Humility and Healing
“Be still, and know that I am God.” — Psalm 46:10
“Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.”
— Philippians 2:3–4 (RSVCE)
At the height of my model photography career, I had a massive ego. People told me I was good, and I knew I was good. I was young, had a stable income, owned a car, and engaged in reckless debauchery. These external markers of success later proved to be distractions from unseen wounds.
Throughout my thirties, the Buddhist meditations I relied on to manage my anxiety became duct tape on a dam cracking with age. Do I want to spend the rest of my life making attractive people appear more attractive? What was the meaning of this? What was the meaning of anything? The midpoint of my life was fast approaching.
The Covid lockdowns of 2020 were the breaking point. I lost everything. Even the most basic tasks like getting out of bed became a challenge. I was ready for a drastic change.
On April 16th, 2022, I became a Catholic. Catholicism appealed to me because, unlike Buddhism, which belabored the pitfalls of desire, the doctrine convincingly demonstrated how time with God could heal wounds and motivate meaningful action. Furthermore, the Catholic Church boasts a long apostolic lineage going back to the first Christians.
Despite misleading claims from several sides, I knew the Catholic Church was neither perfect nor plagued by corruption and heresy. Throughout its 2,000-year history, mistakes were certainly made, and, subsequently, corrective efforts were taken — albeit not always as quickly as necessary. No institution with humans involved will be perfect.
My assimilation, notwithstanding, was far from seamless. After just three months, I already doubted my decision. Learning about Catholicism through videos, books, and podcasts was not equivalent to living it. As none of my immediate family is Catholic, I was navigating this journey alone.
At the predominantly white parish where I was baptized, I started feeling like a token being used to improve the diversity quota. Most of the parishioners were amiable, but, at that point, it did not feel like I had made any lasting connections, and I had little use beyond sitting in the pews. Who can I trust?
That Summer, eager to deepen my understanding of the Holy Scriptures, I ventured to a Lutheran Church to join their Bible Study group. The pastors drew vivid and insightful parallels between the Old and New Testament I had not heard before. Their expression of Christianity was intuitive and unencumbered. I loved this place.
Later, I visited a Greek Orthodox Church. Their mass, called Divine Liturgy, was marked by deep reverence, a familial atmosphere, and prayers in the ancient Greek of the New Testament. Additionally, the church even featured a stained glass window of a black saint, an explicit symbol of their broader acceptance. I loved this place, too.
I circled back and visited other Catholic parishes for comparison. Each one had its own distinct personality. Some were more warm and social, while others were more cool and quiet. My preference shifted to quieter churches that fostered reflection as they helped me feel a deeper connection with God.
At a Catholic parish in Northwest Indiana, I attended a program on the spiritual significance of Holy Communion. Afterwards, the director of evangelization asked if I could assist with a faith formation ministry. I had no experience in such a role, but I felt a call to try it (I would love to be a catechist). Learning how to communicate the faith, meeting other Catholics, and getting more involved, prompted me to reexamine the Catholic life.
Living in Indiana without a car has not always been enjoyable. Initially, I was puzzled as to why I volunteered so much of my time to church rather than prioritize making money. I had a nice job lead last year, a gig as a cinematographer, but funding for the project fell through. Upon reflection, I believe I was led to this point to cultivate humility. By allowing myself to be vulnerable, practicing forgiveness, and acknowledging my limitations, I feel I am gradually gaining a better understanding of myself and others.