This powerful reflection was written back in 2013 at my request for a Year of Faith blog I moderate, by a wonderfully gifted friend, Judy Nuñez , whose faithful witness shines through her sincerity and love.
+ + + +
I grew up teased. Words weren’t softened then due to any sense of ‘correctness’…I was FAT. Entering high school, I knew I would never be accepted by the popular girls. Proud of my faith, I was president of a service club that attended socials at a facility for people with learning disabilities.
One Friday night, several “in” kids crashed the dance, and congratulated me on finding someone to marry a fat girl who loves Jesus. Hurt and humiliated, I turned to leave but my sweet, gentle, Down Syndrome dance partner said, “She can’t marry me, but we dance.” I saw God that night: He had 2-left feet, an unbridled exuberance for life, and a stained necktie. We danced…I let him lead…..
I found someone to marry me – handsome with lots of friends. I finally “fit in.” Dropping out of college, we married, found jobs and built a house. Children soon followed. Alone every weekend, I poured myself into my children. But the more I poured out to them, the less there was of me.
A series of circumstances happened – events so complicated and confusing, still today – but only the result is important now. I became homeless for 8 months when my children were 6, 7, & 10. Anorexic, with a diseased thyroid, death hovered over me as I prayed. A police officer found me at the water’s edge and drove me to the hospital. Tucking my head into his car, his words echoed those I heard many times before….”You don’t fit in here.” I saw God that day in the emergency room…and he looked a lot like my dad. That very day, my mother had suffered a heart attack, and was admitted into ICU. My dad was shocked at my appearance and convinced the officer to let me visit her. Though I had been veiled in sorrow and self-pity for years, the intuitiveness of my young daughter made me realize then that there is no such thing as coincidence. Had it not been for all those circumstances – out from under control and domination of my ex-husband — I would never have seen God’s face again and and been able to visit my mother one last time.
I recovered….reconnected….and reunited with my children. I saw God again years later sacramentally in marrying my husband Phil, and we prayed for a child. In 1990, we were blessed with our daughter, who lives relationships. My dad knew how do to that, too. He lived his life at sea. When I asked once why he referred to it as ‘at sea’ rather than ‘on the sea’. He said, “on” merely identifies location; “at” implies unity.
Praying – on the beads of the rosary, on my knees, on cue during the Mass, and acceptance of my trials proved difficult for me. My beautiful husband encouraged me to go deeper into the very essence of my heart ….to converse with God. I began to seek Truth at prayer. Through the study of theology, I realized superficial faith merely assigns God a location – unity with God is God’s plan for us.
Whoever we are, each of us carries heavy burdens. As we journey through this life, we wait for the fulfillment of God’s promise: to come and dwell among us. Each of us experiences this presence in different ways. With deeper faith, we become aware that God is walking beside us, that Jesus is gently lifting our burdens onto his shoulders and carrying them – and us – toward the Cross.