Finding God

My spiritual journey has been long and complicated, with many twists and turns along the way. I was raised in a Catholic family that prayed regularly, went to church on all the major holidays, and had many traditional Catholic symbols around the house. My middle name, Teresa, was given to me by my grandmother in honor of St. Therese of the Little Flower. I can clearly remember my grandfather seeing me off to school each morning and letting me know that he was sending the angels to watch over me as I went about my day. My father, however, added an element of confusion to all the godliness; he was an extreme skeptic and a man who based everything in science and logic.

I went to Catholic school from kindergarten through most of college. At school, we went to church and had daily religious instruction. We prepared carefully for the major sacraments and practiced rituals until they were perfect. We learned reverence, prayer, and devotion.

As a young girl, I enjoyed reading the Bible and praying the rosary each night before bed. I also grew up with a strong connection to Mother Theresa and followed her life very closely. There was even a time when I longed to be a nun and devote my life to God. God and Catholicism played a major role in my upbringing, and as such, I have deep soul roots in the Catholic Church. However, over the years, I moved away from organized religion. It didn’t happen overnight. Little by little, I began to question things that didn’t feel right to me. First, I stopped going to church. Then I stopped reading the Bible and praying the rosary. Eventually, I stopped defining myself as Catholic at all. However, I still considered myself Christian and began exploring different Christian faiths. Eventually, I began questioning those, too.

Over the next several years, I explored many different belief systems, sacred texts, and places of worship. Nothing felt right, which led to my feeling that I was agnostic. I decided that I couldn’t know and wouldn’t know the truth about God, so I would just do my best to be a good person. At some point, after many personal losses and unanswered prayers, I rejected it all and considered myself an atheist. I believed in nothing and found myself disconnecting from everything, including myself.

When I was 30, I became the mother of a beautiful and precious baby girl. It was a very difficult time in my life, and I was struggling in many ways. My desire to be a good mother and not allow her to be subjected to my internal pain is what set me off in search of something again. I was not actually looking for God. I was just looking to get my life together and to find a sense of wholeness and peace within myself. I wanted to develop a firm foundation upon which to parent and guide my child. It was on that journey that I found God.

Actually, it was science that ultimately helped me make the connection. One day, while searching and seeking, I came across a famous Albert Einstein quote: “Energy cannot be created or destroyed, it can only be changed from one form to another.” It was basic but powerful. A light bulb went on for me: It’s all about energy.

I began exploring energy in all its forms. That exploration brought me to the source of everything. This is what I call God. But my current understanding and experience of God is much broader and much deeper than ever before.

I continue to experiment with different ways of experiencing and connecting to God. I don’t pretend to have it all figured out, and I know that my beliefs will continue to change and evolve. But for now, I feel satisfied with where I have arrived. I have found the peace, wholeness, and foundation that I longed for.

Today, I still do not define myself as a Catholic or Christian, but I have reconnected with the Catholic symbols that I held dear as a child: churches, the Bible, rosaries, saints, and so on. They feel sacred and bring me a sense of peace.

I also pray often. Sometimes I use the Catholic prayers I learned growing up. Sometimes I talk. Sometimes I listen. I don’t necessarily believe there is a divine being that is listening to my prayers and deciding whether or not to grant them. But the act of prayer helps to center me. It helps me feel connected to energy and the world around me in a way that I hold sacred.

If I had to sum up what I believe at this time, I would use the words that a dear friend shared with me recently. She said, “God expresses himself through mathematics and science.” This is what I believe. I believe in mathematics and science. They are real. Breathtaking. Miraculous. I have faith that in all of this, there is God. And I use the symbols from my youth that are meaningful to me to help me connect to that sacred energy.

If you have lost your connection with your faith, or you’ve never really had it to begin with, I suggest exploring God’s expression in the beauty and mystery of science, along with the symbols and practices that are most meaningful to you. See for yourself where that path leads. I cannot guarantee that it will provide the answers you are seeking. But I know that it’s how I found God.

About the Author | Vanessa Benavides

Vanessa Benavides is a nonprofit professional who has focused her 20+ year career on addressing issues related to poverty. In her personal life, she is a seeker of justice and an ecstasy hunter, not just for herself but for everyone around her. Above all else, she values truth, love, and freedom. She is also the mother of a beautiful daughter who has a passion for dancing, acting, and singing.

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4 comments to "Finding God"

  • Elsy Minnich

    Bravo! I think everyone gets sceptical at some point in their life and that’s normal. But also, at some point in their life, they come back as believers. Love you! <3

  • L. Schotthoefer

    Neat evolution of faith that I can relate to… What about nature? That’s where I feel most immersed in God-like energy.

  • DeBonis Karen

    I could relate to so much of this, Vanessa, and kudos for continuing your search for God and finding that energy, however you define it. I’ve also moved away from my Catholic upbringing and I feel my relationship to God is stronger and more personal then ever.