If you are looking for my blog titled, The Contemplative Catholic Convert, you are at the right spot.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

The Way of my Fathers

He brought me up out of the pit of destruction, out of the miry clay, and He set my feet upon a rock (Psalm 40:2)

I would have gone the way of my fathers, Al, and Tommy. 

Al contributed to my genes, and was rarely in my life after he left Mom a few years after my birth. He left because he wouldn’t stay out of other women’s beds. I’m told he had a brilliant mind, so much so that he worked on the nuclear bomb project during WW2. But after the war he chose to drive a cab for a living. He tossed away his life’s rich potential for the impoverished call of wine and women. He died at 75 in his sleep, lying next to his fourth wife.

Then there was Tommy. He married Mom when I was twelve and adopted me and my sister shortly afterward. I remember him for his explosive temper. We never knew what would set him off. He never hugged me, rarely spent time with me beyond the time it took to eat dinner together. I don’t remember him even speaking a kind or encouraging word to me.

But despite the rejection of my fathers, knowing myself as I know myself, I know I would have followed their examples, become as they, focused on my lusts, my pleasures, my whims. My trajectory began early in my teen years. The allure of drugs and sex without responsibilities wooed me; and I gladly followed. I lived for the moment because it was always ‘my’ moment. I didn’t care about my future because I chose to live only one day at a time. The future could wait until I was ready.

As I write this, nearing the age of 63 and remembering now who I was then, I know I would have become as they became.

But God . . .

Oh, how I love that phrase: But God.

In one of my rare sober moments when I was 22, I projected my life 25, 35 years into the future. That projection frightened me and I felt trapped, locked into a path I could never change. Spiraling into depression, with no hope for self-rescue, I called out to the God I’d for so long spurned and denied.

And He heard my cry.

People have told me God is a myth, a fable created by the weak, the needy, the desperate. But those who say such things have never met my God, have never felt His presence so close you can almost hear His heartbeat, have never heard Him whisper: “Even to your old age I will be the same, and even to your graying years I will bear you. I have done it, and I will carry you; I will bear you and I will deliver you.”*

I know who I was and where I was headed. But God changed my life. Thoroughly. Completely. From the inside out He recreated me. And best of all, through confession of my sins – some of which were very dark and very evil – He cast them all as far from Himself as east is from the west.

People ask why I am so passionate about my God, about my Jesus. There are many reasons, but I will mention only a few. First, He is the only Father who has ever loved me. Al wanted nothing to do with me. Tommy barely put up with me.  But Jesus. Oh, my Jesus has been my Daddy ever since my conception. He never left me, never rejected me, even at my worst.

Then too, He reached out His nail-pierced hand and pulled me from my trajectory toward certain self-destruction. He saved my life even when others might have thought my life not worth saving. And then, in addition to it all, He filled me with hope and purpose.

Why else my passion? Because I have seen it again and again. What He did for me, He wants to do for anyone. My Jesus has never refused the desperate cry of any penitent.

Yes, I am passionate in my love for Him. How could I be less?

*Isaiah 46:4




Barb Schoeneberger said...

I really appreciate this post. The drugs and alcohol - they are a way of running away from the pain of feeling unloved. If only everyone could realize that the best way to run away from pain is to run to Jesus on the cross.

Barb Schoeneberger said...

I really appreciate this post. The drugs and alcohol - they are a way of running away from the pain of feeling unloved. If only everyone could realize that the best way to run away from pain is to run to Jesus on the cross.

Richard Maffeo said...

Barb, that's why we write and publish and pray and speak as we do.

Kathleen Basi said...

What a beautiful post. As one who never did really rebel, I can only say thank you so much for sharing this very personal reflection.

Richard Maffeo said...

Kathleen, I am glad to do so. If we are not vulnerable and honest with others, then what we say about Jesus and His mercy and grace can seem simply academic.

Melanie Jean Juneau said...

well, It seemed that I had never rebelled (Except when I became a Catholic at 19). I wished I had experienced a dramatic salvation BUT when I began the inner journey, I realized all the inherited sins and traits that were rooted in me and which I carried. Each inner deliverance has been dramatic

Richard Maffeo said...

Melanie, thank God you did not do what you could have done. I rue the times of my great sins, my abortion, the sexual sins I led others into, the thefts, the people I hurt -- maybe even destroyed. I wish I never had those experiences.

Paul Schratz said...

I think most of us could write a similar story. The details would be different and some lives have been more misspent than others, but here we all are, forgiven. And sometimes the person who most refuses to forgive us is ourself. Thanks for this, Rich.

Richard Maffeo said...

Very important point, Paul. The person who most refuses to forgive us is often ourself. Holy Spirit, help us believe your promises to us for reconciliation.

Colleen said...

A beautiful post. Thank you so much. I too am very passionate about Jesus. My story is different and yet it is the same. I was lost and I was found.

Richard Maffeo said...

All humanity can say similarly. We are all lost without Jesus. Sadly, only a remnant understand that. And fewer still give Him their lives to control. God help us, God change us, that we give Him more control of our lives!