I really hadn’t been giving God a second thought. My parents views on religion weren’t positive, and I suppose quite a bit of that had rubbed off on me. In all honesty, religion was something I really didn’t want to be associated with and I found quite unusual. I also felt that some of these religious people were quite out of their tree, and in truth some of them are in fact nuttier than a five pound fruitcake.
It won’t surprise you then to know, that when I was asked by a classmate in junior high if I was a Christian, I objectionably replied “No, I’m not!” For whatever reason though, he refused to believe me, and I had to keep insisting that I wasn’t. I’m hoping now, that he had a very good impression of what it is to be a Christian, and that it wasn’t that he thought I was two bricks short of a load.
I have another very clear memory of one particular occasion in which I was handed a Bible tract at the mall, by an elderly lady. I took it–not knowing what it was–then thanked her and walked out the door. When I had a moment to see what I’d been handed, I realized it was just a bunch of “religious” mumbo jumbo, and promptly threw it in the nearest garbage bin. I know there were other occasions over the years that God was brought to my attention, but those two occasions stand out in my mind.
There were also of course those people who went around saying “Jesus loves you.” that left a lasting impression as well, but not in a good way. I, in no way, wanted whatever it was they were trying to sell me. I didn’t know who Jesus was, and telling me He loved me off the bat like that, screamed “Okay let’s stay away from this one!” Maybe saying “Jesus loves you” to some people is the answer they’re looking for, I don’t know. I can only speak for myself, but it sure wasn’t what won me over to the light side of the force.
In the summer of 1994 though, God was apparently intent on preparing me for what awaited ahead. The truth is, I believe He’s always had His hand on my life, that He was always working, and probably speaking too. I hadn’t really taken much notice, and I couldn’t see it, or hear it either, but this particular summer God was intent on moving in.
That summer in 1994, my eldest brother was wed. I attended the wedding dressed to the nines, and I caught the eye of a Jamaican fellow who was a friend of the family, on the brides side. He wasn’t the man that I would marry but my husband Andrew didn’t trail too far behind. That particular story comes a little later, but I do believe that God was using him as sort of a stepping stone to Andrew then, as well as to Himself– and that God was making His presence known to me.
So in walked bachelor number one, and with him came God. I never saw that coming, and when I found out that this guy was a Catholic, I was a little put off. I debated whether I should continue to see him, and It was actually my little brother who persuaded me– through the glory of guilt– to give this fellow a fighting chance.
So I did. I didn’t call the whole thing off, and I decided to keep an open mind. I even attended some church services with him. I have to say though, it wasn’t the most desirable introduction to church for me. It was way out of my comfort zone and didn’t help the impression I had of religion.
So let me paint a picture for you now of what being introduced to the Catholic church was like for me: I was given a lace veil to wear, which I was suddenly surprised with (not at church, this was ahead of time but it was still a surprise to me), and wearing it only made me feel awkward. The church itself was eerie to me, and was conducted in part, in a language I couldn’t even understand. If that wasn’t enough the people were pretty animated, let me tell ya! They were standing, then sitting, then standing again, accompanied by the congregation verbalizing things in this language so foreign to my ears. I had no idea what it was all about. I felt a bit like I was no longer in Kansas anymore, and I couldn’t understand the natives.
As I looked around the church I felt very insecure and very out of place. All I was told before hand was simply to do what everyone else was doing. After the fact, I didn’t find this instruction very informative or helpful in any way. Consequently, I never felt comfortable in the Catholic Church, but it did engage us in some talk about God, which gained my attention. One night, before I drifted off to sleep–not sure what I really believed or what to make of all of it–I said a prayer asking God if He would please make Himself real to me. I do believe that God does make Himself known to those who seek Him–I’m living proof after all–and even to those who may be somewhat hesitant, and unsure at first. (Proverbs 8:17)
My relationship with this man had hit a snag though–in that, I really didn’t want to become a part of this church, and so I found myself on the fence about this whole relationship. I wasn’t fond of the “theatrics” of the Church he attended, though now I can see some humor in it because I was so shy and insecure back then. Not knowing what was being said during the services never helped the cause, and I sure couldn’t see a desirable future.
Over the phone one night, I was told that he wouldn’t marry a woman who wasn’t a Catholic. This gave me something to think about. Really, I was pretty convinced that it wasn’t going to work, but because my self esteem was so low, I was confused. I was afraid to let go of what I thought might be my only hope for a relationship, but it wasn’t long before God helped me with my current dilemma.
Part 2 Hook Line and Sinker