There is a lot of topics I try to stay clear of, especially ones around races, sexism, religion and politics – You know the articles that could get me in trouble. Well that is about to change because today I am going to talk about being Catholic.

Yes, Catholic, the faith many seems to be raised as but turn away from as they get older. Throughout the years of being Catholic I have dealt with people cutting down my religion and saying how boring it is. I have also heard how we are wrong in the way we think, in the way we pray and we aren’t ‘fun enough’. We are told that the strict rules turn people away.

Well guess what, I am Catholic; I am missionary; I am a strong believer in forgiving and giving to others. My faith has helped me in many ways to be the person I am today. When I was little my parents made the decision to baptize me in a catholic church, where I then had my first communion and confirmation. As I grew up I continue to learn about my faith, ask the questions of things I didn’t understand ultimately struggle with my faith daily. Yes, daily.

I struggled with fitting in, I struggled with trusting God and I struggled with my faith continuing to be the discussed.

I decided after years of listening to this, that I needed to say something. Not for myself but for my family, my friends and the people whom I surround myself with that are Catholic – and for the next generation because even though having a faith isn’t easy I don’t want them to deal with what I have.

As a Catholic this is what I wish you knew:

We Struggle Too

Throughout middle school and high school I went to catechism every Wednesday after school. I struggled to pay attention, behaving and being the ‘perfect’ child just because my mother was the head administrator. I struggled when people wanted to skip catechism that week to ‘be cool’ because I couldn’t do that and therefore I would not fit in.  I went to church every weekend with my parents even growing up and sometimes I struggled to find the reason for going only to leave feeling glad I did. I struggled when I went to college and it was finally my decision if I continue to go to church. When I decided it was, my faith was a struggle to keep when my grades weren’t always a 4.0, the guy I was in love with broke my heart, when I lost friends, I didn’t get a certain job and life just down right sucked. I would cry out “why me?” and the struggle would continue. See, I say all of this to show Catholics struggled. If we didn’t, we would not be able to grow into the humans we were suppose to.

We Are All Different

Just like every other religion, people come from different backgrounds, different race and different lifestyles. For example, if we judged every caucasian person based off of one encounter, we would never understand how different each caucasian person is. I bet people of every race, background and culture has done something you haven’t liked, but what I have learned is you cannot judge a whole population based off of one  or two experiences. Just as if you had a bad experience with a Catholic person, doesn’t mean we are all the same.

If you don’t want us to judge, then why are you?

I hear this a lot, that Catholic people judge and that we are not welcoming to everyone. Again, maybe you had a bad experience and this happened to you but what gives you the right to judge me or another Catholic if you aren’t willing to allow me to judge you? We continue to act as though Catholics are judgmental however get to know the person. Give my religion a chance before you start labeling us.

We Aren’t Boring

I have had a lot of people that don’t want to attend church with me because as a child they found church boring or they had a priest have a boring homily. First off, I am sorry for your experience, I have had some that haven’t hit home that week either but then I have had other weeks where it is like the priest is talking directly to me. I know we don’t have bands, sometimes our technology is out to date and maybe we do have the same way mass goes every week, maybe you have heard this readings before or the same prayers but instead of going through the motions be present, please. Praying for me as never been a fun thing I want to do all the time, because that means emotions and trusting God in prayer. I don’t think that will ever be entertaining to me however that doesn’t mean it is boring either.

We Have Too Many Steps to Our Mass

Ugh. This one bothers me. First and foremost because some people that say this do not even know what our mass is made up of or truthfully step foot into a catholic church. Before you make this assumption I ask that you research. Understand why we kneel, understand why we prayer certain ways, understand why before church we introduce ourselves. Listen to the words and understand why we do what we do.

Now to get personal, cutting down my faith means cutting down me

My faith has helped me grow into the woman I am today. It has shown me light when I was in dark places, it has caused me to feel emotions I rather not handle and it showed me that I can take on anything in this world because Jesus is at my side and he loves me no matter what. When you cut down being Catholic, you are truly saying “Lisa you are not a good person, you judge, you are boring”, then I think to myself why be in my life then if you think these things. It is because you don’t think that of me, you know my heart, my love for others and where my strength comes from but by cutting down my faith you cut down me.

We are missionaries and We love You

In some part of our lives something has gone wrong. Sometimes we don’t have the answers and sometimes we don’t know what to do next but just know if you need assistance, I bet there is a catholic out there willing to help you find your way.

To end this article, I need to be more honest with each of you. Being Catholic isn’t easy, you have to get out of your comfort zone and trust in your faith. I tested my faith a lot, I decided to do everything against my faith and yes it was fun for a while but that hole was missing. When I was in college, my sister and I went to church every Tuesday, Thursday and weekends. She helped me, she helped me understand how someone loved me so much, how scripture is a reminder that someone has your back and is always there and ultimately how amazing being Catholic was. From there, I would find myself giving things to the Lord. He has given me much in return, including sending me to Africa and Haiti to do his work which in return helped me. The journey isn’t easy and I still struggle daily but knowing how I’ve grown makes it worth it.

Last week I met two women who turned Catholic at the age of 25 and 27, I literally got goose bumps and one lady talked about her struggles with dealing with people who have cut her faith down too. I never want another person to feel this way.

I will go on the record to say that again we are all not the same, some Catholics will judge, some will not be the person you expected and sometimes church well isn’t going to be ‘fun’ but you deserve to know that we are working for the Lord and at the end of the day that makes me smile.