Growing up I never really saw my mother loved. Seeing my parents separate impacted my perception of myself. I still remember the day we walked away and my mom told me I would not have a Father anymore. As a five year old, I didn’t understand the problem. Consequently the only conditions on my upbringing were to be a strong independent woman. However, the ideas of being unlovable, and unwanted, like weeds, grew with me. My ability to love became very possessive. When I found people and families that liked me, I idolized them. I would wish I could be a part of their home, because my home didn’t make sense to me. I was becoming a very insecure, co-dependant, and possessive young lady. But as long as I put on my strong/independent facade and put up walls around my heart, no one knew I was really sinking. I did not know how to tell my friends/family what I was going through. I began to hate who I was becoming. I had no idea who I was or what good would become of me. The biggest problem of all was that I didn’t feel loved. This hunger was growing along with a great amount of despair. I began to feel that I would do anything to feel loved, or end the feeling of despair.

A great intervention came in my life when I was invited to visit an all girl’s boarding school, St. Angela’s Academy in Prelate Saskatchewan. The most impressive and outstanding impression the school left on me was the women. For the first time, I saw women for whom I had a deep respect. Although the Academy girls all wore uniforms, I found them beautiful, smart and talented. I left there thinking I want to be a women like that. I proceeded to convince my parents to let me attend this school. This was a Catholic school run by nuns, and I was not raised with any faith. My parents were perplexed at my request, but I was captivated by the women.

Soon after, I realized I was captivated by more than just the women. The faithful girls called God ‘Father’ and I knew I wanted that. I needed a relationship with a Father. I found myself getting baptized in my grade 12 year. After graduation I had all the marks of a, successful young women, ready to brave the world, but I was not ready. My inner life was still polluted with a strong rooted belief that I was not loveable, however, now I had God and the more I committed my way to Him the more He began to act.

I went on to explore many Catholic activities, such as World Youth Day, youth groups, bible school, and a mission trip to Haiti. Later, an irresistible pull drew me to a place called Madonna House, which is a Catholic Lay Apostolate in Combermere Ontario. However, the people there call it the school of love and the house of Mary; a place where Mary leads people to the heart of her son, Jesus. Although I had chosen to be baptized and believe in God, I did not know who Jesus was or how to have a relationship with the Father. While at Madonna house I read a book called “Bogeroditza: she who gave birth to God” by Catherine Doherty. The chapter “Fiat” caught my eye and I proceeded to read about Mary and how she said Yes to Jesus, first in her womb, continually throughout her life, and even in his death on the cross. What particularly caught my attention was the part about Jesus’s trial and crucifixion. The book went on to say that at first Jesus is just a baby in us, but he grows. Soon he will also be crucified in us, and we are often afraid of the cross. However, if we saw one glance between Mary and Jesus while he was walking to his death, if you saw the love in their eyes, you would run out from behind Mary and run to Jesus even on the cross. For me, after reading this, in my own heart I said yes. This was just a quiet moment, where I was alone with this book, and I made this decision. There were no bells or whistles, just stillness.

I didn’t really think much of this. I went about my days at Madonna House. But I was different and I had a new heightened awareness of spiritual things. For example I began smelling roses. One evening during tea, I quietly walked passed Fr. Sharkey, a Madonna House priest. He stopped me. I did not say a word. He said, “You’re different, something has blossomed in you, there is life pouring out of you.” After his comment he continued on his way. I still did not say a word. I went to another priest who was mentoring me during my stay, and told him about the things that were happening: Fr. Sharkey’s comments, the smell of roses, and my recent acceptance of Jesus. He proceeded to tell me that roses are a fragrance of Mary, that Christ had been born in me and that Mary is always present at the birth of her son. I was so touched, and a little afraid. What would this mean? Do I go home and tell my mom I got pregnant – with Jesus? So I didn’t talk about it, after all Jesus got crucified on a cross.

Life moved on, Jesus did begin to grow in me. I began to notice consistent spiritual themes. I was always happiest in ministry, I was experiencing love and peace in my life but I was still afraid of the cross and the cost of living for Jesus. Running away was my first response. In 2010 I stopped running, started listening and began giving Jesus my obedience (See my call to CCO staff). I committed to serving God through Catholic Christian Outreach. Through CCO I learned ‘how’ to talk about Jesus in a clear and relatable way. I also began to understand what to do with Jesus. Jesus is like a Super antibiotic, able to cure the worst bug. So naturally I tried this new medicine out on my messy life.

I still struggled with lies and a false image of myself and my life. It’s always been a struggle letting people into my heart, partly because I’ve always felt it was such a mess and disordered. Who would want it? So I self-administered. I invited Jesus into my mess, into dark areas, and into some of the biggest lies I have believed about myself. The more I invited him in, the more he cleaned house. This process radically began to change how I saw myself. I began to become more whole and free. Jesus continues to do this to me, as often as I put Him in the center of my latest struggle. For the first time, I found myself in a relationship with the Father, through Jesus. As I began to heal, my relationships with my family began to heal too. I look forward this journey of growing as a women and a daughter who is loved.

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