Sometimes I Want to Walk Away: When the Spiritual Honeymoon Wears Off

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When I came into the Church at Easter Vigil three years ago there were a few things that nobody told me. Well, one thing that people did tell me that I did not listen to was that the high I had at the time would wear off. It’s called the honeymoon phase, and like all relationships it happens. Even in our relationship with Christ. I did not believe people because I am the most prideful human being that has ever lived. And the love that God was showering me with at that point in my life gave me the delusion that I was special. That somehow I was never going to feel that emptiness that comes when God starts preparing us for battle. (That is what He is preparing us for; battle against the evil inside of us, in the world, in the Church, and in our everyday life.) I thought that the little moment of sadness or the times that I didn’t get chills when receiving the Eucharist were those “dark nights of the soul” that everyone was talking about. Now, three years later, I realize that is laughable. But nobody really told me what to prepare for. I’m not sure why we don’t talk about it; whether it’s because we don’t want people to run away or if it’s because we don’t really want to bare our souls like that.

The only thing that makes me feel safe is baring mine. So, here are a few things that I wish people had told me when I became Catholic.

1. The Catholic Church is like a family

I read a post by Simcha Fisher the other day where she said, “Come on in, it’s terrible”, and that about sums it up. The last 3 years of my life have been full of seeing the most appalling acts made by some of the most decent Catholics. We act like 2 year olds sometimes. We call each other out, we type in ALL CAPS in online debates with one another, we disagree about everything, even things that by the very name Catholic we should agree on. We don’t see anything the same as anyone else, we love different kinds of music and all come from different personal experiences that makes us take all kinds of stupid things wrong and personal. And thanks to Facebook, we do it in public sometimes. Who am I kidding? We do it in public all.the.time. But we still love each other. The second that some secular media outlet attacks all things Catholic you can bet your horse that we will all swarm their Facebook page or Twitter to tell them how the cow eats the cabbage. (I’ve been talking to my husband about this post so I have a lot of Texan sayings in my head.) So, don’t be shocked or heartbroken or offended when you are admonished for anything and everything you do. Be prepared for it and cling to Christ when someone in our family hurts your feelings, but get up and move on. We don’t have time for pity parties right now. The Apostles had this problem, it’s not new, so dust off and focus on God’s Will for your life. It’s not a popularity contest.

2. You will be admonished for everything you do by someone

No matter what you do, if you have enough Catholic friends someone in that circle will judge you. They will judge you on your choice of music, speech, clothes, shoes, hairstyle, when you go to Mass, or any number of other things. Why? Because that is how the evil one gets us to let ourselves off the hook, we judge others. So, chances are that someone somewhere will be judging you. Forgive them and remember that feeling so you don’t turn around and do it to someone else. It’s just so much easier to point a finger at someone else than it is to turn the spotlight on our own short comings. We all do it. And don’t make the mistake that I’ve made over and over again and end up judging them for judging others. That is a mirror in a mirror and it takes a long time to get out of it. It took me countless confessions and a lot of heartache to finally get out of mine. Sparky is a sneaky guy and he can con you into thinking that wrong is right in the name of truth and justice. Don’t fall for it.

3. Sparky aka the devil is real

There is a fine, and I mean a supa fine, line between knowing this and thinking that everything is the devil’s fault. Legions of demons do not have the power to take away our free will. Our choices are ours to make (which makes the whole motto of the pro-choice movement so extremely frustrating since they seem to think that their freedom to make choices comes from the Government, but I digress). So no matter what, we choose. And we will be held accountable for those choices. But what Sparky can and does do is tempt us. He uses scripture, papal documents, newspaper articles, Facebook, Twitter, our mood, our surroundings, and everything he knows about us to do it. We have to acknowledge this in order to avoid those temptations and to ask for God’s Mercy when we fail and fall for Sparky’s tricks. Also, he is no chump. When Sparky attacks us it can make our nightmares look like fairy tales. His attacks can make us feel more alone than we have ever felt in our life. There have been times when I beg God to let me be anything but Catholic. My RCIA director said once that he had at times felt like his soul was being ripped apart and away from God. I have felt the same. What you have to hold on to is that God allows all things for our good. Even what we consider the ugly parts, because He knows that all real relationships mature. At the beginning he babies us because we need that kind of treatment, then as we grow he allows us to grow and that means letting us go sometimes. Not “let us go” as in He leaves us, He never leaves us, but He does let go of our bike. You know how when you learn to ride a bike and an adult or someone holds onto your seat while you are learning and then suddenly you realize that they have let the seat go and you are riding it? Yeah, when you realize that is usually right before you fall and cut your forehead on the pavement. That’s the same thing with God, he lets go of our seat and we usually fall and crack our head on the pavement. And it hurts like hell. But we learned how to ride that bike! (I think that I’m still holding a grudge against someone for letting go of my bike when I was 5.)

4. People will hate you

You know the saying “Haters gonna hate”? Yeah, being Catholic will really bring that one to life. People will say the most offensive things to you, to your face. Don’t even get me started on online conversations. It seems that it is okay to say the vilest things as long as it’s against Catholics. And everyone is doing it. Protestant, Progressives, Pro-choicers, Atheists, Protestant progressive pro-choice atheists (don’t think they exist? Just read a few comment boxes, and you’ll see that they do), and any other group of people that you can imagine. (The progressive and uber Catholics will hate you too, but that falls under #2.) Jesus told us Himself that following Him would not be popular, the part that I think maybe He could have elaborated on is how many of those people who hate us will claim to be on our side at one point or another. I think that God allows it to teach us that the only person that we should be relying on is Him. Everyone else will let us down at some point or another. It’s devastating when it happens, but I always have to keep my eyes on the Cross and realize that He knows better than anyone that friends will betray us. Judas sold Him out, Peter denied him, all the rest of them ran like cowards except John. John stayed, but what did he have that the others didn’t seem to have? He had a love for the Blessed Mother. So take that example and love her as much as John did. Hold on to *her* and keep your eyes on Jesus when people hate on you.

5. No matter what, be who God made you

And sometimes that means listening to Justin Timberlake on Pandora and dancing like its 1999. I love music. I love Hip Hop music to be exact. All of it: from Lil Wayne, R. Kelly to Justin Timberlake and TPain. It is part of who I am. I love the soul in music like Keisha Cole and Mary J. Blige and the love in music by Usher, Tank and Marques Houston. I have changed the fact that I listen to the edited version of most of these artists’ albums now, but other than that I still listen to music that moves me. My point is that we are all different, with different tastes and different gifts. We are not all going to like the same music, books or have the same interests. I may be wrong in my taste of music, and maybe one day God will call me to leave it behind and listen to some Georgian Chant, I don’t know, but for now, it is what I listen to when I want to feel my heart beat with the love I have being alive. Just be who you are and let God tell you what to work on and which way to go. Don’t base your decisions on what others think of you. This is very hard for me and usually ends up with me being at the point of #4 where many people dislike me. It is not easy for me to feel like people don’t like me. I want people to like me, to get me, and to understand me, but that is not always possible. The fact is that no matter where you are most of the people around you don’t like you. It keeps me humble. I don’t like it, but it does keep me humble. One thing that does make me feel better is that the best saints were outcasts who were disliked by a lot of people. But I will tell you this: the only thing worse than having people not like you is being someone you aren’t and not liking yourself because of it. I’ve done that; it’s not worth it.

6. I don’t like this number and don’t want to end on it, soooo yeah.

7. No matter what, God loves you

It will be hard. It will be a fight and there will be times when you feel like you don’t belong in this Church. That is a given. Don’t give up though. Seek God’s Will in everything, because behind everything is His will for you. He allows everything to teach us something. Our job is to figure it out. A priest just told me to remember that this is a marathon not a 10 yard dash. I need to remember that because I often burn myself out by wanting to do everything at once. I exhaust myself and that is the perfect opening for Sparky to attack me. I am not Catholic because everyone is so sweet and nice here. I’m not Catholic because it’s a cool club to belong to. I’m Catholic because Jesus is here. This is His Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church, and who am I to turn from that because it’s a little hard sometimes? When I feel like doing that I just go and read John Chapter 6 and hear the Apostle’s words “Where shall we go Lord? You have the words of everlasting life.” The greatest advice I can give anyone is that when it seems too hard to stay and easy to leave is to read that line over and over.

There is so much that I can add to this list. The ups and downs of the last four years since I began RCIA have been the highest high and the lowest low. I have stared at my wall and wondered why people are so cruel and then I remember what they did to Jesus. Nothing that I endure compares to the Passion of my Lord. He is all that I love. He is all that matters to me, so out of love for Him, I will love others, even when they fail. He loves me when I fail.

I saw a Facebook group called “The Catholic Church Sucks”, and I can honestly say that “yeah, we do.” Because we are human and fallen, but none of that changes what the Truth is. The Truth is that Jesus knew that. He ordained Judas knowing what Judas was going to do. He made Peter our first Pope, knowing that Peter was going to deny Him. And He knew that we would fail Him and each other. He died for us anyway. He calls us anyway. He holds out His hand to us to walk with us and to help us be better than ourselves. Thank God for that.

9 Replies to “Sometimes I Want to Walk Away: When the Spiritual Honeymoon Wears Off”

  1. I was just reading an article in our diocesan paper on how we shouldn’t be too judgy and use terms like “cafeteria Catholic” since none of us is perfect at following Church teaching. I wanted to spit on it and then burn it, because to me it was just namby-pamby “we should all just love one another and get along” crap. It did make me stop and think about my attitude toward liberal Catholics, and whether my feelings are wrong. In the end I decided it’s not about judging their soul, but about judging their actions (which we can do). If they reject Church teaching and go around trying to change it to their point of view, then I can be mad at them for that–it’s wrong. But I did wonder what you’d have to say about it. 🙂

    1. I’m in between classes so I can only briefly comment (Take a minute and thank God for that lol) I dot like mamby pamby. I think that it’s a testimony of people who don’t want to learn how to speak the truth in love because they are scared people will not like them. Christ challenged people. We are called to pray for everyone, speak when the Holy Spirit says speak and shut up when He says shut up. Learning how to discern that is probably why God hasn’t even begun to work with me about my taste in music. 🙂

  2. I have read this blog for a long time, but this is the first post that I was nodding the whole way through.

    I don’t fit in the Catholic Church. I’m an aspiring country singer/songwriter, working on my Masters in Music, sarcastic, doesn’t have kids (and likes it), likes to shoot guns, and hates bad church music (I’m looking at you Oregon Catholic Press).

    I will never be the docile Catholic woman with 20 kids, teaches CCD, sings in the church choir (I tried, but the songs were horrible), loves praying the Rosary, home-school, and has the priest over for dinner. I’m lucky if I can make it through Mass.

    It is very lonely. I’m Catholic not because I want to be, but because I was baptised. It is my cross, to be part of a religion that I will never truly belong in. I might be a member and follow the rules, but I will be a outsider. I never had that time where I thought, “being Catholic is the best thing EVER!”. It’s an obligation, like taxes. Can a dry period last a lifetime? At least it makes good country song material.

  3. O wow!!! You go girl!!!! Best piece. I have ever read on becoming Catholic….. Thank you for your honesty…. Please know that as a cradle Catholic I welcome you into the Church and feel that the Church is made better because of tbe presence of you and your family!!!! Hang in there !!! You are a soldier if Christ welcome to the fight!!!!!

  4. Did you ever notice that no one ever really prepares us for anything? Not life, not death, not the death of those you love not even the death of a beloved pet. We seem to just be flailing around as human beings hoping for the best and expecting the worst and when nothing major happens we breathe a sigh of relief. The only thing that could possibly make it worth while to make my feet touch the floorboards in the morning is Christ and Mary. I love the Mother of Jesus so much. I left my Catholic roots over thirty years ago, and Christ called me back with a mind shattering holler. My brother died, then my dad died then my mom died then my dog died, I can barely breathe when the telephone rings or an unexpected knock comes to the door. “Oh no who’s next?” PLease let it be me I think, because I cant take one ounce more. But there is mass every morning at six AM and sometimes twice a day yet again at five PM. It helps. I sit in the same little chapel where I buried my aforementioned relatives (sans the dog) I’m happy to be home. I don’t like the way I was called back, but I suppose if it were any other way I would not have listened…and God be with you…

  5. Lynne,
    Cradle here with 16 years of Catholic school and decades of reading the whole Bible, Aquinas’ entire Summa T., and most of Augustine. When thinking of the term “cafeteria Catholic”, restrict it to what is clearly de fide, inerrant, or infallible. You get a bigger rest from judging actions too.
    Abortion for example is infallibly condemned in section 62 of Evangelium Vitae. Prior to that 1995 encyclical, abortion was in the ordinary magisterium where most Catholics felt it was wrong but John Paul II wanted to make it crystal clear like the IC encyclical and the extraordinary magisterium does that. John Paul thus polled all Bishops worldwide and they unanimously agreed under him that it was to be condemned in all cases. Ex Cathedra is one form of the extraordinary magisterium ( Pope alone…the IC and the Assumption)
    and Pope with all Bishops is another form of the extraordinary magisterium.
    “Church teaching” is a wider concept and includes the not clearly infallible and is less certain once you know Church history… but no one on the net will say that especially priest bloggers. In 1520 Pope Leo X in Exsurge Domine, art.33, condemned Luther’s idea that burning heretics was against the Holy Spirit and he issued in that bull an excommunication latae sententiae for any Catholic who agreed with Luther in any of a multitude of listed ideas…that being one. Now the entire Catholic Church agrees with Luther that burning heretics is against God ( Veritatis Splendor, sect. 80…”coercion of spirit” as intrinsic evil). Church teaching in 1520 and for several centuries after was that burning heretics was moral. You were a cafeteria Catholic in 1520 and excommunicated automatically if you were against burning heretics. Now the last two Popes and all Catholics are against burning heretics. How could a Pope be wrong on morals in 1520? Because he was not using infallibility ( see Ludwig Ott, Intro to his Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma, end of sect.8). Leo X in that bull says he has consulted many professors and all Cardinals. But all Bishops are required for infallibility…not all Cardinals…unless one is using ex cathedra. At Leo X’s time, Cardinals were often young nephews of Popes. Read about the history of nepotism at newadvent.

  6. Bill, I suppose I was considering anything obvious {ie,in the Catechism} like abortion or women priests. I’m not for being judgy over whether we use Latin or not, or what kind of music one listens to. We’re all on a journey, and hopefully all searching for ways to be more faithful. But some seem flagrantly opposed to established “Church teaching” and bent on bringing us into the modern era. To them, and clergy and diocesan papers who encourage them, I am vigorously opposed. 🙂

  7. Lynne,
    I leave you with a mystery. The catechism is a mix of the infallible and the non infallible depending on what documents it is citing. Augustine and Aquinas ruled out all lying; Jerome did not and cited Jehu in the Bible who was praised by God after tricking the Baal priests and killing them.
    In its section on the 8th commandment against lying, the catechism twice admits that not everyone is owed the truth but it, like Aquinas and Augustine, never says there are white lies. But there are like Jerome believed. Christ announces in the hearing of the Canaanite woman that He has come only…only…for the house of Israel leading her to believe that it is not permissable for Him to help her. Yet, Christ makes no such announcement to the Roman centurion but helps him immediately…and cured a Samaritan leper in a group with 9 Jews.
    Our new Pope had a priest call in sick to the dictator Videla so that he ( Pope Francis) could at that time take the priest’s place and plead for the captured young Jesuits. Read the book of Judith and you’ll see a heroine who told white lies like Francis who also gave his ID papers to a man who looked
    like him so the man could escape Argentina.
    Women priests…I’m against it due to passages in the NT but I wouldn’t bet the farm on my opinion. The CDF cannot declare anything infallibly nor can a Pope informally state the infallible ( see the same section of Ott mentioned above).

  8. Hi Leticia,

    thanks for your post. As someone who is hopelessly in love with Gregorian Chant, I am at a loss as how to connect with my teenage relatives in the area of music. Since you like Hip Hop, maybe you can direct me to some selections that are truly excellent and that I can share with my younger set. (Obviously, I’m in the gran’ma generation) I’d like your input. Then you can borrow my Gregorian cds.


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