For the past few weeks, I’ve been leading a book group on Captivating by Stasi Eldredge. This is not something I do easily. I’m an introvert. I internalize. I tend to observe, not lead. I’m fairly well known in the local Bible studies for not saying anything. Ever.
So to say this has been challenging is an understatement.
This book is meant to help women be who God made them to be. And a huge part of that recognizes our wounds and what those wounds caused us to believe. We hit that section two weeks ago, and ever since then, I’ve been dealing with a wound I’ve known about for a while but never knew how to face.
It started with my childhood best friend. By high school, we drifted apart slightly, but college was the real cut. She went to school a few hours away,, and within a few months, we were no longer talking. A month in, I called to wish her a happy birthday, and she said she’d call me back. She never did. Later on, she missed my birthday, for the first time I can remember. She’d promise to let me know when she was home, but I wouldn’t hear from her, and then I’d see her with another friend who attended the college I did. Or we’d make plans, and she’d cancel the day before because she’d forgotten. We never did catch up.
It doesn’t take long to get the hint, but it does take forever to get over it. The way I understood it was she’d found someone better. And the lie that taught me was that no matter how long I’ve known someone, no matter how close they were to me, eventually, they would choose someone else. I would always be left behind. I would always be forgotten.
So to say this recent foray into the caverns of old wounds has been rough is likewise an understatement. I’ve started to see how that wound and lie have affected how I deal with people. But it wasn’t until two nights ago that this exploration showed me how that old wound had impacted another relationship in a way I’d never imagined.
See, God and I have also been going through a rough patch.
It’s something I haven’t really admitted to anyone. I thought it was because I haven’t gone to Adoration as much since the pandemic started. And the fact that I was in desolation. Because I was still praying. I was going to Mass and Confession. I was attending Bible study and reading Scripture on my own. But there was a disconnect.
Then I started noticing that I was having a hard time praying novenas. I’ve written before about how I’d felt like my prayers regarding my vocation weren’t being heard. That feeling was back and this time it was worse. There was almost a bitterness, a feeling of “Why should I pray when I know it’s not going to be answered?”
But I brushed it off. Didn’t dwell on it. Did the best I could to keep praying and accept that it is God’s Will that I am where I am.
But things just got worse. It got to the point where I felt like I didn’t know how to hold a conversation with God anymore. I’d sit, wanting to pray, but too numb and empty to summon words.
I was closed off. I knew it. But I didn’t know why and I didn’t know the solution.
When in doubt, leave everything to the Sacraments. Two nights ago, I went to Confession and the priest and I had a discussion about wounds. I didn’t mention anything about struggling to pray, but when we were done, he told me to go into the Chapel and sit and open my heart to God.
Given the last several months, I was concerned that’d be an issue. But within minutes of sitting on the Chapel floor, the walls were gone. Suddenly, the words I’d never been able to find were there and out in the open. All of the thoughts I hadn’t been able to put into words were suddenly easy to speak. In less than ten minutes, after months of unintentionally keeping everything locked in, I finally understood what was going on.
I’d felt forgotten by God. As all of my friends got engaged and then married, I kept getting message after message to wait. And with every new stop sign, it felt more and more like I’d been pushed to the side. Like I’d been left behind again. If being forgotten by a friend is bad, it’s worse when it feels like God’s the one sending your calls to voicemail.
What made it harder is that the entire time I knew intellectually that God hadn’t done any of that. My wounds and the lies I’d absorbed had influenced how I understood God’s actions. But I didn’t understand that and with no recognition of why I was feeling such resentment, I didn’t know how to address it. It took me sitting on a chapel floor, pinning down my emotions in small, easy words, for the pieces to finally connect.
And God just listened. He didn’t say a word. The entire time, it felt like He was just sitting there holding me. In that moment, that was all I needed. To feel that I hadn’t been forgotten. That He hadn’t left me behind. That He did want what’s best for me. That everything I’d believed about Him for months was a lie. That He had never left me.
And the crazy part? It all started two months ago with a book study I didn’t feel equipped to lead. Two months before I reached my breaking point, God gave me that opportunity, knowing I needed it to understand the chasm I’d allowed between us. Without that book study, I wouldn’t have understood why I was in pain. The idea that I have lies I believe about God wouldn’t have even occurred to me. I would still be hurting, sure that I’d been forgotten yet again.
So to say it’s been a blessing is also an understatement.
Noelle is a cradle Catholic with a love for adoration and all things football (Roll Tide). She spends her days immersed in stories and air conditioning in an effort to survive the 9-month summer of the Deep South (so far, so good). A romantic at heart, she can occasionally (always) be coaxed into ballroom dancing. For more of Noelle M., visit her blog https://beingevanescent.wordpress.com/ or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org