Having been raised in a Baptist church, I don’t have a lot of experience with other religions, especially Catholicism. All I knew about the Catholic faith is what I have seen in movies. So when my friend Caroline invited me to her Bible study, I was scared. Scared of not knowing what to say or do. Scared of offending someone or someone offending me. Scared of being labeled an outsider. However, my love and trust for her won, so off I went to St. John Paul II University Parish.
And honestly, I was shocked.
I had an amazing time. Everyone I met welcomed and embraced me. Our talk about Luke 22:39-62 was one of the most stimulating conversations I’ve had about God since I have been on campus. While there were some times that we acknowledged we practiced our faiths differently, essentially we share the same love for the same Savior. I was so relieved that everyone there was so kind to me. It wasn’t until a few days later that I was able to place the nagging feeling I had in the pit of my stomach when I thought of that night. I was ashamed of myself. I was embarrassed that I had been so afraid to go to a place that was made to celebrate the Lord. But most of all I was shocked at my lack of faith in God. Never have I ever had a bad experience with anyone in the Catholic faith, nor would God lead me somewhere that wasn’t for his glory, so what exactly was my problem?
I quickly realized that it wasn’t just this night, nor is it just myself. More often now I’m meeting Christians who are ‘afraid’ to share His word or try the new things that God is calling them to do. We are growing up in a broken world that tells us “if we don’t know it then it must be bad”. So many individuals, myself included, are so scared to speak up or to speak out about their interests that we are essentially molded into whatever our environment tells us to become. But that isn’t how God called us to live.
I don’t want to be afraid to practice my faith anymore. He needs spiritual warriors to fight the good fight with him, not cowards. No longer will I question the direction He guides my feet, or the people He brings in my life. Even now as I write this, there is a little voice in the back of my mind whining, “Oh no, what if people don’t like it?” But I am done living life for anyone or anything that is not for His glory.
So what did I learn from going to a Catholic Bible study? I learned that I need to stop living life for this world and start living for the next. I learned that just because someone speaks to God a little differently than me, doesn’t mean that they speak any less. I learned that God is calling us to shatter the walls we build for ourselves and others. He wants us to look at people with His eyes, not our mortal ones. I am not perfect. In fact, I am about as far away as they come, but going to that event and meeting those wonderful people who are so on fire for God has given me new hope in myself and my walk with God.
I am not going to become Catholic, but that’s okay. Because now I know that while we are different, we share the same God and the same love for him, and in the end, that’s what is the most important.
If you’re interested in getting involved with the Catholic center here on campus their website is here.