The Narrow Gate Beckons


I was baptized as a child in a Methodist church, but I cannot remember going or even giving much thought to church or God after I went to college. I was involved in my own life and what made me happy. I worked, partied, and was promiscuous.

During these years, I always had a sense of something important missing and tried to fill it with everything but God. I tried to volunteer but never followed through. I tried different jobs, hoping that would bring me fulfillment. I tried focusing on boyfriends, but always had difficulty in my relationships.

I tried counseling, anti-depressants, yoga, and eastern spirituality, but still I felt empty.

Glimpses in the Darkness

I recall a couple of instances during this wandering-in-the-desert period that helped to bring me home, but at the time I dismissed them as weird or unimportant. The first was when I found a beautiful and sweet poem I had written about God when I was a young child. It reminded me that as a child, I had loved him.

The second incident happened during a date. The movie was vulgar and offensive. I left the film and went to the restroom, where I cried, sad and overwhelmed. Everything seemed pointless. When I had entered the restroom, no one was in it. As I turned to leave, I saw a lady, who smiled and said that everything was going to be OK. I felt comforted and wondered where she came from—then she was gone. I now believe she was Mary, the Mother of God.

The final instance occurred when I decided to go to church on Easter with my boyfriend. As the tithing basket came around, my boyfriend put in our last $20. I was angry with him because I wanted to use that money to buy food so we could cook after church. I thought of myself as a much better person than I actually was.

A Different Choice

Then, after some poor choices and living in so much sin, my life hit bottom. I was arrested with my boyfriend and suffered a very scary time in my life. I lost my job and moved back to Texas to live with my parents to get my life back on track. I started going to an Evangelical church, and my eyes began to open to truth. Now that I was "saved," I foolishly believed that all was right, even though I was still living in sin. I had a great job. I was making the most money I had thus far in my career. Then I missed my period. I was 29. My boyfriend and I were just back together, and I was not ready. It was the wrong time and probably with the wrong person, I thought.

But deep inside, I knew that God was testing me. I had failed so miserably so many times before. I thought about college, when I had missed my period before—but instead of choosing life, I chose the unthinkable. And from that time on, I had given into all my selfish desires because I thought I was the most despicable person on earth. But God blessed me again with the most beautiful gift. This time I thanked him humbly and said, "I will do my best to really change my life this time."

I married, but life was hard. My husband and I fought constantly and were haunted by all the past sins of our lives. When my son Andrew was one, I remember crying and crying about all the things I had done to hurt Jesus. I was truly sorry, and I began to change with God’s healing grace. I started to read the Bible and go to church. I was now on a mission to know God. I wanted the Lord to bless me, my marriage, and my life. I could not understand why my marriage was so terrible, why careers were lost, and why money was scarce. It seemed like one trial after another for many years.

Lead Me to the Right Path

I wanted to give up many times, but the Lord held me, and I held tight to him. I began praying less for God to change my husband and my situation and more to change me—to let me see who I was really was. And as the years passed, God did start to reveal myself to me. It was and still is frightening and humbling to know what I have done, what I am capable of, and how much I think of myself over others. As I grew in my faith and in my relationship with the Lord, I remember asking him to put me on the right path, to lead me to him forever. He answered me in a way that I would never have expected: He introduced me to his Church, and then he re-introduced to me to his Mother.

I was working in a secular job and had been praying for God to place me in a job that would help my faith grow. I found that job working in sales. Most of my customers and co-workers were Catholic. One co-worker in particular exemplified what I believed to be a real Christian. She noticed that I listened to Christian radio and suggested I try listening to the new Catholic radio station in Dallas. I did not even know there was one.

On my way to work one morning, I tuned in to hear Mother Angelica praying the rosary. I listened for a moment, but it seemed weird and I turned it off. A few days later, I decided to try listening again. This time, I heard Fr. Corapi. I was mesmerized. I had never heard anyone preach like that. I had to pull over because I was in tears.

I decided to start investigating the Catholic Church. I began talking to my co-worker about her faith, and she suggested taking RCIA classes. I called my local church and asked when the classes were—but made it clear I was only interested in learning about, not becoming, a Catholic. The lady on the phone encouraged me to come and said there was absolutely no pressure. A month or so went by, and I finally decided to go.

I was amazed how much history and tradition were part of Catholicism. It was as if the light went on, and I realized that the Bible came from people—it did not drop out of the sky, open to any person’s interpretation. I understood that for 2000 years the Church has been faithful to the gospel and in fulfilling God’s works.

I began to find answers to questions that I had long wondered about, such as where the Bible came from, who the apostles were, what saints are, and so much more. In the beginning, I had a difficult time accepting Mary as the Mother of God and of me. I also struggled to accept the Eucharist as the real body and blood of Christ.

But I started to watch EWTN and again I heard Mother Angelica. I read books about the power and gifts of the rosary. I decided I should try it. After I began to pray the rosary, my life changed almost instantly. I had never thought about Jesus’ life so deeply. I meditated on all the mysteries and started to believe with all my heart that Mary was here for me now. One day, I cried, realizing what a terrible child I had been to my Mother. I cried for all the years I lived without her in my life. Now I cry for my family who are not even aware that Mary is their Mother and waiting for them.

I prayed and studied the Eucharist and what it would mean if it truly was the body and blood of Christ. I started going to Mass and observed the reverence people had when they received Communion. I saw people kneeling, bowing, and even crying. I heard the liturgy and the songs touched my soul. I felt God’s presence there.

Tested, I Persevere

As the months went by, I began to share my passion for the Catholic faith with my family. Now I was truly tested. There is not one person in my family who is Catholic, and they were upset and hostile. They ridiculed me and made fun of Mary, the pope, and the Church. My family said I was committing blasphemy and that I once was a good Christian, but now I was a stumbling block. My husband threatened divorce.

I was so alone—yet I felt closer to Jesus than ever before. I prayed; I listened to Catholic radio; I went to Mass almost every day. I began to thank Jesus for this suffering and to trust him. I knew I had found him and nothing would make me lose him.

I once thought Catholics were very misguided about the truth, and I even evangelized to some. I was wrong, and I have been humbled. The truth of the Catholic Church and her wisdom hit me like a ton of bricks. But because the Lord had prepared my soul for years, I was ready to accept it. I was confirmed this past Easter, and my son was baptized. During this time, I immersed myself, body and soul, in the Catholic Church, trusting that the Lord will bless me as long as I follow his will.

My husband was not supportive to begin with, but he began to come to Mass with us. He also agreed to send our son to Catholic school. Just before Christmas, he told me he wanted to be Catholic. He is now attending RCIA and will be confirmed this Easter. We will receive the Eucharist together for the first time.

I have learned what it means to carry your cross every day. I have learned what it means to pray through our blessed rosary. I have also learned what it means to trust a Church and believe in its infallibility. I know about the power of confession and the abundant mercy the Lord has for all of us. I know I can unite all my sufferings and those of the world today and every day with the Passion of my Lord and Savior. He is present today. He is here with me. I have the wisdom of the Church to keep me on the right path—the path that I prayed for so sincerely, over a year ago. I am entering through the narrow gate.


Jill Sebastian lives with her husband Gilbert and son Andrew in McKinney, Texas.

This article appeared in Volume 19 Number 4.