Although with this post I am continuing the story of when Kendra (my wife) first heard the call (the call of the Holy Spirit, that is), it also is not an exact chronology of events.
But if you haven't read it yet, you'll want to click here to read part 1 first.
And for a little fun, all subtitles today are brought to you by the band Boston.
Can'tcha Say You Believe in Me
Patience has never been one of my strong suits, and I have never been comfortable giving up control. I don't even like sitting in the passenger seat of a vehicle very much.
After being strengthened in my certainty that God was truly calling me to reconcile my relationship with Him, and of course wanting to share this relationship to Him with Kendra, I made some mistakes that I think a lot of Christians make. I pushed a bit too much. Also, I attempted to "get through" to her by some of the same means that God used to get through to me.
These are 2 very big no no's. God doesn't push, He pulls. And since we are all unique, He calls each of us in unique ways however similar they may seem on the surface. Kendra needed to experience God in her own way, not mine. And I could not control that.
I very distinctly remember one night, praying as I was driving home from work. As I stated in the last post
The whole thing was taking a toll on our marriage. And why not? I was no longer the person she had married.
More Than a Feeling
I became very overwhelmed by my inability to "make her" believe. It was a similar "feeling" that I had when I had finally given in to God just a few months earlier - you know, finally surrendered. It was through that similarity in emotion that God reminded me that no one person and no one "event" had brought me back to Him. No, it was quite a collection of persons and happenings - and I realized that in some way, God used the whole experience of my life.
(More than a year after this realization, Fr. Timothy Heines stated in a Homily, "Conversion is not an emotion or a one-time experience. Conversion is a life-long process." I often remind myself of this in my self-reflection. It helps me from getting too high or too low on myself.)
But that night driving home, it was a sort of epiphany. I pulled on the side of the road at the Louisa Street exit in New Orleans. I told God that I realized what I was doing was not working, that I seemed to be making things worse not better. I told Him that I realized my job was to introduce Him to Kendra and to set a good example of the Christian life - that I realized that it was He that would truly draw her to Himself, and that I was simply one of many instruments that He wanted to use. I asked Him to help me to be patient.
I really meant that thing about "help me to be patient", but I guess God knew that would be a lot tougher task than reaching Kendra, because it was almost immediately that I saw a few small traces of His "working" on her. Little by little, we were having conversations about God that were started by Kendra, not by me.
While these were not always positive conversations, it was dialogue that needed to take place - and was assurance to me that somehow this was going to work out.
One example of this is the day Kendra agreed to have Brandon baptized. We were on a shopping trip to Target. I had been praying, asking God to help in this exact matter (the baptism). We had not done much talking during that 35 minute drive, but when I parked the car Kendra stated out of the clear blue, "I suppose you would like to have the baby baptized." I affirmed that was my desire, and she replied, "Well, I guess that's okay, but don't ask me to have anything to do with that." Agreed. Check. ("God, I trust you'll take care of that too." - and He did of course.)
And so Brandon was baptized. Kendra was there. And now, she had revealed to me that God was stirring her heart to believe in Him.
I think about that now, and how difficult that conversation must have been for her. You know, no one likes to admit that they may have been wrong about something - about anything usually. Kendra is no different in that regards. I'm sure it was tough for her to bring up to me, but she stepped out of her comfort zone, asked what to do next, and when I left it to her to figure out between herself and God, well, He took over.
I said things were about to get different, and they were. This doesn't mean that they were always easier. Some tensions went away, but not all. I think much of this was my fault.
You see, Kendra began really challenging me in my Faith. She started asking questions - a lot of questions. "Why do Catholics do this?" and "Why do Catholics do that?" Well, quite honestly I began to realize that there were a lot of questions that she asked that I did not have a clue about - not a clue. That made me feel uncomfortable - very uncomfortable.
I thought that she was challenging my Faith because she was attempting to disprove it. My inability to properly defend the Faith blinded me to the reality that Kendra was earnestly seeking God, trying to find her way through the darkness. Kendra doe not do anything "on a whim", but rather researches everything. I didn't realize that she had begun her research of Catholicism.
"We drive by night. Nevertheless our reason penetrates the darkness enough to show us a little of the road ahead. It is by the light of reason that we interpret the signposts and make out the landmarks along our way." (The Ascent to Truth - Merton)
A New World
In reality, this discomfort of mine was the best thing that could ever happen to me. It forced me to become a better Catholic, to do my own research to find out what the Faith really is about and teaches. I would no longer be a casual Catholic, but would begin to avail myself of the multitude of resources available - and the more I learned, the more I fell in love with this great Faith.
Along the way I discovered that Kendra had bought Catholicism For Dummies and enrolled herself in an online Catechism course. At first she said she was doing these things because she owed it to Brandon to know more about what the Catholic Faith teaches. But soon she too was wanting more.
Don't Look Back
A friend had suggested I read "The Purpose Driven Life" by Rick Warren. Kendra agreed to read it together with me. I'm not sure if it was the first chapter or not, but very early in the book, Warren speaks of the importance of Baptism.
Kendra asked if I thought Baptism was important. I said I did, and we discussed why. Before I knew it, she was making an appointment to meet with Fr. Hayes.
We began to meet with Fr. Hayes about having our marriage convalidated and enrolling Kendra in RCIA. Kendra was attending Mass with me regularly and even became involved in a couple of ministries in our little small parish.
We attended our first RCIA meeting together.
Then came Hurricane Katrina.
Other posts in the Viva la Vida series