Growing up my mum had great faith. She’d talk about Jesus working through the priest and of His real presence in the Eucharist and that this life was short. She even baffled me once when she had my little sister while well over 40.
“I wanted to give the gift of eternal life to another soul”
Of course she knew it was God, but God couldn’t give birth!!
And so the theme of eternity was one that was never far from my thoughts and the reality that this life is short and both a gift and a responsibility.
Perhaps that’s why being gay hit me so bad. I didn’t want to be gay and was aware of living a life pleasing to God was a requirememt for going to heaven.
I feared I’d go to hell if I accepted that I was gay as if somehow accepting it was agreeing with it and that lifestyle and I had no intention of going to hell!
I was trained as a business planning actuary. I qualified at a record age of 23 and had more money and human respect than people twice my age.
Yet I wasn’t happy as I was plagued by the notion of eternity.
Actuarial work revolves around life and death; pensions and life assurance. We used to do projections to estimate how long people would live and so how much money they should put aside to have a decent pension!
While interesting my head would often think of the ‘second retirement’, the eternal one when you die and it plagued me.
About once a month I’d drive home (3 hours from Dublin). On a Friday night I’d stay up till 2 in the morning talking to my mother. Inevitably spirituality would come up and when she’d go to bed I’d look at some of her books!
‘Prayer is a hunger ‘one of them was titled.
It frustrated me terribly that I couldn’t grasp it because deep in my heart I knew that mam was right. She had a life with many trials and yet she had something that I didn’t, meaning and peace!
‘Why don’t you get interested in prayer’ she asked once!
My reply was prophetic
‘because if I did it’d take me over’
I knew even then that if God was real that I should give Him all but I was scared.
My mum left me be but I know she prayed for me more than the others as she knew I was lost.
When she fell to pieces years later with a mysterious depression that could not be cured by doctors I knew inside that I had to face the music.
As I saw doctors ignore and undermine her faith and members of the family laugh at her my heart bled. How arrogant some can be.
I guess this was the tipping point for me and like diving into an ocean I hurdled my life at God.
After that Jesus healed my mum even if she never got the same thirst for prayer that she had before!
Then I suffered what she had lived her entire life as I lived with almost no money and severely bullied because of my extraordinary interest in prayer.
And just like my mum, after years of bullying I broke again at 33 and yet I rose again. I did not come from a family or culture where giving up was an option!
Even to this day I face enornous rejection. People find me too much, I have little money, I sleep on a floor but yet deep inside I have peace even when I cry because I know that I’ve held nothing back from Jesus.
Yesterday a guy called me a ‘depressing evangelist’ because I spoke to him about eternity and conversion!
‘God is love’ he said and ‘we must live in the present’ and be happy!
‘Yes’ I said ‘God is love which is why we should talk to Him and listen to Him and ask His advice and direction and live in the present with Him’ I replied!
The day before a contemplative priest criticsed me for not having a balanced life in his opinion. Sadly he doesn’t understand my life and sees me as a fool!
So these are the trials of following Jesus, attacked from every corner and yet supported by the heavens!
So what is my point! Well I guess it’s that we must be witnesses to prayer and to eternity even if it makes others feel uncomfortable. We must trust that our example may disturb people’s worldly philosophies and lead them to an authentic search for God in their lives just like my mother’s did for me all those years ago!
Keep the faith
Please pray for me