by Claire Lamprecht Metanoia (n.) the journey of changing one’s mind, heart, self, or way of life. Sheer panic overwhelmed me as I looked around this scary, dark apartment. It was so dark. Bolts and chains were on some of the doors and there were voices coming from another passage, I couldn’t tell how many.I had told my friend that this was a bad idea, but I was silenced with “Come on. It’s just a drink. These guys seem nice.” But as I stood there, something inside me told me that his was how all horror stories began, and I’m not a fan of scary movies. I grabbed her, told her we were getting out of there immediately and we made a run for it. The story was laughed off but I will never forget it. I will never forget how dark it was. I wondered afterwards how on earth I landed up there. How had all my decisions led me to that point? Claire means ‘bright’ in Latin. I grew up in Durban with my amazing family, who formed and shaped me in beautiful ways. On most Sunday mornings we would all walk down to the Methodist church together, where I was confirmed and became a Sunday school teacher. I thought that one day I would be married in that beautiful church. My brother and I attended a Catholic school for our primary school years but I hadn’t invested too much time in Catholicism outside of that. I can, however, remember the two of us making the sign of the cross at the dinner table, before we all said grace together. As most teenage girls do, I began to discover more about boys and socializing which continued through my years at varsity. Varsity was, however, a completely different ball game and I was far from home in Pretoria. With newfound independence and an environment that was conducive to partying three, four nights a week, I was being steered by all the wrong things and I was no longer achieving those high standards that I set for myself. The pressure weighed me down. Yet as much as it was challenging, it was also filled with the most incredible memories. I formed lifelong friendships and came to realize the true value of sisterhood. I met a boy and I wish I could end that with “and we lived happily ever after” (being a true believer in fairytales). Alas. My first love was a battlefield (thanks Pat Benatar, you summed it up perfectly.) It was filled with victories – two people baring their souls to each other, accepting each other, relying on each other, supporting each other and understanding each other. Love is beautiful. Finding love is a victory itself. But it was also filled with losses – doubts, fights, regrets, confusion and heart break. I can understand why they call it heart break. It feels as if your heart literally breaks into a million pieces. I can remember the moment mine did. I had been fluttering around the house like an excited butterfly, packing my things and getting organized before embarking on an adventure to meet him in Mozambique when the message came through. I had to read it a few times. I even had to sit down. “I’m so sorry, I have met someone else here.” And then you try to pick up the million pieces and put them all back together. I clawed my way out from under the pile of tissues and headed back to reality. But instead of gluing all the pieces back together, I handed them out to boys who paid me any attention. I was giving myself away and hoping to receive the love I had lost in return. I was filling a void – and that’s the thing about giving and not receiving anything in return, over time you become empty. You pour everything out and your cup is left drained. Varsity drew to a close and after countless failed job applications; I rerouted my job search toward the retail world. A long and strenuous interview process proved successful and I packed my bags, my car and headed to Cape Town where an amazing job awaited me. During an initial workshop we were challenged on what brand we wanted to create for ourselves. I knew my brand wasn’t the girl who landed up in dodgy apartments in the early hours of the morning after a night out. God grabbed the steering wheel that weekend and two days later via a series of unexpected events after the dark apartment ordeal, I found myself sitting in Mass in a Catholic church. The reading that day was from John 4, the story of the woman at the well. I could not believe my ears. It was as if I was the only one in that entire church, feeling as though every word was meant for me. I was the woman at the well! My cup was drained and I came to the well to fill it, not knowing that I would find Jesus Himself there. I felt unworthy, yet He knew my story and He loved me. I had a new desire to share my testimony and the light that I had experienced. Metanoia – my mind, heart, self and way of life changed. I cannot deny that the place that that happened was in the Catholic Church. Catholicism has changed the way I think about things, the way I view the world as well as the way I view myself. Catholicism has strengthened my relationship with God; it was the glue that I had been looking for. It has allowed me to feel His presence more intensely than ever before and the Church gives us so many opportunities to encounter Him. Carl Jung once said “As far as we can discern, the sole purpose of human existence is to kindle a light in the darkness of mere being.” I want to be bright. I want to constantly seek to kindle that light because once you experience that light – just as the Samaritan woman did at the well – your life is changed forever. I can actually say that the Catholic Church is my well. I keep coming back because that is where the water is that Jesus offered me and my cup hasn’t been drained since. About the Author Claire Lamprecht “I love people who make me laugh. I honestly think it’s the thing I like most, to laugh. It cures a multitude of ills. It’s probably the most important thing in a person.” – Audrey Hepburn. My life is filled with quotes, laughter, tea, superheroes, the ocean, as well as the most beautiful family and friends. I say yes to new adventures and nothing mesmerizes me more than being surrounded by God’s beauty.