A while back I visited a blog that discussed finding God. Since that visit the memories have been flooding my mind and either I post about these memories or I just may drown from the flood. My first memories take me back to the time when my father went to church and was saved and then baptized in a creek that ran along behind the churches property. He was a good Christian and lived his life as any Christian might. Before we ate dinner, he read some verses from the bible and that was followed with prayer. He had quit drinking and no longer divvied out verbal and physical abuse to his family. As young as I was during this time I remember a heavy weight being lifted from my family.
Then one Saturday night the phone rang and it was my Uncle Starchy calling from a bar down town. He was falling down drunk and had gotten thrown out of the bar and wanted Dad to come and get him. Dad went, not only because it was family, it was the right thing to do. As they walked away from the bar with Uncle Starchy leaning on Dad with an arm around his shoulder, he of course was staggering and being a much bigger man than my father. both of them staggered. Well Hello!! Who should drive past the bar at that moment, but the minister of the little country church we had attended. What a surprise it was when we went to church Sunday morning to hear a sermon that was evidently directed straight toward my father as the minister talked about members of the church drinking and carousing on Saturday nights and staggering out onto the street with their drunken friends. As if that wasn't bad enough, but that same so called Christian gets up and goes to church on Sunday as if they had done nothing wrong. How do I know this sermon was directed toward my dad? One clue might have been how the minister never once took his eyes off of Dad and even pointing his finger at him when he talked of this person burning in the fires of Hell. It was about this time when Dad leaned over and told Mom ," We are leaving!" . ...... and that is what we did. He didn't go into another church until my brother Joey (aka Toad) grew up and got married.
Eventually Dad returned to his old ways of verbal abuse and his drinking. His physical abuse that he dished out to our mother never returned, which I was grateful for although she still received her apportioned share of the verbal and emotional abuse. I remember when we had been out side playing and dad would come home from where ever he was, when we came in the house Mom would shush us and tell us to go to our room and be quiet.
Mom was bound and determined that her two youngest children would learn about God and Jesus. Since it didn't seem as if we were going to learn that under our father's roof she sent us to what ever churches were closest to where we lived at the time. Mom would get us up on Sundays and get us ready for Sunday School and out the door we went, usually with Joey leading the way. Per Joey's desire, I was never allowed to walk with my brother, only behind. If I would get too close, he would stop and point his finger at me and tell me to slow down because he did not want to walk with me. I recall that on a few occasions if he had already had to stop and tell me to back off, then the next time he had to stop and talk to me he talked with a handful of rocks in his hand. The denomination of the church(es) my brother Joey and I attended when we were small were many. We went to Methodist, Baptist, Nazarene, Lutheran....... You name it, we went to it except for the Catholic church (more about this later).
I don't remember when it happened, but at some point after we became teens, Joey quit going to church. Church on Sunday was still very much a part of my life though. I enjoyed going and it seemed to complete my week.
As a teenager, my circle of friends grew and the majority of those friends were either Italian or Irish and (whispering here) Catholic. Dad tolerated my choice of friends, but absolutely put his foot down when it came to spending the night with any of them on Saturday night. When I questioned him on why........ His reply was that he didn't want me to get up on Sunday morning and go to their Catholic church. I questioned that reasoning too. He replied that any church that couldn't speak their services in English had to be Communist and had something going on that he didn't want me being a part of. What can I say..... The man had beliefs that he refused to vacate because he had probably spent years coming to that conclusion or that is what he was taught as he grew up.
Unknown to him, as I got a little older I learned that the Catholic churches also held a Saturday evening service so I started attending those services. My dad had no idea what I was doing. All my life I had heard ministers speak of a harsh demanding Father that made his children suffer before forgiving them. If he even chose to forgive those sinning children. Within the Catholic church (which was now doing their services in English) I found a loving and forgiving Father that welcomed even His sinning children back into the fold and He loved and forgave all of His children unconditionally.
I struggled to find the courage to tell my father what I had been doing and that I wanted to attend classes and become a Catholic. To my surprise he simply responded by telling me that I was 17 and had the right to make those choices. He gave me the approval that I needed and was really and truly shocked, while at the same time I was full of appreciation for God answering my prayers.
Years later I attended a reception at a Marine Corps Base Chapel that included the Protestant and Catholic congregations. There was one Protestant member that found his way over to talk to me and he didn't waste any time telling me that he used to be a Catholic, but didn't find God until he became a Protestant. I shared with him how funny I found that, because I didn't find God until I entered a Catholic church for the first time (and I had looked in a lot of different churches). I went on to tell him that it was just proof that God is everywhere and that He is where ever you look for him.
Many years have passed since that day, as well as a marriage that had failed. I no longer felt welcome in the Catholic Church after my divorce and have not attended mass for 11 years. The church that I attend today is the Church of God in My Heart. If I have questions about how to lead my life there is an instruction manual called a Bible. I sing and hum my gospel music off and on every single day. I look around me and I see God everywhere. He is in the flowers, birds, trees, the rain and snow. He is in the beauty of the world around me. He is in the love of my husband, children and grand children. I don't have any problem handing my troubles over to Him because He is always there for me to talk to, also known as praying to. It has been a long road to the place where I am now, but the words of a song that often runs through my mind says it all.... " Me and Jesus got a good thing going" .
Have a Blessed Sunday and remember....
God is where you look for Him.