6 Things I Realized In My First Connection With God

6 Things I Realized In My First Connection With God

From the girl who isn't religious.
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I've never connected to religion or felt any sort of welcomeness from it and have struggled with the idea of it for the past few years, however recently I attended a church right outside of campus because a friend asked me to go with her. I didn't expect to gain anything from this experience and had no intentions of liking what they had to say or being there, quite frankly.

Much to my surprise, I fell in love with this church and felt like the energy and words were directed straight at me. I felt welcome here.

I had my first connection to God during that Sunday service and it was unlike anything I'd ever felt before, it made me realize a few things about God, religion and faith that I had been blinded to and everyone needs to know.

1. It's not about church

It's not about showing up every Sunday, it's about the connection you have to it all. This church I attended was a brand new church, only on their third service, and gathering for Sunday service in "The Warehouse" and yes, it actually looks like a real warehouse on the inside. Crosses and crucifixes weren't shoved down my throat as I walked in the door, just warm smiles and positive, growing energy.

This can apply to any church not just ones that have their sermons in a warehouse, the main idea isn't the material qualities about a church but the connective qualities. It's about the relationship and connection you have with God and faith yourself, how much of yourself you give to this, and how willing you are to make the connection.

2. It doesn't have to be hard

I always associated religion and God with difficult and unreachable. I never tried to understand, to have a relationship, or to make a connection because I thought it was just "too hard". I never let myself connect to it because I was convinced it wasn't for me and there was no way for me to relate to any of the incomprehensible words in the Bible or in the sermons.

I was oh-so-wrong.

I have found so many ways to make the connection by just putting in a little effort. Whether it be meeting and talking to relatable people or following Instagram accounts, like Soul Scripts, that post about college girls relating and connecting with their faith. It isn't hard, you just have to want it.

3. It's not a part of your life

I feel like a lot of people, myself included, have this idea ingrained in their brains that faith is reserved only for Sundays. They don't feel a connection (or want to) any other day of the week. God and faith are so much bigger than your Sunday morning, going to this church made me feel this shift in my mind on a big level. I realized this wasn't going to grow me, help me, or do anything if I didn't bring it into every aspect of my life. This doesn't mean signing your life away, but instead it means not having to go through the hardships of life alone and becoming strong within your weaknesses with God.

4. Brokenness is welcome

Within every other church I had ever gone to it almost seemed sinful to be broken in faith or it was ignored altogether. I always felt like the outcast when I didn't know the words to the songs or hymns, had no idea what the quote from the scripture was saying, or know anything about this God person; but this church showed me that it's okay to be broken.

The pastor got up on stage and genuinely said "We want broken people here, we want to help you" and that one sentence spoke to me in so many ways. Suddenly, it was okay that I had no clue where to start or even how to start. It just mattered that I did.

5. It's a growth process

To understand this realization I had at that Sunday service I have to give you a little background: I grew up in a very small, very religious town, within the county that was once known to have the most churches in it in America. It always seemed like everyone was so in love with this idea I couldn't seem to get my head around. I always thought everyone was spoon-fed quotes from the book of John when they were young and that's how these kids I grew up with were forced to be Christians.

But, sitting in that chair at that Sunday service I realized maybe all these kids I was surrounded by fell in love with the growing you can do through God. I think these kids all realized that through God you can grow into the person you want to be and I think that's how they learned to love their lives before me. But, I am on my way now.

6. It's worth it

I am not hiding behind my fears and ignorance anymore because I know pouring myself into God and faith will be worth it and I know it will change my life as it has for so many other people.

Cover Image Credit: Flickr

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15 Bible Verses To Calm An Anxious Mind

Finding peace in the midst of turmoil.
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Anxiety hits us from all directions. Whether it be school stress, work stress, a stressful family situation, or anything else in life that causes us to feel unsettled, tired, and afraid of the future; anxiety can feel like it's taking over our lives.

As someone who constantly struggles with anxiety, I know how hard it is to find peace in the midst of a stressful situation. When we feel anxious about something, we generally try to do all that is in our power to control the situation. When we can't control it, we become even more anxious. So how do we stop this downward spiral of anxious turmoil?

We must turn to the one who is in control of all things. God holds all of our lives in his hands and is the only one who can calm our anxious minds. When we frantically struggle to put the pieces of our life together on our own, we will fail.

The only way to gain peace in the midst of anxiety is to turn to God, trusting in His perfect will and His power to hold us in His hands. The best way to remember this truth is to look to the Bible. Here are some verses to help us remember God's provision in the midst of anxiety.

1. Philippians 4:6

We don't have to be anxious when we can freely talk with God about our needs. We can cry out to Him for help and He will hear us.

2. John 14:27

Peace is a wonderful thing. Notice how it says, "I do not give it as the world does." We have to remember that worldly peace is only temporary, but God's peace is forever.

3. Isaiah 41:10

Not only will God give us peace, but He will also strengthen us. The image of God "upholding us with His righteous right hand" is pretty powerful and very comforting.

4. Psalm 94:19

Anxiety can make us sad and upset, but knowing that God is with us can bring so much joy in the face of desolation.

5. Psalm 34:4

Freedom from fear is so empowering! Imagine God setting us free from all the fear that holds us back. Oftentimes fear can make us feel trapped, but God can set us free.

6. 1 Peter 5:7

God cares about us so much, that He allows us to cast all of our worries on His shoulders.

7. 2 Corinthians 12:10

Human capacity is limited. We can by no means do everything, in fact, we can't do anything without the help of God.

8. Philippians 4:13

Nothing can hold us back or scare us when we have the strength of God.

9. Proverbs 3:5

We always try to lean on our own understanding, but it will never be enough. We try to control everything, but it will always fall through. It is because of this that we need to trust in the Lord for everything.

10. Matthew 6:25-34

This passage, while somewhat lengthy, is such a great reminder that God is truly in control of everything. We don't need to worry about a thing because He has it all planned out. We stress out about things that were never ours to worry about in the first place.

11. 2 Timothy 1:7

We were not created to be afraid, but to be empowered and loved by God.

12. Isaiah 26:3

If we simply keep God in the forefront of our minds, we will have perfect peace. Trust in Him brings the greatest peace.

13. Matthew 11:28-30

How comforting is this? Anxiety causes a lot of weariness but knowing that we can rest in God is amazing.

14. Jeremiah 29:11

God has a plan for us, so we don't need to worry about it. His plan is always good and always exactly what we need. His plans will always be better than anything we try to control ourselves.

15. Isaiah 41:13

When we feel anxious and afraid we can take comfort in knowing that God is reaching out His hand to us to help us trust Him and walk with Him.

While anxiety can feel overpowering or terrifying, we should not fear, but rather trust in the perfect and never-changing love and peace of God.

Cover Image Credit: Huffington Post

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Dear Fellow Catholics, If You Ignore Priests Who Rape Children, You Are A Part Of The Problem

These men are predators, not priests.

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Recently in the news, Pennsylvania has reported over 300 Catholic Priests for sexual abuse over the course of many decades. This has been a cover-up operation from the priests by the leaders of the Church. Committing heinous crimes, such as sodomy and rape. Yes, rape.

These priests have abused thousands of children dating back to the 1980's and the impact has grown ever since. These men are predators, not priests. They do not represent Christianity or the Catholic Church by gaslighting and shaming children into unspeakable and dangerous situations.

Catholicism does not condone rape or pedophilia and especially not from clergymen, so why did it happen?

As a child growing up in the Catholic Church, I was always haunted by priests who favored certain children and I thought they could even read my mind. If I even thought about disobeying during mass, I thought Father would notice and stop to scold me. And don't even get me started with the confession. I felt like every time I was called for reconciliation if I didn't repent for everything, the priest was going to punish me.

I am like every Catholic child who was so easily impressionable by adults. When a priest told you to do something, by golly, you did it, and if you didn't the parents would punish you as well. Take someone in power and then add corruption, sex, and the ability to not get caught--for almost 40 years at least. Of course, there is going to be abuse and domination in every kyriarchy, but when it comes from a religious place, it makes the impact of abuse so much more disastrous.

The Catholic Church, to me, does not depend on the systematic religion, but it does rely on respect and trust, where if there is any question about the truth in all regards, then it is a scramble to mask the concerns. When priests rape children and people know about it but don't intervene, that is just as much a sin as raping. period. There is no place for silent bystanders. Not in America. Not in the world. And most certainly not in Church.

Christianity is love. That is all. Rape is not love. Covering up priests who rape is not love. Not talking about how to change and prevent corruption is not love.

Shame on the priests who took part in this atrocity in any capacity. No matter how noble and the labels they have, I hope they burn in hell for what they did and allowed. I am embarrassed to associate with such horrible people, and it makes me ill to think that a place with rules to not sin is the same house that fills it.

Where there are 300 priests who were indicted, there are more who have not been caught. I urge EVERYONE to not just stand by, and if it feels wrong, it is wrong. There is power in standing against injustice, no matter the perpetrator.

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