by Jamie Raj
Hi my name is Jamie and I’m 24 years old this year. I was born into a Catholic family, but we rarely talked much about our own faith. If there’s one thing I know about God, it is that He is good and that He loves us. However I wasn’t aware of the weight of those words. It was only about a year and a half ago that I felt a great desire planted in my heart to want to know Jesus on a deeper level, to know how it is that He is always good, and how it is that He loves me.
Before School of Witness (SOW), my social life was somewhat active. However, I had a lot of insecurities. I always questioned whether my friends truly cared for me, whether I was being a good enough friend, funny enough or wise enough for them. I tended to do things for others so that I would be irreplaceable to them. Emotionally, I was feeling quite drained, and often felt lonely despite having an active schedule, and was constantly fatigued from life. I could have a really good day out with lots of laughter and good conversations ,but at the end of the day, I still felt empty and sad. It was something I could not understand.
Spiritually, I was quite stagnant in my relationship with God. Prayer was just a transactional time for me to ask God to help me with things in my life or to pray for others, or it was a time for me to be frustrated that yet again, I couldn’t hear Jesus speaking to me. Often I only gave God 10-15 mins, maybe sometimes 30mins if I was feeling generous at the end of the day, or when I had no plans. I struggled to trust in God because I was too comfortable with my life. I was unhappy, but at least, it was what I knew. I was afraid to let go, let God take control, and be made new because what would happen to the world around me? How would my friends and family react, would I still be accepted? How much of my old ways would I have to change, how was I going to just suddenly change? I also struggled with patience and obedience to the Lord. I needed immediate answers and I did not have hope. Most of the time, I was surrendering in defeat to the Lord saying, “I can’t do much on my own, so you can show up if you want to” and then I would wait for God to show up.
However, the truth is, God had always been with me. Throughout SOW, I was being challenged to not be formed by feelings, but to hold fast to His promises. Many times, I would see my peers being greeted by the Lord with such big moments and releases, and there I was struggling to feel something and to trust that the Lord is with me, that He delights in me and is working in me. It was the very struggle of my life, and these lies hit me daily. But because I was at SOW, I decided to give it a shot, and do something different for once; be patient and hold fast to His promises. Little did I know that Jesus was building me up slowly, and taking me into deeper waters all even while I was struggling to feel something. I realized that He did not want me to encounter him in the same old ways time and time again.
Our heavenly Father doesn’t nag or pacify, He nurtures. The Lord spoke into the deepest depths of my heart and constantly reminded me that I am loved. The Lord wanted to build a strong foundation for me so that he could take me into deeper waters.
There was one night where we were asked to recite our prayer for areas in our life that we desired healing in whilst gazing at the Blessed Sacrament. Something in me broke that night, and I felt safe enough to release all my sadness, hurts and cries into our heavenly father’s arms. Even though I was in pieces, He restored me with His peace. In the driest of deserts, He is a never ending stream. All the dried up valleys in my heart that I never spoke about, were slowly being filled with the Lord’s living water. At that moment I realised that He sees me, He knows me, He hears me and I am loved. It was the desire of my heart that no one else could satisfy, not my interests, my family nor my friends.
Since then, I have been learning to claim my belovedness everyday. I remember to stop and ask myself, “Is this really the voice of the lord? Will he think of me this way?”. I’ve noticed that it takes me less time to run back to Jesus and to let Him be my shield. I am also learning to be more open to the spirit, and sensitive to how the Lord is moving me even in the smallest of things. Especially in my prayer life, I’ve grown more excited to spend time with the Lord, to be patient and to just gaze at Him and allow Him to slowly reveal Himself to me in ways that I can best understand. These days, I’ve also learned to step into Jesus’s light and grace and do things differently, even in the smallest of things, because small gestures build us up for bigger ones. For me this has included offering to do the dishes at home, offering to pray for my father when he was in pain, saying grace for the family, showing more appreciation and love to my mother and speaking truths over people’s lives. These were things that used to be difficult and uncomfortable for me but I can now do them because He first loved me.
So, Brothers and sisters in Christ, how the Lord has moved in my life, and revealed himself to me, was not something reserved just for me. We are all children of God and our Heavenly Father is a good good father who desires to love you and show you the way, are you going to leave Jesus hanging or will you take His hand and allow Him to love you and nurture you?