The Thief of Joy

I used to be jealous of people who had experienced intense experiences of conversion. People who were living their lives moving in one direction, only to have God erupt onto the scene and dramatically change things. People who would say that God revealed Himself to them, in a specific moment and in a way that changed their lives forever. 

I remember feeling really insecure hearing people share stories like that in my late teens and early twenties as I was beginning to make my faith my own. My story hadn’t been like that at all. God hadn’t swept into my life at my darkest hour, trumpets blasting and telling me to turn things around, telling me that He loved me. No, my journey with the Lord had been (and still is) more gradual. He slowly reveals more of Himself to me as I am willing to accept it. He did change my life forever, but it was a cumulative change that was the sum of years of small experiences, not one big one.

I’m grateful that now I can see my story for the beautiful truth that it is, but for years I was genuinely insecure about it. Honestly I was worried that my experience was less meaningful and authentic than others and at times I was even afraid that that experience somehow meant that I was doing something wrong. 

In early July, it was the feast of St Thomas, he who is probably better known as Doubting Thomas. In the moment that earned him his unfortunately memorable title, Saint Thomas isn’t present when the rest of the twelve encounter the Lord. Then shortly afterward, not having had the same experience that they did, Thomas tells his fellows that He cannot believe.

I have felt that same doubt that Thomas has. I’ve been the one who didn’t have an intense experience and was tempted towards doubt or insecurity because of it. In particular, I’ve let the ways that God has revealed Himself to those around me lessen the beauty of my own experiences of His grace. But here’s the thing, the Catechism of the Catholic Church tells us that faith is both a grace and a human act (CCC 154). 

Shortly after Thomas does finally see Jesus and experience Him, Jesus says to him “Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed.” Belief is also a choice.

I need to be grateful for the gift that my story is and still ask for the grace to continue to choose to believe. I also need to accept my story for what it is and accept myself for who I am. I’ve heard it said that comparison is the thief of joy and I never want to let anything steal the joy of my personal, unique relationship with God.

Graeme Vanden Dungen, NET Staff