Open Door: Jim Adams

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By Catholic Digest Staff

Despite my apparent success in life, something always seemed to be missing. Scores of self-help books failed to cure this overwhelming feeling of emptiness inside. Even a major career change could not fill the void. Looking back, the times I do remember feeling at peace was when I was at church. However, either the voice that called was too soft or, more likely, I just wasn’t listening.

My marriage unexpectedly crumbled, and I entered the world of policing. Now I was surrounded by hurt, anger, and hate in my personal and professional life. Driven from the comfortable shelter of my previous three decades on Earth, I found myself facing a whole different side of the world.

I was exposed to more death and despair than I ever expected. I’d lost track of all the bodies I’ve seen. Although these lives and deaths were by all means tragic, there is one that touched me even more. In June 2004, I learned that a good friend and colleague was diagnosed with cancer of the esophagus. One month later, he died.

The priest at the funeral Mass was an ex-cop. Although I had been angry and deeply saddened by what had occurred, I felt a strange peace enter me as I listened to the priest’s words. Most of the words escape me now, but I remember he talked about “personal saints” and how my friend could now be one for all of us. I missed him, but somehow knew things were better for him.

In the meantime, I met and fell in love with a woman named Tracy and her two children, from a small town outside of where I worked in the big city. The children were Catholic, and her son Justin had just had his First Communion.

About a year after my friend’s funeral, I went to Mass for the first time since I was in Sunday school (not including weddings and funerals). During the homily spoken by the priest, Father George, I felt peace returning to me. I drank in the atmosphere of this little church, the people, the songs, the smells, the sounds, and the words. Peace be with me.

A few months later, Tracy and I enrolled in that church’s RCIA class. The Catholic Church once seemed like an unforgiving Church, but now seemed welcoming. Rituals and teachings that I had once questioned I could now understand and embrace. I threw myself into learning all I could about the Church and the new faith I was seeking, rediscovering, and uncovering in myself.

During these times, I prayed. In the past I prayed for help with specific problems or for God to directly intervene in my life. Now I prayed to be understanding like Jesus. I prayed to leave things in the care of God, trusting that He would allow things to turn out properly.

Finally, the day of the Easter vigil arrived. After I was baptized, I anxiously awaited Communion. Tracy was beside me as I took the Host from Father George. I felt a warmth pass into my body. I took to the pew and closed my eyes, feeling the warmth course through me. It filled me, reaching deep into the darkest areas of my soul, and I felt a peace that I had never experienced before, as if God were saying, “It’s OK, son. I’m here now.”

Shortly thereafter, Tracy and I were married. We now have a son together who was just baptized by Father George, and we are expecting again. God is now fully part of my life and our lives. Life seems so much clearer now. My self-help books continue to grow a good layer of dust. I’ve only got one such book now: a new Bible. Thank you, Jesus. Thank you, God.  CD

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Open Door features statements of true incidents through which people are brought into the Church or return to the faith.

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