Friday, October 12, 2012

The Medal

I've been in a time of spiritual dryness/doubting for, ooohhh, the last three years or so. In a lot of ways it started when I got pregnant with L. The "worst thing ever" happened, and it wasn't the worst thing ever. My life didn't fall apart because of it. It was crazy and hard, but with this new little baby I was incredibly blessed. A and I got married and it was awesome.

But this is what tripped me up about it. I grew up with a pretty harsh understanding of faith. So when we had sex and got pregnant outside of being married, I was under the impression that we were doomed to be unhappy because we sinned. I had learned that premarital sex was pretty much a great way to ruin your chances of having real love, and a good marriage, yet we have both. Have we had to work through things due to our mistakes? Sure! But that particular issue has just been one of many, along with dealing with our selfishness, impatience, and all the other lovely vices two humans bring into marriage.

My point is that having had sex before marriage didn't damage us nearly as much as I had been led to believe as a teenager. In fact, with the birth of L blessings just poured out on us. And this threw me into a mode of doubting faith, because although lip service was given in my upbringing to the mercy of God, and redemption and all that, the feeling I had was that divine justice was stronger, and I had sinned dang it.

Now, slowly, with a lot of good talks with A, I am coming to see that due to the mixture of a harsher form of Catholicism and my idealistic nature, I have had too severe of a view of God. A came to be a faithful person more on his own, (and also has a degree in theology to boot :) ) and his early spiritual direction was much less harsh. Hearing his total belief in the love and mercy of God has been incredibly healing for me, and I truly want that kind of trusting faith. Not faith that is based off of fear of hell.

Slowly I am seeing that, yes we did sin, but the reason our sins are sins is because they are bad for us. I don't think God wants to punish us, rather He wants us to become the people we are meant to be. And it seems that part of our journey to becoming those people was through our dating, sinning, and having a baby at a challenging time. I think God is proud of the way we handled the results of our sin. Does that make sense? I'm not saying that this is why things have worked out so well (I don't really know why that is the case). I'm saying that God honors the fact that we tried the best we could in the circumstances we got ourselves into, and isn't out to beat us up over it.

So recently, in my faith journey I have been focusing on letting go of my scrupulosity, and focusing on accepting the mercy of God. But it's hard to relearn the thought processes I've used for so many years. I often worry there is a mortal sin that I haven't properly confessed, and if I die I will go to Hell. A assures me, and I want with my heart to believe, that God would take the whole of my life into account, and not bust me on a technicality. This is the God I want to believe in: the one who loves completely and knows our hearts and ours souls, and wants us with Him. But I am afraid of the God of judgement.

Anyway, due to all of this craziness swirling in my mind, I have not prayed much in the last few years. I faithfully go to Mass and confession, but when it comes to me personally, I try to communicate with God through loving my kids and husband. And in a lot of ways that has been more spiritually nourishing than spending hours in personal prayer. This week I made a very small gesture towards having something more personal and less fear based with God: I put on a medal of Our Lady of Perpetual Help.

A intentionally asked me out on the feast day of Our Lady of Perpetual Help, and we evoked her protection and guidance often during our tumultuous dating relationship. Mary has always felt like a very gentle presence to me even when I am feeling afraid of a judgmental God. And, let's face it, I will need help forever, so this particular title of hers is quite fitting.

I used to wear medals all the time, but have fallen out of the habit as my faith has felt shaky. A bought me the medal of Our Lady of Perpetual Help a couple of years ago, and I have worn it sporadically. This week I put it on again. It's a very small gesture I realize, but for me it is a first step towards really praying again. I hope this very small step will help me to focus on spiritual things again, through the most gentle of Mothers.



  1. Thank you so much for sharing your story! I think it's so important and that people need to hear it. I am so excited that you are coming to know God in a whole new way. In a way that you know that He loves you so much just the way you are, but that He loves you too much not want you to grow. Praying for you!

  2. I have a hard time praying, too. I find that some days all I can do is say a Hail Mary or two. I definitely find it easier to ask Mary's help than to pray directly to God, for some reason.
    I like the idea of wearing the medal. Hope it helps you in your prayer life!