Thursday, June 24, 2010

Problem With Prayer - Intro

A while back I promised a post with this topic. I am not exactly in the same place I was that day....but I am going to try and get the gist of this off my mind.

As mentioned many times previously on the blog, I am new to faith. Not that I never had any before, I just had a very undefined view of God and my place in the whole spectrum of things. I believed in God, but not going to church. I wasn't anti-church, I just didn't go. I wasn't Protestant or Catholic, or "Non-Denominational Christian". I was just me.

Now that I have Faith, the true Faith, everything is a little different, but some things are the same. I don't take the Lord's name in vain nearly as much as I used to (it's something I take with me to Confession everysingletime, but it's getting better). I still have a hard time with prayer.

When I was a little kid, I used to "say my prayers" before bedtime. My dad (on some non-drunk night I am sure) taught us to say the "Now I lay me down to sleep" prayer and to say "God Bless.......(fill-in-the-blank)". I always felt guilty only asking God to bless the people I knew and cared about. So I devised a system to cover everyone at least once and then those I cared about a little bit more. It makes me laugh to think about it now. I would ask God to bless everyone in the whole world, then everyone who knew someone I knew, then everyone I knew, then everyone I knew and liked, then everyone I was related to, then my favorite relatives, then my mom, dad, and brother. Seems a little overkill and silly to me now. But to my little kid OCD brain it made sense.

My journey into the Faith began with a fall. My marriage was crumbling right before me and I had no idea what to do or how to hold on. My husband came to me one day and told me he didn't love me anymore. I had no idea what to do or where to go with the grief, sadness, disbelief, hurt, and anger I felt. I have serious abandonment issues as it is (my parents kind of sucked, I'll get to that in some other post) and this was the ONE person who had promised never to hurt me or leave me. And here he was, doing both.

I cried. I nursed my baby and cried. I couldn't do anything. I fed the kids. I fed me. I had no one to talk to. It took months before he actually got the truth out - and then I was even more crushed. I had no idea how we were supposed to fix this, IF we were supposed to fix it, how I would live without him, how I would survive mentally, emotionally, and even financially (yes, money crossed my mind, what can I say? I had just recently embraced being a SAHM and given up working).

We had just bought a new house (new to us) and I had heavily lied to get the loan approved. We moved from a big city where I had friends to a little hick-town where my husband's ex-wife lived (to make it easier to get the shared kids to school when I had a newborn). I had just pulled my kid out of public school in the middle of the year to homeschool him permanently (although we couldn't convince the ex to let the other kids out). I hardly knew anyone. Anyone, that is, except the mom of a friend of my son's who had just pulled her kids out of public school and inspired me to do the same.

I had been able to empty everything out to my BFF who lived farther away, but there was little comfort she was able to give me other than an ear to scream and cry to and a pair of arms to hold me when I visited her to cry.

The mom in town had something I didn't have. I remember the first time I talked to her about homeschooling and why would she do that? She said, "Well, we're very Catholic." Hmmm. I just thought the school sucked ass (sorry to be so blunt). I was very casual and said, "Oh, I find God out in the woods when I sit and listen while I'm hunting." I am a little embarrassed I said this now. Actually, I stole those words from my husband because I didn't really have any words for that comment.

Once we were both new homeschoolers living a block away from each other, we started talking a lot more. She could tell something was up. I cried all the time. I didn't want to be home. I'm pretty sure I was eating all the food in her house. She asked if she could do anything. Nope. She said, "You should talk to my friend, Fr. Eric." I said, "I am not Catholic." She said, "He doesn't care. He's my friend. We grew up together. He can help you."

I went to see Fr. Eric. He is, and remains, the most awesome priest I have every met. He GOT IT. He seriously got it, right away. He got my problems, my marriage, everything. He saw that all was not lost and told me God had a plan and wanted my marriage to survive. He looked at the little girl nursing at my breast and told me God obviously blessed our marriage with her and wanted us to stay together.

He gave me a rosary he acquired in the Holy Land that had been blessed by the Pope and taught me the prayers for it. He also gave me a couple of other books which, out of respect to my husband and our privacy, I am not going to share the names of, but they specifically gave me information about what I was going through. Who knew Catholics (and priests!) were so knowledgeable in this area. Ha!

I left his office thinking "Why isn't everyone Catholic? This priest is awesome." Of course, I met some other priests since then and realize that this particular man has a gift and I thank God he chose to share it with the Church. (Note here: I am not saying that this is the only good priest out there or that all other priests are mediocre. Not at all. Fr. Eric is just something special you don't see everyday.)

My new neighbor and homeschooling pal had a few more things to say to me in the coming weeks. "You should come to Mass." "Um, seriously, I am not Catholic." "Doesn't matter. You should just come." And I did.

In the nights where I couldn't sleep after I learned the truth from my husband, the Rosary was my only comfort to quiet the visions in my head causing me such grief. I prayed the Rosary until I fell asleep everynight for probably 3 months. I didn't know much about meditating on the mysteries or the Gospel....I just knew the Hail Mary's, Our Father's, and Glory Be's. I said them over and over and prayed for the images to go away.

I kept going to Mass too. Sometimes I would just sit in the narthex with my nursing baby and cry while my son sat with my friend's family.

I met with Fr. Eric again and cried there some more.

Somewhere in the next 6 months, things got a little better. I still don't know exactly what changed or how it happened (yes there was counseling, and talking, and seeing this priest, and a bunch of other stuff....but really, I can't tell you how it all worked anymore). Somewhere though, I was Catholic.

This was what I had always been searching for. Someone who would love me unconditionally. Someone who did love me and had loved me. Someone who knew me and still loved me. Someone who would never leave me. Somewhere I belonged. Truth. Love. Peace. I found them all with God.

I made the decision to join the Church at Easter. I prepared. I read. I prayed. I kept going to Mass.

My husband couldn't believe that out of "all the religions out there" I had to pick Catholicism. My BFF couldn't believe it either, but she was just happy God was part of the picture now.

We conceived another child in Dec 2007. Yet more proof that God wanted my marriage to survive.

I was confirmed at the Easter Vigil in 2008.

You are probably wondering, just as I am right now, how this all relates into a "problem with prayer". I am getting there. I certainly didn't think I'd go to all this detail (even though I have skipped A LOT of the details to shorten this up) about finding faith and my marriage issues, but apparently I needed to get it out. I am cutting this post short here and will resume (hopefully I'll start typing it right after this) with another post explaining the problem. I figured for you to get where I was coming from you needed/deserved a little background.


Sel and Poivre said...

It sounds like you have got it all together...right down to the cloth diapers! God and Family and Babies/Children - its what its all about isn't it!

Anonymous said...

while i can't quite explain it, i do sense how this relates to pray and the difficulties with it. thank you for sharing what you have so far. looking forward to the rest of it.

Michelle said...

I strongly believe that God places a path out before us each day. It sounds, from your story, that he did that for you and you followed it right home to him! Looking forward to hearing the rest of the story.

Anonymous said...

Your testimony brought me to tears. It is amazing how God can reach down to the lowest depths and lift us out again. I am sorry that you have been through such suffering, but how awesome to see how God used that pain to draw you to Himself.
I am looking forward to part II. :)

MamaMidwife said...

Thanks for the kind words everyone. I really didn't intend to spill it all out like that....but it's been brewing for a while.

Follow up is scheduled to post tomorrow. I just didn't want to weigh anyone down with a post 20x as long as mine usually are. :)

And I really do think suffering just brings us closer to Christ.

laurazim said...

GAH! WHAT??!! I come here to read and maybe giggle, but this wet stuff on my cheeks, shirt and pillow were a *tad* unexpected!

Write on!!