“Help me to journey beyond the familiar & into the unknown. Give me the faith to leave old ways & break fresh ground with you.” ∼ St. Brendan
I don’t know if it’s a mid-life thing, but I’ve definitely been in crisis for a few years.
Not crisis like ‘I want to kill myself’ or ‘I’m addicted to drugs’ or ‘I’m a criminal.’ Mine is just a series of personal, singular, one-thing-after-another, here-we-go-again-type calamities. I’m in a state of unrest like I’ve never experienced before. I’m a control freak and I definitely feel out of control.
I worked many years in corporate marketing making a fantastic income and chose to walk away because I felt I was trying to fit into a mold that wasn’t me. I am now a small business owner. I have a supportive husband who has a great job and makes a solid income. I am deeply blessed with a son and daughter who are my greatest gifts. Last year we acquired a second daughter – my son’s wife and she is a joy beyond words. My extended family is loving, have an awesome sense of humor plus there is little turmoil in our lives – we support each other, care deeply. Our motto is – NO drama.
Sounds like a crisis doesn’t it?
My mom dying is the event that shattered my foundation. It is the one experience that inexplicably changed my view of the world. Her support, encouragement, expectations and love gave me the courage to boldly live my life. It ended in September 2013.
And that made all the difference.
I come from parents of Irish and Italian heritage and grew up learning to ‘suck it up, get to work and don’t worry about your problems.’ We just weren’t allowed time to wallow in self-pity. As a product of a Roman Catholic upbringing I was taught to depend on God, pray to Mary the Mother of God, rely on Jesus, emulate the saints and all would work out in the end.
So what’s the problem?
That’s just it – I don’t know – didn’t know – couldn’t put my finger on the disquiet.
As I’ve rolled through the past couple of years the pesky feeling in my gut wouldn’t go away. There were fantastic events – a family trip to Ireland, the marriage of my son, my daughter’s graduation from Boston University. I received daily blessings in my business, but always that persistent aching. My grief for my mom has never really subsided.
I explored my past hoping to find a way to feel normal again. I recalled a childhood goal to read the Holy Bible from cover to cover. Up to this point, it hadn’t happened. The idea took hold. I considered reading the Bible on my tablet, but that didn’t feel right. I just had to hold that 10-pound book on my lap.
Immediately I felt a bit of relief.
Being a planner, I declared to read the Bible each morning for 30 minutes – starting with page one. I saw this as a controlled discipline rather than an attempt at being holy. I just knew it was time to move out of my comfort zone. I’m blessed with an innate love of reading. I regularly read inspirational, motivational, professional advancement and novels, but never the Bible. Would reading the Bible daily at least calm me down a bit? Would it slow the churning turmoil in my head and gut? I hoped it would.
A couple of weeks into this reading routine I was aware that I actually felt worse! I was reeling from empty-nester sadness, fear of mid-life, business decisions to eliminate toxic clients which equaled loss of income and sadly the untimely death of my dog.
I prayed. I asked God for clarity. I focused on my work life – that must be the problem. I reasoned that I quit my corporate job in order to help people. I want to help people who have a great business idea, but not great business skills. I knew I was moving away from that ideal and just chasing money. I prayed with a laser beam aimed at my work life. Not really thinking about my personal life.
Then God spoke to me. Seriously …
On a cloudy morning as I sat reading the Bible in my favorite rocking chair I heard it. Not a Nicholas-Sparks-novel-type whisper. There was no breeze wafting through my slightly open window to ruffle the pages of my Bible. There was only silence – except for the echo of the battery operated clock ticking in my bathroom, the traffic droning outside my window and my neighbor mowing his lawn – but, yeah, silence all around me.
I was wandering through the Book of Numbers attempting to visualize the length of an ancient cubit and out of the quiet, I heard a voice.
“You should write a blog about this.”
I didn’t form the idea. I didn’t think to myself, “I’m so cool I should write a blog about reading the Bible.” It wasn’t that at all. I paused and thought, ‘I didn’t just think that! That didn’t come out of my brain!’
My mind was spinning, “What in the hell did I just hear?” Yep –‘hell’ – nice choice right!?
As I finished that thought it happened again!
“You need to write a blog about you, a not too religious Catholic girl, reading the Bible. You need to share these stories you’re discovering to help people understand.”
I looked around my little home office. I peered out the door and down the hall of our 122-year-old house. I don’t know what I expected to see.
And then I cried.
I stood up. I paced a bit. I was energized. Should I call someone? Calm washed over me – for about 10 seconds. Then I completely freaked out. But I wasn’t afraid. I don’t know what I was …
I stopped crying and did what any good Catholic would do – I said the Our Father. Maybe not a fantastic choice in the moment, but I possessed limited logical capacity and it’s the first prayer that popped in my head. As a Catholic, I grew up believing in the power of God, to have faith that God would provide and to trust. But I never in a million years thought that God would actually speak to ME!
I had a classic biblical thought, “Why me?!!?”
I tried to process what happened. I recognized that in recent weeks as I read through Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus and Numbers (boy that’s a hard book to read!) there is so much in the Bible that the majority of Catholics and other Christians never see, never hear, never experience.
I began engaging my husband, sister, friends in conversation asking – ‘Did you know that the Bible says this and that and this and that?’ And their response was often –
‘That’s weird (or hilarious or interesting)!’
‘I didn’t know that …’
Later that evening, I mustered the courage to explain the incident to my husband and children. No one laughed or looked at me like it was time to visit a specialist. My sister, whose life is dedicated to the Roman Catholic Church, advised me in ways to continue to listen for God’s guidance in my prayer life.
My daughter asked me what I was going to do about the blog. I explained, “I have to do it. I don’t want to meet God some day and be asked, ‘So … that blog thing we talked about … why didn’t you do it?’ That conversation isn’t happening!”
It’s a daunting prospect. I have been cautious to reveal my new mission to family, friends and colleagues. I’m fighting my fear, my doubts. As I have regained my composure, the vision is forming. I’m seeing a direction. Interestingly this has nothing to do with my professional life or my income. I trust that my financial situation will work itself out – it miraculously always has.
I am not a therapist and definitely not a theologist. And I hope I’m not a narcissist. I want to help others. By discussing my life experiences and the crazy antics of a girl growing up in the 70s and 80s; how God has been in my life when I’ve believed and when I’ve doubted maybe something will be revealed that will benefit you.
So I’m writing this blog – ‘a not too religious Catholic girl reading the Bible’ to share stories of my life and along the way using this as a place to find answers. I’m not looking to debate any religious point of view, but merely have my life and my perspective to relay. With your input, I believe it will lead me to a place of greater understanding. What you lend to this discussion will also help me in finding answers in my life. In turn, my hope is to help you understand what God wants us to be.
Together we will explore some crazy, obscure stories in the Bible and I’ll be applying them to stories of my life. Then, mutually we can wonder … why haven’t I heard this before?