Our garbage disposal broke during the afternoon on Christmas Eve. I'm not too good at repairing things or installing replacements, so I intended to buy a new disposal and pay someone to install it. But a friend suggested to me that it was an "easy fix", and although that generally means "only moderately difficult" for me, I was able to successfully get the job done.
Naturally I feel accomplished by this, and normally it would be noteworthy in the annals of Donkey-do's, but December 26 is already a special date to me - for multiple reasons, all of which are much more special than my figuring out some DIY task.
As I mentioned last year (in this post), December 26 is the feast day of my patron saint (Saint Stephen), the anniversary of Brandon's baptism, the anniversary of the first time Kendra attended Mass with me - when Kendra went all but kicking and screaming yet heard the Holy Spirit speaking to her, and one of many times God reminded me that He knows what He's doing, and it's best for me to get out of His way sometimes.
Get it together
It was 2004, and God had already been "working" on me. After more than a decade away I was attending Mass. With the help of my pastor (Fr. Dennis Hayes), my reconciliation and spiritual life were taking shape. Unfortunately, Kendra was not on board - not even close.
Unbaptized and perhaps best described as agnostic at the time, it's easy to understand why Kendra was confused by my seemingly sudden transformation. Until a person feels the tug of the Holy Spirit for themselves, it's difficult to comprehend what that means.
Compounding this was some not-so-positive experiences she had in the past and my mistake of thinking it was my responsibility to persuade or influence her to "find" Jesus. The whole thing was taking a toll on our marriage. And why not? I was no longer the person she had married.
Now we were at a point where I was beginning to learn that it was my responsibility to introduce my wife to Jesus, but that things would be best if I left the "real work" to Him - beginning to anyway.
Get her to the church - this time
Brandon was born on November 27, and although Kendra had already agreed that he could be baptized, there was never an agreement or commitment by her to attend or to have any part in it or his religious life whatsoever. In fact, hours before Mass that morning she told me that she thought she would just stay home. I casually said "Okay", and began getting ready - quietly telling God that I trusted Him, but that I would really appreciate if He would somehow get her to change her mind.
Soon afterward, Kendra began getting ready and said she would go. We would sit in the back row though, and she reminded me that this was not something that she was looking forward to. Check.
I'm so smart
Despite the tension, I was excited that she was coming. I was sure that she would really "get something" out of Fr. Dennis' Homily. Right up until the time that I realized it was the deacon's weekend to preach.
"Come on God! What are You doing? This is not the way I planned it." Those are the exact words that went through my head as Deacon Al Miester was about to begin speaking. Instantly though, bumps raised on my arms, and I could feel the blood escaping from my face along with a tingle down my neck and back.
God reminded me that I am a silly little man, that He is God, and He knows what He's doing.
It was the Feast of the Holy Family. Deacon Al began to talk about his mother - that she was not Catholic, but had agreed to have him baptized.
This message was for Kendra. I knew it. But did she? Was she even paying attention? I simply prayed as he continued, speaking of how his mother was the parent to teach him about the Catholic Faith - and how one day, because of her study of the Faith in order to properly dispense such to her son, his mother decided to convert to the Catholic Faith herself.
Brandon was baptized. We went home and had a little family celebration. I said nothing about the obvious. I dared not get in God's way with my silly little foot in my silly little mouth.
Shut up and brush your teeth
The next morning, Kendra approached me while I was brushing my teeth. "That was interesting what that man - what do you call him, a deacon? - what he said yesterday." she said.
I kept brushing.
"Did you ever feel like someone was talking directly to you, like you were the only one in the room - even though there were a bunch of people around?" she asked.
I kept brushing - wanting to pop.
"What do you call that?"
A question. I asked God to help me not louse it up. "That's the Holy Spirit Kendra." I said, "It's called the Holy Spirit - working in the deacon and working in you."
I went back to brushing. Very clean teeth that day.
"I feel like I'm supposed to do something. What am I supposed to do?" she asked honestly.
Again, doing my best to finally trust God, I told her exactly what to do. Okay, not really. "I don't know Kendra. That's between you and God. I suppose you should ask the Holy Spirit what to do next."
I went back to brushing, and thanking God quietly.
Things were about to get really different around our house.
Other posts in the Viva la Vida series