by Blaise Jirak, Truth for Youth Team Leader
Why be "good" and avoid sin and unhealthy habits now when I can do that when you're older?
This is a question that I really struggled with before my conversion, and if you have this struggle, you're not alone. I want to tell the story of my conversion, and I hope it can help you find an answer to this question so you can truly live the joy of the joyful life and not the life of despair, depression, and anxiety that is so common these days.
I was born and raised a Christian in a great family. I had a lot of things going for me. I was smart, had friends, and a loving family. But in the 8th-grade year, I started to feel restlessness, anxiety and despair. It kept growing, and it never really stopped. I looked for solutions to this problem, some of them were not the best for me. I found myself giving into harmful behaviors much more often and started to isolate myself. At this point, I had no prayer life. I still would go to Mass with my family on the weekends, but I was going through the motions, and my heart wasn't in it at all. But little did I know everything was going to change.
My mom signed me up for a weekend retreat over the summer. I honestly didn't want to go, but some of my friends were going, so I agreed. On the retreat I met a lot of joyful people and if I am being honest they annoyed me. Looking into this now, I was just envious of their joy and couldn't stand it because I didn't have it. Little did I know they were opening me up to the truth, and since my restlessness was growing, they helped me ponder the possibility of something more.
On the last night, the leaders of the retreat invited us to do a holy hour of prayer. I pretty much gave in and decided to open up and just pray. In prayer I said "I am sorry I haven't been living the life I could be. I am just so sorry, can you forgive me God?"
After a while, I started to feel peace, calm, and joy. It was extraordinary after living in restlessness so long. This peace changed me so much. I began to get very emotional. I realized that this was one of the only times in my life I had really prayed. The restlessness in my heart was gone, and it never came back.
This was only the beginning. After this, I devoted myself to daily prayer, and I am glad to say my life has never been the same. I can testify that the joy of the Christian life has been so intense I haven't gone back to the way things were before. So here is the answer to the big question I began with: it's joy. A life without the Christian joy isn't worth it. I hope my story can shed a little light in the culture of darkness we live in. I will end with my favorite quote,