Why I Am No Longer a Liberal Feminist Atheist

Coming into college, I felt happy. I had reached my goal of playing college basketball on a scholarship, and I was excited for all of the fun that the college lifestyle had to offer. I was driven in school and saw myself as a dedicated and hard-working person, as many athletes do. I had my own, strong opinions and was ready to be even more independent away from home. On freshmen move-in day, I met my teammate and roommate, Jenna, and started to settle into my new home. That first night, as many freshmen do, I stayed up late wondering and hoping that I had chosen the right college and had made all of the right decisions to put myself where I needed to be.

I would not know the answer to this until the fall of my junior year.

By this time, I had done well in school, met new friends, played two years of basketball, and had some fun along the way – everything that had been on my checklist freshmen year. I considered Jenna as one of my best friends that I had met at school, and we had lived together every year. We had a lot of common interests and spent a lot of time together with basketball and sharing a house. Our main differences came in our faith. I was a liberal feminist, a science-enthusiast, and an atheist. She was a lifelong Catholic and had invited me to nearly every event that our campus’ Newman Center put on. I was annoyed by her persistent efforts and whenever it was brought up, I got uncomfortable and was forced to come up with another excuse that could get me out of it without causing tensions in our relationship. I didn’t understand how she couldn’t see that I had no interest, as I didn’t believe in God and made fun of Christianity, especially Catholicism. Jenna never showed frustration through this and was always polite and understanding. She had a light and a positivity about her that I resented and that I couldn’t understand.

Her persistence paid off one day in October, a day that I’m sure neither of us will ever forget. I was going through my first breakup at the time and searching for any help that I could get from friends and family.  For no clear reason I had the hymn Here I am Lord stuck in my head all day and decided I had to listen to it. I had gone to a Methodist church growing up and knew the song from that but hadn’t heard it for many years. This was the moment. As I listened to the lyrics, I completely broke down in a way that made no sense. I was sobbing and had an overwhelming yearning to go to church. For the first time, I approached Jenna and confided in her, telling her what had happened, and for the first time, I told her to take me to church.

Since this moment, Jenna and I have shared in a sisterhood that can’t be compared to any other friendship.  The more I went to church, the more my curiosity grew. There was an unquenchable thirst to know more and more about the same religion that I had mocked just a short time before. Jenna, as she had always been, was patient as I asked question after question at any given point during the day. Still uncertain of what it was exactly that I was feeling, I followed my heart and continued to learn more, attending weekly events and joining an athlete Bible study.

In the midst of this, an opportunity arose to attend a retreat that was at a resort and lasted all weekend. After debating whether or not to go, something was telling me that I had to be there, and so we went. There I experienced adoration for the first time. I did not know what to expect going into it and the setting was a bit strange and unfamiliar to me, but my heart was open to receive what the Lord wanted me to hear. During that prayer, everything that I had been feeling in my new faith began to make sense. This was the first time that I felt completely embraced by Jesus, that I knew that I was worthy of his love and forgiveness, and I left knowing that I wanted this joy and happiness for the rest of my life. For the first time, I was in complete awe of the Lord.

The longing my heart feels to fully receive Jesus in the Eucharist is unlike anything that I have felt before.

I am getting confirmed in the Catholic Church this spring. Every Mass brings me closer to Christ in a way that no other service ever could, and the longing my heart feels to fully receive Jesus in the Eucharist is unlike anything that I have felt before. I am still in complete awe of His goodness and how He has and continues to work in my life. I am still learning more every day, and am truly happy and filled with joy in a way that can only be found through a relationship with our Father.

Reflecting back to freshmen year and my life leading up to that fills me with emotion. I didn’t know that I was unhappy, and I didn’t know what it was that was missing in my life. I know now that I am where I need to be, at this college, in friendship with Jenna, and in the arms of the Father who has been softly calling my name and patiently waiting for me to open my heart to Him.

Although this was never in my plan, it was in His. I am still the same person that I was freshmen year, the child that God created me as, but His grace has simultaneously changed every aspect of my life.  I am still strong, but now I find my strength through Him. I am still a basketball player, but I am above all a daughter of God. I am determined and driven, but with an entirely new purpose. I am happy in a way that everybody deserves. And I am saved.

I will forever be grateful for the Lord’s blessing of placing Jenna in my life, along with all of the many others who have played a part in my journey so far. This bond between Jenna and I has extended onto the court and affected us as teammates and athletes. My mission now is to pass this on, to bring this truth to a teammate, to help in opening their hearts and in hearing their own call from God.

– Allyson (current NCAA student-athlete)

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There are 4 comments so far

  • 2 years ago · Reply

    What a beautiful witness. She writes with wisdom beyond her years. Welcome to the family, Allyson!

    • Thomas Author
      2 years ago · Reply

      Thanks Jenny. She is an impressive gal. I will pass on the encouragement to her!

  • Sunset Paddy
    2 years ago · Reply

    Welcome to the church. So happy to have you. Remember to keep your elbow in when you shoot.

  • 2 years ago · Reply

    Sounds like God gave you the best roommate ever. I just saw a young lady get Baptized a few weeks ago and it was my favorite Mass ever.

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