After my husband died, I realized the power of commitment to transform a heart for the better. God had worked in both our hearts to love Him and love each other, but I also longed to continue to belong in a way that I had suddenly and abruptly lost. It was like my worst fear had happened, but instead of being in despair, I was fulfilled. I had an underlying peace. At the same time, I was lost in grief and had no control over how and when it overtook me.
God and others carried me a lot and still do. This work with the women at the jail has proved to be a place where, for reasons I don’t yet fully understand, but do in part, I am not lost.
A long time ago, when I was going to Baptist church at night and Catholic services during the day, God asked me to pick one. Immerse myself and join one community. I did, but recently have found myself in two communities again. My church family is a small protestant church plant with 29 members and my ministry is with the Catholics in the jail.
The material the Catholics gave me to teach is on the women in the bible. Next week I am supposed to teach about Hannah. As I made the handout her story haunted me. She waited to have a child like I waited to marry a man sold out for God like me. Then once she did have the child, she got to be with him briefly and then had to let go of his care completely so he could serve God.
Today’s mass reading was on Jesus’s Brit Milah. The character that always stands out to me, and this was long before I was a widow, is Ana. I wanted to be like her. I wanted that kind of faithfulness.
I thought I could just not join the Protestant church and fulfill the Catholic church’s obligations and that would be a way to funcitonally make sure that this transitional house happened. The Holy Spirit had other plans.
I joined the Protestant church today because they are my family. It isn’t about doctrine, though I might talk about it like that and there are aspects to that, but that’s not really why I joined. The answers I want to give these women, the stuff I believe and I am excited about and at the end of the day when I examine my conscience I know I’ve served God to the best of my ability lie in me seeking counsel from the leadership there and drawing strength from the budding friendships there. If I wasn’t geographically where I am, maybe that would be different. But I am here. And that is what God is doing.
I very much hope my Catholic friends will still allow me to do the minsitry there as I have been, but I guess that remains to be seen. I have a meeting with the head of the jail ministry and I am going to tell him where my membership is now. I also want to assure him that I want to do nothing that would tear down their work. I won’t contradict their church teaching. It all has to do with, when I lead, I want to feel good about what I am leading with. So far this hasn’t been a conflict on Wednesday night because I am using Protestant materials. Down the road though, I don’t know if I could teach RCIA. I can take the class, I can come alongside those in it, I think I could even sponser someone in it feeling called to be Catholic, but I can’t teach it.
Now that I am all in with the Presbyterians, I fear being like a Pharisee. I fear believing in a narrow path that is not the true path, but one that makes me feel like I am taking right steps.
Yet – peace flooded me today when I stood with my brothers and sisters and joined Christ Church. I pray that this will in no way hinder my work at the jail, His work in my heart, and the home He’s given me vision for. I pray this will be the best thing for the invisible church and that I can still work in an interfaith setting. He made us diverse. I hope I am suiting up in what He’s designed me for. His will be done.
With fear and trembling – I step boldly forward. He’s moving.