He left the 99 to rescue me.
God many times uses our kids to wake us up to truth. When my daughter was in third grade she woke me up to face an obstinate place in my heart. Pride, stubbornness and the need for Confession. Visualize how cattle are corralled into an enclosed area. Then they are held captive until the rancher guides them to a different location. I experienced being corralled and held captive so the Holy Spirit could speak to my heart. Out of the mouth of babes came an invitation. God personally used my young innocent daughter to invite me back to the sacrament of Confession. This is my story…
Like many young girls, my daughter faced, some all to common, damaging verbal abuse by classmates in 3rd grade.
Verbal abuse is destructive. The bullies were her classmates and also were on her traveling soccer team. So the abuse followed her in and out of school. Her wounds kept festering and my words brought no comfort or healing.
It progressed to the point where she started to demean herself and her grades were dropping. We finally came to a difficult but necessary decision to change schools on her mid-year. Needless to say, we all had a lot of forgiving to do.
For months I routinely prayed with her about the whole situation, and we constantly worked on forgiving those girls in our hearts. I had to work even harder on forgiving their moms who thought my daughter was the problem. Much effort with very little change in either of our hearts persisted. After months of trying to heal these wounds on our own, I finally reached out for help.
A little about me…
I was raised in the 60’s with a culture of rebellion and it seeped into my mind and actions. My rebellion was centered mainly at the Catholic Church. Targeted areas were the sacraments, the rosary, etc. My husband, kids and I were only Sunday Mass goers with no other participation in the church activities. I felt the sacrament of Confession was unnecessary because I could tell God directly my sins. So I passed my philosophy down to my kids and after their first confession, it was their last. I wasn’t going to take them to something I didn’t believe was necessary.
During that time we had a new young priest who was touching the hearts of the entire parish. He spoke boldly and honestly. His words took many of us out of our comfort zone and made us look honestly at ourselves. Many hearts were opened and changed by his sermons and mine was one of them. My daughter and I needed to vent and find new words of wisdom to try to forgive. So I finally made the call and made an appointment with this priest. Little did I know that God had something bigger He wanted me to experience.
After sharing all the detailed events of the bullying, the priest gave us excellent points on forgiving. Nevertheless, it did little to move my stubborn heart. Then came the first invitation. It was the week before Easter and he invited us to go to confession that night in a parish that was hosting it. Of course, I was embarrassed to say that my kids and I hadn’t gone to Confession for years. So I kept quiet. The Holy Spirit knew the invitation had to go deeper and more intimate. My daughter quickly said “Mommy can we go tonight to Confession?” I had been lovingly but directly corralled and captured to do what I did not want to do. Go back to the sacrament of Confession. The invitation pierced my stubborn prideful heart.
A few hours later, we were on our way to answer the invitation. I put on a good front while driving to church but I was angry about being roped into this uncomfortable situation. My confession was brief and far from complete. I hadn’t gone for over 20 years. I mainly asked for forgiveness for the many times I had put down the Catholic Church. The elderly priest gave his absolution and of course did not question the years of sins I did not confess.
When we were leaving the church the real-life changing event happened.
I was murmuring to God as we were going to car how I was watching the many who were going to confession and not one of them looked or acted repentant. Judging was something I practiced frequently so once again my dominant sin of pride took front and center. Well, that is when God stepped in and got my attention. I was about to experience Confession’s sacramental grace. He did not speak out loud to me but He wrote this on my heart, “you are not the judge, I am!” I heard it clearly and it pierced my prideful heart. Absolutely humbled I almost knelt on the concrete to repent.
This is what made the difference. Our Catholic sacraments carry a grace with them. That grace is powerful.
The sacrament of Confession had wiped out my sins. The sacramental grace that comes with it then shines and shows clearly anything that offends God. So God’s voice could go to the core of my heart. A spotlight was finally shown on my sin of judgement. Furthermore, the sin of pride repeatedly blinds us from the truth. I had for years been judging everyone else, playing God. Through this confessional encounter I was humbled and finally put God back in the drivers seat.
Going back to Confession also brought about more revelations. My war I had waged with the Catholic Church was over. I saw clearly that cooperating with the sin of pride for years had blinded me from seeing how God wanted to use me in His church. Through this Confession a flame had been ignited in me to become very involved in my faith. I found out how important it is to examine anything that we resist or say no to repeatedly. Many times it is the very thing that God is calling us to.
Both my daughter and I moved on and were able to forgive those girls and their moms. And I started a new adventure and purpose in my Catholicism which has persisted. It was part of my calling from God. He used this most difficult situation and made excellence come from it. Romans 8:28