My Religion Saved Me

Author: Michelle Ioannou, Real Life Stories

I am a millennial, I’m religious,¬†and I’m not ashamed of this. Why? Because in a way, my religion saved me.

My father passed away from Multiple Sclerosis when I was just three months into my freshman year of college. I was away from home, surrounded by people I had just met, and grieving. Sounds like the perfect mix for someone to cope by getting into drugs or alcohol, right?

But I didn’t. Because of my religion.

Now you may be laughing to yourself, I know. “Oh, she’s super religious and a goody goody of course she didn’t go down a dark path.” I wish I could say that that’s true, but unfortunately I’d be lying.

I was angry that God took my father away from me. I was hurt. Why me? Why did this happen to me? I already had a difficult childhood, why couldn’t college be my time? All of that, and more, were running to my head.

But, there were some things I just couldn’t deny. And that’s where God comes in.

The weekend before my father passed away, I came home from college to spend time with him. Little did I know it was the last weekend I’d ever see him. And the last day I ever saw him, was on my nameday.

For those of you who aren’t Orthodox Christians like I am, we have namedays where our patron saint is celebrated. These are quite the big, and holy, celebrations in our religion.

Do I think it’s a coincidence that the last day I saw my father was on my nameday? No. I don’t. I think that my patron saint, Archangel Michael, was there with me; guiding me, and giving me strength. He didn’t want me to be alone, and God chose this day to show me I had an angel looking after me.

Now, I know many of you are probably thinking I’m out of my mind. That it was just a coincidence. Just wait…

My father passed away on November 13th, which is when my church celebrates another saint, St. John Chrysostom.

What’s the big deal? That’s my brother’s patron saint.

So, to recap for you, the last day I ever saw my father was on my nameday. And the day my father passed away was on my brother’s nameday.

Still think it’s a coincidence? No, it’s not. It’s the work of God.

God wanted to show a glimmer of hope in the midst of all this pain. He wanted to show my brother and I that we could handle this, and get through it; that He had bigger plans for my father and He needed him. By choosing my nameday and my brother’s nameday to be two significant days, God was showing us that He’s taking care of the two of us, and my father as well.

And knowing all this, saved me. My belief in all of this, saved me.

It’s the reason I didn’t turn down that easily accessible path. It’s the reason I made it through tough times, and I still make it through the tough times. It’s the reason I’m not ashamed of my religion, and I’m not ashamed to talk about it.

My religion saved me, and it continues to save me.

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