Why I Quit – Part 2: The Husband

Why I Quit – Part 2: The Husband

[warning: this post may be very counter-cultural, even in Catholic circles. not sorry.]

November 13, 1993

It sounds cliche, but I married my best friend in 1993. We have never had a fight, we’ve never questioned our vows, and we’ve never strayed from them.

Over the past 25 years, the only thing that has changed between us has been our faith… not in each other, but in God.

Jerry and I are both ‘cradle Catholics’, meaning we were born into the faith. We went to Catholic grade school where we received the sacraments of Reconciliation, First Eucharist, and Confirmation. We attended different public high schools and continued with the traditional CCD as was the custom for ‘good’ Catholic teenagers… until we couldn’t stand it anymore and quit. (God bless those catechists for working in a broken system and God bless those high school students who didn’t leave the faith in spite of it!)

As often young adults do, we both wandered away from the church; not from self-identifying as Catholic, but from actually practicing our faith.

A few years later, we found each other, got married, and had two beautiful daughters (not quite in that order, if you know what I mean).

Wanting to be “good parents”, we raised our daughters in the same faith tradition, albeit, merely going through the motions. We had our girls baptized and put our oldest in Catholic school but we weren’t attending Mass in any regular capacity. Again, Catholic in name only. This “catholic” laxity lasted for a few years and, although we were registered at a parish, we completely fell away from any real community.

In spite of our being very disconnected with religion, there were some things that happened while our oldest daughter was in Catholic grade school that just didn’t sit right. Jerry and I hadn’t really practiced our faith for several years but there were things being taught that we knew weren’t correct and bordered on New Age. A little grace kicked in and I began to do some research which led us to enroll her in a different Catholic grade school. The theology there wasn’t as ‘off’ but it wasn’t very deep and was pretty much allocated to a single class. One would think that faith would have been woven throughout the curriculum; but, not true. …And we’re paying for this?

It wasn’t enough, so we started to home school. (a future blog post)

Through home schooling, I reconnected with my faith on a very personal level. I started to take our girls to Sunday Mass, I prayed with them, began using sacramentals and displaying pictures and statues of saints, Our Lord, and the Blessed Mother, around the house. My daughters and I found a strong community of friends in our local Catholic homes school support group. And, I began a woman’s bible study in my home. My faith had taken off, my heart was full of joy, and I wanted nothing more than to be a family who loved and served the Lord.

One thing was missing.

Jerry.

I will save his conversion story for another blog and maybe get him to tell his own story.

Suffice it to say that my faith had taken flight, but his never left the ground.

For the next 15 years, St. Monica was my girl. She was my #1 intercessor. I prayed each and every day for Jerry to have some sort of experience that would bring him to love the Lord as I did. For 15 years I took my girls to Mass, taught them the faith, gave them encounters with Jesus Christ, and helped them to make strong Catholic friendships. With the help of the Holy Spirit, I had become the spiritual head of the household. And, at first, I enjoyed the responsibility. I didn’t realize what a heavy burden it would become.

As my faith grew stronger, the spiritual divide between Jerry and me became wider. I began to experience a fear for our marriage that I never thought could exist. When most people think about problems in marriages they think of abuse, infidelity, etc. Who ever considers the spiritual aspect?

My prayers for Jerry became more intentional.

“God, please let Jerry experience your love for him in a way that will light his heart on for You, so that we can share our faith as a married couple and he can spiritually lead our family.”

My greatest joy was also my greatest sadness.

I loved the Lord so much and received such joy from His great love, but this love exchange could not be shared with my husband and caused it a great hole in my heart.

I never wavered in my prayer; I never gave up on my husband. I couldn’t. He was and is my everything. Jerry was and is my path to salvation. I need him as much as he needs me. His lack of faith became my cross.

In March, 2011, an invitation to Cursillo became a pivotal experience for Jerry, softened his heart, and began a new journey for him. He started to ask questions about God, religion, prayer. He began reading about the Church and attending Mass with us regularly. A month later after I made Cursillo, we started to pray together.

After 15 years, God had answered my prayers and Jerry became the spiritual head of our home!

But, God wasn’t finished blessing my prayers. Remember, He cannot outdone in generosity!

God was inviting Jerry to the diaconate. He was calling Jerry to become a spiritual leader, not only of our home but for the greater Church.

In the fall of 2012, just 18 months after Cursillo, Jerry entered the diaconate program for our diocese. And, on May 26, he was ordained to the Permanent Diaconate.

While Jerry was doing his diaconate thing, I was so immersed in diocesan and parish youth ministry that I was rarely home. I was unable to attend several formation weekends and in 2017, after he was ordained, I had only one weekend free during the summer. On Sundays I was at the parish while he was at the nursing home assisting at Mass. Our paths rarely crossed.

During a retreat – one that I worked, not made – it dawned on me that I had prayed for a husband who would be the spiritual head of our home. God blessed that prayer greater than I could have imagined, but now I was keeping so busy that there was nobody home for Jerry to spiritually lead. It’s like…

I prayed for a beautiful gift.

Received a greater gift.

Never opened it.

God had been faithful to my prayers by strengthening my husband. Now I needed to be faithful to God through being… [here comes the counter-cultural part I warned you about]… submissive to my husband. It was Jerry’s turn to lead me but this meant that I needed to be available for him to be led.

Only one solution:

Quit my job in ministry that I absolutely loved to be a stay at home wife to a godly man that I loved so much more.

In the end, love made it an easy decision.

Love always does.

…next up… Part 3 – Philosophies

Pray for me as I pray for you.

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