I don't normally talk about faith here, but I wanted to talk about faith because on Easter Sunday I came across the most amazing church but the journey didn't just start there. I have always had a great relationship with Christ. In times of joy, fear, or sorrow, I pray to him. This relationship with God went through waves while I was in college.
I grew up in the Catholic church and went to CCD every Wednesday. I was a devout Catholic and went to church despite not feeling inspired. From my experience, most kids can't stand to sit through an hour long mass but that was what "going to church" was like for us. CCD was a little more tolerable, especially as we got older. One of my friends' dads became our weekly instructor for class and he was an awesome guy. Those classes were far more inspirational than any mass with instilling a sense of faith. I didn't want the Catholic church to me by sole source for the word of God, because most of us were cafeteria Catholics, picking and choosing what fit into our lives. Plus as I got older and confirmation rolled around, I found myself disagreeing with most of the religious doctrine to the point where I really didn't follow enough of it to probably be considered a devout Catholic. However, my family being Filipino-Irish were all Catholics and I went through the entire process of holy sacraments.
When I got to college, I went to Catholic Church a few times on my own. Ash Wednesday is one of my favorite masses and Palm Sunday as a kid always meant turning the palms into crosses with my mom. I held it dear as many Catholic celebrations brought up wonderful family memories. However in college, I met other people who took me to other Christian organizations and I fell in love with their style of worship. I've always loved to sing, ever since I was little kid. That was my favorite aspect of mass, even though the music can be a bit archaic (it's just not my type). Worshipping with other Christians and singing contemporary music was so uplifting. For me, singing is like praying twice. I love it.
However that didn't mean that I always liked the message that was being portrayed. I found myself attending one college service for the excellent worship and going to Greek InterVarsity for the small group unity. Greek InterVarsity is a Christian organization that assists the Greek system (sororities and fraternities) in finding their way to Christ. Eric and Jen, two of our advisors, were this fantastic young married couple who were always welcoming and so filled with love. With their assistance, I went to two-three Greek conferences in Indiana and loved attending our weekly meetings to talk about God. I had a great time with them and wish I would have made more time for them in my later years at college. At one Greek IV conference they had a guest speaker who was just completely ignorant to the world around him and spoke of his mission trip to the Philippines and was mocking the culture and traditions there. I was infuriated and Jen and Eric did a phenomenal job of supporting me through that really confusing event. Although it was a poor choice in speakers and not the organization, I had a difficult time going back to group events like that. Faith journeys are already fragile as is, with people coming from so many different areas of life, to have an a-hole of a speaker like that was the last thing I needed.
I rarely went to church in college, just because of my crazy schedule, but when I did go, I loved attending a church in Madison called Blackhawk. The Evangelical church is so beautiful and I loved the community there. They were even kind enough to provide buses for the students to take them to the church and back to campus. They also created a program where church members could "adopt" a college student and I met an amazing family through that program. They were such a wonderful part of my freshman year of college and even celebrated holidays with me.
As fun as the experience of that church provided another perspective, I still allowed excuses to fill in my everyday and I was still seeking to grow my relationship with God.
Ryan was never truly into going to church services so we didn't really ever attend church in Oceanside while he was stationed at Camp Pendleton. While I was at training in the central coast of California, my roommate and I found a church to attend and at first it seemed right up my alley. Then the pastor started doing really weird sermons and started preaching in a way that I didn't appreciate. It got the point where my roommate and I chose not to volunteer at the church or attend services.
I was becoming more and more frustrated because I thought that I was going to have to settle for a church that I was less than thrilled with. I would see on Instagram or through other bloggers, really fantastic church communities that really focused on love and in a way, loved like Jesus did. When we moved to Montana, my quest to find another church continued.
Around this time I found pastor Jarrid Wilson on Instagram and he describes himself as a gospel sharing misfit. He doesn't look like a typical pastor and that in itself intrigued me. He was just another young person looking to share God's word. I spent like an hour looking over his blog and Instagram feed and he was just an inspiring person. I bought his book 30 Words and have loved his young person perspective towards the word of the Lord. I definitely want to see one of his sermons in person some day and he'll be getting married in like less than a month to his beautiful fiancee. They seem like such awesome people, couldn't be happier. Definitely check out his blog and he also has podcasts that you can download for free on iTunes.
Jarrid sparked an interest in me to really look for a church home instead of just a place to go to church, if that makes sense? So when Easter rolled around, Ryan was attending our friends' wedding in California and I was still in Montana. I decided to attend Easter mass with a couple that we're good friends with. I was excited to open my heart to Lord, especially since we have a lot to be joyous for when it comes to Easter. I was rudely made aware of why I don't like Catholic mass as the priest was all over the place. It was the worst homily I had ever heard, and I've attended Catholic mass for 18 years. It was disappointing and left a bad taste in my mouth. I felt like God was speaking to me and was saying that the mass I attended wasn't meant for me and I needed to seek a different experience. The mass got out at 10:20 and I found out that a non-denominational church that I was interested in was having another service at 11:00. I went over there and it reminded me of a smaller version of Blackhawk. Everyone was so incredibly friendly and welcomed me with open arms. The worship was inspiring and the sermon was captivating. I wholeheartedly took in God's word that day and could not wait to go to next Sunday's service. I couldn't wait to share this with my friends and declare this place as my new church home. I don't normally do that and this is the first church that I've felt truly connected to. The "next" service was today's and it was just as inspiring as the last. I am so excited, happy, and thrilled to grow in my relationship with God and grow with this church.