Have you ever thought that your way was the right way and that your truth was the only truth? Well, I have. The first 50 years of my life were spent with that mindset. Sure, I am a cradle Catholic; I’d received my sacraments, and still figured that whatever I decided to do in life was the best decision. Yes, my decision, not God’s. Boy, was I wrong!
On my way to work one day about 15 years ago I had an epiphany. I was thinking about the choices I had made in my life that had brought only temporary happiness. Why was that? Then, I realized that the happiness I had been searching for was there all of the time, right there beside me in the car. It was Jesus Christ. It was then that I gave my life to Jesus Christ. So, that sounds like the magical cure, right? Wrong. But, it was a start.
When I got home that afternoon, I told my husband that I was going to Mass on Sunday. “Not just this Sunday, but every Sunday after that. If you want to go with me that would be great, but if not, I’m still going.” That was a start to the most amazing journey of my life.
Soon, I attended a CEW (Christian Experience Weekend). I was moved beyond words. Something was still missing; I saw other women who were so filled with the Holy Spirit! What did they have that I didn’t? I wanted to be like them. This faith-filled weekend led to several more as I was invited to join the CEW team in several different arenas. I was able to share my story, honestly and with passion, with new CEW attendees. I served other ministries as well and began to feel more at peace with myself and my faith. But I still felt like something was missing. What was it?
I am a parishioner at Our Lady of the River in LeClaire. I have served our parish family on RCIA (Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults), Family Life and Parish Council throughout the past 15 years. Still, I saw something in others that I did not see in myself and I wanted that.
Then I read an article in The Catholic Messenger written by a woman who had attended the Called and Gifted Program. It was a great article; however, her story surely didn’t apply to me. The author had already been involved in many programs at her church and had a strong faith foundation. At Mass one Sunday she was enveloped with peace and her heart became full of joy. What does that feel like? I thought to myself. I’m not there, yet. Would I ever be?
One Sunday after Mass I saw Called and Gifted application brochures in our church vestibule and tentatively picked one up to take home. A few days later I was at church checking on something for Family Life and ran into a fellow parishioner who had been through the most recent Called and Gifted program. I asked her a little about it and she explained why God has chosen me to attend the upcoming session. She was sharing one of her gifts with me. I cried. I signed up.
The Called and Gifted Program gave me so much to think about. It taught me that I was good, and how to work on erasing the past. It has made me aware of the gifts God has given me; he has given gifts to all of us. I’m experiencing joy in ways that all of my past experiences didn’t provide. The Holy Spirit is continually prompting each of us to discover the ways God calls us to serve others. Isn’t that what it’s really about? Isn’t that what Jesus has always wanted us to do? With a new lens, I find joy in the smallest acts of kindness because I try to see it as Jesus would. Jesus will take your simplest gifts and do wondrous things with them. You can do this. I did.
(Editor’s note: A Called and Gifted class will be offered Monday nights from 6:30-9 p.m. beginning Sept. 12 at Our Lady of Lourdes Parish, 1506 Brown St., Bettendorf. Session I meets Sept. 12-Oct. 10 and Session II meets Oct. 17, 24, Nov. 7, 21 and Dec. 5. Contact Cheryl Brogla-Krupke for more information: firstname.lastname@example.org or (563) 343-2834.)