So the end of my summer break has seen me have something of a pointless epiphany.
An epiphany that, at least, makes me feel a little more sane than I did a few months ago – small mercies, eh?
I’ve been a-wondering ever since the ‘break-up’ why this has bothered me so much? I’m not being desperate – I had the natural mopey phase where perhaps I was a little desperate. But given that it’s been months now and I’ve not spoken to her in any way, this is no longer desperation. It’s worse than that. My blasted search for meaning from this whole debacle is what’s led me here – to the crumpled mess of a Catholic human being I am now (at least crumpled internally).
The basic trigger has been falling in, dare I use the word: love. As cruel as the rejection pain was, that is something a human survives. I, personally, in my own version of Catholicism ( read this wonderful post to see what I mean; I’m no heretic!) believe it’s pretty darn important when God graces me with this feeling. There’s in-built reason and he’s likely sending me a message and possibly one to my other half too. What I’m trying to say, is as a faithful Catholic, I don’t believe that I would be made to ‘fall’ for someone for no reason. It’s not circumstantial – it’s not my choice – it’s not like stepping in dog muck because a cyclist shouted something at you. It’s grander. Or rather, I suspect that it should be!
So what’s a Catholic to do when he seemingly suffers this exact scenario? A pointless grace? A Godly favour that instead of joy, leads to suffering. Well, pray, duh. But what it does do (for me, at least) is break the trust element in faith. Just like it would in a human. What sucks for me particularly is that with a human, I’m the sort of person who can forgive quite easily – especially with reason/logic. Oh you wanted to help me – it was well-intentioned. Oh it wasn’t wholly you – it was actually Person X’s influence.
But of course, when it comes down to faith, there is no explanation. No rationale. Was it not God who made me so reliant on logic and reason whilst blessing me with a deep faith? So aside from prayer and speaking with a priest, I’m unsure how to combat this trust chasm, as it were. So epiphany #1 – rebuild trust in Christ that He does in fact have my best interests at heart.
Epiphany #2 – my vocation is to marry. Previous to this year’s romantic farce, I had a ‘feeling’ like I have done for years, that I would gain much from a sincere romantic relationship. To really fulfil that word “sincere” it would likely have to be mutually spiritual too. But I was always able to keep it below boiling point because when my vocation came a-calling, I would tell myself: “I know it’s what I want. But what if God wants me to look another way?” This allowed me to continually dismiss it and the apparent lack of progress down that road (i.e. lack of dates, interest, opportunities).
Now, of course, in a cruel twist of irony worthy of Shakespeare’s plays – I know God wants me on that path. He has indeed graced and blessed me this year by allowing me to taste true, holy, vocational fulfilment – admittedly, just the very first tentative step on such a road, but what a step it was. Everything else in my life melted in priority and my purpose became apparent. My only mistake (which I believe I’m expected to make every time) is assuming that the woman I was embarking upon a relationship with was the person to whom that vocation was likely stitched to.
This is why it still lingers and hurts. As blunt as it, never mind the woman. God has shone a light in the darkness to show me (momentarily) what my path is. The odd part is He then quickly turned the light off and bore witness whilst my strongest link to the path at the time wrenched her hand from mine and disappeared into the inky darkness leaving me alone and incapable of spotting said path again.
I’ve been able to garner a modicum of sanity though – because I feel I’ve had my vocation confirmed and that makes me understand why it’s hit and hurt so much more. This was never just a date-girlfriend prospect. This was life/death/partnership and entry to heaven. The only curiosity is, as weird as I am for treating it as such in the modern era, that it is correct. I did it the right way and I got burned. That’s the part I can’t wrap my head around. There’s no ‘happy’ ending here – either God wanted things to end after wanting them to begin – well if that was supposed to contain a lesson, I’ve yet to perceive it so it’s likely failed in that ambition. Or, God wanted things to continue to some extent and my oh-so human counterpart prevented this. And for a reason I’ll never be privy to. I could write this and pass it off as a long lost Shakespearean tragedy. It’s got faith and love and rejection. It just needs a little murder now!
Anyway, back in the real world rather than theological wonderings, I am still communicating with a wonderful woman half a country away, up in Scotland. We haven’t met up yet due to practicalities – this scares me as it means we each grow more invested in the other – a dangerous set-up ahead of meeting. My greatest grudge is I feel like I am now also a dater with ‘baggage.’ Naturally, nothing insidious – no skeletons in my closets. But I seek a reason for my pointless love and that, if it ever comes to it, will be a toughie to explain to a devout Catholic, never mind anyone else!
Well, come Monday, I’ll be back at work. Back teaching teenagers. Back hearing endless stories of colleagues’ summer breaks filled with partners and families.
This is the worst part of my now-proven vocation. It’s unlike a vocation to being single, or to the priesthood etc. This one needs two major elements – God’s grace/s (whether it be in his timing, opportunity or mutual feelings – and of course, a wonderful woman. I quite literally have the tiniest impact on both. I have the power to pray. I have the power to send messages via online dating.
So here’s the fun vicious circle I’m presented with. My vocation requires – mandates really – an exceptional level of contented trust in the Lord. Yet, God saw fit to make me/watch me/allow me to suffer in such a way that it damaged that trust quite considerably.
Now this is the point where other Catholics and other faithfuls spout their points about ‘tests’, ‘trials’ and ‘mysterious ways.’ I may sound cynical – not because I don’t believe or accept these, but rather because they’re of little help right now and, dare I say, the God I have been brought up to believe would not test me in a manner so cruel and long-lasting. I feel like Daniel in the lions’ den except the lions maul me, leaving me alive with deep wounds and scars. Or Paul on the road to Damascus, if he’d been left blind for the rest of his ministry. Or Moses if the manna had never been granted to the Israelites. In short, I still feel forsaken in a very odd, particular way and corner of my life.
I’ll pray as ever and hope for the best.