In the parable of the Lost Sheep, found in the Gospels of Matthew and Luke, Jesus tells us that the shepherd leaves his flock of 99 sheep in order to find the one who is lost. It is a story of God’s immense love and compassion as He seeks to find those who are lost. I was that lost sheep.
My story begins in 1983 when I met my husband and fell in love. We got married shortly thereafter and began our life together. We then had two children and I considered our simple life complete. I created for myself a false sense of security by placing my husband in the center of all my needs. Unfortunately, I had not made a place for God. Our daughters received their sacraments, but regretfully, we did not practice our faith. Shortly thereafter my husband’s career advanced, requiring him to be away from home a lot. This was devastating for me as I had revolved my life around him through an unhealthy dependence. I now understand the true meaning of the first commandment. "I am the Lord thy God, thou shalt have no other gods before me" How many times do we revolve our lives around the wrong priorities? Do we create false gods for ourselves? For the following 10 years l felt alone and lost. Still not realizing that I was missing God in my life, I turned to the evil of substance abuse. The addiction separated me from all those that I love and it created an even greater void in my life. This continued until 2013 when I finally surrendered to professional help.
Now I look back and see how God came looking for me as I was the lost sheep. In my new state of surrender, God was able to start His merciful work of healing. He started putting people in my life with messages that I needed to hear. l cannot remember why l drove myself to the parish that I now call home. One Sunday morning I was sitting in the back pew listening to a Deacon talk about his depression, lost life and being found again. He even broke down emotionally at the pulpit. I now realize that God brought me to that church on that particular Sunday to hear a message that my heart so desperately needed. God spoke to me through the Deacon. God saved my life. The following Monday l called the parish office and l, broken, lost and alone made an appointment with this Deacon. He introduced me to Jesus and welcomed me back home. He explained how much Jesus loves me and wants a relationship with me. He invited me back to church and counselled me in his Ministry. Slowly the church became my home too.
God reached out to me in many ways. Another powerful moment occurred during my workday in the school. I found myself in the school office one morning during announcements. This was not my regular routine as I am usually in a classroom at that time. A student was reciting the poem Footprints as the prayer of the day. The words penetrated my heart deeply. For the first time in my life, I realized that Jesus was always right there beside me and carrying me through the most difficult times of my life. In my darkest moments of feeling unworthy, it was His love that carried me. He was there but I ignored Him. l started crying uncontrollably. I felt the need for the healing power of the Sacrament of Reconciliation. The principal drove me to church where l received the most beautiful confession. Emptying my heart gave me the greatest sense of peace that can only come from God.
Today, I am 8 years free of addiction. My heart is filled with love from God. Jesus picked me up, introduced me to the right parishioners who have helped me grow spiritually, emotionally, mentally and into an independent woman. I am involved with a number of Ministries in the church. I was even asked to be a Eucharist and Pastoral Minister. What an honour to now be able to bring Jesus to others! Jesus is my best friend, and He is with me always… sometimes through a bird singing while l walk, sometimes through a friend’s words or a reading, a song or a homily. He’s there no matter what I am facing in life. He came looking for me when I was lost ….and all l had to do was open my heart to receiving Him.