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Monday, April 4, 2016

Alleluia! He is Risen and I Am Renewed!



Well, I’m back.    I suffered from depression during the season of Lent.   Thankfully it wasn’t the deep, dark, helpless depression I’ve suffered in the past; it was what I like to refer to as “depression light”.    I carried on with my day to day activities, and put on a happy face when necessary, but it was not without effort.  I was exhausted and every day was a struggle to move, my body ached, my memory was non-existent, my attention span was nil and I ate everything and everything I could get in my mouth.  Although I had grandiose plans of getting involved in my new parish, reading inspirational reflections and attending special services during the season of Lent, I did nothing.   My thoughts raced as I prayed my morning rosary.     My voice would be speaking the words but my mind would drift.      My inadequacies became overwhelming and the harder I tried and failed, the more I would tell myself “Why even try?”   Sensing my depressive mood, my husband suggested we get away for a few days.  I would turn 50 years old on March 14th, a milestone in life, and he desired to do something special to celebrate my birthday.   Thus, a get-a-way to Hocking Hills was planned.   As luck would have it, our four-hour car drive to Hocking Hills would take us directly through the city of Columbus.   A dear friend from High School lives just north of Columbus and my Father lives just south of Columbus so we arranged to visit both.     

I had kept in touch with my dear friend, through Facebook messenger for over six years.    Jokingly I told her that my online commitment to her lasted longer than my first marriage.      Although we wrote to each other at least twice a month for six years, we had not seen each other for over twenty-two years.     I was at her wedding shower, pregnant with my daughter and going through my divorce when we last laid eyes on each other.    So many things had changed. 

We decided to meet at Panera Bread for coffee.   My husband said, "Do you know what she looks like now?"    I laughed at the absurdity of his questions, of course I would recognize my friend.    As we pulled into the parking lot I caught sight of her.   She had not changed, she looked exactly as she did when we were in high school.     I could hardly contain myself and almost jumped out of the truck before it came to a complete stop.       I met her at the entrance of the restaurant and hugged her, it was so good to see my friend.       We sat and talked for two hours.   She brought pictures of our glory days.   We had sung together in a barbershop quartet called "Champagne and Soda Pop" and had won singing competitions through the Sweet Adelines.   The pictures invoked countless memories.     As I stared at the pictures of me at age twenty, I recalled how incredibly selfish I was in the past.   Who was that girl?   I expressed to my friend my regret for past mistakes and she lovingly replied: “We all live and learn.”   I’m grateful I was able to meet with my friend and hug her.   Life is too short to live in fear because of past mistakes.

After my visit with my friend, we set off to see my Dad and Step-Mother.  I’m ashamed to say that my trips to Columbus are few.   It is a three-hour drive so it requires an overnight stay.  My eyes are not what they use to be consequently night driving is not an option.   Driving in high-stress traffic fills me with anxiety and high-stress traffic to me is more than three lanes!     Unfortunately, this puts the burden of long distance driving on my husband which means trips to Columbus need to be well planned and within my husband’s work schedule.          Our overnight visit with my Dad and step-mother was a good one.    It’s hard for me to have him so far away.    For my entire life, my Father lived within two miles from me.   There was a five-year period when we lived two doors down from each other.   To have him so many miles away is difficult for me.       Although we talk on the phone every Sunday, nothing can take the place of a hug from your dad.    

On Monday, we set out for our “Cabin in the Woods”.  The cabin was tucked away in a wooded lot that provided privacy for the hot tub located outside on the back porch.     We had no WiFi or cable TV so we spent our days exploring the gift shops, antique stores, hiking and taking long naps.   Our evenings were spent sitting by a campfire, soaking in the hot tub and watching old movies on the DVD player.   These stress-free few days relaxed and rejuvenated us.   It was just what we needed as a couple.

My serenity quickly left me when we I woke up at home on Good Friday.   After my morning coffee, I stepped on the scale and found myself fifteen pounds over my goal weight.   I had fought for two years to lose seventy-five pounds and had carelessly allowed myself to start gaining it back.  The anger within erupted.  I knew depression had played an enormous part in my weight gain.  The vicious cycle of mindless eating and no exercise had certainly taken its toll, but I had to blame someone!  So I lashed out at my husband.  My husband is the great enabler and an unaware food pusher!   He loves to eat and is an excellent cook.    During my two-year weight loss journey, I resisted the late night meals, sweet treats, and excess fatty foods but somewhere along the line I had given in and given up.   I stopped tracking my food intake, measuring my portions and most of all I stopped saying “NO”!    Meaning well, my husband attempted to make light of my weight gained and told me to start my diet on Monday.     I screamed, “I have to start today!  You don’t understand! I don’t want to be over 200 pounds again.”      The despair I felt was paralyzing.   My husband’s attempt to lighten the moment with jokes and laughter enraged me all the more and that’s when it happened…I called my husband an awful name.  As the words left my lips I wished I could hit rewind and swallow them back up.  What had possessed me to be so cruel?   I immediately apologized but the damage was done.  I had awakened his anger which is something no woman, married to a full blooded Irishman, should ever do.    I had poked the sleeping lion and the damage was done.   I kept apologizing, but my words to him had been too harsh.  I was filled with shame, guilt, and regret.   Only an hour earlier I prayed the rosary as he read the paper.    I was not only cruel, I was a hypocrite.

We had planned to have breakfast together at a little Amish Diner in Middlefield and as my husband heatedly grabbed his jacket he said: “I don’t even feel like doing anything with you today.”    We drove in hostile quiet as we ate at our favorite diner. The silence was so loud I was positive that everyone in the diner that day could hear it.   Tears streamed down my face as I played back in my broken mind the demeaning words I had spoken.   I had sincerely apologized, but would he forgive me?   I silently prayed the Memorare, but felt undeserving of his forgiveness.   I was wrong,  I should not have cursed  at him, but didn’t he understand that for him to state, “One bad food choice wouldn’t hurt you”,  would be like me announcing,  “One beer won’t hurt you!”   I am not capable of having “Just one” of anything; once I go off “plan” I’m done. After a three hour cooling off period, my husband began speaking to me again and our day went on as normal, but my heart broke for the pain I caused.  What Christian speaks to their spouse with such disrespect?

I usually watch the Passion of Christ during Holy Week and here it was, Holy Saturday and I had let God down again.   My husband is not Catholic or even Christian for that matter.  He has faith in God but despises organized religious.  He views church goers as hypocrites and who could blame him?  Look at the way I had treated him in the past twenty-four hours.   For over ten years I have tried to convert my husband to Christianity and in less than ten seconds, I blew it, with a few thoughtless words said in anger.   As with every day, my husband cheerfully asked, “What‘cha thinkin' ‘bout Seetie? What’s the plan?  What’s going on?  What’s happening?”      Sheepishly, I said “I’d like to watch the Passion of Christ.”   I usually watch this film in private when my husband is not at home.      The one thing my husband hates more than biblical movies is subtitles and “The Passion of Christ” is over two hours of both.   Imagine my surprise when he agreed to watch the movie with me.    

As we began to watch the movie I found myself becoming perturbed with my husband right out of the gate.  He wasn’t watching the movie; he was playing on his iPad and missing critical points of the story.  My first reaction was to call him out and say,  “Hey! Pay attention!” But something held me back, and I kept hearing this voice say “This is for you as much as for him, be silent!”
I decided to listen to the logical voice in my head and keep silent.    Then it happened, he lowered his iPad and really began to watch.   He was asking questions and proud of himself when he would recognize some of the characters.    “Is that Mary?” he asked.   “Who was Peter?”      I explained who different biblical figures were and some of the events taking place.  When the movie ended he said, “That was pretty cool.”   To me, this was an Easter Miracle!   Not all had been lost!

On Easter morning, I went to mass alone.  My children have wondered away from our faith and although my husband had expressed an interest in trying out my new parish, I didn’t want to push.   He will come in God’s time, not mine!  At Easter Mass, I was reminded of God’s forgiveness.   Jesus conquered death through the Resurrection!  I then was reminded of how Peter, the Rock, had denied Christ three times and was “forgiven.”  My Lenten journey had been filled with failures, disobedience, and periods of time consumed with my own ego.  I had Eased God Out!  Jesus forgave Peter and his apostles for abandoning him during his passion.   I cannot let my shame, guilt of fear, keep me from our Lord.  The resurrection was the beginning, not the end.   My spiritual journey had not ended!  Just as the apostles were filled with the Holy Spirit and sent out to preach the Word of God, I too can call on the Holy Spirit and get back spiritual track.   Alleluia! He is risen and I am renewed in Him! 

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