[Edit: This post was the introductory post to a blog I used to have, called Tarnished Halo. TH is no longer online, as it’s been imported into this blog, but I thought I should offer some explanation as to why I decided to introduce myself right in the middle of my blog. 🙂 ]
…and God’s been speaking to me. Basically, He’s been saying, “Get your shit together.” That’s a paraphrase, of course. I don’t know if God would actually say the word, “shit,” although I like to think He would. I like to think of Him as a mixture of a loving, tender grandfather and a weathered old crab boat captain: His arms are always open for you to run into, but He also won’t shy away from giving you some no-nonsense advice and a swift kick in the ass. Anyway, whether or not God would actually say “shit” is beside the point. Bottom line: I need to get it together, spiritually.
Here’s a bit of background on my spiritual journey thus far. I’ve grown up in church. Up until the fifth grade, I attended a Methodist church in Tallahassee. Then, shortly after Christmas, in 1994, my maternal grandmother passed away. That was my first up-close-and-personal experience with death. We went to visit her for the holidays (my parents knew this would be her last Christmas), and watched her die on either the 30th or the 31st (I can’t remember which day exactly–my memory is a little rusty). The following summer, we moved into her house in Perry, where I would start sixth grade. My sister and I had been involved with things like children’s choir and Sunday School in our old church, and my parents were looking to keep that up–now, more than ever, considering we had just witnessed the death of a loved one a few months prior. So we “shopped” around until we landed at First Baptist, which had both strong children’s and youth ministries. I give First Baptist credit for making me think seriously about my relationship with Christ. I got saved in that church, and I grew a lot, spiritually. When I think about where I’m at now, at 27, as opposed to where I was at then, at 13, I think I was more spiritually developed in those days, which is sad.
During the latter part of high school, my friend Margie converted to Catholicism. She was super excited about her faith, and would invite my sister and I to Mass and church picnics. My first impression of Catholics was kind of funny and left me stunned. It was at a church picnic, and after the prayer was said, the grills were fired up, coolers were opened and beer caps popped off. Father Ed, who was the priest at the time, was walking around in a t-shirt that said, “Have you hugged a priest today?” Bud Light in hand. This was a very stark contrast from the church picnics I had grown up with. Southern Baptists are teatotalers, so the only choice of beverages available at any church function were sweet tea, unsweet tea, water, and (sometimes) lemonade. It was weird to see Christians just let loose and enjoy a few innocent beers. I liked it.
During my senior year of high school, my sister, who was 13, decided to join the Catholic faith. My family and I were ecstatic that she was taking an interest in her faith, so we went to the RCIA (Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults) classes with her. Some of what I learned in those classes was a pretty big contrast to what I had learned growing up Protestant, but the more I listened, the more it made sense to me. By my freshman year of college my family and I were almost exclusively attending Mass with my sister on Sundays.
Fast forward to junior year of college. I transferred to the University of South Florida (USF), and reconnected with Margie (who was also going there), and started going to Mass with her and her fiance (now husband), Ned. I had also tried “shopping” around in the Protestant department, but I kept coming back to the Catholic faith, and in the fall of 2004, I started attending RCIA classes. On Easter Saturday of ’05, I was fully accepted into the Catholic faith. That fall, my parents started the RCIA classes at their church in Perry, and came into the Church the following Easter.
After graduating in ’06, Margie and Ned, who had become like a second family to me, moved to Texas, where Ned began his Army career. They were the ones with whom I had been going to Mass, and it really sucked when they left. All my life, I had gone to church with my family, either biological or surrogate, and to start going by myself felt lonely. I “shopped” around at other Catholic churches in Tampa, looking for ones that had strong young adult ministries, and did start going to Mass in a church downtown, but I was too intimidated to go to the young adult functions by myself, and I eventually stopped going to church altogether.
Flash forward again, to last year. I was missing God, my faith, and being part of a church community, so I again started “shopping” for churches. I remembered a church I had gone to for Holy Thursday Mass with my friend Arleen, and popped in for Sunday Mass one morning. I loved it. So I went back. I went back again. I decided to become an official parish member, so I registered earlier this year. However, I was still going to Mass sporadically, and not taking my faith seriously.
Last weekend, July 4th weekend, it all came to a head, although nothing incredibly dramatic happened. It was simply a culmination of what I had been feeling for months, for years, that I needed to take my faith more seriously; a friend’s enthusiasm for God after a recent mission trip to Nicaragua; a young Catholic musician’s strong and obvious love for God and his faith, as well as several conversations with Arleen.
Aaaaannddd now we’re at the present day. I’ve heard God loud and clear, and am attempting to get it together, spiritually. The first step I took was becoming scripture accountability partners with Arleen (we email each other what God has been saying to us through our daily devotionals); the next step will be going to confession later on today.
So what’s the point of this blog? Well, a big thing I’m learning through being accountability partners with Arleen and talking with my friend who went on the mission trip is that talking to people helps, and it’s something I don’t do a whole lot of when it comes to the deep things in my life. I can be guarded and closed off, and a side-effect that I’m noticing is a stagnant life, spiritually and otherwise. I don’t want to be stagnant. Stagnant is boring. Stagnant isn’t challenging. Stagnant is, well…stagnant. I want to grow and live a full, dynamic life. I want to be closer to people. I want to see how and what others are doing in their Journeys, and I don’t want to walk mine alone. I don’t think we were meant to walk it alone.
I will also tell you what this blog is not: it is not, in any way, meant to be a platform on which I put myself and pretend to be holier-than-thou. It’s called Tarnished Halo for a reason. I’m not perfect. I mean, I used the words, “shit” and “ass” in the first paragraph. I have a lot to work on. All I’m trying to do with this venture is to be honest about my faith. I’m a regular person, just like you, simply trying to follow God. There will be times when I fail. There will be times when I will succeed. There will be times when I’m stagnant. I just want to put it all out there. If someone reads it and can relate, good. If someone reads it and can offer words of wisdom or their own experiences, even better. I just want to start a discussion, and maybe we can all help each other out.
I also want to say that this blog isn’t strictly a Catholic blog. Yes, I’m Catholic, and yes, there will be times when I reference Catholic things like confession, but the main point of everything is to share what God has been doing in my life and how I’m growing and being challenged. And no matter what you are, whether Catholic, or Baptist, or Methodist, that’s one thing we all have in common.
Anyway, I’ll shut up now and let you get back to what you’re doing. This was a long post, I know. But I don’t know how to end it, so I’ll just say…Bye. For now.