Oy…. I have such a weird relationship with God that I feel like I’d be better at speed dating than I would be at selling my Christianity.
I struggle, (a lot) to embrace the many things that comfort and pacify those of us who grew up believing. I did not. My parents were escapees from devout childhood upbringings that caused more harm than good, forever changing how they approached teaching us about any of it.
My mother was a Mormon and still proudly defends her relationship with Jesus. I just don’t have that conversation with her. One of my little sisters went through a Christian phase in high school that terrified all of us a lot more than drugs and sex.
Mom- I thought it was rough with you, with you climbing out windows and boys sneaking in the basement. This is far worse.
J- Jesus is way more invasive than any of the boys I dated, mom.
My father was an absolute heathen. Card carrying. My beloved stepmom got us up, put us all together to look like the perfect Mormon family and carted us all to three hours of hell, while my dad enjoyed the peace of an empty house.
I knew early on that I was more of a football and beer sort than I would ever be an iron a dress and spend half my day off with people I avoided for the rest of the week, kind of lady. Football is life and beer is delicious. I can’t say the same about sacrement, relief society, etc….
I grew up sleeping in on Sunday and watching my mama love making us a big family dinner. Those are my religious moments. I find the magic in the everyday details that I took for granted for so long.
That’s what I believe in more than anything else.
Then I got pregnant at 18… and had a baby with persistent hyperplastic primary vitreous. Essentially there is a blood vessel that connects the parts of the eye while forming, and when babies are born that vessel dies and a perfect eye is born. If that vessel continues to thrive… you have a baby that’s blind in one eye. They have you bandage the good eye, which causes that same sweet baby to tear violently at their own little face so that they can see. It’s more horrific than I can describe, and I was not at all prepared to deal with it at 18. I did though. I schlepped that sweet boy to and fro, scaring eye surgeons and opthamologists alike. I saw the scariest shit that motherhood has to offer, before I could legally drink a beer.
What could I turn to? What did the world have to offer me?
Prayers. That was it. Science said it was a life sentence of safety glasses and my sweet son never knowing how to ride a bike, play sports or fly a plane.
I realize that last one sounds crazy… but when you’re a baby holding your own newborn, you die inside if anyone limits their potential.
We went to the Casey Eye Institute and saw the best eye surgeon in the world for PHPV. They put the clamp in his two month old eye to hold it open and his screams caused my milk to let down. I’ll never forget standing in the public bathroom of a major medical center, mopping up the breastmilk I couldn’t get to stop while the screams of my baby made me want to pull him out of their hands and and walk home. Some moments stand out in your life when you want them to the least.
Jesus was nowhere to be found and whoever this God guy was that everyone kept telling me had a plan, wasn’t a favorite of mine either.
Something happens to you when the whole world turns sideways and everything you thought you knew your life would be, isn’t. I cried a million tears for the loss of his ability to fly that plane, and then we went to church.
I threw myself into Catholic motherhood and bought all the bibles. I wore a St. Christopher, carried a rosary, taught CCD and Boy Scouts. We made our first communion, gave our first confession and I found my voice in asking for help with my faith.
In the depths of my terrified despair… I found God at the Catholic church down the street. I was so painfully awkward at every other church that I was relieved to find one that didn’t confront us at the front door. The Catholics left us alone to figure it out and find our way. They didn’t comment on our being out of place or unknown, they let me quietly find peace in a pew full of people willing to hold my baby or me if either of us needed love or support.
I found a church family that filled all the weird holes my atheist childhood left, and that’s why it’s always been important to me to take my children to church. Not because I don’t see peace and tranquility outside of organized faith but because I know how hard it is to unearth it when you need it the most and also what a huge burden it lifts just to belong to something.
I love being Catholic and there’s a peace I can’t find outside of Mass. My knees hit the kneeler and I have to fight back tears for all the stuff I need to be grateful for, pray on, hope for and work out. I’m not waiting for the man in the sky to answer me, I’m more humble about having a minute to remind myself what’s important and needs my time and attention, first.
Religion for me is about doing what I know I should. It’s about snuggling and reading more than washing and working. It’s about taking a minute to stop and smell the gardenias.
Mine came from a beautiful boy/man who’s done more with one eye than the rest of us have with two, since the day he was born. He never liked sports anyway, he had no problem learning to ride a bike and is successful enough to buy an airplane ticket.
It all works out, you just have to have a little faith…