I never believed in all that 'religious stuff'. I didn't believe in God. Certainly not in hell. So negative. My parents did not take us to church. My parents told my sister and I that we could choose what we wanted, Buddhism, Judaism, Christianity..whatever. I didn't have much exposure to Gods truth. The most religion I had was from our awesome Jewish friends who always had us over for Passover.
Through the years I met Christians who were good and who evangelized to me. They prayed for me and they worried about my soul. I had no idea what prayer was about, nor did I think about my soul. I thought when I had children, I would give them church. That would be the right thing to do. I never felt apart of anything or a sense of responsibility to anyone. I really didn't think about God. I had no idea what would happen to me when I died.
I was not depressed or unhappy. I simply didn't have faith. In the meantime, my Sister had a religious experience and she began to believe in Christ. Her husband is Catholic and she started her new life there. I was sort of raised to be skeptical of the Catholic Church. So, I was upset when she told us she would become Catholic.
I met Kurt in college. We fell in love. Kurt and I got married. After 10 years of marriage I became pregnant. Five months into my pregnancy of twins, something went terribly wrong. I went into labor and our son William died. I stayed in the hospital for almost three weeks with my second son still alive inside of me. Many people prayed for us, for the baby. The terrible day came when I got an infection and I delivered my other son Gabriel. He died. All this time I was not praying to God, because I didn't believe in him. So, who was I to ask for help? I didn't deserve help from God whom I did not believe in. It is so sad to think back to that time of disbelief because I ,of, course know now, God loved me then too.
Kurt and I managed to make it through this horrible period to later get pregnant with Grace who is 5 1/2 and Celeste who is 3.
After Grace was born we moved next to incredible Christian neighbors and there after met all of their great friends. I would have lengthy talks with my new friends about God. They would tell me of God’s love and I would ask questions.
I got pregnant with Celeste and I prayed everyday for her. One of my new friends invited me to go to a Bible study. It was the book of John. I went. It was great. My heart was opening. I was ready to accept the truth. I had now been exposed to the truth: the Lord is real. I felt it. I believed it. I trusted this Bible. Trust was a new concept for me. After I started the bible study I told my friend I believed. She told me to write it down. It was a new day and I was a new creation. She was so excited for me. My Sister was so excited for me, and all of new my friends were too. I told Kurt I believed. Then one night when I was doing my Bible study, I asked Kurt a question about the disciple whom Jesus loved best. Kurt went to find the answer. Amidst his research, Kurt was moved...(he felt the presence of Christ that night). This was exciting that we were starting this new journey together. How amazing this would be for our girls.
Now that I believed...I had to find a church. I tried my friend’s church and a few others. It didn't feel right. A friend suggested St Helen's. We loved it. We got to see two incredible priests share love and their enthusiasm for the Lord. I felt at home. I am not saying I fully understood everything at Church, but, I felt at home.
I remained in Bible studies and started RCIAat Immaculate Conception parish. I asked a lot of questions. I trusted that everything I was going through would bring me closer to Christ, and I believe the Holy Spirit was working within me. I still didn't know where I would end up. I did know I really wanted to be baptized. The Catholic Church seemed to be a special and prayerful place. I felt God here. I loved the tradition and history. So, almost one year ago, I was baptized at the Easter Vigil. All of my non Christian family came to support me and all of my Protestant friends who have given me so much love and support came to see me say YES to God. Then two weeks later Kurt and I had our daughters baptized. My husband now is a sponsor and part of the RCIA team at Immaculate Conception parish.
My perspective has changed on a lot of things. I feel connected to people, people I don't know. I feel a part of this world and truly believe we are all from God and we are all together. I feel so happy now to know the Lord loves me and makes me holy. People were praying for me. God was waiting for me to listen.
God loves me and God loves you. He wants us all.
- Stephanie Hayden