I’m coming out of the closet.
I’m in a relationship, and it’s not accepted by much of a culture.
I’m worried that my friends won’t accept it.
I’m worried that I won’t fit in to my new “community.”
I try to keep PDAs to a minimum, as I know my relationship makes people squeamish, but it’s becoming harder and harder.
I want to shout it from the rooftops!
I LOVE JESUS AND I LOVE THE CATHOLIC CHURCH.
Phew, that feels good to get off my chest.
Disclaimer: Before my more politically-correct friends have a conniption, I’m not equating my experience “coming out” as a Christian with the experience of “coming out” as gay/lesbian/trangender/whathaveyou. I am merely drawing some parallels from my own thoughts.
I’m a German, mid-western, small-town Catholic woman. We are not inclined to raising our hands and shouting “Hallelujah” or being “overcome by the Spirit.” We are more accustomed to burying our chins into our woolen scarves, staring at our boots, and trudging through our industrious lives without causing a ruckus. We don’t show public affection. Holding hands is pushing it. As in, it better be your anniversary or something.
Jesus-lovin’ is no different. While I have no doubt that most of the people I know love Jesus, the message is clear: keep it to yourselves. Typical Wisconsinites are either Catholic or Lutheran, and you enjoy a Friday fish fry whether your church tells you to or not!
So to start this blog revealing my innermost thoughts was something of a “coming out” experience, especially as someone who has been in a bar more often than a church over the past few years.
It’s not like no one knew I loved Jesus and His Church. After a few too many drinks, I’ve had quite a few barstool conversations with random people about the joys of living a Christ-centered life. (Obviously I’m still working on the virtue of temperance, but barstool evangelization seems like a step in the right direction compared to hopping on top of the bar to pour shots down people’s throats….not that I’ve ever done that...!)
But still there was the fear that my friends would think I was being sanctimonious, judgmental, or just plain weird. There are so many counter-cultural elements of the faith, from confessions to the rejection of contraception. I can understand that why it makes outsiders uncomfortable. Suddenly I’m right back in high school trembling with the fear of rejection.
Then there was the anxiety over how I could “re-invent” myself to fit in with the Catholic community. When I started this “Mommy Blog” (and let me just say that phrase makes me want to gag!), it was pretty clear I had no right to write on such matters as home décor, organization, or intentional parenting. Nor do I even want to focus on such things. So I started looking at other “Catholic Mommy Blogs” (still gag!), and was quickly reduced to a wrinkly laundry pile of cowering insecurity.
We’re not a “nightly rosary” kind of family. We’re not even an “active-in-the-parish” kind of family; we’re typically rendered homebound by virtue of the daunting prospect of taking three kids anywhere.
Nope, I’m a Catholic woman who loves to drink beer, sometimes curses, and gets a kick out of dirty jokes. I’m not a stay-at-home mom and my kids will go to public school. Where does that leave me?
I’ve written a few posts following the models I see floating around the internet, posts about weekly readings and saint’s feast days, but who was I kidding? I’ve never celebrated a saint’s feast day in my life! Is there supposed to be special food? Candles? On the other hand, writing that post did spur me to explore the saint more than I otherwise would have, so I can't promise I'm done with that sort of thing. (And I must say that Elizabeth Ann Seton is freakin’ fascinating! Here’s a great book about her.)
All I know is that I feel called to write, and I feel called to honor the Lord in my writing. I know that He loves me where I’m at, rough-edges and all.
A couple days ago three-year-old Louisa and I were riding home from daycare. From the backseat she hopefully declared, “Mom, I want to be just like Jessica! I want to look like Jessica, I want to talk like Jessica, and I want to do everything Jessica does!” (name changed for confidentiality)
I smiled knowingly. Jessica is an older girl, and it’s natural for little kids to look up to older kids. But I gently told her, “God needs you to be Louisa! He has a perfect plan for how Louisa looks, how Louisa talks, and what Louisa does!”
I was talking to myself. God doesn’t want me to be SarahDamm or Jen Fulwiler. He needs me to be Kayla Knaack, holding up my part of these walls of living stones. (And if anyone doesn't like it, tough!)
"Come to him, a living stone, rejected by human beings but chosen and precious in the sight of God and, like living stones, let yourselves be built* into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ." (1 Peter 2:4-5)
So I’ll be over here in my corner of the internet, striving to be true to my own voice.
It’s a delicate balance; self-confidence could easily become pride. I think the key is that true authenticity means laying it all on the table including insecurities and admitting that we are all ongoing works-in-progress.
Stay tuned to witness this work-in-progress find her voice!