Truth: I Am a Child of God
I have amazing parents who taught me what it means to be a beloved son. I could not ask for better parents. And yet, I struggle with my own identity as a child of God.
As the Director of Catechesis and Evangelization at my parish, I tell people all the time, young and old, how they are loved by God. I remind them that, before being a son, daughter, husband, wife, mother, father, etc… they are a beloved child of God. I certainly know this to be true, and I try to live out my own Baptismal call as well. So, why do I struggle so much with my identity as a child of God?
For many years, I have been sharing my Faith in God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Early on, I was attracted to the Truth of the Catholic Faith. At an early age, I accepted the Church’s teaching on the Eucharist and loved going to Mass. I eagerly learned more about Jesus, but looking back, I did not yet understand how to learn from Jesus. Knowing things about a person and knowing a person are two very different things.
In high school, I was often put in front of the Blessed Sacrament and told, “This is as close as I can get you to Jesus.” I believed it and I desired to love Jesus as best as I could. In retrospect, I did not understand what this sentence truly meant. My youth leader, as amazing an instrument of God as he is, could only give me the invitation. I had to accept it. My youth minister could bring me to Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament but he could not make me accepts Christ’s gift of love.
Early on in college, I met some evangelicals who invited me to their Bible study. I was very hesitant but figured that my knowledge of the Faith was strong enough to handle any issues that might arise. In my pride, I thought I did not have anything to learn. I could not have been more wrong. I witnessed men my age praying in a way that was unfamiliar to me. I had seen many adults in my life pray authentically and passionately but had rarely seen it in my peers. They drew me deeper into love of Jesus.
I was still very uncomfortable with the Person of the Holy Spirit early on in college, even though I know He was moving in me. I was very focused on the Truth of the Faith, but I was so stuck in my head that I did not pay attention to the Goodness and Beauty of the Faith. I followed the Holy Spirit’s promptings often, but I was not readily aware that I was doing so. This is the beauty of our God. Even if we do not recognize His presence, He is still there. Every good thing that we do begins in Him. Every time God draws us to Himself, through His Spirit, in His Son, it is His movement and our response.
Over time, I learned how to respond more intentionally to the Holy Spirit’s promptings and I was led further into the heart of Christ. I took seriously my relationship with Christ and continue to work to integrate my head and my heart. The more I pray, the more aware I am of God’s presence and working in my life and around me. But, I still struggled with my identity as a child of God.
Not the First
Adam, the first human child of God, lived in perfect friendship with God, but he lost this friendship when he let his trust in his Creator die. As a baptized Christian, I am a child of God who has been made a co-heir with Christ. But, like Adam, I choose time and time again to let my trust in my Father die. And time and time again, He welcomes me home through the grace of the Sacrament of Penance. He binds me closer to Him in the Sacrament of the Eucharist.
Recently, I was given a powerful reminder of a Father who relentlessly pursues His children. I was reminded that the Holy Spirit was sent to draw us to Christ. Christ was sent to reconcile us to our Father in Heaven. It is one thing to know this and it is another thing to embrace this identity.
I was before the Blessed Sacrament in Adoration and the song “No Longer Slaves” by Bethel Music was being played by the worship leader. The beautiful lyrics of this song reminded me of my own reality. I was reminded of every time that the Father split the seas in my life so that I could walk through them. I was reminded of every time that my fears and doubts were drowned by His perfect love. I was reminded of every time that the Father rescued me from sin so that I could stand in His triumph and love Him.
It was in this beautiful, grace-filled moment that I accepted my identity in an authentic way. It was not an emotional experience, nor was it an intellectual exercise. It was one of the most powerful moments of conversion in my life where I simply submitted my will to the will of the Father and the grace that He was pouring upon me. I gazed upon the face of the Father’s love in Christ’s sacramental presence. I was convicted by the Spirit to dive deep into the Father’s love. I stood and sang without apprehension:
“I’m no longer a slave to fear. I am a child of God.”