My family had always been Catholic. I've grown up surrounded by the Catholic faith my entire life. . Unfortunately, when I was in sixth grade I had stopped believing in God. I don't know why I didn't believe in Him anymore, but I remember telling my parents that I was an atheist one day when we were out to dinner, and my mom lost it. I began to suffer from terrible depression and anxiety. I had panic attacks fairly often , and I was crushed by depression. My freshman year of high school I started attending LifeTeen (a Catholic high school youth ministry) because my mom and dad wanted me to have more of a faith life - they thought it would help me. I went to Life-Teen, but it didn't help. I still felt empty and was struggling with trying to fill the hole in my life where my belief in God had been. The summer after my freshman year I started doing worse. I decided to switch high schools from my private Catholic high school to a nearby public school - thinking that going to high school with my friends would help me with my depression. I made some 'friends' there that weren't good for me at all. I was deeply affected by peer pressure throughout my sophomore year, and the decisions I made weren't always the right ones.
At the end of my sophomore year my mom decided to send me to a Christian summer camp. I was terrified, and angry. "Camp??? I'm 16 not 12!" was my first reaction. I eventually consented to go (mostly because I didn't have a choice". My first day there I was extremely angry. Not only was it a summer camp, it was a service camp where we led groups of younger children. I had no idea what I was doing - I wasn't good with kids, and I didn't know what the other teens and young adults were expecting of me. That night we went into a small loft room at camp for worship and fellowship and I felt the presence of God. I instantly felt better; the years of anxiety and depression seemed to melt away. The rest of the week I was happier than I had been my entire life. I made great friends that I still see today , and I was baptized again in the camp's lake.
I don't know where I would be today without this experience. My mom always says that God works in mysterious ways, and I'd have to agree. Most of you already know that you don't have to go all the way to summer camp to feel the presence of God, but sometimes we need some outside help to reaffirm the faith that lies within us. I firmly believe that the experience of being surrounded by kids my age with strong faith in the Lord helped me to allow God to change my life in amazing ways. If you're ever struggling with your faith ask people to pray for you- and maybe, just maybe, go to camp .
You never know what will happen