Oh. My. God. Do you know what is kind of sad?
I can not for the life of me think of who the heroes are in my life.
Okay, NOT true. I DO have heroes.
My mom. She raised four kids on her own and not one of us is in jail or on a reality TV show. HERO!
My grandmother. She was ostracized by her family for being an unwed mother at the age of 45. Immigrated across an ocean to a new country and made a life for her and her daughter. HERO!
My sister. My much younger sister and in so many ways, so much wiser than me. HERO!
My husband. My rock, my love and my hero because he is my kids' hero, each and every day! BIG HERO!
And yes, perhaps at one time or another they have all let me down. But not in a big unforgivable, you are no longer my hero kind of way.
If I had to pick a hero, someone who has let me down (and I really hope I don't get struck down for this) I have to say that it is...
Now, now, don't get your panties in a knot, I am not about to get all preachy and stuff. Just keep reading.....
I grew up in a very Catholic household. When my mom was a kid, she and my grandmother used to go to mass daily and at one point early on in her life my mom contemplated a life in a convent (and then she kind of got knocked up with me, so...that didn't quite pan out)!
From a very early age, the Catholic church was a big part of our lives. Our baptisms, first communions, confirmations, all BIG deals at our house. We said the Lord's prayer every night before bed and we all knew how to recite our Hail Mary's and the full rosary by the time we were six years old. My brothers and I were all altar servers and proud of it.
I think growing up without a father made me appreciate God and the Church even more. Every Sunday, I would go to mass and know that I was loved by God, that He would never leave us and that I could always count on Him for a good 'chat'. And He never judged me. I was taught that at a very early age. God sees all and forgives all as long as you ask him for it.
And then one year something changed. And although I know it really was not God's fault that this happened, I felt let down and hurt and unable to forgive.
I was 13 years old, it was right before Easter and we were going to church for the Sacrament of Confession (which by the way, they now call Reconciliation-sounds nicer I guess). Going to confession always made me nervous. It meant that I would have to sit down with a grown-up and admit (out load) all of my sins. What, you ask, are the sins of a 13-year-old girl? Well, they mostly had to do with not listening to or honoring my mom and grandmother, hitting my brothers and possibly some other stuff along those lines. None of the major sins committed here, just your run of the mill tween-girl-in-the-early-1980s stuff.
As I sat in the confessional and recited my sins to the priest, my heart pounding out of my chest, I just hoped and prayed that I would only have to recite three Our Fathers and maybe five Hail Marys, get my absolution and then go get some cookies and juice. Nope, not with this guy. Someone has obviously pissed in this particular priest's Holy Cheerios that morning, because instead of the loving absolution that I had come to expect from my confessional experiences, I got a harsh scolding. I was told that I was a bad girl, that God was disappointed in me and that if I wanted his love I would have to try a lot harder. I can't remember what my penance was that night, but I do remember crying a lot as we left the church.
And then I got mad. Mad enough that I refused to go to church for a while, and mad enough that I have NEVER, ever, not even once gone back to Confession/Reconciliation ever again!
I do know that God really had nothing to do with this particular experience and that it was the priest that ruined it for me, but I can't help it. These men are His representatives here on Earth. They are the ones who are supposed to spread His message and His love to us and this man took that away from me. He made me question GOD and consequently my whole belief system and in the end we (God and I) have never really been the same.
We do still talk and I know that He takes very good care of my brother and my grandmother, but I don't visit Him at His house very often. My trust in the Catholic Church was broken that day and I was seriously let down. Someone told me that God did not love me as much as I thought he did and to a kid already suffering with abandonment issues it was just too much.
I will not go to confession ever again, but I will forgive and God knows that and I am pretty sure that we are good. We have an understanding and I know now that regardless of what any priest ever says, that He is always and will always be there when I need Him.
Love and forgiveness,