What I’ve Been Most Looking For – Teresa
My parents were believers, people faithful in prayer and religious. Therefore, I grew up in a belief that God existed, that He was the Creator of the world, that He loved people and sent His Son to pay for our sins so that we could be with Him in heaven. On the other hand, I pursued salvation by keeping God’s commandments – and that caused disappointments.
I asked myself: “Is it all true? What’s the meaning of all of this?” I was asking those questions especially when my 7-year old friend died – it was a shocking experience: terror, despair, “why him? why now?” And during my preparation to the First Communion I asked a priest: “What happens to those who have never heard about God, about Jesus?” He answered: “Don’t worry; leave it to God.”
But the questions about the meaning of life – the meaning of my life – kept coming back. I was going to church and receiving sacraments, but all the time I had a feeling there was something missing, the unsolved matter of salvation.
In difficult and hopeless situations I earnestly prayed to God, pouring out my pain. The most difficult experiences were related to the birth of my fourth child and to healing the relationship between me and my oldest daughter.
God heard my prayers and helped me. I’m sure it was totally His work; mine was only the prayer.
Today I know I was acting intuitively, without any conscious support of God’s Word. And because I didn’t rely on His Word, I did all I could – reaching to my own resources and relying on my own strengths – to solve daily problems and to change myself, my wrong attitudes and thinking. The difficulty of that striving caused frustration. I even felt the change was impossible – I kept coming back to the beginning and saw no real improvement. At the same time I was disappointed with my life, with its triviality and cruelty.
On top of that I was afraid I would go to hell, because I was aware of my sins and believed that if I died without confessing them, all my life would be wasted. I thought it was absurd.
All those years God was putting on my path people who were helping me get to know my Creator and Savior.
The day before my wedding (which took place in 1973), our befriended priest gave us the Bible, saying: “Get on your knees and promise that you’ll be reading it every day.” We didn’t keep that promise.
In 1995, during confession, the priest asked me if I had a Bible at home. I answered “Yes,” somewhat offended, but then he asked if I was reading it – and here there was only shame. But apart from the shame there was also a recollection of the promise that I hadn’t kept.
I was to find and read five Psalms praising God. It was a really tough task for me. But my conscience kept reminding me that I had to do something about it.
At that time one of my friends came to faith. She began to attend Bible meetings, she was baptized. I started to notice changes in her behavior. One day she invited me to a meeting where I heard a prayer: “Lord Jesus, I need You. I acknowledge my sinful nature. I open the door of my life and accept You as my Lord and Savior. Thank You for dying for me on a cross and forgiving my sins. I ask for your guidance in my life. Make me the person You want me to be.” Then I immediately thought: “I want this!” and I repeated the words of that prayer.
And then, or maybe a little later, I understood what I had been looking for, what I had been missing all my life – it was that personal relationship with Christ. I realized there was nothing I had ever wanted more than this relationship. I understood that we received salvation by faith, as a gift of God’s grace, and through personal confession that Jesus was our only Lord and Savior, that He was the way to the Father.
From that moment I’ve seen myself as a conscious believer. I know God is holding me in His hand and will never let go. I’m His child for eternity.
I read and understand the Holy Scripture. I can clearly see how God has been leading me to Himself; how He’s working in my life, how He’s changing me from the inside, how He’s teaching me – through various, even difficult experiences. And all of this is to prepare me for the tasks He has planned for me. And I accept it with grateful heart, because I cannot find anything better in this world than living according to God’s will. My life has acquired meaning and taste. I live to glorify Him and it gives me a real joy and peace.
These last years have been a time of some fundamental changes in my spiritual life and in my attitude toward God and other people. It didn’t happen in the twinkling of an eye; it’s a process which has its own inner logic. No more “going back to the beginning” which had tortured me so much in the past. The first change I noticed was related to my anxiety about the future – I wasn’t afraid any more.
Today I have some troubles, but I know that my Father “works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” I also believe that nothing in life happens accidentally, and God wants me to trust Him and to confide to Him my worries in prayer. And that’s what I do.
Only a person who has experienced God in his soul and in his life, can be a true witness of God. And he can be the witness according to that experience.
Based on my own example I can safely say that it was God who loved me first – when I was desperately struggling with my sins – and it was Him who had been calling me so many, many times, until I answered: “Yes, Lord.”