Dating Church

It’s been almost a year since reality set in that I had moved beyond the point of Unhappy with the Catholic Church. Over the past year, I’ve been through a grieving process that felt – okay, feels – all too familiar. The same storm of emotions that swept through me during my divorce returned and with a greater force than I would’ve expected. This was different. It’s not like I had to go to court or deal with the lawyers. There was no case to made as things were divvied up. No other party to be offended. The great Roman Catholic Church will hardly notice the departure of one broke divorced woman. So why was this so freaking hard to face?

Because being Catholic was who I was. Or more precisely, who I thought I was. It’s not. It was a part of who I was but it was only a part. And as I’ve grown and changed over the years, that part of me has died.

That realization scared the shit out of me.

It was far easier during the divorce to deal with the fact that the marriage had died, probably before it ever really drew breath. But this was different. I had lived out of this part of me for 40 years. Now it was dead.

It was time to start over. From nothing. But how?

For the first few months, I pretty much panicked. For many years, I had associated God so closely with church that separating the two was – and still is – a painstaking process.

Gradually, the panic started to subside somewhat and a lot of the subsequent conversations God and I have had over the past nine months or so boil down to one simple exchange.

“Now what?”

“Trust me.”

“Really? Again? I just did that yesterday?”

“Yes really. Again.”

I really hate it when He says that.

Trust and I parted ways a long time ago. Too much Being and not enough Doing for my taste. Too much outside my control and way, way outside my comfort zone.

About a year after my divorce, I met a man and we dated rather amicably for a few weeks. But honestly, I wasn’t ready to be in a relationship. Forget about not being close to ready, I couldn’t even see ready with a high-powered telescope. I still needed time and space to heal. I quickly figured out the hard way that I couldn’t be in a healthy relationship if I didn’t even know who I was. I couldn’t trust anybody yet because I couldn’t trust myself.

My relationship with church is even more complicated. I need to know who I am. I need to know who God is. I need to know where God and I stand and be able to trust that space before introducing any church community into that equation. My time spent alone with God on Cape Cod in March gave me the solid footing I needed to take another step. I have recently started to visit other churches.

Am I going to join a new church and start bringing my kids there? No. Not in the near future. Why? Because I’m not ready to go that far. That’s too big of a commitment right now.

Church and I are honestly not even dating yet. We’re more at the Let’s-Have-Coffee-And-See-If-We-Get-Along Stage.

As for my ties to the Catholic Church, that relationship, much like my divorce, is insanely complicated because of my boys. They’ve been raised in the Catholic Church and in this world I know they’ll need strong roots to thrive. So for now, I bring them to Mass and teach them what I can. I do from time to time point out where the Catholic Church may need to rethink its alignment to the teachings of Christ, but only so that they learn enough to think for themselves.

As for dating, I made The List of all the things I need and want in a man and handed it over. Okay so I handed it over with with the very strong suggestion that if He wants a man in my life, He’ll have to put him in front of me and smack me upside the head so I notice.

As for church, we’re still working on finalizing The List and I suspect that may take awhile.

God and I are just moving this through a little at a time. There’s been a whole lot of ‘Trust me’ going on and that’s getting to be an okay thing for me to do on a regular basis.

And yeah, I still hate it when He says, “Trust me.”

And yeah, I still let Him know about it.