Divine intervention

May 24, 2006 | Uncategorized | 10 comments

I had a horrible morning this morning. Not horrible in the sense of anything truly bad happening to me, but just one of those days where a lot of little things went wrong and I was too tired to deal with it. The main thing was that I Didn’t Get Enough Sleep™ last night for the, uhh, 597th night in a row, and it was made particularly bad by this new third trimester insomnia thing I’ve been experiencing where I wake up at 5:30am exhausted but unable to go back to sleep. It’s a bad combination with the fact that I’m not usually able to fall asleep at night until around 11:30pm and have to get up three or four times per night to use the bathroom and/or deal with my son’s night wakings.

Around 11:00am I was mentally spiraling out of control. I violated my big rule about not thinking about life problems when I’m over-tired and decided that my life is a shambles, everything is impossible and, P.S., I don’t think I even believe in God again today. My 20-month-old was also a bit grouchy and after the second time he threw a tantrum and tried to slap me in the face I decided that for the safety of all involved we’d better go take a drive. Anywhere. Just around the city or whatever. At least that way my son would be happy and I could sit in air conditioning.

I ended up on the road that goes past our parish. When I realized I was going to drive right by it I thought about stopping in to try for the sixth time to accomplish the seemingly impossible task of signing up for RCIA (I’ve been trying since January) but decided not to. Then as I drove by I saw our priest standing in the parking lot and changed my mind. I absolutely adore him and have never had a chance to introduce myself so I did an Evel Knievel, wheels-screeching 180-degree turnaround to try to catch him.

I ended up missing him but decided to go talk to someone about getting into RCIA while I was there. A friendly deacon was able to help me (though I’m still not signed up — arrrrgh!) and I got back in the car to head home, my mood signficiantly improved.

Then, as I was pulling out of the parking lot, a mom with a minivan full of kids drove in past me. Then another one. I looked in my rear-view mirror to see yet another mom with a bunch of kids walking into the church. I looked at the clock and realized that mass was starting right now. I’ve never been to mass during the week since I didn’t think there was a point since I can’t take communion, but I decided that today was the day to check it out. Some more creative driving later, I was back in the parking lot and getting my confused son out of his carseat again.

I went directly to the “cry room” and, to my surprise and delight, it was half full! (For those of you reading this later, I’m writing this on a Tuesday). I counted the total people in attendannce at around 60 or 70, about 20% of that being babies and kids. After the mass I walked outside to see all the kids running around the grounds while the mothers stood around chatting and introducing themselves to one another. “Those six over there are mine, ” said one. “I have five myself — so far!” said another.

I struck up a conversation with one incredibly friendly, sharp lady who was there with her five kids and we had a long talk about the Schoenstatt Collegium, which sounds like a very interesting educational model, and she also mentioned that she happens to be a doula (one of the things I haven’t yet mentioned here is my apprehension about doing natural birth again and my difficulty finding a doula around here who’s on the same page theologically as I am). Meeting her was, well, God-sent.

Feeling like a fish out of water wasn’t making my journey into faith any easier and, as I’ve mentioned, is something that’s been on my mind a lot lately. So seeing all these mothers and their children going to daily mass was a much-needed breath of fresh air for me — not to mention just being in church, praying and getting a blessing from the priest. I felt like a new person as I strapped my son into the car seat to head home again.

Earlier today when things were at a low point I had started to say a prayer to ask God for help getting through the day but stopped in mid-sentence, deciding that there was nothing that could possibly turn it around. Looks like he stepped in anyway. A skeptic would write off the events that led me to mass and to this newfound community of women who I had desperately been wanting to meet as mere coincidence, but it wasn’t. I can’t explain it, but I know it wasn’t. It was God reminding me of his presence and his grace and his generosity just when I needed it most.

10 Comments

  1. majellamom

    I can’t tell you how many days like yours I have had (well, not too many with a toddler and third trimester woes, yet…but the divine intervention part…)

    One particular instance that was memorable for me was my hubby and I were desperately trying to make it to a Saturday evening mass…but I was too much of a wimp to try a parish that was Catholic and Presbyterian (they share a church building, for some unknown reason) so we headed to another church in another town for their alleged 5 pm Mass. We got to the driveway about 10 after 5 (the church has a rather long driveway) and they had signs posted about going God’s speed (and then another one stating that God’s speed is 5 MPH) Anyhow, we run into the church, and find out that they had changed their Mass time to 4 pm…and had just finished communion…

    We really weren’t in the mindset for Mass…it was one of those “get it out of the way so we can be free tomorrow” things. When we left, we had a good laugh, and realized that we should just give our Sunday to God…and not think of Mass is something to “get out of the way”

    And congrats on finding a Catholic doula! I’m going to start my own great doula hunt before too long…maybe I can ask around at the Catholic Homeschooler’s conference I’ll be attending in a couple of weeks!

  2. Barb, sfo

    That was wonderful! God really did bless your day.

  3. Christine

    Jennifer,

    Someone told me once that God hears our prayers even before they are said. So I’m guessing He heard yours when you were half-done, too.

    Isn’t it wonderful that our Father loves us so much?

    I’m glad things are working out for you in your preparations for the new baby. And I know that your parish will be happy to have you in RCIA. I’ll say a prayer for you today to your guardian angel, that he may give you the strength that you need to get to the parish office and sign up. [In God’s time, of course. ;)]

  4. Jennifer

    Jennifer:

    I can’t wait until you start participating in the Eucharist. If you feel God’s grace and generosity now, I can’t wait to hear your experience of sacramental grace.

    I think it is also so wonderful that you saw so many women with multiple children–a sign from God that you are on the right path, indeed.

    Blessings on you friend. Glad I stopped by to read your entry while on vacation–I received grace through reading it.

    Get thee to RCIA, sister!

  5. GLouise

    Hi there- I found you through Jennifer’s blog and enjoy your comments.

    How wonderful that you were able to stumble upon a great community of women from your church. What a gift from the Lord.

    I was curious- why can’t you take communion? I am new to your blog so maybe I should go through the archives to learn more. Is it because you are new to the Catholic church?
    If so- that is very exciting!

  6. SteveG

    What a beautiful post. How wonderful that you are seeing God ‘speaking’ to you through these events (which he most surely is).

    The skeptic may indeed chalk it all up to coincidence, but it’s these ‘little’ incidents (graces) that occur over and over that build up the faith of the soul, and that begin to make our relationship with God more and more real. And this…

    I can’t explain it, but I know it wasn’t. It was God reminding me of his presence and his grace and his generosity just when I needed it most.

    …Is something that I think most of your commenters can fully appreciate. It’s that conviction in ones heart of hearts that this was the very hand of God at work in our lives. It’s the very kind of evidence the skeptic rejects, but it’s so powerful, so personal, so intimate that it can leave one in awe, and in love.

  7. knit_tgz

    Hi, Jen. Somewhat recently (a couple of weeks ago) as I was walking towards Sunday Mass I was in a very dark state of mind and thinking “How I wish I would stop believing, so that I could just give up. Not kill myself, mind you. Simply quit believing, quit thinking, quit trying to be good and just give up all effort to be good”. I went into Mass, still. I felt slightly better afterwards, not much better though. When I arrived home, one of my roommates, which is not a believer, started asking me about God and about the story of my conversion. And I made an effort and told her, and remembering those days, and seeing her interest I found myself asking for the Holy Spirit to help me and praying again. And she told me that for the first time in her life, that week she had felt a need to go to church, and went, and felt peace. I believe it wasn’t just a coincidence…

  8. Jennifer F.

    I just re-read this and realized I really didn’t do the story justice. Unfortunately I didn’t have much time at all to write the story. Also, there were a bunch of other great things I left out for sake of brevity, like the fact that the topic of the day on Dr. Ray’s Relevant Radio was disciplining a strong-willed 20-month-old, my son being incredibly well behaved during mass, etc.

    Re-reading it it didn’t sound like a particularly magical day the way I conveyed it, but really, it was amazing.

    GLouise – I can’t take communion because I’m not technically Catholic. I’ve been an atheist all my life and have never been to church prior to the past few months, so I need to do RCIA first.

  9. SteveG

    Jennifer,
    FWIW, I thought it was quite amazing the way you conveyed it. I am not exaggerating when I say that the end sent shivers up and down my spine (in a good way mind you).

    I think we’ve all experienced something like what you describe. This amazing thing happens to you and then when you try to describe it to someone, and it sounds so ‘flat’ in comparison to the reality experienced.

    I think you did a fantastic job of relaying the essence of the experience in any event.

  10. Jennifer F.

    Oh, also, the thing with the RCIA program is that the adult education director had to move for his wife’s job back in December, and they’ve been reeling ever since then. They recently hired someone from out of state to fill the job so he’s currently in the process of moving his family out here. So it’s really not a big deal. I’m sure it’ll be a great program when it’s back up and running. In fact, I’m impressed that they waited until they found just the right person.

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