Emails to God – Supporting my Wife Going Catholic, Part 2

07 Nov

I am continuing my process of writing companion pieces to my wife’s blog posts about how she ended up joining the Catholic church (click here for her blog). I’m doing my best to line up my posts with her timeline, trying to give my perspective on a fairly monumental shift in our lives.

My previous post about this last Wednesday ended with me saying that our family was in a bit of a church crisis at the end of 2009. My wife, daughter, and I were attending one church while our then 13-year-old son was attending another that he liked better. What I didn’t say was that my wife’s mother was gravely ill. My wife hasn’t written much about this in her “Going Catholic” series, so I want to be careful to not violate her privacy in this area. What I will do is give you a description of my mother-in-law.

In short, the people who knew here saw her as a spiritual giant, a prayer warrior, and thoroughly Godly woman, and she was all of these things. When she passed in March 2010 I would conservatively estimate that there were over 700 people at her funeral. I think I’m safe to say that, without exception, the people there admired her greatly.

She had gone through her own spiritual journey. I’m a little fuzzy on some of the details, but growing up Episcopalian, I believe she would describe herself as having discovered God in a new way in college. It was when she joined Bible Study Fellowship (BSF) in the late 70’s that her discipling relationship with Jesus took off. She eventually became the teaching leader for her group, and started to have tremendous influence on countless women that would continue until her death, and probably beyond. She eventually left the Episcopal church, and by the time I met her she and my wife’s family attended a Bible church. My wife grew up Episcopalian as well, and the change to the Bible church came in late middle school. By the end of her life, however, my mother-in-law and father-in-law had returned to the Episcopal church.

Again, I don’t want to tell too much of my wife’s story and violate her privacy, but instead explain what I experienced during this process. After my mother-in-law’s death in march 2010 my wife found herself being uncomfortable in the church we attended. It wasn’t the church specifically. She felt like it was something within her. We tried different churches, but she never felt comfortable. For my part, being very frank, I have never enjoyed going to church so I was probably not the best-equipped person to lead us through this transition. There were some Sundays that, with no specific place to go, I would just choose to sleep in. This was difficult for the kids because, being middle schoolers and high schoolers by now, they were just like me at that age and didn’t want to go to church–especially a different one every week or two. It wasn’t exactly fair to them make them try a new place each Sunday, so we stopped making them go with us when we would visit a place.

By the end of 2010, we were trying a “family worship service” on Sundays with our son leading music on his guitar and having a short devotion/lesson. That part was going surprisingly well at the time. I had found a church that I liked that met in a bowling alley (obviously, it was an informal group), but Megan was still looking for something different. Then one Sunday (I think it was one where I had slept in), she came home and told me that she visited St. Mary’s Catholic Church that morning and really loved it. It was the first time I had heard her describe a church that way–really ever. I had never heard that kind of enthusiasm from her about any church in the 20 years I had known her. It kind of scared me because I was thinking that there wasn’t a way I could follow that path–not because it was Catholic in theology but because it was liturgical and formal in its structure. My response would have been the same if she had said Episcopalian. It made me nervous and resistant.

That is where our story ends today because that is where her blog ended. In summary, at the end of 2010, my wife’s family was dealing with the loss of her mother, I was visiting a nondenominational church that met in a bowling alley, my wife had visited St. Mary’s for the first time, and we were doing family worship with our children on Sundays. It was also during this time that I started to have a once-a-week Friday morning meeting with a man I met at the bowling alley church. This new friendship proved to be pivotal in how I would support my wife on her journey.


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4 responses to “Emails to God – Supporting my Wife Going Catholic, Part 2

  1. Diana Trautwein

    November 8, 2012 at 2:37 am

    Thank you for setting this in a time context for us, John. The pieces are sliding together in an interesting and poignant way.

  2. John D. Willome

    November 8, 2012 at 9:36 am

    You’re welcome. I think what I am seeing here is Megan’s right brain and my left brain coming together to tell a story.

  3. Sandra Heska King

    November 10, 2012 at 8:22 am

    I know this was a really, really hard time. But I have to smile thinking of you in the bowling alley, her soaking in liturgy, and family worship with guitar. God’s weaving something cool. I love how it’s piecing together from both perspectives.

  4. Marilyn

    November 11, 2012 at 6:20 pm

    This, Like Megan’s, is another cliffhanger, but I’m loving it. Your joint posts are so fun to read. It’s an important topic, describing a time of great transition, and maybe the word “enjoy” sounds a little flip, so maybe I should say I find the story told from two perspectives “satisfying.” Looking forward to the next part!


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