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Jan 30, 2022 1216 Mary Smith
Encounter

Unmerited Grace

Drinking, smoking and freely doing whatever I wished left me empty

All my life, God has showered me with grace, even though I was undeserving. I always wondered, “Why Lord? I am such an imperfect sinner.” Without hesitation, an answer always came back reassuring me of His love for me.

Saint Faustina’s Diary, describes His mercy so beautifully, “Although sin is an abyss of wickedness and ingratitude, the price paid for us can never be equaled. Therefore, let every soul trust in the Passion of the Lord, and place its hope in His mercy. God will not deny His mercy to anyone. Heaven and earth may change, but God’s mercy will never be exhausted.” (Diary of Saint Maria Faustina Kowalska,72).

Countless firsthand experiences of Our Lord’s grace and mercy has transformed my faith and enabled me to grow into deeper intimacy with Him. 

Worldly Ways 

In today’s society, it is hard to find young adults or teens who practise their faith daily. The allure of the material world is strong. As a 24-year-old, I have personally experienced this. For almost 8 years, as a teenager and young adult, I valued the opinion of the world above God. I was known as the party girl—drinking, smoking, and freely doing whatever I wished. Everyone around me was in the same boat and we enjoyed what we were doing even though there was no fulfillment in it. 

During this period of my life, I still went to church on Sundays but didn’t fully understand my faith. My parents sent me to a lot of retreats when I was growing up. Although I always had supernatural experiences and encounters with Jesus, I was still stuck in the ways of the world. The experiences at the retreats made me curious about faith but that did not last long. I would soon return to partying and drinking with my friends and forget all my good resolutions. I think many people my age have a similar story.

 It took me about 8 years to realize that there was more to life than material pleasures and by the grace and help of God I was able to turn away from the ways of the world and seek Him in everything. I finally found fulfillment in Him because He gives a joy that is everlasting, not fleeting. However, before I was able to fully turn away from worldly pleasures, I tried to keep one foot in the world while trying to stay on the path that the Lord had laid out for me. I discovered that it was a balancing act which I couldn’t manage. 

Healing

Initially, I thought I was doing well in my faith journey and even studied towards a Theology degree. Although, I had always focused more on myself than relationships with guys, I was trying to make my relationship with God my top priority. However, I hadn’t given up my attachment to alcohol, drugs and the party lifestyle. A new relationship with a guy began escalating rapidly and we started being sexually intimate although I knew it was something God was asking me to turn away from. Alcohol and drugs helped to dull me to the fact that I was still living in sin and failing miserably at overcoming my temptations.

But, in His mercy, the Lord gave me a wakeup call. On the second occasion that I was sexually intimate with this guy, I was suddenly stabbed with a terrible pain. Although, it was Christmas Eve, I went to the ER where they discovered that cyst had ruptured during sexual intimacy. They recommended that I see my OB/GYN doctor as soon as possible, but because of the Christmas holiday and the weekend, I spent several days in pain before I could get an appointment. She did further tests to find out why I was still in so much pain and told me that she would call as soon as the results came in. 

On New Year’s Eve, I spent a long time at church, going to Mass and praying in front of Our Lord in the tabernacle. I felt so embarrassed and unworthy, and the pain was unremitting. I hurt inside and out. I pulled out my phone to read a passage from the Bible and saw that I had missed a call from my doctor’s office, so I stepped outside to call back. The nurse told me that when they had tested me for Sexually Transmitted Diseases, I had a positive result for gonorrhea. I stood there shocked, not knowing what to say, so I asked the nurse to repeat what she just said. It still didn’t seem real, but she told me that everything would be okay if I just came in for a shot. It would all be gone. Collapsing back into a pew, I cried my heart out to God in regret for my actions, sorrow for the consequences and relief that it could be healed. I thanked Him over and over again and promised that I would make amends. 

After I got the shot, I was disappointed that there was still so much pain. When would it finally be gone? After another day huddled at home in pain, waiting impatiently for an end to this agony, I felt the Holy Spirit encouraging me to pray for healing as I listened to the song “House of Miracles” by Brandon Lake.

 During the part of the song where the healing prayer begins, I felt overcome by the Holy Spirit moving in me. My hands that were raised in the air to praise the Lord, slowly started moving over my lower abdomen at the Lord’s command. As my hands rested there, I prayed for healing over and over again and begged God to give me relief from this pain. I began spontaneously praying in tongues. Just as the prayer ended and the song finished, I felt something physically leave my body. I cannot explain it fully, but I felt that something supernatural was being cleansed from my body. I pressed down on my abdomen where all the pain had been, but not a single twinge remained. I was stunned that I had gone from excruciating pain to nothing at all in the space of a song and felt so grateful for what Jesus had done for me. I half-expected the pain to return, but it didn’t. Throughout that day there was never any pain and the days after, and I knew in that moment Jesus healed me. I had experienced healing in my life before physically and inwardly, but this was different. Although I felt so unworthy to receive His healing because I had brought the ailment upon myself, I praised and thanked God for showing me such mercy. In that moment, I felt enveloped in God’s merciful love again. 

Transformation

We live in a fallen world, and will all fall short of His plan for our lives at some time and in different ways. However, God does not condemn us to stay trapped in our sin. Instead, He waits with grace and mercy to pick us back up and guide us back to Him. He patiently waits with open arms. I have experienced this many other times. When I invite Him in to be present in my pain and brokenness, He transforms me, nourishes my faith and helps me to understand Him more deeply. The world has many distractions in which we can find temporary pleasure, but Jesus is the only one who can satisfy fully, completely, and unendingly. No amount of partying, alcohol, drugs, money or sex can equal to what He can offer each of us. I have learned through bitter experience that true joy can only be found by fully surrendering and trusting Him in everything. When I examine my intentions through the lens of His love, I find true happiness and bring glory to God by sharing His love.

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Mary Smith

Mary Smith is one among the many young people who go through faith crisis. Her bold testimony is a sure wake up call to many youngsters.

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