“If it were me, I would feel trapped.”
I had no idea how prophetic those words would become.
I had just told my Godmother that I was planning on moving in with my boyfriend of a year and half, and I promptly ignored her. Because of my choices, I had already allowed sin to take hold of me, and in the next two years I would allow it to trap me completely. I didn’t start out that way, though.
I was raised Catholic, and lived a fairly devout life. But like many people, I came from a broken home—my parents divorced when I was six years old. Even though I was the “token Catholic” in my group of friends in high school, I was very much influenced by the world. In fact, I was so good at justifying my behaviors and living like nothing was wrong that nobody truly knew the extent of my vices. I was watching pornography and committing sins of the flesh with myself and any boyfriends that I had on an almost daily basis. When I was sixteen I lost my virginity with a boy I had been dating for a little less than a year.
When I went away to college the next year he and I broke up, and I needed an attention fix. Eventually I started dating someone who, while generally a “good person,” was effectively an atheist. I allowed him to tease me about my faith (he called going to church “attending cult meetings”) and he and I were having sex on a fairly regular basis. All this time I was still going to Mass and even holding leadership positions in Catholic Campus Ministry. And I honestly thought I was fine. I would tell myself, “I’ll confess this when it feels like a sin.”
When I moved in with my boyfriend we essentially lived like we were married. I would get worried when he didn’t come home on time, we went to events as a couple (except church, of course), we had mutual friends, and we even had a pet together. After two years of dating our relationship started to sour, though, and I moved out of our apartment even though we agreed to keep dating. That time apart gave me the freedom to grow in my devotion to God.
That Christmas season, I felt a calling to grow closer to Mother Mary. And when I started listening to God, He told me something that broke my heart and gave me hope all at the same time: I would have to make a choice between my comfortable, sinful life or Him. On New Year’s Day 2011, I chose God.
I broke up with my boyfriend that day (kind of a jerk move, I know… “Happy New Year! I’m leaving you for Jesus!”). My new year’s resolution that year was to not date anyone for a year. I stopped watching pornography, and I started going to Eucharistic adoration on a regular basis. But, out of fear, I still avoided confession like the plague.
In February of 2011 I went on a Lenten retreat, and I worked up the courage to go to reconciliation. It was there that I confessed sexual sin for the very last time. After that I started going to confession almost weekly. And Lord knows I needed it! Because I was still attached to my vices, I was still finding my affirmation of beauty and worth in the attention I got from the opposite sex. The difference, though, was that I cared about my relationship with God enough to apologize to Him and repair it through confession.
One of the biggest lessons I learned in 2011 was that God can “write straight with crooked lines.” That summer I followed His will to study theology at the grad level, where I met the man who would eventually become my fiancé. In fact, he proposed to me on New Years Day 2013, exactly two years from the day I decided to rededicate my life to Christ.
If you’re struggling with the same things I struggled with, I need for you to know that there’s hope. God has the power to free you from your vices, but He’ll only do it if you let him. He loves you so much, and He’ll never abandon you, because even “if we are faithless, he remains faithful—for he cannot deny himself.” (2 Tim 2:13)