Come As You Are

Happy Easter Monday! Today we meet Jasmine Coles.

Tell us a little about yourself.

I’m a 22 year old recent graduate from Virginia Commonwealth University where I received my Bachelors in Health, Physical Education, with a concentration in Exercise Science. I plan to begin pursuing my Masters in Rehabilitation Science and Nutrition this summer. I was born and raised in Goochland, VA where I stayed until I took a leap of faith for my first “big girl job”, moving to a new town, with new people, no money, and little support. God has taught me there is beauty in our  struggle, a lesson that I’m not rushing through as I see His power is made perfect in my weakness, amen? Amen.

Tell us how you became interested in Catholicism.

Up until my third year in college I was mostly agnostic. Even though my parents identify as Baptists, I didn’t grow up learning much about God. I’ve struggled a lot with depression and anxiety growing up but became significantly worse when I began college. I got to a point in life where I felt cut at my knees. In Spring 2016, I was in an abyss of depression, struggling to get up every morning and couldn’t even look at myself in the mirror. I felt completely and utterly alone despite being always in a crowd, seeking solace in a partying lifestyle. I lost motivation  to go to class, and half of the time I skipped. I didn’t know why some people bothered to be around me because I didn’t want to be around me. I ended up becoming the disappointment that I  fought so hard against. I felt like my life was spiraling out of control.

When I began dreading even going into work, I started praying- I mean truly praying. It was in those moments that God cleared out my heart to make room for His voice. A few weeks after I started praying, I randomly got an email from Catholic Campus Ministry at my school. I had never received an email before but all of a sudden, there it was in my inbox. Their events included bible studies, which seemed perfect since I had been wanting to start reading the bible but had no idea where to start.  Despite a few apprehensions and fear of judgment, I ended up joining one of the small groups with no intention of becoming Catholic… Jokes on me!

I was baptized, confirmed, and received first communion on April 15th, 2017.

Jasmine, to the right of Bishop DiLorenzo, celebrating celebrating becoming Catholic with close friends!

What were some of barriers you had and struggles you faced on the road to becoming Catholic?

My family was a big barrier. I didn’t know what they would think or do, especially my mom who is the glue that holds our family together. Other than that, it was the thought of following so many rules and not truly being “free” to do what I please in my relationship with Christ. After all, if I believed in Him then that’s all that matters right? I quickly realized though that it’s not enough. The teaching I struggled with in particular was the Eucharist. I wanted to believe that it is the true body, blood, soul and divinity of Jesus but I couldn’t wrap my head around it. I didn’t understand logically but I asked for Him to help me to understand if it was true, and He did.

Was there a defining moment or series of moments that cemented your decision to convert?

I can now see where God has been planting seeds in my life all along to gently guide me to Him. However, some key moment include the first time I went to adoration and my first women’s retreat. I went to adoration because a sweet friend invited me to go when I told her I had nothing better to do that evening. I didn’t want to disappoint her by saying no, so I went. I scrambled into the pew beside her and my anxiety went through the roof, even when the Eucharist was exposed. There was a worship band playing, and one of the first songs played was  Come As You Are by Crowder. I was moved to a mess of tears. As I stared at Jesus exposed on the altar, I could feel that my heart was exposed to Him. I found myself physically surrounded by a comforting warmth as He spoke to me: ‘This is my Son.” I can’t explain it in words, but I just knew that God was revealing this to me. It was when I found myself in adoration a second time at the women’s retreat that I said yes to becoming Catholic. It was the answer to my longing for Jesus to reveal the truth to me. I distinctly remember my prayer that night: “My Lord, I only want to be where you are. Please tell me. Is this your true Church? Is this where you are? Where I’m meant to be?” His answer was so clear: Yes. With His yes, I too gave mine.

What was your experience with RCIA?

I was in an RCIA speed course, as I call it. As I mentioned, I entered the Church in April, but started RCIA in January. My campus minister met with me and a couple of other people every week, who couldn’t attend the main class due to time conflicts. I loved it because I also met with her one on one, and could dive into my questions about Church teachings with no fear of judgment or ridicule. RCIA was intimate and informative, the perfect combination for the heart that God gave me.

How has your relationship with Jesus changed since becoming Catholic? Your relationship with yourself? With others?

The anxiety and depression I dealt with didn’t just disappear the moment I became Christian. At first, I didn’t understand why I was still struggling. Over time, I’ve learned that while He could simply say the word and my soul would be healed, that most often that wasn’t the case.  He loves me too much to simply take my burdens away, rather He walks with me through them, teaching me to grow in and lean on Him alone.

At first Jesus was my savior, then my protector, counselor, best friend… Now he’s also my beloved. I see him in most people that I meet. I see the part of Christ that is my friend in my friends and strangers on the street. I see the part of him who is my Shepherd in the priests of the Church. And I know one day I’ll see the part of him who is my beloved in my future husband.

Tell us your favorite Catholic book or author and why.

Courageous Love by Stacy Mitch! It’s a bible study on holiness for women and it’s part of a series. It’s amazing in the way that it takes your current state in life and guides you through a prayer regimen to help you answer questions these states can present.

What would you say to someone who was thinking of becoming Catholic?

Ask questions! Questions are an invitation to learn more about Him Who was, and is, and is to come. Whether you go directly to God, to a priest, your friend, the Catechism of the Church, or Google if you’re like me. Ask when you’re truly ready to listen and then wait on His response. I often like to close my eyes and imagine sitting at the feet of Jesus. I look up to Him as I ask Him all of the questions I have. Sometimes He speaks straight to my heart without any words; other times He guides me to someone or something that can tell me is answer.

Final thoughts you want to share.

He will never stop fighting for you.

Jasmine is the founder of Steadfast Training, LLC, providing in-home personal training for those in the greater DC metro area. You can find out more about her business here: Website | Facebook | Instagram