was sitting next to, rather than the service. They made us sit boy, girl, boy, girl to avoid friends being distracted by one another. I guess they didn’t think that through in the middle school stage when most of us were starting to have crushes.
My experience with repentance was a joke. I would literally make up the stupidest lies when confessing to the priest. I would say I stole a pencil from a friend or lied to my parents. He would advise restitution by returning what I stole and fessing up about the lie. Then, he would instruct me on how many times to repeat the Lord’s Prayer or Hail Mary. Never once did I confess something I actually did. I didn’t fully understand the grace of God or the power that is released when we expose lies and sin and turn away from them.
Praying the Rosary
My grandmother, who I dearly loved, was a devout Catholic. Though she knew no English and didn’t attend mass, she did teach me how to pray the rosary. After she moved back to Puerto Rico, I would spend every summer with her. Once, she heard me telling my cousins about saying Bloody Mary in the mirror. She was devastated and made me pray the rosary with her every single day from then on. My daily summer prayers became something I needed to get through as quickly as possible. The only thing that made it bearable was that I really loved doing anything with my grandmother.
Though I didn’t fully understand God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit, I could not deny their power in my life. My relationship was lacking in that I was not living a life of love or obedience towards Jesus. I was of the mentality that I needed to be a good person and so, I mostly tried. I felt that God loved me because he created me, but he was this faraway, big God and I was this little, unimportant girl.
The only way I could grasp the power of the Holy Spirit was through dreams. As a child, I often dreamed of the devil and his demonic forces. Many times, I was petrified but always knew to plead the blood of Jesus and rebuke the enemy. Afterwards, I would feel so empowered and protected. I’m not even sure where I learned to do that. Perhaps, I was told that at school at some point. I now know that the Lord speaks to me prophetically through dreams. So, perhaps the enemy was trying to pervert that or maybe the Lord was trying to train me to fight and intercede.
While I was doing my volunteer hours required for confirmation, a situation arose that became a turning point for me. One leader was upset because the classroom garbage cans were being used during our weekend sessions. Instead of communicating that and finding a solution, respectfully, she decided the best course of action was to dump everything out of the trash can and onto the floor.
The nun who wound up cleaning it was the sweetest woman I knew at that time. She was one of the oldest nuns there and reflected the love of Jesus with humility and grace. Knowing that she had been treated like that really upset me. I suddenly became very aware of my surroundings and the inconsistencies present. I started to feel like Catholics were hypocrites and if this was how people in the Catholic church were going to behave, I wanted no part of it.
Of course, I eventually recognized my flawed thinking in judging a church or faith group based on the sinful behavior of some. I now understand grace and how we all fall short. But only after truly beginning to form a relationship with Christ could I understand this. Now I reject the Catholic Church for inconsistencies in their doctrine, rather than inconsistencies in their members.
Next Stop: The Non-Denominational Christian Church
The next part of my story will tell about my first experience with a Christian church and how God led me to a place where I would forever be changed.
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