I am a Child of God: The Story of My Conversion
Every soul has a story to tell. It does not matter you are the wealthiest or most powerful person in the world, or simply an average one who is not particularly famous for anything. It does not matter if you are a saint or a sinner. Every person is different from the next, and everyone is special. If you call on two witnesses from a certain incident to tell you what they saw, both witnesses, assuming that both of them are being completely honest, would still have a different viewpoint.
So who am I? I am just another sinful human being of this earth, who would be nothing without our Lord Jesus Christ. I am a child of God, like you are. There is nothing extraordinary about my story, for I am not a famous celebrity, but I believe everyone’s story is worth sharing. Never think that you are not special; everyone is unique, and everyone is a child of God.
I do not have many tangible items that are from my early childhood. Yes, I have pictures from vacations and trips that I took with my family, but as to written records, I can find only a few. When I moved house in 2013, my family and I did a thorough cleanout of all of our belongings, and for all I know, I do not own many papers from school assignments except for those dating after 2013.
Various times in my life, I have tried to keep a journal or diary, but I continuously give up with it. Sometimes I don’t have the inclination to write. Sometimes I am too upset and miserable to write. Sometimes I am too lazy to write.
The main reason, however, is that I never liked to admit my faults when I was a child. And considering how many things we do wrong every day, and how much we sin every day, as soon as I removed that from my diary entries, there really wasn’t much to write about. One needs to be honest with oneself, so in this introduction I promise to tell the complete truth. I will not exaggerate things or make myself seem like I am better than I really am. I am a terrible sinner, as we all are, but blessed is a sin if it teaches us a lesson.
I may not have much tangible information about my early life, but I do remember many things. Remember that in the long run, experiences will mean more to us (as well as our physical and spiritual growth) than any material things we own .
Now that I look back on my life of thirteen years (as of this writing), I have realized that God has always been with me, even though for most of my childhood years I was, in fact, an atheist. When we really reflect upon things, we may realize that the strangest things can be connected to each other. You will soon see this while reading my story.
I think it would be very beneficial to every soul in the world if ordinary, everyday people would come out and share their stories with everyone. Ordinary people can more easily relate to the lives of other ordinary people than to the stories of famous celebrities whose lives were very different than how the average person lives.
You may wonder, why are some souls seemingly more “blessed” than others? We know that our God is a just God, so how can He choose some of his creations over others? The truth is that he doesn’t.
Imagine that you are standing in the middle of a beautiful and colorful garden, full of lush green grass and lovely and delicate flowers. Imagine that there are many different types of plants there, each beautiful in its own way. Do you see? The grass cannot say, “Since I am not a flower, I am not pretty enough and therefore do not belong in this garden.” A lowly wildflower cannot say, “Since I am not a majestic rose, I do not belong in this garden.”
Like the flowers in the garden, we are all different, but we are all part of something greater than we are. This is the world, full of different kinds of people, just like there are different kinds of flowers in a garden. And every one of us is different. Every one of us has their own unique story to tell.
Henry van Dyke once said, “Use what talents you possess; the woods would be very quiet if only those birds sing there that sang best.”
So no, God does not choose certain people to be better than others; we are all called to be saints. He gives us different talents not for the purposes of ourselves and our human, selfish desires to be honored in the world. He gives us different abilities and strengths for His divine plan.
Therefore it is important for all of us sinners to share our stories and experiences with each other so we can all realize that although we are all different, we are also all the same, as children of God. Like the flowers in the garden, there are some of us that are simply more intelligent, more beautiful, or more talented than others, but we all contribute to the beauty of our very existence.
My existence upon this earth began on October 30, 2002. I was born, as all of us enter this world. I have some pictures of myself with my friends and family from when I was very little, so little that I can hardly remember anything from the first two or three years of my earthly life, but other than that, there was not much to tell.
For the fear of abruptly changing topics, I will say a little more about this. What parents do for their child before the child is born is extremely important, and can have a huge impact on the child’s life later on. For instance, my mother listened to Mozart’s music every day while she was pregnant with me, and I grew up to love classical music, which is quite unusual for children of modern times.
In fact, music became my main focus in the years that followed. I began to take piano lessons when I was four-and-a-half years old. Although no record exists of the very date that I started studying music, I can still remember everything clearly… It was July 7, 2007. It is quite an obvious date to remember, with the three sevens. I can still remember the sunny and clear weather from that day. Although I’ve switched teachers since then, and my old teacher moved a long time ago, I still remember what the neighborhood looked like, as well as the appearance of the interior of my old teacher’s house.
Like most children, I was rebellious and didn’t always like to practice in the beginning. It wasn’t until I won my first competition at the age of seven that I really began to realize how much I loved music. At the young age, I began to study the lives of the great composers, particularly Mozart, whose music I, though unknowingly, had been listening to before I had even entered the world! It is true; my mother’s actions before my birth really did have an impact.
My friends and acquaintances keep telling me to stop being so strict with myself, for I had been blessed with an incredible talent for music. I began to play the piano at four and the violin and nine. I won first place in a competition with young musicians competing from three states. I taught myself how to compose at the age of eight, having been inspired by Mozart. Music came naturally to me, and I had perfect pitch, the ability to sing any note without needing to hear it first.
It was also through music that I met one of my closest friends, the piano teacher’s niece. We met when I was seven and she was five, as she is almost two years younger than me.
But I knew that no matter how good I could become at my musical skills, there would always be someone far better than I. My mother used to say, “You may be a high mountain but there will always be a mountain higher than you. You may be a tall skyscraper but there will always be a building higher than you.”
In spite of all the praise and compliments I received from other people, I could never feel adequate enough. I never had stage fright while performing in front of others, since I had been performing from the age of five, but if I made a minor mistake, I would become very upset. I knew I was just insecure and not confident enough, and I tried to cover this, at times, with arrogance.
Little did I know that I had no confidence at the time because I didn’t have confidence in God! I always tried to tell myself, “You are good just the way you are,” but I never believed it. Today, I believe there is no such thing as confidence of yourself and of your skills; it’s always confidence in God. I cannot describe it, the feeling of knowing that He is watching over you and will always make the right decisions for you when our human nature fails to protect us from getting into trouble.
When I was younger, people would always say, “Stop bragging about yourself!” I knew that deep down, I never felt like I was better than anyone; I was just an early bloomer, and I knew it. In fact, my development, both physically and intellectually, started earlier than my peers and my friends. When I was a child, I did not know how to play with the other children, since my mind was always thinking about serious matters.
One of my friends was a late bloomer, and when she looks back today, she thinks that it was a difficult journey for her. I believe that being an early bloomer was just as difficult. Whenever I talked about very advanced things, my peers would become very jealous and irritated because they couldn’t understand me. I think they even felt a little intimidated. But the truth was that I also felt intimidated by them. I was so different, and I couldn’t understand how they could be so naive, so unaware of reality, just living in a child’s dream. I cannot remember a single time that I was like that.
I would also grow quite impatient with others my age when they don’t understand a difficult concept that I have grasped completely. It wasn’t that I thought they were stupid, but I was perplexed about how they could just not understand.
My early maturity, particularly when it came to academics, was largely due to the home education I received from my parents. Especially when it came to mathematics and language studies, my parents had certainly taught me well. As a child, I was always delighted whenever my teachers would give me little compliments on my intelligence. I still remember it; the feeling of accomplishment with little things.
But now! I desire to do great things, to change the world. My mission is to make God loved!
Aside from all this, in other words, I was just like any other child. Like other little children, I, for one thing, stole candy all the time! I still remember one incident very clearly. I was about four years old, and my grandparents had been visiting us. I had stolen some candy and was getting ready to sneak away with it. It was a typical thing for a four-year-old to do, to steal something and then hide and lie about it when caught. Hearing my mother’s footsteps coming, I quickly ducked behind the curtain.
I didn’t know that my grandmother had been watching me all along, and she was quick to inform my mother of what happened. This she did while laughing, as she understood what young children would do. When my mother found me hiding, she asked me if I had done anything naughty, to which I naturally said no.
Although I took pleasure in some childish activities, for the most part I didn’t enjoy the same things as my friends did. I liked playing with dolls and stuffed animals, but only for a short period of time. Then it was over, and I began to donate several of my toys. Unlike many children, I actually enjoyed doing homework, since the things we were learning in elementary school had already been taught to me long ago at home.
I had no brothers and no sisters; I was an only child, and I must admit that I was terribly spoiled and selfish. My parents invested all their time, energy, and money on me, and only on me. This probably why I was able to take so many classes outside of school. I started art class even earlier before I began taking piano lessons.
In Edison, New Jersey, where I had been born and had spent my earliest years, there was a local high school that allowed people to come in on weekends and use their classrooms to hold Chinese class. This, too, I started a year early.
I grew up in a household in which two languages were spoken: English and Mandarin Chinese. Although both of my parents grew up in China, apparently I have some Austrian and/or German ancestry. This might also explain why I was so musically inclined; isn’t Vienna, the capital of Austria, nicknamed the “city of music”?
However, I disliked Chinese school. We had an excessive amount of homework, and we had quizzes every week. I had a very bad attitude when I was studying this, and my mother would become easily angered. By nature, she is not a very patient person, but when we were studying together for my tests, she would become even more impatient.
I came to realize that happiness was mine, and mine alone, only when I was deeply absorbed in my music. In time, however, I found other ways to express myself, through writing. In first grade, my teacher commented to my parents that I was excellent in everything, but my writing somehow fell short of my other skills. Naturally, when I was a child I did not like to be criticized or to have to admit that I wasn’t perfect. I had faults, weaknesses, and I had a difficult accepting myself.
I was determined to improve my writing skills, and I spent most of second grade paying special attention to this. What this actually turned out to be was a discovery of yet another hidden talent I had not noticed before. I wrote a short novel in third grade, and towards the end of the year, my teacher told me that she was sure that someday I would be able to publish my writings. I told her at the time, “We’ll see about that; I can’t be that good!” But now I think there is hope that I can really do this someday.
God gave me the gifts of music and literature not for my selfish intentions of personal glory, but to glorify Him who is holy. I love church music, and I’ve sung in various settings of the Mass in Latin. I write articles and post them on the Internet to spread the love of God, as well as to help others seek truth and realize how much Jesus loves them.
Fourth grade was a turning point in my life. My teacher was always accusing me of not paying attention in class, although for the most part, this was not true. She was always finding reason to criticize me and to become upset with me. She was probably intimidated by how far ahead I was compared to other people in the class.
And this was true, for I always seemed to prefer adults as friends rather than children the same age as me. Through a piano competition in November of 2012, I met the composer Jennifer Castellano. What really impressed me about her was that although she was born with a visual and hearing impairment, she refused to let this stand in the way of her musical career. She taught me that if I am determined to do something, I should focus my attention on it and to try not to be blown off my course by unwelcome distractions and people who were out there to discourage me.
It was true that at the time, I was overly sensitive; I was easily offended and discouraged by other people, and I was constantly doubting myself. In time, however, I later learned to persevere and to never give up. The feeling of accomplishment at the end of a difficult task was worth all the pain or effort one might have gone through to achieve it.
The first half of the year 2013 was going along fine, but the summer… Oh, that summer was so terrible, I still remember nearly every detail of what happened. My mother forced me to go to a summer camp at our art school. I hardly knew any of the other students, and while everyone stood around laughing and talking, I would feel like I was sticking out like a sore thumb. Eventually, I found two friends, and the three of us were always together whenever we were at the art school. I haven’t seen those two girls, Sophia and Dalina, since then.
Oh, but things were to get even worse. My father and I then traveled to China to visit my aunt and uncle, and my grandmother. That trip was the saddest one I’d ever taken. My aunt, who had not seen me for a very long time, teased me every day mercilessly. She still treated me like I was seven, although I was almost eleven years old! I asked her to stop treating me like a child, but she refused to comply with my completely reasonable request.
My uncle, at the time, was an alcoholic and a smoker, and I could not stand the smell of drink and the smell of smoke. I couldn’t stand it. Things became so bad that I would hide in my room with the curtains drawn, writing merely for the purpose of passing time, totally absorbed in my own world. But I wasn’t happy.
Not even playing the violin could satisfy the unfilled longing for some excitement, to escape the utter boredom of that tedious trip. I was going through a difficult period in which I felt I wasn’t improving at all in spite of the fact that I dutifully practiced for one to two hours a day. Since I was on vacation and had far more time than usual, I was able to practice more. But I had expected that from practicing more, I would improve more quickly. But things didn’t turn out as well as I thought they would, and I even thought sometimes that my efforts were fruitless.
I couldn’t bear it anymore. Even though I was an agnostic at the time and wasn’t sure about the existence of God (I was born to atheist parents), I remember spending hours praying for all this torment and tedium to end. I would say, “My God, if you truly do exist, please…”
For a while, things seemed to improve, particularly when my father and I returned to the United States. But then I started to have terrible nightmares every night. Thinking back from now, I think that was truly when God started calling me to join His family, and the Devil was trying to interfere. I didn’t really respond to the calling until much later.
To make things worse, my mother then informed me that we were moving. I was horrified; I didn’t want to move. I had been born here, raised in this house… No, I didn’t want things to change!
We had moved to Warren at a very inconvenient time. I was starting fifth grade, the last year of elementary school. Everyone in my grade seemed to know each other, having been with each other for six years since Kindergarten. As I have explained earlier, I never really knew how to play and interact with others my age. I was so terribly alone! Everybody else knew each other, while I knew no one. I really wish that I had truly believed in God’s existence at the time… At least I would have Jesus, the perfect friend that never abandons me, even when my human friends did…
Just like at school in Edison, the students in my new school were also intimidated by my intellectual maturity. Some people who were kind enough to care would even tell me, “Why do you look so sad and serious all the time? Be happy!”
I couldn’t be happy at all; I might even say I was depressed. I felt so left out of everything, and so unnoticed and ignored. And when people did notice me, they were always cold and jealous. I tried to be kind to them, but they didn’t change. I began to wonder if it was me, myself, that was the root of the problem. Perhaps I am just a very unlikable person, I thought to myself. I had never felt like I was adequate enough.
I was not the type of person to openly express my feelings, so I would keep everything to myself while in public and cry and write in private. I would try to bury myself in my work as a way to escape reality. And the Devil refused to stop tormenting me in my dreams. Oh, thank God I pulled through that school year and didn’t try to destroy myself.
The summer of 2014 was simply splendid! I really enjoyed myself visiting Europe, especially Austria. My love of music had stayed with me during my great struggle, and it had been my only refuge to escape from reality. And, in Vienna, music was everywhere.
Middle school changed everything, once again. Students from four different elementary schools were suddenly combined into one larger one. I was glad for this. Now I could make new friends. And although I only had one or two friends that I was especially close to, I was generally liked by most people. And since now we had different math levels, and I was in the highest one, I could interact with people who knew as much as I did.
I feel that all I really needed to do was open my heart to people and appreciate them for the unique person they were; I needed to stop judging people by their intelligence and abilities. I was beginning to realize that I was indeed a sinner.
In the beginning of the year 2015, I matured a great deal in a short amount of time, as all teenagers do at one point or another. I was filled with questions. In the end, what is it that really matters? What is my purpose in life? Most importantly, is there a God?
There were so many questions that I had concerning where I had come from and where I would go after my earthly life that I determined that there must be a God. There just had to be. There were so many questions that science and reason could not explain.
But who was this God? I didn’t know Him personally; I knew nothing of the Holy Trinity. I had never read Scriptures, and I had never heard of the Catechism.
Somehow, I felt drawn to the Roman Catholic faith and began to look into that. During Lent of that year, I decided to try fasting and abstinence, which I succeeded at. I began to study the Mass and learn some prayers. But overall, I was still quite clueless. I didn’t have much of a prayer life. I felt like I was talking to a wall at first, since I knew nothing of the concept of a personal God.
Although I knew that I had finally responded to God’s calling and I now believed in him, I did not know that I needed to be baptized in order to be saved. I actually had no intention of officially joining the Church. However, I did know that God was the one who had helped me get through the problems of the past years, and I was finally at peace with myself knowing that He was watching over me.
I must admit I began to feel terribly nervous when I heard that I had to go to China during the summer – again! Please, God, I thought upon hearing the news. Please don’t let me suffer another nervous breakdown!
But God protected me. The only discomforts were the terrible heat (without any air conditioning!) in China and also the boredom. For most of the time, I worked on a novel that I had started the previous winter, entitled Missa Solemnis, wrote several articles, and composed.
However, towards the end of August, I read a book about New Age theories. I began to seriously doubt my newly found Christian faith. Perhaps reincarnation was real, after all…
I was tormented for a month and a half with doubts in the beginning of seventh grade. As usual, I began to attempt to bury myself in my work to avoid thinking about such things. However, this doubting was quickly solved. I was asleep one night in mid-October when I had a powerful dream that changed my life forever.
It had started with a very bright light. While I was floating in circles, wondering where I could possibly be, I saw our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, standing right in front of me. I was stunned. “My Lord, are you real?” I asked.
“I am as real as the people you see around you, my child,” Jesus replied. “I am the Truth. I am the one you must follow.”
When I woke up the next morning, I knew exactly what I needed to do. I needed to join the Roman Catholic Church.
My atheist parents weren’t exactly on board with the idea of me becoming Catholic, but eventually they gave their consent.
Now that I’ve been learning more about the Catholic faith, I am one hundred percent sure that God is real. I believe in the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. I no longer have any more lingering doubts. Jesus himself appeared to me and told me that he is the Truth.
I no longer feel alienated from my peers at school. I no longer feel unloved. I know that no matter how many mistakes I make or how badly I mess up, Jesus still loves me.
What I desire now it to use those talents that God has given me according to His will, not mine. I sing and write music to glorify Him. I want to share the faith with others so that they, too, may see the truth. I hope that the story of my conversion will inspire others.
Do you remember the flower garden I used metaphorically in the beginning of my story? I am very happy to know that I am one of the flowers in God’s garden. Now that I know I am loved, everything else falls into place. I know why I exist on this earth; I know my purpose in life now. If I could only use one word to explain the meaning of life, it would be Love. God’s love Everywhere.
One cannot truly learn how to love until they had experienced what it is like to feel unloved. Although no one is ever unloved. Everybody is loved beyond measure, by our God who is not just the master and creator of Love, but who is Love itself.
I am a child of God, and my mission is to make God loved…