Friday, January 8, 2016

When 'faith' isn't enough...and never was

A decision that was twenty years in the making
spending most of those years wearing out
my knees and my (rosary) beads
praying for understanding, acceptance, faith.

I did all the things that were suggested to me
or taught to me as 'supposed to' do's...

I faithfully attended Mass
confessed my 'sins' and thoughts
sang and prayed my heart out
volunteered and served as
lector, cantor, choir member, eucharistic minister,
religious ed teacher, RCIA sponsor, and
even was gainfully employed by the church
for five years.

I went on searches and hosted retreats,
attended parish missions and meetings,
chaperoned youth trips and conferences.
bible study and Bingo,
joined and started prayer groups,
Christian singles groups,
cooked for funerals and church dinners,
oversaw the nurseries, everything...

Everything that was asked.

Yet, when it came down to it

I didn't get it

I could see others seemed to have
'something',
but
I never did
though I pretended mightily
(and successfully, it seemed.)

Even though I had carefully and devoutly
followed the instructions.

During those empty years
of struggling, discerning, and serving,
I had a secret life, though not so secret
where there were other activities
that were perhaps not acceptable
to the faithful.

Why?

Out of many, many reasons, I was exploring,
searching,
for answers,
for completion,
for relief from the doubt, fear, and anguish
of not believing despite seeking
of finding no peace where I was assured there was much to be had
of realizing that no one really wanted to hear what was going on with me
   the hurts, the betrayals, the neglect of early years
of giving my all and then, when troubled, receiving nothing back
   except condemnation and judgment.

I was just supposed to offer all of the hurt and disappointment and betrayal up and
go on

But I could not go on, despite offering 'it' up.

So I went through the motions, hoping for results and relief
and when none came,
bandaged the gaping places
in my soul with the things of this world
especially alcohol.

Those didn't work either, though it felt like it, for brief periods.

***

One day, I was presented with a different approach
to life and belief, different from the church and in stark contrast to
the secret life of alcohol and supposed immorality,

Eventually, finally, I took a chance on the new suggestions

and

amazingly

the holes began to close, the past began to recede
and then disappear,
healed by the meetings, writings, and fellowship of
like minded individuals,
patience, prayer, empathy,

I was filled to overflowing and loved by
a compassionate, unconditional God
who was not punishing or controlling or capricious,
a God I did not know existed and would have never
found if I had not dared to step away from the other.

I healed. I am whole. I am happy. I am useful.

***

So don't tell me what to believe or how to live.

Your way did not work. It only hurt me more

almost to my death.

And it was not the only path, despite your surety that it is.

The new way fulfills me.

And I'm tired of being tormented about it, however subtly and gently.

To a healed fragile soul, working to strengthen itself,
subtle and gentle is almost worse than rape and abuse.


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