Do you ever have those strange, sudden moments of revelation that make you stop cold? Those moments of realization about something so random, so obscure, so unexpected that they just leave you reeling?
And then when they happen you’re all like…
But then you get really excited because it’s pretty much the coolest thing ever?
You pickin’ up what up puttin’ down?
No? Maybe? Kinda?
Alright, so let me lay this out for you. Let me illustrate one such happenstance for you.
So, the other day, I was thinking about how I got here.
And by “here” I mean… here. Teaching at a Catholic school. Becoming a Catholic. Living and working in a podunk mid-western town that I wanted nothing to do with in my younger years. Single. With a cat. And no money.
And yet… happier than ever.
I mean… HOW? And more importantly… WHY?
Let’s be honest… this is NOT the life I had planned for myself. My current life doesn’t even begin to resemble the life I had planned for myself. And yet… oddly enough… I wouldn’t trade it for anything.
And yet… even though my new “here” is more fulfilling and exciting and awesome than anything I could have planned for myself… there are occasional doubts.
“Really, Lord? I mean… REALLY?! Catholic? Like… as in… the Pope kind of Catholic?”
“God, are you SURE??? The CATHOLIC church? Not Presbyterian? Or Anglican?”
“Okay, let’s back up the bus… I think I may have gotten my signals mixed up about this whole Catholicism idea…”
“I mean… eventually the novelty of this whole Catholic thing is going to wear off, right? I mean… this CAN’T be part of the plan…”
It was during one such moment of doubt that I was praying for the Lord to show me that I was indeed on the right track, because honestly? Some of it seems entirely implausible and just plain weird. I mean… Catholic? Really?
You have to remember that I came from a strictly Evangelical-Pentacostal family whose stance on Catholicism was, “Yes, dear. Catholics are very nice people. But no, you are not going to Mass with them on Sunday morning.”
I mean, Catholics were like a fringe Christian group. Okay, so they weren’t quite like Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses (No, I’m not saying Mormon’s and Jehovah’s Witnesses are bad. I love me some good Mormon peeps. Mormons are like the coolest thing since sliced bread. But they’re not Catholic…), but they certainly weren’t anywhere NEAR as theologically correct as the totally righteous, slain in the spirit, speaking in tongues, Satan-fighting Evangelical-Pentacostals.
So, considering my background and the fact that I pretty much held to that belief for 30-some years, there are occasions when I’m all, “Oh, no. WHAT DID YOU DO????” (However few and far between those occasions may be.)
I may have been having one such moment a few months back when that revelation/realization thing happened to me, and I was all, “HOLY RICE-A-RONI, BATMAN… I DID SAY THAT, DIDN’T I?”
You wanna hear the story? Of course you do… you hung on with me this long, now you’re all just like, “OH, FOR THE LOVE OF MARILU HENNER, GET TO THE POINT, WOMAN.”
Okay, so rewind the tape to approximately 2 years ago. I was living at home with my mother after my husband had blind-sided me and unceremoniously left me after nearly six years of what I thought was a happy marriage. (Why yes, that was a horrifying and devastating experience. No, I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone. Yes, I would prefer to avoid any and all future conversation about it. Kay. Thanks. Bye.) I was left trying to piece my life back together and figure out “the plan”. Because I had had a plan. But apparently, not everyone was on board with the plan. So, I had to figure out another plan with the remnants of the original plan. And I’m not very good at planning to begin with, so you can imagine how daunting and ugly the whole ordeal was…
ANYWAY, there I was, living at home, trying to find a single solitary trace of my formerly awesome self (Because, let’s face it… that type of experience lays you out flat… that is not an easy thing to heal from, my friends. It is painful and ugly and the single most awful thing that can happen to a human being. And no, that is not an exaggeration.) and substitute teaching in the meantime. I was substitute teaching in the school I had grown up in and I LOOOOVED it. I mean… LOOVED it. And I was good at it too. And the teachers liked me. And the kids loved me. And I loved it. And I was finally starting to feel like I was getting my life back together. When lo and behold, not one, but TWO teaching positions opened up in that school.
“This is it!” I thought. FINALLY, I was going to find my footing, get back on track, start a job I loved and life would be back to normal. Easy-peasy-lemon-squeezy.
So, I applied for both jobs. I was convinced I was a shoe-in. I had glowing letters of recommendation. Again, the teachers AND the students loved me. And I was an alumni, for crying out loud. OF COURSE, they were going to hire me.
And then I bombed the interview. Which was totally weird. Because I don’t bomb interviews. I ace interviews. Even for the jobs I really don’t want. But this interview? With my alma mater? Whom I dearly loved? With the superintendent who was praising my credentials up, down and sideways?
You guys… it was like an out of body experience. I genuinely could not find the answers to ANY questions. And they were really basic questions like, “So, you like to teach, huh?” And instead of answering with any kind of affirmative word or gesture, I think I grunted some made-up word while simultaneously picking my nose and flicking boogers at the ceiling fan. I honestly didn’t have the words to answer any of the questions.
So, I went home convinced that I had bombed it, but still convinced that OF COURSE I was going to get it because it was part of God’s plan… DUH. And not even bombing the interview was going to interfere with God’s plan.
Until I got the letter saying, “Uh… no thanks. We’ll pass.”
And that’s when the great wailing and gnashing of teeth started.
I genuinely couldn’t pull it together. I think I cried for about five hours straight. I couldn’t figure out which was more painful… having the rug pulled out from under me after nearly 6 years of marriage, or having this happen right when I thought I was starting to heal and get my life back together.
I felt duped and embarrassed and confused and SO frustrated… and really, REALLY angry. After all the garbage I had already had to endure, now God couldn’t even throw me a bone? He couldn’t just let me have the stinkin’ job? He couldn’t just give me a break and help me out and give me the one thing – the one thing – I not only wanted but really, really NEEDED? It’s not like I was asking to win the lottery… or marry George Clooney… or write the next great American novel. I just wanted a job. And He couldn’t even do THAT for me?
So, I told Him that. I told Him I was angry and hurt and confused. I said things like, “REALLY?! WHY WON’T YOU HELP ME?! WHY CAN’T YOU JUST CUT ME SOME SLACK?!”
And then, because I’m only able to wallow in self-pity for so long, the anger I felt led me to pick up my laptop and start searching for different jobs. “I’ll show you…” I thought.
And I started my search and one of the first jobs that popped up was the job I currently have. For a 3rd grade teacher at a Catholic school.
I came dangerously close to throwing my laptop across the room…. and I actually yelled…
I GIVE UP!
WHAT DO YOU WANT FROM ME?! DO YOU WANT ME TO BECOME CATHOLIC, BECAUSE THAT’S JUST ABOUT THE DUMBEST THING I’VE EVER HEARD, BUT I’LL DO IT IF IT MEANS YOU’LL JUST THROW ME A BONE!
I. GIVE. UP.
BECAUSE I CAN’T FIGURE OUT WHAT YOU WANT FROM ME!
And then in a fit of petulance, I applied for both Catholic school jobs that were taunting me from my computer screen, just to prove how ridiculous and stupid the whole thing was, and that He should have just given me the job I wanted in the first place.
And now? 2 years later? I’m Catholic.
I had completely forgotten about that little episode until a few weeks ago when I really needed the reminder.
It made me stop dead in my tracks, because I had actually said that. I had actually and effectually given up. And apparently that’s exactly what He wanted me to do.
God is funny, you guys. You know the saying, “Be careful what you wish for.”? Apparently that goes for prayers as well.
But, once you pray for something… remember what it was. So, when that prayer is inexplicably answered, you can give Him full credit.
Or don’t. Because those surprise reminders are kind of fun too.