Christian often feels a restless longing to find deeper meaning in life, but wrestles with feeling distant from God and the Church. He’s a seeker. Here’s his story about how a simple meal with a good friend changed his perspective on what he was looking for — and how to find it.
I woke up one Sunday morning realizing that it had been a little while since I went to Mass.
I was in my early 20’s, I did not have family to nudge me out of bed on Sundays, and friends offered little help. On the days I did find myself at Mass, I felt torn. It was hard to explain my need to foster a spiritual life to my friends — especially amid the abuse crisis within the Church. Our conversations would echo in my head, my peer’s critiques mixing with my own confusion.
I still longed for a relationship with God, but it was hard for me to think of myself as being part of the Church in a meaningful way. There are times, I must admit, that I took my disappointment with the Church and my own longing for deeper meaning and packed them away in a box and labeled the whole thing bogus.
Yet whenever that longing returned, I had questions: Where do I go now? What should I do?
There were many voices around me who were ready to supply answers to my dilemma. Many were eager to provide thoughtful theological explanations or suggestions of prayer practices in hopes of making my journey a bit lighter. I continue to be grateful to those fellow people and their desire to make my journey less burdensome, but the questions in my heart were ones that had to be lived rather than answered. I was looking for people to walk with me as I lived my questions — people who would not try to answer my restlessness, but who accompanied me as I explored it for myself.
I shared my experience with my buddy, Eric, who seemed to be wandering and seeking a spiritual home in a similar way. On a snowy afternoon, we shared two large bowls of pho and gave each other permission to enter into each other’s story. That evening we shared the questions we’d been wrestling with, which seemed to come down to a desire to find a courageous community.
It was this friendship that gave me a glimpse of what being Church together could be: Maybe that’s what it’s really about, I thought. As we sat there with room-temperature soup before us on the table, we were able to remember who we were and who God is. When we shared it with each other, in the simplicity of a meal, the seeking itself became something holy and good.
In my journey of faith, there are times when the only spiritual practice I can muster is seeking. Even if it has taken some time, it has been through this practice that I have discovered something intimate, real, and true. I have learned to trust that God meets me in my seeking and is patient enough to accompany me, even within the questions and confusion I experience.
I am a seeker. I am a Catholic. I am healing, growing, and trying to discover what it means to be a Christian and part of the Church again. Now I know that the questions and seeking aren’t challenges to my spiritual life — they are my spiritual life, because they help me reach for what’s holy and good.
It’s not about getting my life figured out so I can arrive at Church, finally ready and clean and certain enough to enter. It’s about being real enough to see that God is encountering me here-and-now, on the way.