I am unabashedly Catholic.
If you have enough kids to field a baseball team and still aren’t sure you’re “done,” you get high fives from me for being open to God’s will.
Do you like a little Latin and incense on a Sunday morning? Hey, me too!
Are you ok with the idea men and women are created uniquely by God and therefore have unique roles in His church? I’m right there with you.
So having said all that, it seems a bit scandalous to admit I haven’t really prayed on my own in nearly 3 years, maybe longer.
I can’t. I just can’t.
One stops, the other starts
I stopped praying right around the time my agnostic husband started asking me to prayer. There is a whole lot of backstory that I can’t unpack in this particular post, but let’s leave it as this: I knew God wasn’t going to work a miracle for us and so I stopped trying.
However, at just about the time I stopped finding comfort in prayer, Tom was finally tuning back to it. He was Catholic-in-name when we met, morphed into Catholic-in-spirit while we dated and then the flame went out a few years into our marriage. He settled into a belief system that could probably best be summed up with “I don’t know.” He seemed to think there had to be a higher power somewhere so we always though the agnostic label was probably the best fit.
But a few months before he died, Tom started to get nervous about falling asleep because, well, he was worried about not waking up. We used to Netflix in bed until I dropped off exhausted, and then Tom would nudge me awake when Jimmy Fallon was done (this was back when he had the Late Show). Then I would dole out the pain meds that would hopefully get him through the night, and he would ask me to say a rosary while he tried to get to sleep.
The last rosary I said was on his last night – desperately hoping it would help him stay calm until the medicine kicked in and simultaneously pleading with God that the 6 month-old on the other side of the bed wouldn’t wake up.
God was good. He answered both of those prayers.
God’s shoulders may be big enough, but mine aren’t
For those of you who aren’t Catholic, the sacrament of reconciliation (confession, as you might know it) may seem like an intimidating or scary event. But it’s really not that bad. Every priest is different, but more often than not, it’s basically a 5-10 minute conversation about where things have gone awry in your life followed by some advice. (P.S. If you have something embarrassing to confess, a screen and a priest you’ve never met before are your best friends.)
And while what you say is secret, it would be a bit hard to deny that failure to make time for prayer has been a topic of discussion every time I’ve visited the confessional in the previous three years.
During one of these conversations, we talked a bit about the anger that makes it impossible to pray. I was told that God’s shoulders are big enough to handle whatever rage I needed to throw His way. I agree. They are.
But the problem is I don’t want to live in that anger. I don’t want to let that rage loose. And every time I try to pray, it comes bubbling back up. Surprisingly, I’m not angry for Tom. He drew so many short straws in life that I think he was almost relieved it was all coming to an end (he told me as much). So I’m not angry Tom suffered this horrible disease and died as much as I am furious God sent me down this path of marriage and motherhood, only to abandon me alone with five kids.
I know. It’s so self-absorbed, but it’s true. Before I met Tom, I had every intention of entering the convent someday. And then we got married and hit a horrible period in which it would have been easy to walk away, but we worked so damn hard to make our relationship right. And it succeeded.
So why God? Why send me this man if you weren’t intending to leave him with me? Why encourage us to work so hard on our marriage if it wasn’t going to last?
I’m sure God has good answers, but I’m too freakin’ furious to hear them right now.
I hope I’ll eventually get my prayer life back but for now, when it comes to me and God, it’s complicated.