If one were to walk up to me, and ask me: "What is Divine Providence?" I would say: "It is simply God acting in the world." I believe God acts in this world constantly, but so often we don't open our eyes. We don't look for it. There's a song that I like, and while it doesn't relate divine providence, the main line in the song is: "Just open your eyes and see that life is beautiful." And it is, because God blesses us in so many ways. Divine providence is always there, we just have to look. There has been some extraordinary ways in which I believe God has worked in my life, and I do believe it's all been Divine Providence. I will be talking a little bit about that today. I'll take you back in time to what my life has been like. I'll give everyone a taste of who the real Layna is, on a more personal note.
I'll start around middle school and junior high. For me, I've always been home schooled, but during this period of time I was doing an online schooling program. It was through this online program I got wrapped up in the wrong crowd. And my Faith wasn't strong at this point. I was basically going through the motions of my Faith. I went to Mass, I went to confession, and that's about it. Occasionally I would pray, but never devoutly like one should. I had just moved from California to Ohio, and really didn't have any -true- friends. The youth group I had -tried- to get involved with, weren't very "accepting" of me. So, I felt like a complete outcast. I was going through a dark and lonely time. But, it was this that drove me to pray for good friends. I remember praying for months for good friends, until Summer of 06 rolled around.
I was about to start 9th grade, and I remember my dad picking up a church bulletin and it advertised something called: "The Fest" (basically a huge Catholic event with Mass, games, confession, live music, etc.) My dad said I should go, and I was hesitant, because it seemed so out of my element. (This is coming from someone that was into hard rock/dark music at the time.) But, I remember calling the youth minister because he was in charge of this program, and he said he'd love to have me.
For some reason, I was still hesitant to the point where I was basically set on not going at all. But, a force came over me. A force that said: "Go!" and I couldn't say no to it. So, I went, and there I met my friends, and other great people that have changed my life for the better.
Especially one person in particular. He's my best friend. And this person has taught me the true meaning of friendship. I have found that true friendship is not about sharing common interests, or hanging out all the time, that's only a small portion. It's about unity with each other through Christ. We are both discerning our vocation, and we have a special friendship because Christ is the center of it. We're constantly striving to uplift each other. Not always in an emotional sense, but in a spiritual sense. With Christ as the center of our friendship, we definitely see God working in each others lives, and it's a beautiful thing.
I also got involved with the youth ministry program, and later on became active in Catholic Scouting. Scouting is what broke the leadership in me out. And it was Catholic Scouting that "re-perked" my interest for the religious life, because there's a community of Sisters 10 minutes away from where I live, and that's where we used to have some of our meetings. I do believe this is the work of God, because if I didn't move here, meet my friends, get involved with scouting, then I never would have known to take discernment seriously.
From everything I've said, it may seem like my life had been blessed by God, and everything was perfect from there on. But, I've gone through hell to get to where I'm at now. My heart was very divided between good and evil. Especially during 2008 into 2009. I was struggling with a problem on the side, and still had people in my life from my old online school. I was being influenced in a bad way by them. So, it was common for me to go to scouting/youth group, come home, and then basically be a completely different person. There was some sort of "attachment" there.
I remember 2008-2009 like it all just happened yesterday. I remember even though I had finally found good friends, got more involved with the Church, feeling bound in chains by the situation I was in. I wanted to break free, I strived for goodness, I desired change! But it's like I couldn't do any of this. This situation completely distorted my mind, that I remember this darkness took over me at one point while in Church.
I remember running out of the church because I couldn't stand being there. Everything I looked at...the paintings...the statues....everything got twisted in my mind. Never have I felt so far from God in my life. It felt like I had infection in my brain, that had spread. And I hated myself for this. But, this was actually a turning point.
It was from that point on, that I truly prayed for a complete conversion. My friends didn't really know what was going on- I never spoke about it. But they knew I was struggling with something, so they advised me/prayed for me in the best way that they could, and that in itself was comforting. I knew I had their support. I remember praying and the words "Change my heart, Lord" is the main thing I said. Over and over.
In tears, I begged, I pleaded, and it wasn't until September of 09, that I had a complete conversion. September of 09, I went to the Eucharistic Congress in DC. When I went, I wasn't really sure what to expect. But, I went, and there I met so many religious orders. I listened to great talks. I was surrounded by so many Catholic people,including my own good friends from youth group. I remember going to Mass one day, and hearing beautiful music. As I heard the beautiful singing, I was gazing upon this painting of Jesus in the National Shrine of the Basilica. I just started crying.I felt such abundance of love and mercy fill my soul, that with my entire soul, I just said: "I want to live for you, Jesus."
EDITOR'S NOTE; I started this blog before my conversion. Went through a "no writing" period of time, and it was my conversion that "sparked" the creativity in me. Check out my old posts, if you want. before conversion post and then after conversion post
I've realized that this is how God works. Sometimes He lets us fall flat on our faces, in hopes that we cry out to Him, crawl back to Him, and beg Him to have mercy on us. I believe when we beg for God's assistance, and don't hear from Him, He is testing us. That in itself, is God acting through us. He's testing to see how committed we are to Him, and how trusting we are of Him.
He is begging that we cry out to Him. Crawl back to Him. Beg Him to have mercy on us, not just with our mouth but our entire being. My job, while it may be tough, and reflect darkness, I look at it as Divine Inspiration for what’s to come, simply because it has made me strive for more in my life. I only see this as preparation for what God has in store for me. Divine providence in my life, has always taken place in times where I've suffered.
I suppose that's why I enjoy talking about suffering so often- because I've been there. All I can say that it's divine providence that I've been given everything to crawl out of the ditches, and climb over the hills. God has given me the right friends. And now I can start anew. There isn’t a day that goes by, where I don’t thank God for all that He has done in my life....