I went back to work when my baby son was a year old. It was difficult to leave him, but just a few months later, I was pregnant again, and it was easier to go to work knowing that I would soon be off on another year-long maternity leave.
I was happy. Happy in my marriage, happy as a mother, happy in my job. I worked in advocacy. I felt good about what I was doing, I thought I was making a difference. Our second baby was born, another beautiful baby boy, and I looked forward to another year at home.
As for God, He probably existed, but I didn’t really know. I did know that I wanted to raise my children in church. I had the opinion that people who grew up unchurched may be at eternal disadvantage, not being given the opportunity or inclination to examine these issues. I wasn’t in agreement with what the church taught, particularly on social issues like homosexuality, or on the infallibility of the Pope, but I figured that one church was good as another, and it certainly wasn’t worth upsetting my died-in-the-wool Catholic mother to find a more liberal church.
So I attended Mass on Sundays, followed the rules, (or at least went to Confession when I broke the rules), and received Communion. Never getting any closer to God than a comfortable, hands-off distance.
At the Crossroads
One memorable night in 2009, I lay in bed listening to a Satanist giving an interview on talk radio. espousing his beliefs. He had an interesting belief system: the God who created us was some kind of malicious entity, and Satan was the good guy, trying to save us from the “harvest” of our malevolent Creator. I was intrigued. What if this were true? What if I had it all wrong? I listened, considering the idea.
And then! Whoomp! With a rushing sensation, my worldview shifted momentarily inside out. I was suddenly viewing the world from this inside-out perspective. I felt sick to my stomach. I realized I was standing at a crossroads of sorts.
At the time, I didn’t know the words from Joshua 24:15, but this was the spirit of that moment:
And if it seem evil unto you to serve the Lord, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.
I needed to make a real decision about God. I had been playing church for long enough. Looking back, I wonder if I had kept playing, perhaps God would have “given me over” to my sin. Following my own worldly wisdom, perhaps I would have ended up a Satanist. It sounds far-fetched, but who knows where my own “open-mindedness” would have led me?
Everything Stripped Away
I was terrified by the thought that these questions had eternal significance, and I had no idea of the answer, or even of the right god to turn to. I could not rely on my own wisdom. For the first time in my life, I realized how utterly inadequate I was, in my own strength. My pride in my own mind was stripped away, and I was utterly humbled by my own ignorance and inability to even know right from wrong. In abject humility, fearful of choosing the wrong god to pray to, afraid even to pray to Jesus. Sure, he may have been part of the godhead, but then again, he may just as easily have been an idol or false god. I didn’t know anything.
In my newfound humility, I knew that if there were a Creator, I could turn only to Him. I was a created being, a creature, and therefore owed my loyalty to the Creator, for better or for worse. Again, I didn’t know Isaiah 45:9-10, but this was the spirit of what was impressed on my heart.
Woe to those who quarrel with their Maker, those who are nothing but potsherds among the potsherds on the ground. Does the clay say to the potter, ‘What are you making?’ Does your work say, ‘The potter has no hands’?
And right there, in my dark bedroom next to my sleeping husband, I turned off theradio and prayed to my Creator that if He were real, He would show me. I cried out that I was too foolish, too stupid, too ignorant to ever understand these things for myself, but that I trusted Him to reveal Himself to me. I begged Him to show me the truth.
The Truth of An Empty Life
I fell asleep in this uncertainty. The next morning, I woke in a sudden, but very real depression. My happy, busy, life was suddenly devoid of any meaning. My loving husband and two beautiful little boys, who I loved so much, were now the source of great sorrow. It was all meaningless. Why have children, if only to raise them for this short life and then die? Why live at all? What was the purpose?
My husband didn’t understand this despair, and indeed, neither did I. Where had it come from? I was not feeling suicidal, not self-destructive. I was just incredibly sad at the meaninglessness of raising my children, and dying, only so that they could grow up to raise their own children and die. What a carousel of utter, meaningless vanity.
I spent three days in this despair. I realize now that God was showing me something. Without Him, life was meaningless. It was only through Him that life has meaning, beauty, purpose. He was showing me who I was, dead in my sins, and inviting me to come to life in Him.
On the last night of my old life, I was up in the wee hours of the morning, unable to sleep. I went online and watched a YouTube video about — of all things — Obama and his “Yes We Can” campaign. The creator of the video contrasted this prideful attitude with Christian humility. She stated that without Christ, we can do nothing, but that with him, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” (Philippians 4:13)
A New Creature in Him
I suddenly understood what Christ had done for me, and I was so, so sorry. I got down on my knees in my living room and prayed for forgiveness. I thanked Him for His sacrifice, and repented of my sins that had put Him on that cross. I had been raised Catholic, and had no knowledge of being saved through faith. I had never heard of the “sinner’s prayer.” I knew only that God was magnificently, gloriously real, that He had died for me, and that my life henceforth must be lived for Him.
And I ran upstairs to wake my husband, to let him know that Jesus was real, God was real. (Yes, I really did.) My poor husband, aroused from a sound sleep by his barely coherent wife excitedly whispering that God really existed, was nonplussed. “That’s good, honey. Can we talk about this tomorrow?”
Hadn’t we been attending church since we got married? So what was the big deal all of a sudden, at 3am? What on earth was I on about?
Over the next several days and weeks, my husband saw a change in me. Perhaps most notable was that I, never before a morning person, was now waking up at dawn to get to Daily Mass and back home again before he left for work in the morning.
If that was all, he may not have minded, but I had also changed my opinions on many things. Previously such an ardent supporter of homosexual rights, I now realized that homosexuality is not the way God has created us to be. Just as the clay can’t argue with the potter, I couldn’t argue my own ideas of right and wrong against God’s. Whether I understood why or not, I had to just accept that if He said it was an abomination, it was not for me to stand against that.
There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death. (Proverbs 14:12)
I didn’t understand why it was wrong, but I had to accept it on faith, and over time, God has given me wisdom to better understand. I found this held true in many areas.
But it was disturbing to my husband.
It seemed that the Bible, this book that I had grown up with, suddenly spoke miraculously. I truly enjoyed reading it, and feeling God’s word jump off the page as if it were spoken to me particularly in that moment.
My poor husband found it bizarre that his wife, who had previously enjoyed reading feminist philosophy, was suddenly always reading the Bible. He began to worry that I was developing a brain tumour! What else could account for this sudden change in who I was?
When he began to suggest that I go to the doctor for an MRI, I realized that I had to stop haranguing him with my newfound faith. I couldn’t talk him into a belief in God. I needed to back off and let him find out for himself. Wasn’t there a verse somewhere about a man being led to God by his wife without her saying a word?
Likewise, wives, be subject to your own husbands, so that even if some do not obey the word, they may be won without a word by the conduct of their wives. (1 Peter 3:1)
And while I can’t testify to ever really being “without a word,” I did my best to keep my beliefs to myself for a while.
After all, I still had enough to work out on my own. I was beginning to have trouble with some of the doctrines of the Church, that just didn’t seem to mesh with what I was finding in my bible. I needed time to work this out.