I was born and raised by Italians. The end.
No seriously. We were raised as very strict Catholics. Though dad hated going to church (as much as the rest of us) he went. Not very often. But he did begrudgingly go. Then he got a hate on for the priest and he was done.
Now my sisters and I were dragged kicking and screaming. Literally. Mom would come downstairs to our bedroom, rip the blankets off of us and shout “It’s Sunday, get up, you’re going to church”.
I didn’t like church. I, like my father, especially didn’t like the priest. He was always yelling at us and calling us sinners and we needed to give more money and bla bla bla. Oh please just stop.
I thought he was rude and greedy. Certainly not how a priest should behave, amirite? 🤷♀️
He eventually died and a new fresh young priest showed up. Dad liked him. He was funny and full of life. He was also African American and dad used to call him ‘snowball’. Don’t ask. No clue.
He came over to the house for Sunday dinners often. He was just a sweet fun man.
The church suddenly seemed happier and the pews were slowly filling up again. There was hope for this church.
Everyone seemed to really like this priest until he ran off with the church secretary in the brand new car the congregation bought for him. I shit you not.
So much for that guy.
As the years went on, slowly the news was starting to fill up with stories of sexual abuse by, you guessed it, Catholic priests. I was done. Where was God? Where was the peace, faith and love I was supposed to feel that the Catholic church promised to deliver?
There was no God here. I didn’t feel Him at all. I felt betrayed and sad. The foundation of hope and love that my mom advocated for for so many years was crumbling.
When I finally moved out on my own, I rarely went to church. You know, the usual, Christmas and Easter. That was enough for me. And it really was only to make mom happy. I just couldn’t handle it anymore. I felt a sense that I simply didn’t belong there.
Fast forward to my late 40’s, my life had gone through hell and back and I felt like I needed salvation. I needed some Jesus in my life. I was lost, hopeless and helpless. I needed to cry silently and I needed someone who had the magical power to hear my silent screams.
I found myself back in church. But not the Catholic church. No no no. I swore I would never go back there. The yelling, the hypocrisy, the lies, the deceit, the greed. That was no place for peace and love. That was no place for me.
I had driven by a big old United church frequently and finally one Sunday morning I decided it was time to check it out. I walked in, alone, apprehensive and nervous. I wasn’t sure I was ready to go back to church but I knew I had to to heal my wounded soul.
I was shocked by what transpired. People greeted me warmly. Handshakes, hugs, genuine smiles. It was lovely.
What I found were some of the sweetest people on earth. I realized then, I had found my new place of redemption. This, to me, was a real place of worship filled with fellowship, love and hope. Just what I needed.
But I didn’t really go alone. I took God with me. He was by my side the whole time.
Since I’ve moved down to Guatemala I rarely attend church service for the simple fact it’s in Spanish and though the service translated is identical to an English one, I just don’t attend. I’ve been twice in over 3 years.
However, I do go to the church. The doors are always open. All day. I go in and sit alone and talk to God. I sit in silence, sometimes I cry but mostly I just thank Him for the amazing life I have and for always being by my side, protecting and loving me. Caring for and listening to me. Comforting and having mercy on me.
I removed the labels of Catholic, United, Evangelical or Protestant. For me, this is a big beautiful place of peace, hope and redemption. In this church, I know God is with me.
Peace and Love
xo iva xo