From the Author’s Desk
During a recent radio interview, I was asked to discuss my faith, as it is a recurring theme woven throughout my novels.
I was raised Catholic and grew up spending a lot of time in church, singing in the choir and attending youth group. But when I was sixteen years old I had a severe allergic reaction that took on the form of an infectious disease, and I ended up being in the hospital for months. I had a fever of 104 for weeks that would not break; I was nearly paralyzed from the pain I felt whenever I moved my muscles; I was covered in multiple rashes; my spleen was enlarged; my platelets were low; my kidneys were beginning to fail; the doctors thought I had Leukemia, Stills Disease, or Puerto Rican Dengue Fever. But all the tests kept coming back negative. It was a very scary time for me and my family. I actually missed the last two months of my junior year of high school. Eventually, the doctors decided to shock my body with a high dose of steroids to keep me from slipping into a coma. Their treatment worked, and I began to heal.
As a sixteen-year-old who had always tried my best to be kind to everyone and do the right thing, I was a bit upset with God for allowing me to endure so much pain. This caused me to turn away from my religion for a period of about four years. During that time, I decided to experiment with anything that looked fun and inviting, including alcohol, drugs, and sexual relationships. However, by the time I turned twenty-one, I lacked the joy and fulfillment I once had. I was depressed and even though I had an abundance of friends, I felt alone.
In the meantime, my mother had found a new church to attend. She asked me to come home from college and go with her one Sunday. I put it off for as long as I could until I felt bad saying no. I honestly went to appease my mother, but the message I heard that day was different from the Catholic masses I had been used to. It was a non-denominational Christian church and the pastor talked about how God works in people’s lives today. He compared scripture to real life situations and prophesies to historical events. I was caught off guard but also intrigued. I agreed to attend church with my mother a few more Sundays, and each time I went, I learned a lot—not only about God but also about myself.
One day, I decided to try an experiment. I said for one week, I would read the Bible and try to live the way God recommended. I would consider His advice in all my decisions and try my best to keep His commandments. I wanted to see if I felt any different. Well, it didn’t take seven days. It took about three for my depression to lift. I suddenly felt excited about life again. It was the strangest thing. I had peace in my heart. I realized that God gave us the Bible to help us find joy and fulfillment. It was not a book of rules intended to keep us from having fun, which is what I had previously thought. It was a book written with love, giving us advice on how to live meaningful lives. I realized that what God calls sin are things that He knows will cause people harm. Because He loves us, He wants us to abstain from such things so we do not have to endure the painful consequences. I could not deny how different I felt after only three days of reading the Bible and praying. It showed me the realness of God and gave me the desire to grow closer to Him.
The more I read the Bible, the more I understood the true Gospel message: God forgives us and grants us eternal life because Jesus died to pay the price for the sins of humanity. I realized that people who put their faith in Christ are saved from hell by God’s grace, not by their good deeds. I became consumed with studying the Bible and comparing its prophesies to historical and current events. As I grew closer to God, my desires in general began to change. I became interested in new activities that filled me with joy, and I lost interest in things that in hindsight I can see were detrimental to my life. My friends and family began noticing the change in me and asking why I seemed so different—so happy, energetic, inspired, and peaceful. I could not deny that something was changing inside of me. It was effortless on my part, and I knew it was the result of inviting God into my heart.
One day, I came across a scripture that summed it all up perfectly; “if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.” I knew that was exactly what had happened to me. I was twenty-one years old at the time; I am now thirty-four. Finding my faith and learning how to live it out has made the last thirteen years of my life extremely fulfilling. It is my hope that everyone discovers the spiritual dimension of life so they can find the same joy, motivation, and purpose that I have found in God.
Stacy Padula (O’Halloran)
Tune in to my radio interview with Doug Llewelyn, which covers topics such as faith, teenage social issues, and writing for a young adult audience: