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Overcoming Sadness in the Midst of Chaos

Life is hard when you don't know where to turn. A young woman struggling with family problems finds the peace she needs to overcome her sadness.


Shannon Santamaria: I was in a very troubled situation where… I didn’t know who to trust. I didn’t know whether to trust my family.

I knew at the end of the day, no matter how busy I was, no matter how social I was, I was by myself. It was just me. I became angry inside. I was sad all the time.

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Stories of Faith

Shannon: I’m Shannon Santamaria. I’m 22 years old, and I’m from Waipahu, Hawaii, but I’m originally from San Diego, California. 

Growing-up, my sisters and I, we were really close. We relied on each other for basically everything. [My] mom, she was always busy at work, and so was my stepdad. So a lot of our childhood was my older sister taking care of us.

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I Did What My Parents Wanted

Shannon: We actually attended a private school, a private Catholic school. There we would have our regular classes but alongside with that, we’d learn about “God who is Jesus Christ” because it’s Catholic. And we’d learn about their teachings, the Catholic teachings. And growing up, we still attended Catholic masses every Sunday. But I still didn’t really understand the importance of it. I attended because my parents wanted me to go, so we just decided to attend. It wasn’t something that I found interesting. 

We only prayed during holidays. Like Christmas and Easter were major holidays for us in our household. 

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I Became Angry Inside

Shannon: Our family was going through some problems, and I didn’t have anyone to turn to. Things were starting to pile up, and problems came at me fast. 

I didn’t want to be the weak person, to be helpless. I wanted to be the one to help my family. And so, I began looking for jobs. 

And as my family problems kept coming, I became very resentful. I became angry inside. I was sad all the time. Wherever I went, I just tried to hide it with happiness, with a smile. I didn’t know what to do. I just knew I had to keep it together. 

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A Mystery of Faith

Shannon: I met a friend in high school, and she actually asked me about Catholicism. And her question was, “Why would you believe that Christ is God if He’s the Son of God?” And even though I’ve had that question lingering in my mind, it wasn’t until someone said it to me where I started questioning the Catholic faith. 

And then I began asking them questions. And then they just said, “Just come to one of our evangelical missions.”

I didn’t take on the evangelical mission right away. Rather, I asked my dad. And then my dad said, “Maybe you can go to mass. Maybe you need to go to Bible studies because you’re questioning the faith.”  So we decided to go to church one day. When I approached the priest and I asked the question, he said, “It’s the mystery of our faith.”

As I started questioning and doubting my faith—my Catholic faith, I started looking towards my friends—my group of friends, they’re members of the Church Of Christ. And so I started asking them questions like, who God is, “Who is Christ?” And they kept telling me, “Oh, just come to an evangelical mission. Just come to an evangelical mission.”

And then my friends just walked with me inside the chapel, and the first thing I noticed was the choir. It was so beautiful, everything was organized. The solemnity was there. Something that I’ve never seen in a church.

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I Could Trust the Minister Before the Priest

Shannon: I couldn’t help but feel and see how solemn it was. And as I was listening to the lesson, I couldn’t help but notice how the minister was reading straight from the Bible. And it wasn’t just once, it was continuous. And the lesson, I can still remember it, it was about who our Lord Jesus Christ was. That was something that I needed to hear.

Everything was from the Bible. There wasn’t a personal opinion stated. The minister stuck to the topic and I understood it clearly—clear as day. Seeing how everything came from the Bible, it felt like I could trust the minister before the priest that I’ve known for so long. 

After the evangelical mission I was greeted [by] so many people that I’ve never even met before—people who [are] members of the Church Of Christ. You felt that love that you didn’t feel in a mass, or even in a Catholic church. 

So on my way home, I was thinking, “I really like this Church.” I left feeling happy after attending the evangelical mission. But as I was going home, my heart started to sink. I was like, nervous. I would be breaking my family apart. That’s what I really felt. And I didn’t want to risk my family because I want to serve God differently from them. So I left that place thinking, “It’s not the time.”

Starting my new life as a college student—even though I attended mass with my dad, I didn’t listen. I sat there thinking about the evangelical mission, or even the questions that were answered. And I just knew that, “Okay, this mass that I’m attending doesn’t even have the right words.” Or I just didn’t care for church.

Our family was going through a rough patch. I didn’t have anyone to turn to. 

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No One to Turn to

Shannon: I knew at the end of the day no matter how busy I was, no matter how social I was.  I was by myself. It was just me.

I was doing my due diligence to try and get another job so I can help pay for bills. I felt incapable. I felt like I wasn’t good enough for the job positions. I was getting denied, or I wasn’t getting the reactions that I felt like I was getting from employers, so it put me even in a deeper slum, in a deeper mess. And I was going to go home sad again, failing to find a job.

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A Detour

Shannon: It was during rush hour and I didn’t realize that there were only two exits to the freeway. I couldn’t help but notice—as I was waiting at the stoplight—a chapel. There was a poster, and it said, “Church Of Christ Worship Service Times.” But it wasn’t the chapel that I saw at the first evangelical mission. And I decided to just walk in.

And then I met a minister. I told the minister, “I have questions I want to ask” and he said, “Do you know about this Church, the Church Of Christ?” And I said, “I think it’s the same Church, the one that went to a while back.” So I wanted to ask more questions, maybe that would fill this sadness, this void, this…whatever I was feeling within me.

So we sat in the minister’s office. And it was quiet for a bit. And I just started crying. I couldn’t even ask the questions that I had in my mind. I just cried…in silence. 

And I just said, “I feel empty. And I don’t know how to fix it.”

I felt like maybe attending a worship service, or trying to draw myself closer to God again would be the solve to fixing this void that I had that was so evident in my life, that I felt—that I felt like no one felt except me. 

I felt like at that moment I could trust the minister. And then he said, “Why don’t you join us to devotional prayer?” And so we did. We went into the sanctuary and we had a prayer. And during that prayer I felt like it was there, that God was calling me. And I felt like I was denying it all along when it was right here the whole time. And after I said, “I’ll keep having my devotional prayers, and then, if I feel like this is the Church, I’ll come back for Bible studies.” And that’s exactly what happened. 

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Finding Peace in the Chaos

Shannon: My first Bible studies—it  was right after school every day. Because I was still scared to tell my parents that I didn’t want to be a Catholic anymore. 

But there was one Bible study that really surprised me. It shocked me, actually, because the Bible study was about the history of the Church Of Christ, and how it was apostatized. And what the Catholic church did, or how the Catholic church came about. 

And the verse was about how the sign of the cross was a representation of those who were deceived by false prophets, by false preachers. 

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If anyone…receives his mark on his forehead or on his hand, he… shall be tormented with fire and brimstone…”

[Revelation 14:9-10 New King James Version]

Shannon: And that freaked me out because that means I was deceived for about 18 years of my life. 

A week before my baptism, my dad wonders, “Why aren’t you attending Catholic mass?” And I told him, “Because I want to be a member of the Church Of Christ.” 

For once in my life I was finding peace in the chaos. And that was through serving God. 

Being baptized, it was like everything was light, as if God took all that weight. Everything that I was feeling, the emotions, the sadness, the void, the sins that I’ve committed, all of that was just… like it was taken—removed, lifted off my shoulders, and I got out [of the baptismal pool] as if I was someone new. 

Now that I’m on the other side where I have the true faith, I can share my faith. And I can tell them how I’ve been through it, how I came to know the true faith, how I came to know the Church Of Christ. And that’s something that I want to continue to do because it’s something that I know that people need that they didn’t know that they needed.

After my baptism, I’m happier, I’m at peace. My parents are actually really proud of everything that I’ve accomplished. I graduated college, I’m living a life without that void, without that emptiness. And I’m serving God the best way that I can. And it’s given me the best things that I could have ever imagined. 

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Message to Young People

You might think that becoming a member of the Church Of Christ, becoming more religious you feel trapped, that following God’s commandments is too strict for you. But what you don’t realize is that when you’re following God’s commandments, when you’re listening to Him, you’re as free as ever. You’re free from that weighted sin that you feel every day. And you’re free from that void.

Everything that you’re doing in your life, you’re just filling that void that you feel. That void that you want to fill, you’re filling it with parties, you’re filling it with hobbies. And you know deep within yourself that that’s not going to be the thing that fills that void. And I invite you to join the Church Of Christ. And maybe you can feel, for yourself, that void being filled with God. 


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A Love I Never Knew I Needed

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INC News World

Shannon: Welcome to INC News World. I’m Shannon Santamaria coming to you from the INC Media Studios in Honolulu, Hawaii. 

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Shannon: I may be only 22 years old, and I still have a full life ahead of me, but that doesn’t mean that I’m going to waste it from here on out. I’m going to use it to the best of my ability, and that’s serving God. 

I’m thankful because despite everything that I’ve been through, God has manifested in my life in ways that I couldn’t have fathomed. After my baptism where I really needed God, and He was there, where I felt like I needed Him the most, and He was guiding me. And my membership, that’s something that I’m going to keep forever. Because since being baptized, I’ve been feeling this love that comes only from God. That love that I never knew I needed. 

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Stories of Faith


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Overcoming Sadness in the Midst of Chaos