I had no job, no skills and certifications that had expired requiring almost two years of college credits to get back. Lack of child support left me with a badly damaged credit rating, and we lost our family home. 24/7 I faced five small children who were scared and hurting and looking to me for everything, and I wasn’t able to give them a fraction they needed emotionally. Worse than facing those children was handing them over to this man who had said and done such awful things. What was worst of all was that I needed them to go sometimes. I needed time alone, to cry, to scream, to beat my fists, and to try to clear my head.
I needed time to search for God.
And search I did. My oldest son suggested reading the Book of Job. He had recently finished 6th grade CCD and a study of the Old Testament. Job lost his wealth, his children, his health, so much. My loss was not to the same extent, but it was intense and ongoing, and I did feel a bit like Job. I began to read Job to the boys and then began making my own way through the entire Bible. There was so much I didn’t know in there, and I wondered why Catholics didn’t read the Bible?
I listened to Christian radio and the testimony of the DJ, a long recovered drug addict, as he talked of his wife, of his child, of how Jesus had transformed his life. I listened to the songs that spoke to my heart and to those that called me to stand up another day and even to those that gently commanded me to forgive when forgiveness isn’t deserved. The stories on the radio were from Christians but not Catholics.
I attended church with a friend, a Baptist church with a married pastor. I spoke briefly with him suspecting my friends had already explained my situation to him. He was kind and patient and understanding. He understood marriage issues. He got it. He got the pain. He got the confusion. He got the fear. He got it, when my own parish priest whom I had known for years did not.
I needed to get away from my life, from the home I was losing, from the mess I couldn’t keep up with, from my new reality. I just needed to get away. On my weekends without the kids, I began driving long distances and found a non-denominational mega church. I loved the pastor there. He has an incredible message delivered in a personal, engaging manner. I believe his faith is real. The band (yes band – complete with drum set behind a plastic sound enclosure!) was incredible, so different from the little old ladies croaking out solemn tunes in the Catholic church I’d grown up in. I felt myself swaying along, singing loudly with strangers, reaching out and meeting new friends who spoke openly about their faith in the Lord and in our Savior Jesus Christ in a way Catholics do not often do. I met people who touched my heart with their testimonies of the healing, transformational power of Jesus Christ, people who know so much more about the Bible than the Catholics I knew did, inspirational people who remain friends of mine to this day.
I understood the draw those other churches had. I enjoyed services and learned a lot from them. I respected and looked up to and loved my new friends, and I thought about leaving the Catholic church for these more understanding, more exciting, Christian churches.
After all, I wouldn’t really be leaving my faith – just serving God differently, in a way more connected to the modern world while at the same time, as they said in those churches, they were delivering the Gospel as the early disciples had…
The real trial came when my ex had the annulment papers delivered. My good non-Christian friends were shocked and outraged and saddened by his actions and the ongoing trauma I experienced because of it. I leaned on them for support seeking shelter in their loving embraces while my own church began, through the annulment process, tearing apart my childhood, my dating life, my marriage, and me in search of answers I don’t know that any of us is truly qualified to unearth.
I know there are some who say they found peace in the annulment, but I found none of it. Instead I found a deeper doubting of my faith…
Thank you for joining me as I explore why one should remain Catholic through divorce. Tomorrow, I will explore the annulment process, and then finally, I will get to the point, Why Did I Remain Catholic Through Divorce? I hope you will join me over these next two days, and share your own stories of what happened to your faith when you were confronted with divorce.
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