I have found that my depression has significantly decreased since becoming a nun. In my old life, I was very depressed. I was completely absorbed in my own pain. My new life forces me to look at the big picture, and focus on other people’s pain, especially those less fortunate.
I’ve been doing a lot of charity work. It feels good to be of service. I’ve been helping at a soup kitchen, collecting goods for the poor, and raising money for charity.
As a nun, I’m still allowed to have a life outside the church. However, as long as I continue to put God first. My favorite thing to do on my own is volunteering at an animal shelter. I love playing with and taking care of all the cats and dogs.
I’m also allowed to buy things, within reason. First, I need permission from the pastor. On birthdays, nuns will ask for money to buy a cake for everyone — for example. Those of us who like to read, myself included, will ask permission to buy books here and there. Of course it cannot violate religion, such as containing themes of lust, materialism, violence, blasphemy, etc…
During a walk through town on my own, I stumbled across a free book giveaway. A shelf filled with old books had a sign that read “FREE BOOKS!!!” No one was around.
I felt bad taking something without giving back. Yet maybe this was God rewarding me for all the hard work I’ve been putting in lately. “Ask and ye shall receive.“
What called out to me most was a very thick book titled “World Scripture.” The book included not just Bible verses, but texts from all holy books of all religions — everything from Hindu and Islam to Native American and African proverbs. It showed how all religions teach a similar message.
There was no way the priest would approve of this book… but it was free! I didn’t have to ask permission! Was this a test from God or a gift from God?! I felt something deep inside my heart that told me it was indeed a gift. So I thanked God, took the book, and went on my way.
Magical moments seemed to happen often when I was alone. The other nuns were not exactly who I expected them to be. No judgment, but they were much more gossipy and critical of one another than I’d assumed. Whenever one lady wasn’t there, all the other ladies would gossip about her.
“Stacy is such a ditz!” Or “Bethany is a horrible singer!” Or “Alison seems to flirt all the with the men!”
I couldn’t imagine what they said about ME when I wasn’t there… I had a feeling it was something to do with being the youngest. I’m sure they’d say I was too naive or not yet ready to become a nun.
I was looking forward to deeper conversations — about God. Ironically, being surrounded by the nuns almost made me feel further from God. I found myself giving into the peer pressure and going along with the gossip. And then I’d feel sick afterwards.
One day I was feeling particularly anxious, and decided to go deep into the woods with nothing but my Bible! I let God’s word consume me. Tears streamed down my face — joyful tears — because I was so touched. Never had I felt so close to God since becoming a nun, until this moment.
I couldn’t believe it — I completely lost track of time. Turns out I had been there for hours! Upon returning, the nuns were angry…
“You missed the prayer circle,” one pointed out.
“I’m sorry,” I apologized, “but rest assured that I was still praying. I went into the forest to do some Bible study on my own.”
“We found your book,” another added with scorn, “The ‘World Scripture?’ How could you bring this blasphemy into the church?”
“No, let me explain!” I panicked, “it was just a free book I picked up. I mean, I feel like it’s proof that God is everywhere, you know? There’s an infinite amount of religions, even branches of Christianity! Who’s to say that our denomination is correct?”
All of the nuns gasped at once!
“If that’s how you feel, perhaps you should leave.”
“No, I love being a nun! I love my new life!” I cried.
“We relinquished your devil’s book to the pastor. Most likely, he will ask you to leave.”
“It’s for the best,” another added, “You’re very withdrawn, you hardly participate, you’re always straying off on your own… perhaps this is not the right path for you.”
I was absolutely devastated. The worst part was that they were right. I hate giving up. But this was not bringing me any closer to God.
After praying on it all night, I approached the pastor the next day with my head down and announced my decision to quit. I didn’t want to know if there was even an option to stay. I was sure he wanted me to leave.
“Please, stay,” the pastor responded, to my surprise.
“You want me to stay?” I raised my eyebrows in shock, “but I don’t belong.”
“I think the nuns can learn a thing or two from you,” he smiled, “you are perhaps the most humble one here.”
I really did want to stay, but…
“Father, I am truly struggling.”
“I like you,” he continued, “you are progressive, just what this church needs. Yet you are also respectful of tradition. Like an old soul who is ahead of her time.”
“You really think so?” I blushed, face turning red.
“Oh, I know so! In fact…” he twiddled his thumbs, “I have an assignment for you. Put that independent mind to work and write down every single question you have… about God, religion, life… everything.”
“Okay,” I nodded graciously.
“And then start looking for the answers.”
Upon returning to my bedroom, I took out a notebook and began to write.
Some questions were specific, others were broad: Is the Bible literal or metaphorical? Have there been messages lost in translation? Which religion is most accurate? Is there some truth to every religion? What exactly happens when we die? Has religion created more war, or more peace?
I let myself write down every single doubt in my mind… included the DREADED question… “does God even exist?” I felt awful for writing it down, but it was a thought. After being shooed away by my own sisters, I was seriously losing faith…
I’d hoped my questions would be answered in dreams, visions, perhaps even through a stranger’s mouth. But some of my questions were easily research-able. As a natural investigator, I could figure out many of these answers.
I decided to start with a simple question — why Sunday? Why is Sunday the day of God?
God declared Sabbath, the seventh day of the week, the day of rest. He commands we dedicate the last day of the week in His honor. It is one of the ten commandments.
This means something different for all believers. For some, it means you go to church. For others, it means fully unplugging from the world — no work, no shopping, no running errands, no travel, for some even no electricity — and dedicating the day to God.
God tells us that we need one day of rest in order to keep our faith. Otherwise you burn out. This applies both physically and spiritually. Your body must relax — no labor, no intense workouts, no strain. As well, your spiritual body must relax — no temptations, no engagement in anything that distracts you from God.
The Jews, following the Ten Commandments in the Old Testament (Torah) take Saturday as the day of rest.
Some Christian branches, such as Seventh-day Adventists, also follow Saturday as Sabbath. Yet for most Christians, Sunday is God’s day.
After a bit of research, I found that there is strong evidence the Catholic church changed Sabbath from Saturday to Sunday. It is said that March 7, 321, Roman Emperor Constantine I issued a civil decree making Sunday officially God’s day.
It is believed that Christians denoted Sunday as Sabbath in order to differentiate themselves from the Jews. The church held service on Sundays to make a clear statement that they hold separate beliefs.
Since ancient Egyptian times, Sunday has always been the first day of the week. That would make Saturday the seventh day of the week, thus Sabbath.
But modern times have shifted the calendar so that Monday is first and Sunday is last. The international standard declares this.
Yet here in the USA, our calendar marks Sunday as first day of the week, and Saturday as last. This exception applies to United States, Canada, Japan, and a few others.
I find this very interesting. As the Bible states that the world continues to get darker, more dystopian and corrupted as time goes on, until Judgement Day — it makes more sense to me to look towards the past, towards ancient times, as a more reliable source.