John K.

John K.

from MO
Story #310
You know my life before God looked pretty good from the outside: good job, great wife, nice home, and a career that paid me more than I had dreamed possible. Those who knew me thought I was on solid ground with the Lord. I was an elder in the church I was attending, a member of the Men's Wednesday Morning Breakfast, Led the Older, Wiser, Livelier club, and even sponsored speaking events at the Church. Yep, life looked pretty grand to the casual observer. It was pretty much all a sham.

Even as great as life was, I wasn't satisfied. I didn't pray outside Church. Couldn't remember the last time I held a Bible. My addictive personality led me down some pretty dark corridors. The only thing that saved me from drug addiction, I'm sure was the fact that my company tested regularly and randomly--but anything else a man can be addicted to--I bought in-- much to the chagrin of my wife and family. I eventually lost everything I loved and cared about. I ended up divorced, broke, and completely alone. And still I didn't go to God.

I lived without a connection to God, but the passing years brought some healing. Through a new relationship with a young woman, Sarah, I met during my return to college. I reinvigorated my relationship with my children. Going to school full-time and working 80+ hours per week I was working hard to gain back the life I lost. I was in my Junior level courses as a pre-Med student and getting ready to start the application process to medical schools. Still living with Sarah--unmarried. Then I caught a cold--but with my schedule could not stop to be treated--the virus went to my heart. I ended up in the hospital with stage IV heart failure.

After leaving school and on a boat-load of meds I started working for a local pharmacy as a sales rep--and became reacquainted with some friends I knew in my previous career. One of them asked me to come to a Men's Group at the Catholic Church. I started attending pretty regularly and made some friends. I shared my struggles with purity and addictions and several men shared their struggles as well. Eventually I was asked to become a table leader--to which I said, "I'm not Catholic". They insisted that that didn't matter. I made several friends including my friends Mike and Josh--they both kept after me to go to Mass. I hadn't been to Mass since I was nine years old.

I became a weekly attendee at Mass, I began my prayer life a-new, I began to yearn for the Eucharist (what Catholics call Communion). But one thing stood in my way--Confession which the Church calls, more appropriately reconciliation. I was 39 at the time--after speaking to the Priest I decided it was time to return to the Church completely. As I was writing out my confession (isn't it funny how we can remember every sin we've ever committed) I started at the time of my last confession and moved forward through thirty years of sin--and I mean everything I could remember. By the time that I got finished writing it out it was seven pages single-spaced both sides of the paper. I prayed for strength as I made my appointment with Father so that I might be brave enough to keep it.

The Reconciliation took place on a beautiful Spring day just before Easter. While most of the time this happens in the "box" for one of this nature Father preferred an appointment in his office. So there I sat, next to Father, not able to look him in the eye as I read through my list of everything I had done wrong in 30 years. It took 45 minutes. And then he said the words of absolution to me, "Your sins are forgiven, go in peace." I started to cry. (I'm tearing up now at the remembrance.) The weight of thirty years of sin was lifted from my shoulders in that instant. It was at this time that I fully understood my conversation with Father weeks prior. “Didn’t Jesus die for my sins, aren’t I forgiven through Him?” I challenged. He said “Forgiveness of sin - all sin - is only accomplished by the Sacrifice of Calvary. The sacraments (baptism, reconciliation...) are channels by which the Lord allows that forgiveness to flow into our lives.” In all my years of sin where I had fallen to my knees begging for God’s mercy, crying out for forgiveness, it had never felt complete as it did in that moment. Father had explained that Jesus Christ understood that as humans we needed to "hear" that we are forgiven. This is why we are told to confess our sins one to another. Other than the birth of my children, this was the most amazing thing I had experienced. My soul, which had spent the better part of my life mortally wounded, came back to life.

The world looked completely different afterwards. I became kinder, less frustrated, and more accepting of my life. God removed so many barriers for me. I was able to marry Sarah in the Church despite having been divorced. That made me incredibly happy, to truly give myself to my bride. Christ has touched every part of my life, personally, professionally, but most of all spiritually. Learning to live loved and being a healed healer is my new mission.

I would love to tell you that I'm perfect--bur if you're reading this--you know that's impossible. But Christ lives in me. And I'm satisfied with that.

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