Taking the Convoluted Path to Church…

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After my divorce, I moved to a new area. It was a leap of faith, and no doubt a leap of craziness, as well. I found my new place by driving down the road and catching a sign in my peripheral vision. I turned the car around and stopped to write down the pertinent information. At a time when I needed something–anything!– to fall into place, this did.

The street happens to have the same name as my sister, the road I drive down to get here is the name of the place where I was born, and the church I pass between those two roads has the same name as a church from my childhood. So, nomenclature-wise, at least it felt somewhat like home, right from the start.

I have attended that church here. Admittedly, this was when I felt lonely and was thirsting for community. I like the feeling of belonging to a faith community, that feeling of belonging. But, that hasn’t always been so and it hasn’t always been easy, not that Life is meant to be.

I grew up in a staunch religious family, going to church every Sunday, attending religious schools, and taking graduate courses in Theology though it was not my major. I was involved with all sorts of religious groups with people of many different faiths. It’s safe to say I was immersed in religion, and it was as natural, necessary, and refreshing to me as drinking water.

When I was married, there were so many friends of the family who were clergy that several of them officiated at the wedding. It was quite crowded up there in the front of the church.

“Nought may endure but Mutability.” I think Shelley was right: nothing lasts but change.

According to the tenets of my faith, I was not supposed to divorce and if I did, I would not be able to fully participate. (I have been told that this has since loosened up somewhat depending upon the circumstances.)  At times, I felt like I was doing penance, for what I am not sure. I was “offering it up” and I made the best of it. But despite all of my praying, all of my devotion to my God and to my marriage, things didn’t get better. I’m sure many of you know well the plaintive feeling of: “My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?”

After a while my body started echoing the anxiety in my mind. (Yes, dear regular readers, there seems to be a pattern with my body telling me things, doesn’t there?) Everyone would be singing, reciting a prayer, or listening to a sermon, and I would feel my heart pounding, and dizziness that made me sit down or leave for a bit of fresh air. I couldn’t breathe, couldn’t catch my breath, felt like I was going to faint, and sometimes I blacked out.

Week by week the symptoms worsened until during one service I had sharp pains in my chest in addition to my usual pounding heart. I thought I was having a heart attack, so of course I went to the doctor. I had never had anything similar occur, and haven’t since. The diagnosis: panic attacks.

Heh. My body seems to get me out of places and relationships when my mind can’t take them but I won’t listen. The thing is, my relationship with the Lord was not one I ever wanted to damage. It was important to me. I was someone who had always prayed and carried on conversations with God.  (OK, monologues maybe, but He listened!)

Looking back, I think I felt forlorn, trapped, and somehow abandoned (a pattern here, too, right? At least by the Fathers in my life).  To want to belong, but to feel that you don’t because divorce was your only way out, to be trying your best but not being able to measure up and fix your marriage and be a good and upstanding member of the church… these were difficult things to reconcile.

And then, Life being Life, there were other wrenches thrown in. For the sake of brevity, I won’t get into all of them, but I’ll tell you about one, one significant wrenching incident:

There was discussion on some of the other wordpress places about whether or not suicide is forgiven by God. I have never felt it useful or even possibly accurate to attempt to say what God might or might not do in any situation. As far as I know, He can do anything He wants, at anytime, both imagined and the unimaginable. However, my sister did some research on this subject. She went and spoke to various members of the clergy and told them about the paper she was writing on the religious views of suicide.

She was assured that it was indeed possible to kill one’s self and to go to heaven. I hope that members of the clergy have since clued into the fact that anyone asking such a question might well be considering suicide. Feeling reassured of her place in heaven and not being able to withstand her pain on earth with an illness that the doctors were as yet unable to diagnose, my gifted, beautiful, loving and lovely little sister killed herself.

As far as I can tell, the pain and despair that drives one to suicide is echoed by the pain that is left to the survivors who loved that person.

She was the little sister whom I was supposed to take care of. The guilt and sense of helplessness were excruciating, especially when added to the guilt I already had felt since childhood because I hadn’t stopped my father from killing himself, either. I felt shocked, then overwhelming remorse and guilt. And I had young children to raise, by myself, for all intents and purposes.

I had been praying for my own selfish reasons, my own marriage, when I should have been saving my little sister.

But where was God? Where the heck was He when we had needed Him? I felt such pain, abandonment, even betrayal. If He so much as smiled upon me at all during any of this, I’m sure I was not looking.

It was a long way back, up to the point of despairing in my marriage and finally reaching out again to Someone almighty. But I did. And He listened, despite my pain, my confusion, my feelings of abandonment, and my absence from church.  (Many of you already know that story, but if not, you can read about it here. It felt like a miracle, to me.)

Since the time when I called out in need, God has been here with me on this little journey of rebuilding my life. I have not been a devotee of organized religion for quite some time, but I have faith and in my heart I have all the proof I need that Someone out there somewhere in the universe is there in my darkest hours. I can and do carry on conversations and prayers in my head as I have always done, but sometimes it is nice to be a part of a community of others who are somehow similar and who gather to pray together.

So, on Easter Sunday, I’m going to walk down the street that is named for my little sister who is in heaven, and I’m going to go on over to the church with the same name as the church of my childhood. I’m going to go and say, “Hi Lord. Remember me?” although now that I think of it, that question has already been answered.

Hugs to all,

~ Lily

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27 Comments on “Taking the Convoluted Path to Church…”

  1. integrityisyou says:

    Hi your writing is beautiful. Such sadness. But your strength comes through. It is so hard in my situation to have strength but I walk with God and write my feelings out! God bless you

    • lily2u1 says:

      Thank you so much for your kind comment. You’re right, it does help to write things out, and having faith does help with the strength. At least, when I feel in despair, I pray and feel God is there. Fortunately I am a happy person most of the time.

      I’m sorry that your situation is so hard. I hope–and pray–that things get better. Keep your chin up! Stop by when you need a change of scenery.

      God bless you, too, and Happy Easter! ~ Lily

  2. ambber05 says:

    Hey! I just read this very moving blog. I can totally relate to it because I got divorced also and it was a huge turn on my relationship with God. I am glad to tell you He is in control at all times and he already designed your path. And He is with you all the way. Have a nice Easter Sunday.

    • lily2u1 says:

      Thank you Amber, for visiting and for your thoughts and wishes.

      Thank goodness the Lord is with us all the way, as you say. Honestly, there are times that I don’t know what I would have done otherwise. Thanks for the Easter wishes, too, and happy Easter to you!

      ~ Lily

  3. janinevasta says:

    O Lily! I hope this Easter is the huge turning point you deserve it to be. I hope you realise how incredible you are. I feel honoured to be following your story. Your humour is there, alongside your sadness. You’re in control. I can feel such strength in your voice. You’ve certainly earned the right to live your faith in whatever way you want to or need to. He gets that, don’t worry. Jx

    • lily2u1 says:

      Aw Janine, so sweet you are. I’m glad that you are able to find some bits of humour amidst the drivel here, and that there is some strength coming through. Faith is a bit of a quandary at times, but only because my mind thinks it must figure all things out. If only! I feel good though, I feel like I’m getting… somewhere. Thanks for coming along and keeping me company!
      Easter blessings,
      ~ Lily

    • lily2u1 says:

      Thank you, Thomas! Lord knows I can use all the blessings I can get. I hope that you are having a fine weekend, and that you have a wonderful and creative week ahead.
      Thank you for visiting and for your kind comment!

      ~ Lily

  4. I love your writing. I felt like i was at your house and walking through this story with you like girlfriends. I will drop by often. Peace to you!

    • lily2u1 says:

      I just found this comment, in the Spam folder! I am so sorry. I’m glad that you liked the story, and hope that you will indeed drop by often. Can’t have too many good girlfriends!
      Peace to you, too!
      ~ Lily

  5. Lily, it seems you grow stronger with each post–that’s great!

    • lily2u1 says:

      Is it actually that noticeable? You’re right, I do feel stronger, I do feel myself getting stronger. Maybe it is because of the strong company I keep. : )

      Happy Easter! I shall see you over at your place; I see you have posted some photographic Easter treats, feasts for the eyes.

      Fondly,
      ~ Lily

  6. Hello Dear Lily, What a truly amazing woman you are. You have such an amazing depth to you. Sometimes God, comes to us in life, when we don’t even realize it, to ask us to share God’s love with others. You are sharing God’s love with all of us, and I I feel so humbly blessed to know God through you. I am deeply sorry for your pain and suffering. My heart holds you and I send love, mercy, and strength around you every day. You are an incredible woman. Growing up Catholic, I resonate with your story of God. But I too believe, that God can do both the imaginable and unimaginable, because God’s love is the most powerful force in our lives both here and when we die. I believe that your sister and father are in the paradise Jesus opened the doors to…
    Happy Easter, and may you be blessed with the community and love you seek always,
    Erin

    • lily2u1 says:

      Thank you, this is such a beautiful comment. I should post it in lieu of my meanderings! Thank you so much Erin, for your kindness, your insight, and your faith in God and in my humble journey here.

      Easter wishes, and always peace and joy to you and yours,

      ~ Lily

  7. kyllingsara says:

    I wish I had your faith, as it is at the moment, I think I’m too confused and angry to make room for someone I would most likely be furious at. I’m so sorry for the scars life has inflicted on you, on your heart, yet – you keep on trucking. I wish you all the best, Lily.

    Sara

    • lily2u1 says:

      Thank you for your wishes, Sara. It always makes me happy to see you here and I hope you enjoy this change of scenery. : )
      I too would be confused and angry if I were you. (Of course, I do have enough confusion on my own for the both of us!) I’ve had my times of anger, hurt, all sorts of emotions. Normal, normal, normal (or so I regularly tell myself)! Heh, we have to laugh sometimes. I’ve said it before, but be gentle and good to yourself. You deserve that, and peace, and joy. I’ll say some prayers in your direction. I am pretty good at praying, if nothing else.

      Happy Easter–the time for rebirth and Love —

      Hugs,

      ~ Lily

  8. Hi Lily,

    You remind me of a beautiful new flower. Each post is like watching the petals unfold. You get more beautiful with each writing, and just like the fresh flower, I feel you turning toward the Son.

    Thanks for each sharing of your tender heart.

    Be encouraged!

    • lily2u1 says:

      Thank you so much, Stephen, though I am sure that I spend more time looking wilted and maybe feeling that way, too! Still, we are each beautiful in our own ways and the trick is to realize that and to become our most beautiful, inside. Ideally, that is. Or, such are my musings on Beauty!

      Hope your day is happy!
      ~ Lily

  9. irfriske says:

    It is so nice you found a path to travel on and figure things out one simple step at a time, and have found your God there, aiding, watching assisting, maybe even dancing, slowly guiding you on!
    Cat

  10. lily2u1 says:

    Yes, it is nice, and you are right that it is one step at a time. I wish I could see down the path a little, I hope I am on the right one! Ah well, I’m sure God knows what He is doing, even if I do not! : )
    ~ Lily


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