I remember going to my childhood church for the first time, and I remember feeling excited and energized by the community and the spirit. My mom was proud. Up until this point, I had been a ‘half-breed’. My dad was Baptist, and my mom Catholic. But now that my dad had passed, I was going to be raised Catholic. There is nothing wrong with that. It was not common and sometimes not accepted in my small Southern city, but it was my destiny growing up. And I dove in, full hearted.
I remember, over the course of the next several years, throwing myself in. I wasn’t only prayerful, but I was the ONE in my household that made sure we prayed and went to church each Sunday. I think, in retrospect, that it was good for my mom. She was everything, but she had already been through so much, that maybe she needed that extra push. I was happy to respond, and happy to push.
Some Sundays, we would be too late for Mass and would just attend our rightful service at Cracker Barrell. But most Sundays, we were there, albeit in the very back. But we were there nonetheless. I never once considered how difficult it had to be for her as a single mom. When you’re surrounded by families in a church where ‘divorce’ is so frowned upon. But my mom wasn’t divorced. She was a widow.
When she finally dated my future stepdad, it was difficult for her to take the Eucharist, and I couldn’t understand.
So when I was twice divorced, and my mom was dying and made sure I took the Eucharist, I took it seriously. I obeyed.
I have raised both sons in the Church so far. But with my second ex-husband AWOL, and me engaged, I knew there was no being accepted by ‘my Church’. I didn’t tell anyone, because I am not close with anyone in my Parish. But finally, my conscious got the best of me. So when I did finally tell the youth director that my kiddos wouldn’t be coming back and that I wouldn’t be able to teach, I thought that maybe someone would reach out. That isn’t what happened.
I was passed by. I feel given up. I feel like anything I did for the church in the last 30 years was fruitless. With two husbands and a stepfather converted, not to mention a fiance totally on board to convert, I said my last goodbyes.
So maybe churches, like people, are temporary. Maybe they walk into our lives when we most need them or they need us, and then they depart and make room for something more.
So with my kids and fiance in tow, I am out in the universe searching – just a girl with a rosary asking to be accepted.