4. Why Catholic?: The Little Encounters

In my previous post, I talked about an encounter that a blind man had with Jesus and how it changed him. He could see, though he had been born blind. That’s monumental. But more often it’s the smaller things that bring people like me into the fold of Christianity. No, I have not had a terminal illness inexplicably cured or physical issue inexplicably resolved with the wave of a hand by a pastor, priest, guru or shaman. But I can relate to the alcoholic who can’t pull himself out of his mental or spiritual pit. It’s not as sexy, but like the daily interactions between a husband and wife – the smile here, the corny joke there, the poignant moment of suffering or joy shared between the two -, the little moments of encouragement and grace at the right time from God remind me that my higher power, my God, is not a myth.

Many mornings, I’ll wake up and have no motivation whatsoever to get out of bed – especially since my daughter has a habit of getting up no later than 5:30. And not one time have I ever asked God to help me find the motivation that something didn’t change in me. I literally feel the change. I’m suddenly ready. I’m suddenly up.

For the most part, I’ve just come to expect that when my emotions are all in flux, or something is bothering me or getting me down (this was especially true as a teenager), I just need five minutes on my knees, and I know I’ll be ok.

Whenever I have felt like God wanted me to do something I didn’t have the courage to do (or just outright didn’t want to do), if I asked for grace, it came to me. And I could do it. Not once has He failed me in this.

I have had longings so deep within me and so seemingly far-fetched that I dared not even ask for them in prayer. And one by one they’d happen, proving, as Jesus says, “The Father knows your needs before you even ask Him.”

I have gained wisdom to know what to do in difficult situations because I asked for it. I have been encouraged with just the right passage from Scripture at just the right time I needed to hear it – multiple times over.

And yes, there has been at least one big, “Wow! That’s a legit miracle!” moment in my life. I’ve had the spiritual “mountaintop experience.” But it’s back down in the valley that we discover whether God is really there or not. Or at least we discover whether the fact that God is really there actually matters. If He is just some cosmic clock-maker who winds up the universe and steps back, then I might as well be an atheist. But if in the warp and woof of life, I experience His presence and action, that’s a different thing entirely.

I realize that someone reading this will say, “Those are all just self-fulfilling prophecies. You want it to be, and so you change.” I’ve wondered myself whether that’s true. Of course, it could be. But often the simplest explanation is the right one. Me crying out to a fictitious invisible figure should get me nothing more than what one would think I’d get. Nothing tends to come from nothing. But if I cry out to the universe for help, and the universe helps me, maybe there’s something there. If I cry out to the void and the void answers back, maybe it’s not just a void out there. For me, the void has answered too many times for me to write it off.

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