Opening Up

IMG_9421 (1200x673)

By: Amanda Walsh.

Today I look at my faith journey, shake my head, and smile in amazement. It is amazing to see how God’s plan was to lead me towards CCO as a career. It is no exaggeration to say that Jesus was my best friend growing up, the one I trusted completely. What’s not to love about perfection Himself? But for me, loving His people was a different story.

As a child I had an experience with bullying. I also picked up the message, “the more people you have in your life, the more problems you have.”  I struggled to trust people who didn’t love Christ because I feared getting hurt again. As I grew up I felt caught in a contradiction; I wanted to love people like Jesus did but I didn’t know how to have healthy relationships with non-believers.

My attitude changed radically in University through my involvement with Catholic Christian Outreach. In particular I was struck by a phrase spoken at Rise Up 2008, “People aren’t problems. People are privileges.” This deep truth revealed to me a new way of thinking. Rather than fearing everything that felt secular, I began to ask the Lord to give me a heart for the lost; I asked for honesty, openness and willingness to form relationships. Boy, did He deliver! I began to understand we were all worthy of love. As one friend put it, “People aren’t like math, they’re like poetry. You don’t solve poetry, you delight in it.”

 

 

Still, I resisted calling myself “missionary” like my CCO friends did. I did not understand that our “missionary identity” was the Church’s teaching, not CCO’s. I resisted by arguing my life could preach a better sermon than my lips. But deep down I was simply scared of stepping outside of my comfort zone and challenging people to change. The truth is, I think most of us have no concept of what healthy evangelization looks like. We don’t see it, we’re not taught it in schools or mainstream media, so how would we know it’s possible? Most people I’ve talked to hear the word “evangelize” and immediately picture people going door-to-door, or a pushy relative making Christmas dinner very awkward. Over time spent in the Catholic community, however, I began to see it being lived out in a life-giving way. Seeing was believing in this case, and I started to value evangelization as a “good thing”- a risk worth taking. This final barrier to my “missionary conversion” came crumbling down in May 2010 when I participated in my first CCO mission, Montée Jeunesse in Ottawa. I saw irrefutable evidence that the Catholic Church teaches we are missionary by Baptism, not just because CCO says we are.

10373148_814763411915121_2206218616681297836_o

I began working as a nurse with the intent to share Christ at every opportunity. Nursing is a beautiful calling, but it left me spiritually and emotionally exhausted. I tried working as an RN on and off for 2 years but found it didn’t leave me enough time and energy for my true passion-evangelization. I longed for a workplace whose values matched my own, where it wouldn’t be so easy for my focus on Christ to become buried under a never-ending workload.

Meanwhile, I began leading CCO faith studies at my parish. After witnessing multiple conversions, I realized I needed to do this full time. I officially left my nursing career in May 2014, and joyfully began this new chapter working with CCO. I am so thankful for the love and example of the many people who helped me realize my call to staff. CCO missionaries revealed the love of a God who never stopped delighting in me, nor anyone else.

Leave a Reply