I grew up in a Catholic home. I attended a Catholic elementary school and went to Catholic Church every Sunday with my family. I had Catholic friends. I prayed Catholic prayers by myself, before dinner, before bed, with my relatives. I am now 22 years old and I am still a Catholic. This is not to say that I never struggled with my faith… This is to say that my journey has been filled with peaks and valleys, but I haven’t given up on Him.
I first learned what real pain was when I was 14 years old. My parents divorced and nothing about it was simple. It was ugly, it was messy, and it hurt my sister and I like nothing ever before. Just like you might have heard in many other scenarios, you suddenly just wonder why?
I attended a public high school only for athletic reasons. My Dad tells me that to this day, he regrets sending me there. Although I met good people, I lost sight of my values. I lost my clear sight of Him. I would never say that I have ever pointed blame, but I certainly wondered if things added up. Who you are and what you believe has plenty to do with the environment you put yourself in. I really struggled through high school. I never had a stable group of friends, people treated me horribly, I tried so desperately to fit in, I struggled with my home life, and one of the toughest hardships of all was that I never loved myself. I could occasionally mask it for a brief period of time, but I truly did not give myself the love I deserved. Looking back, I can see that God was clearly missing. Actually, let me rephrase this. I just did not invest time in my relationship with God at the time – He was never missing.
After a challenging journey through those four years of high school as a teenager without God in my life, I began university. I was far from home, everything was new, I was living on my own and I was expected to deliver high-quality work academically and athletically. I played college basketball so I endured every kind of pain. God started to resurface as a priority in my life. As I write this, I realize that ones response to hardships can either be to turn away from God, or lean on Him. I’ve tried both and I can promise anybody who needs to hear this: LEAN ON GOD. Give him your worries, your anxieties and stressors. Speak to Him and let him carry your burden. He did this for you when he suffered on the cross.
I was fortunate to have met some people early on in my university experience that helped push me back into my relationship with God. I had finally found people other than my immediate family that could steer me in that ever-so-needed direction. This does not mean that I was perfect now and fully trusting in Him. My journey in seeking Christ was still happening, and today as I write this in the year 2020, it is ongoing.
In addition to all of this, being proud of your faith is something that just never existed for me. Although I went to school with Catholic peers, it was still very hard for me to clearly, blatantly defend God or His word in front of anyone. It was not until I encountered these people in University that shared their beliefs with me that I realized, it should never be something that is an accessory – I can wear my faith one day and not the other. I realized that it is who I am, and if I can’t share who I am with the world then what kind of life am I choosing for myself? You might not feel called to verbally share your faith with the world, but one of the greatest things you can return to God is your pride. I look back and wonder what subtle God the Father Apparel could have done for me during my hardships. When I lost sight of Him, or when I felt far from Him. When I flash forward to today, I feel like GTF gave me the opportunity to be proud. Without words, I can literally wear my faith proudly on my chest.
I’ve found that not only does God the Father Apparel mean something to me, but what is it doing for the people in my environment? Some of the most important people in my life are not Christians however when I wear my warped logo hoodie with them, they compliment and ask me about it. It is no secret that the apparel that God the Father puts out is fashionable and definitely in with todays clothing vibes. However even with the words “God the Father” across my chest, someone who does not believe has a positive remark to make. I can wear this and be proud of my faith, I can remind the Christians of the world how important his word is but I can also put the simple yet complex word, God, in the mind of a non-believer. Someone with whichever kinds of beliefs can look at a simple sweater and now the words, God the Father, are suddenly in their brain.