By Jared Davey In the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Life for me did not start out on the easiest of terms. My earliest memories as a child, whether good or bad, I guess all stem from a place of fragmentation. What I mean by that is that right from the start my reality was shaped by separation, disunity, brokenness. My parents got divorced when I was an infant, and even though I grew up in a loving environment, things never felt unified, whole or complete. Children at a very young age can start picking up when things are not right, and I knew it early on. Before I continue it must be said how grateful I am for my parents, the love they have always shown me, and the sacrifices they have made for me. Because of circumstances at home, my Gran played a big part in my life from an early age. One of the ways she influenced me was through her Catholic faith. Thinking back, that’s probably where the notion of a God and creator started for me. My Gran also had a devotion to Mary and the Saints. As a young boy growing into adolescence, the way I used to deal with struggles and pain was to bottle it up, grit my teeth and push on. I never cried. I also struggled with self esteem issues and I guess an insecurity that I was inadequate. God for me, was out there and did exist, but He was far away. A hazy, distant, quiet God. In high school, it was much of the same. With my close friends I could for the most part be myself, but with everyone else I was shy, quiet, suffering with low self-esteem. I guess you could say my faith was very surface level. My Mom used to try push me to go to Confirmation classes, but I wasn’t very interested. I even landed up stopping in Grade 11 so I could “focus on my studies”. As I am writing this and thinking back, the goose bumps rip through my body, seeing the different paths that were before me back then, and how I could have landed up on a ‘far darker, stray away from God’ kind of path. I don’t know what it was. In my limited capacity to make sense of things I can only articulate that it must have been grace. In Matric I decided to finish off my classes and get confirmed. Part of the requirements was to go away on a weekend retreat. With slight trepidation I went along. I remember on the Saturday evening there was a space provided where all of us got to sit in the room, be still and take some time to talk with God. And then it happened. A tear developed out of nowhere and began to slowly fall down my face. In that moment, time slowed down drastically. I watched as this tear slowly made its way down my body. God was so gentle with me in that moment. Soon, more tears flowed, and it was like for the first time in my life I was starting to let go. For the first time (and I didn’t realise it at the time), I was starting to give God the room to work in me. I didn’t become this super devoted Christian over night, but rather what began was a slow and progressive conversion in my life. The deeper I started going with God, the more I realised that there is no limit for Him. There is always more love, more mercy, more knowledge, and more grace. My faith grew and so did I. I was well on my way to adulthood and with that, as for all of us, many challenges, difficult decisions and temptations awaited. Relationships with girls started taking centre stage in my life. For someone who never dated or spoke to girls much, this new territory I was entering was interesting and exciting. My first proper relationship with a girl came about early varsity days. That relationship eventually ended and soon afterwards I entered into another relationship. Little did I know at the time would have a big impact on my life. Growing into manhood I was being tested in a massive way. I was learning about love, sacrifice, how to treat a woman, how women treated me, the areas where they had power over me, and the areas where I had power over them. It was in this second relationship where sexual temptation was rife. I knew I wanted to wait until marriage and for almost a year we managed to resist the temptation not to sleep with each other. What made things more difficult was that the girl I was with really wanted to, so there was this constant pressure to give in and give her that part of me. I really loved her and every bone in my body wanted to commit to her. Eventually we did. It was beautiful, and it immediately brought us even closer. However it wasn’t long before the guilt starting setting in for me. I could feel this was not being done in the right context and it was starting to impact my relationship with God. To cut a long story short, the wheels started coming off. A few months later we decided to stop sleeping together and a few months after that – we broke up. What followed was a dark period of heart break and pain. To try and numb that pain I started to drink alcohol more and basically try stimulate myself with anything I could to try alleviate the brokenness I was feeling. To say my relationship with God took a big hit would be an understatement. Seven years later and I still sometimes question whether that dark period is in fact over. If not, will it ever be… In short the last seven years have been a very up and down journey for me, as well as with my relationship with God. There have been periods where I have served and been a part of great things that have been rooted in God and love. But there have also been times where I have chosen my own will over His and done things that I knew would not be pleasing to Him. But at the time, I would do those things because that’s what I desired and thought I needed at the time. Having the strength to not compromise on my beliefs has been a difficult teething process for me, and learning to bridle my temptations… For my own good and the good of the other. There have been times I have walked selfish paths that gave into selfish desires and instant gratification, but in doing so what has inevitably happened is that I have realised that there is no other path out there that can compete with the path of walking with Jesus, our Christ. Yes there are paths out there that certainly would appear a lot easier and less painful. But only once I walked those did I realise that it is all a giant lie. Following the paths that God sets out for us is often the more difficult, sacrificial course. But as I journey I am learning more and more that there is always method to His madness. And this is extremely difficult for me to say because right now in my life my journey seems to be subjugated by fog. At times there will be a break in the fog and I will feel God is leading me somewhere and that He hasn’t given up on me. Most of the time however, I find myself in a lonely space, where I can’t see too far ahead of me. The ominous challenge I face is to not give into the fear and uncertainty, and especially temptation, and keep trying to follow God’s precepts. I would be so grateful, that if after reading this you would say a prayer for me. I need you. I also love you. Only once I let go of my life and started to include the Holy Trinity in my walk, did I start to learn and experience what true love is. There is so much to be said about love and how beautiful and immense it is. At this juncture, all I know, and without question, is that – I love you – whoever you are reading this. Our dearest Mother Mary, pray for us. About the Author Jared Davey I am a typical boy. I love exploring and going on adventures. I love my family and friends to bits. I am a dreamer. I have many dreams and chasing those dreams is this crazy arena where my life plays itself out. Irrevocably, I am drawn to beauty… in people, in nature, in music. The greatest beauty, the sweetest sounding song I have come to know in this life, is God and everything that stems from Him.