Lately I’ve been feeling pulled in a new direction. A direction that if asked me about five years ago, I probably would have laughed at. I’ve been hesitant to write about this for some time as it’s a personal journey that tends to be very, very intimate. So, uh… here goes. In the last year, I’ve had a new, unfamiliar desire to become more spiritual. It’s always weird to just come out and say, “hey – we’re going to talk about God today” but.. well, why the heck not? When did believing in any religion become uncool? We’ve talked about love, loss, depression, good days and bad. Heck, we’ve even talked about dog poop. So.. I guess nothing is off limits.
Let me get into a little background first. What better place to start than my parents?
My mom grew up in a very Catholic family, went to Catholic school up until high school and spent the first decade of her children’s lives getting us to go to church as well. However, my mom has always been a questioner. Apparently a rule-breaker in her youth, she often challenged the old schools of thought. My dad had a very rough childhood without much religious experience and converted to Catholicism to get married and raise my brothers and me in a religious home.
When we moved out to the country (yes, western Howard County at the time only had farms and giant fields – no McMansions like there are today), the only decent church around had strict rules on what women can and cannot do within the church(surprise!) and tried to hold my brothers back from Sunday school for missing one or two classes because of sports. Apparently there was a big falling out and eventually we stopped going. My parents still raised us knowing what was right and wrong, how to treat others fairly and all that jazz – we just didn’t go to church every week.
From then on, religion was very foreign to me (I was probably 5 when this all happened). I didn’t understand so many of the rules or get how the Earth could have been literally made in 7 days when all of my classes said otherwise. I just didn’t get it; I’d like to think mainly because I just didn’t know. How could I know? I didn’t have much experience in that department.
Fast forward to college, I took a philosophy class and anyone who has ever taken a philosophy class knows that they tend to try to prove that God doesn’t exist way more than they support that claim. For about a year after that class, I, in all honesty, didn’t think there was a greater spiritual being out there – because again, that’s what I had been taught. However, I did feel envious of people that had such strong convictions. I wanted to know what happens after you die, I wanted to feel like I could wake up and thank God for a beautiful day or pray for a sick family member without feeling like a fraud.
Alex’s upbringing was very different than my own. Some of his favorite childhood memories are associated with his church… camping, the friends that have become family, the lessons and values he learned, the list goes on and on. I wanted that. I wanted to believe. I wanted to know that one day I would see my dad again. I wanted family friends that we met through church for our *eventual* kids. I wanted them to have those experiences. I longed for that community. When Alex and I started dating and he asked me to go to church with him one Sunday morning – I’m not going to lie, I was terrified. I didn’t know what to say when everyone else was just spouting stuff out. I didn’t know when to stand or sit or anything. But I went… maybe because I just really liked this new guy or maybe because that desire already took root somewhere inside of me and it was struggling to break free.
Before moving into our house, we found a church we really liked and I found myself looking forward to hearing the next week’s message. I felt uplifted and… well, just different. I still didn’t know all of the stories of the Bible or who did what, but I was learning and I was getting the exposure that I lacked. Unfortunately, since moving we haven’t found a church that even comes close to comparing — one day we will though.
Anyway, for the last year or so I’ve been feeling like I’m meant to learn more. I have a desire to figure it all out, to get a deeper understanding, to let go of all my worries and fears and shortcomings and trust that there is a plan… and that it all will work out.
After my surgery in November – I was so lost. I kept asking why I was meant to have such a hard journey, why are there so many bad things in the world, why me… why me, why me, why me. There were so, so many questions that I just didn’t have answers to. But maybe the difference was – that I wanted answers. I wanted to know what it all meant and what I was supposed to learn. I wanted to give up control and just let things happen when they’re supposed to, and – here’s the kicker, trust and have faith that they would happen.
In the last few months, I’ve been basically telling God that if I was meant to find my way to church, to Him, to… wherever – I needed a sign. I needed to feel like that was where I was meant to be, that someone was watching over me… I needed to know that if I let go, I would be in good hands. I wanted a big smack in the face, a violent shake, or, you know, a gentle hand leading me in the right direction.
About a month ago now (geez, it’s crazy how time flies), when everything was going right and neither Alex nor I had any problems in the world – I got into a very serious car accident. A freshly turned 16 year old boy ran through a stop sign and smashed right into my driver’s side. I was on a fairly major road and was going about 55 mph when it happened. Thankfully, I had time to slam on my brakes causing the other car to smash more towards my front tire. If that didn’t happen and he slammed right into my door, there is no way that I would have walked away from that accident untouched. Best case scenario is that I would have been rushed to the hospital.
Only days later, when we were still dealing with insurance claims and appraisers, when I was still full of bruises and sore - Alex got into an accident as well. I count my lucky stars that he was okay (and that I was… and all of the other drivers involved). It kinda got me thinking again though. Maybe this was my sign? Maybe it was how I was being told that really, honestly, and truly – someone was looking out for me, for us, for everyone. In the last six months I’ve battled infertility, being cut open, losing a baby, depression, deployments, and was in an almost-fatal car accident… and you know what – here I am to tell you about it. And not just that, I can smile about it all and tell you what I’ve learned, how I got through it and how you could too (if it ever came to that).
Maybe all that bad stuff wasn’t bad stuff at all. Maybe it was just leading me to where I was supposed to go.
I’m not here today to tell you that I have it all figured out; I don’t. I’m not trying to convince you to find Jesus; I’m not sure that I’ve found the way either. I’m just trying to bare my soul, show you my insecurities, tell you my worries and doubts and fears. This is just a diary for me, albeit a very public one, and I hope to one day look back on this entry and feel proud, even only for sharing something that made me vulnerable. Maybe this is a turning point? Maybe this is the crescendo at the end of a long string of painful events? There has to be more. And it’s my turn to find it.