Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Can't shake this sadness

My husband bought a new (new to us) car last month.  His new job requires him to travel a lot, and his 2000 Buick LeSabre with 210,000 miles was sucking through the gas and our pocketbooks.  When a car has 210,000 miles, there is just going to be more maintenance issues, too, and we had spent quite a bit of money maintaining it in the last few months.  Still, it ran good and was a decent car.  We were able to buy a zippy little fuel-efficient car for him to drive for work.

He had given a guy who worked at his office a ride home several times.  Chris would walk to and from work every day, and this was during the winter months.  When my DH saw him on the road, he'd always stop and pick Chris up and either take him into the office or take him home.  He didn't know Chris very well, but in the short stint of time they were in the car together, my DH gathered that Chris was separated from his wife and had a small child.  And he didn't have a car.  So it wasn't an easy time in Chris's life.

Chris had been looking for a car for when he got his tax refund.  He was very excited to find out we were selling the old Buick.  My DH gave him a good deal.  Chris let him know he wanted to buy it, but he wouldn't have the money for a couple of weeks.  While we weren't sure if Chris would follow through on the sale, my DH decided it was worth waiting on selling the car to help the guy out.

Chris had to use some money from his 401(k) to buy the car in addition to his tax refund.  The day his 401(k) check came in the mail, my DH drove him to Chris's bank to cash the check.  Except they wouldn't cash the check.  They wanted Chris to deposit the check into his account and wait two business days in order to assure the bank that the funds were good.  But this was a Thursday, which meant he couldn't access the funds to buy our car until Monday.  He went to Plan B.  He called Wal-Mart, and they said they would cash the check for him.  So he had his bank reverse the deposit, and my DH drove him to Wal-Mart.  Except now Wal-Mart wouldn't cash the check because it had already been endorsed by Chris's bank.  So he went to the closest Check Cashing business.  It was now almost 5:30pm, and they said they would cash the check if they could verify funds.  But their bank closed at 5:00, so they wouldn't be able to cash the check today.  By the end of Thursday, the selling of our Buick did not take place.  My husband drove Chris to the check cashing business the next day, and they were able to complete the transaction.

That was two Fridays ago.  My DH saw Chris at work the next week, and Chris was very happy with the car.  I imagine it felt good to have his own transportation.  My DH was happy to have played some sort of small part in helping a guy down on his luck start to get back on his feet.

Saturday Chris died of an apparent drug overdose in the back seat of his car.  The fuel tank was completely empty and the battery was dead.  He was laying in vomit in the back seat, and his 2-year old was also found in the car - alive, thank God - dehydrated, but alive.

I didn't know Chris.  I had never met him.  My DH didn't know him very well, just through their conversations while they rode in the Buick together.  But I still can't seem to shake the sadness that I feel.  Addiction is such an ugly beast.  I feel deep sadness for Chris and his son.  I know his wife probably went through hell because of Chris's decisions.  But Chris is no longer here, and his son will need him.  His son will need his Daddy's hugs, but there will be none.  He will need a daddy to play with him, but his Daddy won't be there.  He will need so many contributions to his life that only his Daddy could have made.  But his son won't get anything else from his Daddy.  Chris seemed like a nice guy who loved his son.  A nice guy who had problems.  A guy who probably had some pain in his heart and chose drugs to deal with the pain.

It's a story too common.  It reminds me that there is pain and suffering in this world.  Great pain and great suffering.  And I feel helpless to it all.  All I can do is watch it happen around me.  Watch people suffer.  I can offer the peace and hope that is in my heart to those who will listen, and I can pray for those who have great pain in their hearts.  But there will always be pain and suffering.  It's won't go away altogether.  There will always be a "Chris" struggling with life, not able to be there for his innocent child because of the magnitude of his own pain.  It feels overwhelming, and I didn't even know him.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

For Such a Time as This

Have I mentioned that I love being Catholic?  It's exactly where I know I'm supposed to be.

I grew up with a nominal Catholic foundation (one day I'll go into that more), so I became a Protestant at the age of 15 after meeting someone who showed me how much Jesus loved me.  For 18 years I was passionately in love with Christ as a Protestant.  Then I was called home by the lover of my soul.  Now I am passionately in love with Christ in the Church that Jesus gave us to guide us.  That's not to say the Church has been perfect, but it has been guided by the Holy Spirit amid any attacks from the gates of Hell.

I like to get the background out of the way so that you know where I'm coming from.

Being Catholic has been very difficult in so many ways.  I've had the chance to take a deeper look at myself (and while that's good, it certainly is ugly), and I've had to stand strong to people who oppose my move.  I haven't known very many passionately Catholic people in my life.  Honestly, most Catholics I know don't even seem to know what they believe or why they believe it.  And most Protestants I know have had the same experience with Catholics. They are baffled when they see someone who is a Bible-believing Jesus freak moves back to the Catholic Church.  They are speechless.  I can feel the speechlessness.

I constantly feel like I am fighting from the inside and from the outside.

But I didn't expect anything about my conversion (reversion) to be easy, so I'm OK with it.  I was prepared for it.  I have been silently letting the Holy Spirit build things in me that should have been built in me in the first 15 years of my life.  I've held these things close to my heart.

During the end of 2011, I felt God telling me it's time to speak up.  Time to stand up.  Time to be a light for His Church.  All for His glory, not mine.  All for His people, not for me.

This is the thing about me - I don't like to go against the crowd.  I don't like to stand out.  I don't like to speak up.  I don't like to be the odd one.  I've always stood firm in my convictions, but I've resisted being outspoken about them.  I like to stand in the corner and watch life from a safe place.  So I pondered what I kept hearing and tried to explain it away.  Surely that's not what God is telling me.

The Time Square ball dropped and 2012 was here.  I still wrestled with the message I felt like I was getting from God.  The message I felt like I was getting from Him to go and stand out for Him, which is an absolute paradox to my personality.

January 20, 2012.  Obama announces that he is not giving any religious exemption to his HHS mandate.  Catholic institutions will have to violate their consciences and pay for birth control and abortion-causing pills or suffer large fines.  The Bishops speak up.  They stand firm.  They stand for the teachings of the Church regarding contraception.  A teaching that many - including Catholic and Protestant Christians - feel is antiquated.  Religious liberty is threatened and the Bishops are not caving.  The drama begins.  Suddenly the Church and her 2,000 years of teaching on contraception is shoved into the limelight.  People start asking the question - why does the Catholic Church teach against contraception?  A teaching that was long considered old-fashioned and irrelevant is suddenly being discussed everywhere.

Something in me has changed.  Now I'm ready.  Time to stand up.  Time to speak up.

Am I the only one who feels like there's something happening?  I can't put my finger on it, but there is something in the air.  Israel and Iran (and China and Russia) are getting ready to go to war.  Religious liberty is being attacked by our government.  The Bishops are finally standing firm for something.  People are flocking back to the Catholic Church, spurred by a deep desire to get to firmer ground, beyond themselves and their own opinions about the Bible.  Deep, thoughtful Christians are making the move more and more.  Why?

I think a major reason is because God needs unity in His people.  Something is happening in the world, and Christians would be stronger against evil if  they were united.  Unity is also necessary to reach the lost in the world.  On the night before He died, Jesus prayed for all Christians to be in unity.

“My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one — I in them and you in me — so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me." John 17:20-23

This passage never meant anything to me before I started taking a closer look at the Catholic Church.  Now my heart echoes Jesus's heart when he prayed this.  He knows he's about to die, and he is praying for us to be united.  I feel like screaming, "Doesn't this mean anything to anyone?!"

It's time to reach the lost, and we cannot reach the masses without unity.