Thursday, September 15, 2005

Some Background

I actually started this journey almost exactly a year ago and right now I have just started RCIA. Before we get into that, you should probably know what go me here.It started with Marty. Marty was a guy I dated in high school. I hadn't seen him in almost 13 years, but he came back into my life in January of 2004. He found me through I was going through my divorce and he had been divorced for about six months. Despite the fact that he lived 1500 miles away, somehow we managed to develop a relationship. That relationship didn't officially happen until July of 2004. That is when we officially became a couple. In August that year, I visited him with his family in Austin. He told me he loved me for the first time there. In September, he came here to attend a family reunion in a town that is about 30 miles away. I went with him. And that's where the journey started.

Marty was born Catholic. His parents are very devout. Marty is what you might call lapsed. But going to his family reunion and meeting his large extended family was interesting. Marty and I began talking about his religious background. At that point in my life I was not what you would call religious in any way. I had turned my back on church in general for probably 10-11 years.

I wasn't raised in any church. I began going to the Baptist church because they had a bus that would pick us up and there was the promise of skating parties and lots of fun things to do. So I went. And I got "saved" and Baptized when I was in the third grade. I went somewhat regularly until about the sixth grade when we moved to the middle of nowhere. We lived in the country off of a dirt road. It was a miserable existence and I didn't go to church. I went again once in the ninth grade and got "saved" again. But I never followed through by attending church regularly. Later I went for a time in high school because one of my very good friends (and a boy that was a huge crush of mine) invited me to go and his parents would pick me up. But I didn't pay much attention to the sermons or lessons. In college, I finally got serious... for a while. We had what was a "party", but really it was a front for preaching the message of the gospel. And once again I was "saved". But this time I thought it was different and perhaps it was real. When they were calling for us to say the prayer and commit ourselves to Christ, I started shaking and couldn't stop. I wasn't cold, but I figured that was a sign. I started going to church regularly and going to Bible studies. I was Baptized again. I wanted to try and be a good Christian, but soon discovered just how difficult it was. And then I got pregnant. Not a situation that a good Christian girl should find herself in. I don't want to say it was a mistake because my son is the most precious thing to me. But I felt judged and somewhat of an outcast. And perhaps that was more in my head than what was really felt by others, but I couldn't really shake the feeling. But I still went to church fairly regularly. It was place that I tried to belong to. I'm not sure I ever did. I still tried to live a good life, but finally felt that it was too difficult to be perfect and that since I could never be that way, I might as well just be the sinner that I was. The kicker for me was the night that Kevin Banks got up in front of the church to share a message with us. He was a guy in band that had a reputation, but had turned his life over to Christ a few years before and had become something of an associate or deacon in the church. His message that night was the fact that he had realized that he had not been truly "saved." He said that he now was recommitting his life because he hadn't truly done it before and we needed to seek within ourselves and recommit if necessary. At that point I began questioning faith and religion in general. I had too many questions that I didn't like the answers too or just didn't have them. I wondered well... if he's not saved, then I must not be and how can we ever know if we are? I began questioning as to who among Christian denominations had the right answers. What made the Baptists right over the Methodists or the Episcopalians? So I eventually stopped going. For the next 10 years or so I just lived without much thought to church. I would still go once in a while, but any time anyone would ask me about my religious state, I would just tell them I'm not ready to commit myself to that right now. I still believed in God, but I didn't call on Him much and it seemed easier to live the way that I was. I did pray from time to time, but I wondered if my prayers were ever heard.

During my marriage to Richard, I went through a few wild stages I guess you would say. I never really drank much up to that point, but found that getting drunk was kind of fun. I became a much more interesting person when I was that way. We got involved with theatre. I was much more interested in sex and did things I never dreamed of. I went to a strip club with him and some friends. We visited the adult book store. Had wild parties. But then the marriage failed. As much as I liked some of the wild stuff, Richard was still too wild for me and I could never accept his wandering eye or his interest in pornography. We drifted apart; I fell out of love with him. We called it quits in October of 2003.

When we separated I guess I went on binge of sorts. I cannot justify my actions, but I wanted to feel sexy and desired and beautiful. So I had some one night stands and dated a few guys. Looking back, I'm not proud of that, but I thought at the time it would fill the void I had. And then Marty came into my life. It took some time though. Even after we started talking and after he visited for the first time in February, I still had a few guys that I was seeing. I went on a blind date of sorts by meeting a guy in Michigan. I dated Patrick for a while. I still had my ex-boyfriend on the sidelines from time to time. But eventually, Marty won my heart. And I am really thankful for that.

But how am I here now? During the time of Marty's reunion we began discussing his Catholic background. His mother had been concerned for his religious well-being, but he told her that despite the fact that he hadn't stepped into a church since high school, he did read the Bible. But it was not a Catholic Bible. We went to the bookstore one night and he was going to get one so his mother would feel better. At that point I did not realize there was a difference between a Catholic Bible and any other Bible. And I thought that maybe it would be interesting to learn about the Catholic faith. I was really just curious about it. So Marty found me a book about it and I started reading. And that is where my journey began.


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Barbthecatholic said...

Hello Annabel,

This is Barb. How wonderful that you believe in the intercession of the saints. I agree that it is one of the most wonderful things about the Catholic faith (outside of the sacraments)
The Rosary is a meditation and the repetitious prayers are meant to fill your mind more completely as you meditate on the life of Christ "as seen" by his mother. The repetitious slipping of the beads through your fingers is also meant to fill another part of the brain. Catholics do not believe in emptying your mind in prayer like in some religions. I think it is thought to be possibly dangerous while in a meditative state. but of course we listen to God in quiet meditation.
The most wonderful thing hands down is the Eucharist. It’s what gets me to the church on time :) I would never be able to commit to it (like in your blog) if it were just a few songs and a sermon and that’s it. My husband is always impressed by my crying when I receive (he can’t receive because he’s Lutheran) I just get imbaressed, but I can’t help it. I know it will stop some day (been back to church almost 6 months now) I can’t have so much sensible feeling of the presence of Jesus in the Eucharist forever. That’s the way it go’s but I’m greatful for it while it’s given to me and I pray I will remember it when the dryer times come (which they will, I know, or what use if faith?)
I have done quite a bit of reading on the saints and in perticular Our Blessed Mother (I practiced My religion strictly for about 5 years in my early 20"s), so if you ever have a question - u have my address.

God Bless,
p.s. This blog thing is pretty cool- maybe I’ll give it a try

George @ Convert Journal said...

Annabel, I have included you in my "Convert Stories" listing ( Please let me know if you would like any changes to your entry and consider adding the "badge". Thanks.