Stories from the Confessional – by Helen

This week’s guest post is from Helen, author of the blog Random Musings and master Twitterer alias @helenatrandom.

The post is fairly long so I won’t keep you too long in the introduction, but Helen is a wonderful lady and one of those people who makes me so glad I’m rediscovering who the Church are!

I included Helen’s note of introduction from my email because I think it really adds something to the post:

confessionalThanks Peter, for the opportunity to guest post for you. You see, I have been thinking about this for several days, and feeling like I ought to blog about it, but have been concerned about the weirdness factor. That, and that people actually will be watching as I fall on my face. When I told you in your comment section that this weird post will work better on your blog than mine, my real meaning is that if I went off the deep end and got to weird, you could always pull the plug on it. I don’t know why I am less afraid of people seeing me fall on my face here than on my blog. Maybe it is because from here they’ll see me trip in their peripheral vision, rather than straight on…

My faith story is going to start with the Confessional. Did I ever mention that I am Roman Catholic? I suspect that we are not going to agree about all the merits of Confession. I suspect that there are many things that Peter and I don’t agree about doctrinally, but I have always felt comfortable with him and his blog. Probably because doctrine isn’t the point of his blog: encouragement of one another to reach out to the unchurched is. And no matter what your thoughts on Confession in general are, I think you’ll see that it has been good for my faith life and me.

While some Catholics find Confession (actually we call it Reconciliation) daunting, I love the experience. I won’t say that I never sat there crying, but it was from the weight of my sins, not from the experience of Confession. I don’t think I have ever had an experience in the Confessional where the priest was mean. Ever. My first Confession had the priest trying to help me see the difference between a mistake and a sin, but he was very nice about it. My last Confession about a month ago had the priest reassuring me that Jesus loves me and that my repentance pleases Him.

About three years ago, I had a life changing experience in the Confessional. My mom was sick. She would never walk again. I blamed myself. For almost a year, she had cellulitis, and I had been diligently caring for her by changing her bandages on her blistered legs twice a day. That involved the use of saline solution, and medicated cream, as well as gauze and tape. It was time consuming. One week in February, I got the flu. It started on Tuesday night. The visiting nurse came the next day, and her leg was fine. On Friday, her leg was in severe pain. She thought perhaps she should go to the hospital. I called the doctor, who kept telling me to give her more Vicodin. Finally, I saw this dark color on a spot on her leg, and he suggested the hospital. Her leg was infected. She almost lost it. She had to have skin and muscle removed for just below her knee, all the way past her shin to her ankle. She needed a wound vac for several months. They had hope she would walk again, but…

Well, I blamed myself. It was time to decide if she’d come home, or stay in a nursing home. I was so afraid, because I blamed myself. This ate away inside of me. I convinced myself that I had sinned and caused her suffering, and went to Confession. The gist of my Confession was that I was not sure if I made her sick by not caring well enough for her while I had the flu, or if I breathed my flu germs all over her open blisters, and thereby infected her leg. I wasn’t sure how, but I knew it was my fault. I was afraid that if I brought her home, she would die because I am such a stupid cow that I don’t even know what I did wrong in the first place.

The first thing Fr. Ted told me is that the little voice in my head telling me everything I did for mom or might ever do for her is wrong is not from God, but from Satan. He told me that the devil is thrilled when I am so paralyzed with fear of failure that I can’t do the good that God wants me to do. He reminded me that I need to face my fears with prayer, not hide from them in a corner. He encouraged me to pray for trust in Jesus. He encouraged me to pray “Jesus, I trust in You!” That was a life changing moment for me. He also said that I am human and so is mom, humans get sick, some choices I make for her will help heal her, others will not, or perhaps even make her worse, but that is the human condition.

I wish I could say that I was never paralyzed with fear of failure again, but a post by our mutual friend Jason on his own blog, then maybe a week later on facebook helped me to see otherwise. Then, when Peter asked how he could pray for us a while back, I emailed him and told him my situation.

Infertility has made me very unhappy because I want to be a mom, yet I have so feared being rejected as an adoptive parent, that I have been stuck in a corner, unable to do anything. And yes, the devil has been thrilled that the good that both my husband and I may have been doing for a child has not been done. Before my computer broke down, Bob and I have attended some meetings, made some calls. We are now in the process of waiting for the forms, which we will fill out and then wait, and then go to classes and then wait, and then….And during our periods of waiting, we will be preparing the room. The paralysis has lifted once again. I must trust God to help Bob and I do the good that He means for us to do. As Fr. Ted pointed out, God is not the One who is backing me into a corner.
Jesus, I trust in You! Help me to not cower in a corner ever again. (Really, because without You, You know I will….)

(BTW, I still fear rejection, so if you don’t mind friends, let me keep you updated…Please don’t ask how that is going. I think the repetition might play on my fears, and that is something I am trying to avoid. I’ll send emails to my regular cyber friends, and perhaps a cryptic comment once in a while on your blogs. Perhaps I’ll repost this on my blog when I have overcome the failure fear…or when Bob and I are approved, whichever actually comes first.)