Finding Faith

If you have ever been to my house in Virginia Beach, you would have noticed more pictures of Jesus and Mary than ones of my brother and I.  I cannot talk about my faith without mentioning my mother’s strong faith.  When I saw my mom after being diagnosed, she looked me in the eyes, put her hands on my cheeks and said, “I’ve been going to church everyday for 30 years for this moment.  God loves you.  You’re going to be ok.”

Part of my mom’s unwavering faith came about while she was pregnant with me.  At first, my mother was unaware she was pregnant and a doctor prescribed her medication which could cause severe birth defects.  Later during the pregnancy a doctor told my mom that there was a strong chance that I could be born with birth defects.  He provided her with the option to terminate the pregnancy.  My parents went home and prayed and continued to pray throughout the pregnancy.  Thankfully, I was born without any birth defects.  So I guess God has been looking out for me since day one.

My mother showed me the importance of helping others through her own actions.  Many times I would accompany her to help volunteer at thrift stores, food banks, and soup kitchens.  I saw first-hand how valuable those interactions were.  Through those experiences I found joy in helping others and learned the power and simplicity of being nice.

Even though I grew up in a Catholic family that went to church every Sunday, I wouldn’t call myself a devout Catholic.  As a boy, my favorite things about church were the free doughnuts after mass.  As I grew older my behaviors didn’t change too much.  During my high school years, instead of going to church, my brother and I would go out for breakfast, check the waves at the beach and stop by church after mass to pick up the weekly bulletin.  We would show the bulletin to our mom as “proof” that we went to church.  Since being diagnosed, I’ve made my faith more important by changing my schedule at work to allow time to attend daily mass, doing pro-bono psychotherapy for fellow parishioners, and joining the parish council.

When I heard the words “you have cancer” my mind jumped straight to thoughts of death and dying.  The words “miracle” and “faith” are what get me through the hard times.   I now see daily miracles that I overlooked before in life.  Now that I am facing death I think about an afterlife and wonder about what it is like.  Especially during the season of Lent, I would get anxious about walking into church everyday because the message would focus on either death or healing (I preferred the healing readings).  Whenever I am feeling down, I pray and something good always happens to cheer me up.  Like a favorite hymn sung in church that reminds me of my grandmother, a sermon that speaks to me, vivid dreams of loved ones who have passed away, friends (some that I haven’t talked to since grade school or college) calling and texting me that they are praying for me and telling their friends to pray for me, random Rocky meanings, or my daughters doing something that sparks joy and hope.

I’ll always cherish this memory from when I was newly diagnosed.  I was changing Anabel’s diaper and I became overwhelmed with sadness because it hurt to think…I might not be there for my children.  Will Anabel remember me if I die?  I began to cry on her belly.  She reached for my head in a comforting way, almost like expressing it’s okay, you’ll be okay.  Moments like this I can’t explain and don’t care to because it’s exactly what I need at the time.  I’ve experienced these occurrences many times and it’s impossible to describe the inner peace it creates.  I believe God holds close those that are suffering no matter the outcome and I know he’s holding me close.

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10 Responses to Finding Faith

  1. Christina Johnston says:

    Kevin…

    I love this post. It makes me cry. But I believe you are right. God is holding you very close. Thank you for writing and sharing. All my prayers and love, Christina (“Lobe”)

  2. Christina Johnston says:

    P.S. My favorite thing about Catholic church was the chocolate donuts afterwards too 🙂

  3. Gustavo H. Nouer says:

    Beautiful post. Thank you Kevin…

    Ps: continuamos rezando por vcs todas as noites.

    GHN

  4. Blythe says:

    Kevin, you have a gift and your words touched my heart. I am humbled by your strength and courage
    . Please know that we continue to pray and send positive thoughts your way. It was so much fun to see you all at the NDS reunion and look forward to seeing you all again next year.

  5. Meli says:

    What a precious memory and beautiful thoughts. This post is almost like a prayer in itself. Faith is the most beautiful and strongest when we manage to make it our own instead of just claiming it because we are told to by family society or denominations. God and his power are so much bigger than our meager understandings. I think we will all be surprised at the true depth of who he is and what faith means when we meet him face to face and realize how much he was around during our struggles whatever they may be. Keep the faith Kevin and when you are feeling too weak to hold on know he is holding on the tightest!

  6. I’m sitting here trying to think of something comforting or profound to say in reply to your post. All I can come up with is “thank you”. Thank you for this post. I continue to pray for your good health. Tell Janie I said “hi” and I think of her often. God bless your family.

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