As I have written for a while now, things in my life have been a little rough for the last 2 years or so. There have been moments of pure Grace that have flooded over me like a nice hot bath, but for the most part, it’s been a long uphill walk for me. (And my husband, but this is my blog and I don’t write a lot about his thoughts, because they are his thoughts. These are my thoughts) I have learned more from this uphill walk than I did when I was floating on Cloud 9 of a new conversion . God knows what He is doing and He knows when to allow certain things to be done. He knew that I was a very prideful person with low self-esteem and that is a terrible combination. He pursued me, even when I wanted nothing to do with Him and then when the time was right, He wooed me with a herd of sheep on a country road in Rome knowing that would make me fall deeply in love with Him and that I would spend the rest of my life at His service out of love. I also fell in love with my husband on that road, for the third or fourth time in my life. I have fallen in love with that man so many times that I can’t even count them all.
Conversion is crazy. I didn’t have a St. Paul conversion really. I kind of think of his conversion as one where Jesus said “Hey! What are you DOING ya crazy person?!” And St. Paul came to his senses and felt bad about the things he had done. I did not. I mean, sure I realized what I had done was wrong according to the Catholic Church and I recognized that She was the pillar of Truth and was right, but I didn’t really feel bad for having done them. I felt bad that I didn’t know the truth for most of my life, and I was even a little mad at the people in my life who didn’t really ever tell me what the Catholic Church really was about. But I didn’t feel at fault for not knowing it. However, I did think that since I now knew that Truth, that I would have to be a completely different person. I would have to talk different, sound different, like different things, expect my kids to be a certain way, for my house to look a certain way, to do things a certain way and to be like all those “good” Catholic women. And I thought all of this should just happen because I had this life changing encounter with Jesus.
I became so hard on myself. I compared myself to every Catholic woman, especially the ones on Facebook. The homeschooling, family rosary saying, 17 kid raising, open to life with a joyful smile. holy sex having, clean-cut kids at mass, and self-giving women who I found myself surrounded by. I am surrounded by amazing women who are heroes daily for the way they love and care for their families. I found myself thinking that I had a lot of work to do to be a good Catholic wife and mother. I needed to do all the things that good Catholic wives and mothers do. The dialogue in my head was “you are bad, you suck and you’re fat and getting fatter. You can’t clean your house, your kids are heathens and you are stuffing your face with cupcakes. You suck, you suck, you suck”. Oh, and I’m a pervert for wanting to have an orgasm when I have sex with my husband. Finally after feeling like I was about to lose my mind and after many confessions of being lazy, a bad wife and mother where Father told me that I needed to be easier on myself, I sought out a therapist. It began as marriage counseling, but ended up with me going to her by myself for an hour each week. I cannot really tell anyone just how much this has helped me in my life. And in my marriage. I had wasted so much time trying to be a good Catholic that I wasn’t spending any time trying to just be a saint.
My therapist, who is Catholic and is approved by my Pastor, has been a lot of help for me to understand the role that my childhood has in my life with my husband. Why things bother me and how to deal with those things in healthy ways, not ways that end with me in jail or my husband’s things laying in the front yard.
I took a lot of things personally; including discussions on Facebook or in comboxes, when they are not personal. I get validation that I am good at something, from FB “likes” and when I start winning a debate of some sorts. And I tend to think of people I don’t even know as friends and then feel betrayed when they delete me, when the truth is that I don’t know those people and if they chose to not wanna see my 20 million daily rants, then that is ok and it doesn’t mean that I’m a horrible person.
The greatest thing that I have gotten out of therapy is that it is ok for me to be me. I am not going to be so and so, who seems to have all her shit together and has a perfectly clean house, with a perfect marriage and clean kids. I do not know what the inside of her life is, and it is none of my business. My business is my life, my husband, my marriage, my kids, my spiritual journey. I talk how I talk, I think what I think, I try to look at my flaws and fix them out of my love for Jesus, not out of some need to be better than my sisters in Christ and I write what I write. I offer it all up to Jesus Who is the only person Who can make anything good come from it. We women are sometimes our worst critic. I saw an article where Kim Kardashian said she felt like she should hide while pregnant because of all the rude comments on her weight when she was pregnant. I thought to myself how sad it is that one of the most beautiful women (in my opinion) thinks that she is ugly if she doesn’t look a certain way that the public deems “pretty”. How sad that she doesn’t realize just how beautiful she is in the eyes of God, regardless of her weight. Is it good to work-out and be healthy? Yes, but because our bodies are gifts, not because some random people on the internet will call us fat if we don’t look just right. We have to learn how to love ourselves in a way that is aware of who we are as children of God. Not that we deserve to be worshiped by the men who love us and that we should be in control of everything and have things the way we want. I think that a lot of that need for control is about us wanting to look a certain way for others to “approve” of us or look at us and say “wow. She really has her act together”. And really, the only Person Who’s opinion of us that matters is God.
God loves me. He is good to me even though I have failed in every way possible that there is to fail, and yet He blesses me every day. He gave me an amazing husband who loves and supports me. Who makes me laugh and who gets me when I storm into the bathroom as he’s taking a relaxing bath to rant about how masturbating is completely different than self-stimulation during the marital act. He doesn’t kick me out, or tell me to get off the internet talking about that stuff or look at me like a deer in headlights either. He listens and then says “yeah!” like a best friend should.
For the first time since the night that I sat in my car knowing that God was calling my name to come to Him, I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that God loves me. I am so sure of that, that I can jump in feet first into things without fear of failure because it is not by my works that I will be saved, it is by His Grace and Mercy alone that anything good can come from me. Will it be scandalizing to some people at times? Maybe, but that’s ok, God’s love is scandalizing.