Lord, God, I’m praying from my heart, not from my knees, with unspoken words, not with formulas. Hear this prayer that my parents can never know of. You read the heart, read what’s inside my restlessness and desire.
I’m not sure who I am any more. I am glad that my parents don’t know what’s going on in my life. If they did, I’m afraid of what they might think …
Me … the girl who was once so proud of being the first altar server in our parish. Me, who taught the kids at the children’s liturgy, who helped out summers at the parish camp, who was the first high school student to help out in the RCIA, who used to help organize all the church activities for other young people, who once went to mass everyday … now so confused, unsure, unglued, morally in no man’s land, uncertain sometimes whether she even believes in God! If my parents knew!
I’ve travelled a long ways from them, a long ways from the rosary we used to say together every night and from my mother’s warnings about the dangers in the world. Yes, I used to pray on my own. I used to really believe what I’d been taught. There was a time, not that long ago, when I felt very close to God. I can still see the plaque that hangs on the wall just over our family’s table: The Family that Prays Together, Stays Together. Lately, we haven’t been praying together, nor exactly staying together … because I’m the one who’s staying away.
I don’t know how that all happens. I don’t even know whether I am mixed-up or whether, for the first time, my eyes are really open. I know this: I’m no longer sure what’s right or what’s wrong. When I first came here to university, things were clear. I went to mass almost every day, I prayed every day, I was idealistic about love and sex. I really believed (and God how my mum had drilled it into me!) that sex was something sacred and that our bodies were temples of the Holy Spirit and that we were meant to wait until marriage before having sex. Well all of that seems pretty naive just right now. Everything has changed.
And it’s changed all over! In the theology classes I was taking they questioned everything. Most of what I held as true and precious was subject to ridicule. In our Christian Morality class virtually everyone agreed that the church was backwards regarding sex and that premarital sex was good as long as there was love and commitment there. As well, everyone seemed to think that the Pope was backward and fundamentalistic and when I shared that I still prayed the rosary some actually laughed at me. That was the last time I said the rosary!
Then to top it all, one night at the residence, my roommate brought her boyfriend into our room and they made love all night, as if I wasn’t even there! My small-town eyes were opened. That was a year ago. Now, I’m not much different with my own boyfriend.
I went home for Christmas and went to church with my family … and I wanted to cry. I don’t know whether they’re naive and I’m mixed up or whether the church has made them uptight and I’m the one who’s seeing the light. I really don’t know. The tug of my parents’ faith, the faith I had when I was little, still pulls me. So I sat in church, restless, bored, angry, confused, and not sure of anything.
When I came back, I went to see one of the Chaplains here at university and he told me that maybe God wants my confusion, that maybe God is leading me to a more adult faith … but, this doesn’t feel like faith. It feels like something else and I am not sure what that something else is. I’m not sure any more what’s virtue and what’s being uptight. I’m not sure whether I was virtuous before and am screwed up now or whether I was screwed up before and am virtuous now. I really don’t know. You, Jesus, need to read what’s in my heart.
Jesus, you are the God of my parents, the God I prayed to when I was little, and you’re the God of my confusion and infidelities too. I’m so restless all the time, so much is churning inside of me. Lately, there have been times when I just wanted to chuck it all and go back home if it would make me feel like a felt when I was little, except I know that I wouldn’t stay there very long. I’d be restless all over again.
Jesus, take my confusion, my restlessness, my pain, my doubts, even my infidelities. Hang onto me because I feel myself slipping away from you.