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Exist 7 Jul 2018
I have never doubted my own existence. It seems I have an awareness about my own existence. But for 14 years of my life I wondered: Does God really exist?
Born in a catholic family
I grew up with praying before and after meals and at bedtime. I had done my first communion when I was 6 years old and received my confirmation at an age of 11 years. Each Sunday I went to mass. I did not doubt God's existence.
Young children grow. Fortunately. At a holiday friends who did not believe in God asked me: William, do you really believe that God exists? I did not have a good answer to them. Yes, a small doubt crept in my mind. I wanted to know a good answer. And that would take me 14 years.
I wanted to know
I regretted my confirmation. I knew deep inside that I needed to choose for God and for the Church. I did not know how to respond. And life went on. I still prayed and went to mass every Sunday.
At the age of 21 I read the bible from the beginning to the end. I knew many stories from the Sunday mass, catechesis at the primary school and a children's bible.
At the age of 24 I got involved in a catholic youth group. A group with 'no' doubts. Four 8 years having been involved in that group my question on the existence of God did not find a good answer. Nevertheless something happened. I observed that at each monthly catechesis meeting I learned at least one interesting thing. Sometimes it came from the priest's teaching, sometimes from what one of the other attendants said, but frequently it came from a 'private' inspiration. New good thoughts came.
At age of 32 years I attended 7 evenings of catechesis at the home of a family. Roughly 15 persons were present. One of those evenings the (lay) teacher asked everyone in the room: "do you love God?" and expected a personal answer.
Instantly a bible verse came into my mind: What is the most important commandment? And the answer: You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind and all your strength. And your neighbour like yourself.
And there I sat. I could not remember anything at all that I ever had done out of love of God. And I answered to the people: "No, I do not love God."
At that moment in silence I made a decision. I will pray as often as it comes into my mind: "Father God, please teach me how I can love you." And I have prayed that simple prayer very often. This prayer has totally changed my life.
Two things happened: 1) Instantly I was filled with a great joy. I knew I had chosen for God. I knew with a certainty that I can not explain that God existed. And I have never again doubted on that question. 2) I began to see many of my shortcomings in a fresh way and I really wanted to grow. I began to seek what I could do with my life in response to God's love. And that desire has never left me.