December - 2013


God In The Little Things
Abby Reno
You Are God's Dream Project
Father Roy Palatty, C.M.I.
A Story Worth Living
Joe Philip
1 of 3 articles

God In The Little Things

Abby Reno

I always felt a bit excluded. By junior year, I felt that friends from freshman and sophomore year were avoiding me. To the outside world, I seemed to be doing well: I had good grades, seemed to hang out with people, and had a boyfriend. However, internally, I was miserable. I felt that everyone had turned against me. My stress level was so high. I would go through the motions at school, skip lunch, come home, argue with my parents if they asked anything, and go to bed. Rinse and repeat.

During all this, I could not talk to my parents or my boyfriend. I felt that if I told my parents about my problems, they would not understand me, or if they did understand me, that they would be upset with me. When I thought about turning to God, I had grown so distant from Him that I felt it was too hard to go back. I just projected onto God all my feelings of not being good enough and I just let my relationship with Him continue to drift. With no one left to talk to, I cried myself to sleep so many nights. I basically stopped eating. I started getting a lot of dark thoughts and then one day, I just started to hurt myself. I felt like everyone else was hurting me, so what did it matter if I joined in?

I remember all too well the first night I cut myself. I remember what I was wearing, I remember what was running through my mind, and I remember crying, thinking how disappointed my parents would be in me.  I remember the exact feeling, the pain, not just physically, but the emotional and mental pain. I remember how I wanted my old life back. I remember thinking, “This, this will make it all better. It’ll calm me down. It’ll make me actually feel something again.”

Not too long after, my grades took a turn for the worse. I hated myself. I hated my friends. I hated my life. With the cutting in the background, I started engaging in other destructive activities too. I found myself attending parties where there was heavy drinking, where there were couples in bedrooms, and in situations where I had to constantly lie to my parents. I lied, and I lied, and I lied. I lied about whose house I was going to, I lied about what I was doing that night, and I lied to myself saying that it was okay for me to do all this stuff because everyone else was doing it too.

Hanging out with my boyfriend turned into what he wanted to do. I knew deep down that he would never pressure me to do anything, but I began to believe that he would like me more if I gave him what I thought he wanted sexually.

It was then I knew I was a fake. All my relationships were fake, and I was starting to believe that since God was not visibly present in my life that my relationship with Him was fake too.

After a year on this spiral, I was tired. I was tired of drinking to fit in with seniors. I was tired of being lied to by friends. I was tired of desperately looking for people to hang out with to wanting to be completely alone within the same day. I was tired of feeling used and tired of fighting for a relationship that was already dead. I was tired of secretly cutting but not knowing how to stop. I was tired of staying up at night crying to myself, but unable to cry out to God.

It was at the end of my junior year that things finally changed. I think most people are waiting for a dramatic conclusion to a story about a terrible year of a high school kid’s life. But my terrible year was really about a lot of little things that slowly built up over time before reaching a breaking point. It would make sense that God would use the same method and work through a lot of little things to break through to me. He used the summer. He used a school retreat. He used a few teachers and a school chaplain. He used a lot of small things, including regular Sunday Masses and some great (and even some boring) homilies, to really wake me up.

In the middle of a bad year, it is so easy to stop being thankful. It was the last thing that I thought about but it was probably the most important thing that I learned that summer leading into my senior year. I got some help from a few adults in my life. I went to Confession. I started to listen and talk with God again. It took months, really. Slowly, almost without even realizing it, I started to change. I was not so mad anymore. I was still tempted to cut, but the urge was not so strong. It was like chains slowly falling off my arms.

I was still a mess of fears and insecurities, but I started to believe again that I was more than my problems. I was not just a collection of mistakes and misunderstandings. I had worth because I had a God who called me His before anyone else had a claim to me. I still could not open up to my parents about everything, but I started spending more time with my family and learning to let them love me the best they could (which was more than I gave them credit for!). Through God’s grace, I had the courage to break off the relationship with my boyfriend.

I have come to realize that through all my struggles, God really was with me the whole time. He was there through the self-harm and broken relationships. He was there when I failed at loving others and myself. He was there on the days that I hated everyone. He is here for me now even as He was there for me on the Cross. Even though I still have a long way to go, I know that I am not alone. God will be with me as I work on letting Him heal wounds, break habits, and grow into the woman He calls me to be.

Having come a long way, I get opportunities to share my story with other girls as part of youth retreats that other students get to go on during school. It's been an awesome opportunity to let God take the messiness of my mistakes and see Him use it to reach others. When we're broken and when we're blessed, He's always there inviting us to heal and bring healing to others.

ABBY RENO is a thriving college freshmen who has served as a retreat leader for her high school youth group and is always looking for new opportunities on campus to grow with others in her faith.

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