By Jay Joslin
Growing up, I was basically the poster child for the Catholic faith. My parents made sure that my brothers and I were at every Sunday mass; even serving as altar boys whenever needed. The occasional fake stomach ache the morning of, couldn’t get me out of Sunday school. At that time for me, it was all about learning—not living it, not feeling it.
When my mother died of cancer, at the age of 47, everything changed.
There was no church anymore, there was no Sunday school. Everything that I had learned, everything that I was taught, suddenly didn’t make sense anymore. How could I ever possibly have faith in the Lord again so strongly like I was taught to? It was at this time that my struggle within began. I was now living. I was now feeling.
For years, I was faithless. I believed in nothing, nor did I have any desire to.
But as I grew older, I started to feel a sense of calmness; a sense of meaning. It wasn’t until college—when I decided to join some fellow classmates (convinced by my best friends) on a weekend retreat. I got to hear the stories of others, and their hardships along the way. I started to realize that I was not alone. It was astonishing to me how a group of strangers could come together in as little as two days. This was the first time that I could remember where I clearly saw the glory of God through others. It was then where I finally felt a connection again with my faith; a faith that I used to know all so well.
However, this did not mean that my struggle within was over.
In today’s reading, the Lord says: “You are my servant, in you, Israel, I show my glory” (Isiah 49:3). In order for me to be a servant of the Lord, I need to be my full self. To this day, my battle is still trying to be my full self without the physical presence of my mother. When I first lost her, I constantly found myself thinking that God must have been punishing me in some way. But maybe He was challenging me? Not a challenge in the sense of a competition, but a challenge to be who I am meant to be--who the Lord created me to be. Israel said, “I am honored in the sight of the Lord, and my God is now my strength” (Isiah 49:3). What better way to serve the glory of God than to be the person he intended?
With his strength, I can fight the battle.
There are many ways that I can show my strength and live my life to the fullest. Of course, I need to work on them. Every morning when I wake up, I say a morning prayer. I want to expand on that. I am a firm believer in showing the person that I am solely in the way that I live. I have bad days. I have ups and downs. There are days where I don’t focus so much on my faith, or even myself for that matter. Of course, I feel the two go hand in hand. So easily do I get caught up on the material things in life—work, bills, etc. Once in a while I can even feel these things getting in the way between me and God.
On top of that, I don’t think I have ever completely rid myself of the pain, and even the spite that I carry around with me that came with the loss of my mother now almost thirteen years ago. But I want to get back to being me. Whether it’s sticking around for a minute longer to hold the door for someone; making someone laugh with a stupid joke; or even just enjoying the simple things in life that I so often take for granted. The key for me is simply happiness. Happiness in the ones I love and happiness in the things I love. With that happiness, brewed from years of pain in my past, I now have my strength from the Lord to be who I am supposed to be.
I have so much to be thankful for in my life.
My past has shot me towards my future, and the Lords strength has prepared me for it. I wouldn’t be where I am today without the trials of yesterday. The foundation of my faith, the loss of the mother, and the reconciliation of my faith, all lead me to this moment. It is up to me to live every day through God. I realize that this struggle of mine will carry with me for years to come, but I have accepted the challenge. Ultimately, for two reasons: for whom I love, and for myself. My mother raised me to be a servant of God, and to live every single day with joy and happiness.
I owe it to myself. I owe it to my mom. And I owe it to the Lord.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
My name is Jay Joslin. I grew up in a small town called Conneaut, Ohio. I attended John Carroll University where I graduated with a degree in Communications in 2011. I currently work for my father's family business where I sell insurance along with my two older brothers. I love spending time with my beautiful girlfriend, my friends, and my extremely large family. Sports run my life, I love food and working out which always seem to clash, and I want to explore as much of the world as possible.