You never know what you’re missing until you finally have it. That’s how it works with Jesus too. My entire life I thought I knew Jesus—I grew up Catholic, went to church every Sunday, etc. What else would I have to do? Wasn’t I being a good Christian just by going to church and believing in God? There were periods during my life when I would pray every night and list off a bunch of things I wanted and people I knew. Perhaps on paper I seemed like a devout Christian, but it was meaningless. It wasn’t personal. I didn’t truly allow Jesus into my heart or into my life. I turned to him whenever things got hard, but I stayed guarded, afraid of getting closer to him than necessary. As a result, I remained restless.
I constantly searched. I searched for something to fill me up and soothe my restless soul. I thought it was boredom. I thought I could be satisfied with the next book, the next movie, or the next person. I blamed my dissatisfaction on the things I didn’t have. If only I had this, I would tell myself, then I would be happy. But every time it was never enough. Once I finished the next book, the emptiness would become more evident and the restlessness would be impossible to ignore. I never stopped, I never listened, and I never considered the reason for it. I had heard from many different people that, “there is a God-shaped hole in our hearts” that makes every human being long for him, but I decided not to acknowledge this obvious truth because I knew it would infringe on my comfortable lifestyle and routine. I still pursued Jesus, yet it was on my own terms.
I remember complaining during high school that it felt as if there was a wall up between God and me. Why was it so hard? Why couldn’t I get closer to him?
Here’s what I realized: God never moves. Only you do. The problem was I didn’t really want to move closer, to be open to him because I knew that I would have to change. I didn’t want to lose my friends or become a different person. I didn’t want to have to do difficult or uncomfortable things.
However, when I finally gave in and decided to open myself up more personally to Jesus, I discovered some amazing truths. Even the difficult and uncomfortable things are worth it. Now, no matter what hardships I must face in life, I have a sense of inner peace that makes them all more bearable. I can more readily fight off the Devil’s attempt to bring me down, even in the smallest things—like my stress from locking my keys in my car, or my frustration at breaking my sunglasses. Jesus permeates my life so that he fills the space in my heart that no temporal or material thing could ever satisfy.
So, how did I let Jesus in and how can you do the same? Here are some simple steps that can change your life.
1. Prayer Meetings are the perfect place to meet Jesus. I’ve made a lot of significant spiritual progress at prayer meetings, especially at Pine Hills Girls’ Camp during the summer and Beloved on Wednesday nights. If you tend to be more reserved like I am, it doesn’t necessarily mean you should express it exactly like the more enthusiastic people with hands raised high, belting their hearts out. I can still encounter Jesus powerfully if I participate with an open heart.
2. Pray every day. There’s no better way to find and keep inner peace throughout the day than starting each day with prayer. Build up your arsenal so that you’re prepared for life’s hardest moments, as well as the smaller, daily annoyances.
3. Do not be afraid. Know that, even if it’s difficult, following Jesus is always the most worthwhile choice. Once you open yourself up to his love and mercy, you will be satisfied. Every time I start to drift away, I always start to feel desperate to be close to him again.
I was restless, but I never knew what I was searching for until I found him. Now I’ll fight every day to keep him. Keep on fighting, ladies and let your restlessness draw you to the source of all life.