A Biographical Sketch of My Conversion Experience (Part 4) by Joe Lamay
During the late spring and summer of 1981, I was in a constant battle to keep myself busy, so that I would not have idle time to just think and be drawn away by tormenting thoughts from unseen demonic forces. One day I stopped by the baseball field where I played just one year earlier and I was not able to concentrate on the game because I was overwhelmed with a sense that, “My life is over. I am losing my ability to control my mind. I will never be stable enough to marry and raise a family. I am just waiting to die.”
The one medication I was still on during this lost and fearful summer was alcohol. The fear of what marijuana would do to me weaned me from its use; but vodka and beer calmed me and brought me into daily relief. I was living in a bubble of my own fear and flashbacks. It was my own little secret that I did not know how to communicate to anyone else.
The desperateness I felt at this time led me to knock on the rectory door of my local parish (Saint Anthony’s in El Segundo) to get the priest to bless the cross that hung around my neck. At the same time, I started going back to Mass on Sunday mornings. I would sit in the front row and listen intently during service for the first time in my life. I was hungry to hear any morsel of biblical truth about Jesus. My desperation became so intense that it drove me to attend weekday Masses where I would light candles and pray for myself. I also enrolled in an adult catechism class at my parish. I was hungry for real answers. But outside of Mass and, I realize now, an inept catechism teacher, I had nothing to compare it to. I was like a kid from a third world country who is thrilled to get a tasteless bowl of rice with a cup of water because he does not know what is meant by “a burger with fries and a chocolate shake.”
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