Alana’s story…

Alana’s story…

As the others have mentioned, I have also had many encounters with Christ. Too many to even remember…which is why keeping a journal helps. But, I’ll start by explaining how I officially came to know and love God.

I was born and raised in a VERY Catholic home. There were religious sisters and deacons on both sides of my family. Not attending Sunday Mass was unheard of and forgetting to say nightly prayers was an absolute “no, no”. It was hardly a question for my parents to raise their four daughters in a faithful home to love and live by the Catholic Faith. We attended private Catholic School from kindergarten until 12th grade and we even attended Catechism classes on the weekends. It is worth mentioning that my saint of a grandmother lived with us for about sixteen years…God rest her soul. Along with my parents, she had a huge impact on my faith life.

My Catholic foundation was set and I owe that all to my parents, Godparents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and all the people who spoke the name “Jesus” to me growing up. But, weirdly enough, that was where my problem began. The foundation was set….now what? I knew Catholic history, I knew the ten commandments, I knew the stories in the Bible, I knew how to pray, I knew right from wrong…my theology was set. I “knew” God. And yet, I was still flipping through the pages during Mass trying to figure out how much longer it would be until we would go to breakfast.

In high school, God was very distant to me. He was the big guy upstairs and I “loved” Him because I knew he created me and died for me. I went through the motions as any good Catholic would but constantly questioned what it meant to be happy in life. I was happy on the outside but I knew it wasn’t the happiest I could be. In the depths of my heart I knew there was something more. I craved happiness but I didn’t know how to even search for it. I grew up very sheltered which resulted in me feeling insecure and shy towards people around me, especially in my all girls Catholic high school. I cared a lot about what people thought of me. I was the girl in the corner. I did not want to bother or annoy anyone and the last thing I wanted to do was start drama between people. So, standing up for myself (or anyone else for that matter) when I was bullied was not something I had the courage to do.

In my junior year of high school, I went on a Catholic retreat called the Two Foundations retreat for high school girls. Now, the only reason I agreed to go was because it was a way for me to get out of my sheltered home. Little did I know that this retreat would be the start of my faith journey with my Lord. Till this day, I can’t pinpoint a specific moment when I realized God’s love for me on that retreat. But, that doesn’t matter. What matters is that I realized God was more than the big guy upstairs. I realized that you can actually have a relationship with God. I realized that God was real and that He DID actually love me and it wasn’t just a story I was told to believe growing up. How did I realize all of this? Because, as I said before, I *desired* happiness and what it meant to be happy. I left my heart wide open for God to give me what I needed and He did. He never fails. I found that happiness…I found that joy. I was no longer flipping through pages at Mass. I became the girl who wanted to sit up front and stay longer just to be in the presence of the Eucharist a little more.

Upon leaving that retreat, my desires to learn more about spirituality and how to grow in my relationship with God skyrocketed. I was on a mission! Finally, there was that “more” I was thirsting for. There was more to life than what society had to offer. I began reading anything and everything Catholic that I could get my hands on. I fell in love with the Saints and their stories, I learned knew prayers, and I went to Eucharistic adoration as often as I could. Like any other relationship, all of this needed to be consistent in my daily life in order for me to maintain my relationship with God. It wasn’t easy…but God gave me the graces. He changed my life completely. I may not have had any outwardly sins I had to overcome but I battled something far greater, and that was myself. As they say, I grew out of my shell. I was no longer that shy, awkward, insecure little girl anymore. I learned to stop putting so much effort into caring about what people thought of me and I put more effort into caring about what Jesus thought of me. It was a heck of a lot better to realize God’s love than people’s hate.

Now, ten years later, I’m still on that same mission…I actually have two missions now.
1. Get to Heaven
2. Get others to Heaven

What I have accomplished since that retreat and what I do now is far more than what I could have ever imagined for myself. God has given me so many gifts and my goal is to use them as often as possible to preach and teach His Word. He gave me the passion to teach. I have led countless retreats and youth programs throughout my life and I currently teach 5th grade Religion and Science at the Catholic School I attended myself! (Isn’t God funny!?) Following God’s plan was the best thing I could have ever done. I am beyond thankful for all that He has given to me in my life and I look forward to seeing what more he has in store for me in the future.

I pray that all those reading will have the courage to open their hearts to Christ so that they may encounter Him and reach that true happiness.

God’s love be with you,
Alana Bahoura

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