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by By Chris Steinbach · September 18, 2012

Once upon a time, some of the nice Altar & Rosary Society ladies at Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Melcher, Iowa, pegged me as a future priest.

Iíll pause for those of you who know me to stop laughing.

Anyway, it may have made sense back then. After all, I was an honest-to-goodness altar boy well into my college years. I sang in the church choir and helped freeze ice cream every summer for the church picnic. Both of the priests who served at Sacred Heart during my high school years encouraged me to play football and study for the priesthood at what is now St. Ambrose University in Davenport. But to a teenage boy, the celibate life of a Catholic priest didnít sound very appealing.

Back to the priests I knew in high school. They were probably disappointed that I eventually graduated from a college affiliated with the Methodist Church, but I still attended Mass nearly every Sunday morning at Immaculate Conception. Usually with a hangover, Iíd plop down in a pew as near to the back as possible. But I went. After all, it was only three blocks from the Morningside College campus in Sioux City, Iowa.

And for many years after college, I attended Mass on most Sunday mornings. In fact, I often joined the church choir wherever I lived. It was a good way to make friends and collect news tips that I often turned into stories in the paper.

But for reasons that even I donít understand, I stopped going to church regularly five or six years ago. And for the past couple of years Iíve worked on Sunday mornings at a part-time job that has taken on added significance since I lost my full-time job six months ago.

Those past six months have given me plenty of time to think about all of this. Early on, one of my closest friends told me his faith had really helped him a few years ago when he lost his job. ďIím praying for you every day,Ē he told me recently.

Thatís something Iíve heard from many people, including a friend on Facebook, who recently told me: ďYou havenít even met some of those people praying for you.Ē

I am very grateful for their help, because Iím not sure how good I am at praying.

At least thatís what I would have said prior to this morning, when an email and a message on Twitter both made me think God has been listening when Iíve tried to strike up a conversation. In the past few days, I guess you could say I told God whatever happens to me is in His hands. And then I sort of made a proposal: Help me get a good job and Iíll tackle some of the other things Iíve been trying to ignore for too long, including my poor church attendance. The rest are better left between me and God. At least for now.

Itís embarrassing to think I may have needed to lose a job ó to which I tied too closely my self-identity for far too long anyway ó before I could have that conversation. Itís a good thing God is patient.

But I think Iím beginning to see myself becoming the person I was meant to be. And that gives me a reason for hope on many fronts, including my search for a new job.

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