The day after my last evening with Charles, I moved into the guest bedroom of my friends’ house. I was relieved to be out of my Texas apartment for good.
Thanks to my injured foot, there was no way I'd forget that evening anytime soon. The doctor said my toe was broken, but that it wasn’t worth fixing it. All I could do was apply ice, take some Tylenol, and let time heal the wound.
After dinner that night, I limped over and settled onto the borrowed mattress in my makeshift room. My crooked toe glared at me from my flip-flops. Suitcases, shoeboxes, and all my other possessions lay scattered across the floor. Cleaning up my new space would normally be easy, but not with my new injury.
I cupped my face in my hands and groaned with frustration. My life had literally become a broken, disorganized mess.
"How could I have let this happen?"
Why did I choose to visit Charles that night? Why couldn’t I just let him go?
Ten years later, I still don’t have an answer. However, I do know that when my three-year-old throws a tantrum and knocks over all his toys, it never helps to ask him, “Why?” Far better to say, “how can we do better next time?” And, “what are we going to do about all this mess?”
This is how I heard the Lord speaking to me that autumn - as a loving Father to His wayward child.
The next week, I arrived at work early. The morning was so lovely, I lingered a moment longer in the driver's seat of my car.
I watched as a tangerine sun rose over Fort Hood. Birds sang sweetly from the scrubby bushes outside; the grass sparkled in the early morning light. Across the street, a string of buildings cast black silhouettes against the golden, cloud-spangled sky.
I watched the sunrise and sighed. So much beauty, all around me, but my heart was heavy.
I didn’t like the way I'd been acting. Living. I wanted to change, but I wasn’t sure how.
My hand drifted over to the right, where I’d left my favorite journal on the passenger seat. The glorious illumination of the “Chi Rho” from the Book of Kells glittered on the journal’s cover. I ran my fingers along its laminated surface.
A new idea struck me.
I opened the journal to a blank page, then added a new header:
“Skype with the Lord” 9/2/10
At home, I used the computer program Skype to chat with my long-distance friends. Maybe I could try talking with the Lord in a similar way, using my journal. I wrote down my first words:
- I have a restless spirit, Lord. It gets me into trouble all the time.
I waited a moment, listening for God’s response in my heart:
· I know. You are not satisfied with the common fare. You want to go deeper.
- Yes, I want to touch, love, connect with everything. But everything doesn’t want to [love me back].
I thought about the nights I'd spent with the Lord under the Texas stars. Certainly God still wanted and loved me.
· True friends are precious and hard to find. But remember, I Who Am, your Savior and Lover, accepts and forgives you just as you are. You don’t need anything else.
My pen paused over the page, before continuing:
· Here’s the big secret: I am that “everything” you want to love.
That ‘everything’. My Texas idols, tripping me with every step: was I seeking for these things, desperate for them, because I longed for something greater?
-Yes, Lord. I just want to be pure again more than anything.
The Lord didn't give me all the answers. Still, I kept "Skyping" with Him in my journal. I went to Confession at my parish to get a fresh start. And I prepared for the next step in my internship adventure: two months' public affairs training in Fort Meade, Maryland.
This meant taking a 24-hour car ride home to Michigan for a week's leave, then another 12 hours' drive to Maryland. After Maryland, I'd spend three more months training at the Pentagon, before receiving an Army public affairs position somewhere in the United States.
Like Abraham, “who went out, not knowing where he was to go,” (Hebrews 11:8), I was embarking on a journey with an unknown endpoint. I had no idea where I might end up when all my training was complete. I could be stationed close to home, or sent as far away as Hawaii.
Still, I knew the Lord had a plan:
· “I give you the greatest challenge of your life: leave all this behind, pick up your cross, and follow me. Be pure. Be holy.”
How would I ever achieve such a thing? I didn't know; but God did. I decided, with renewed fervor, to surrender myself to the Lord. To trust Him more than ever before.
The morning of the big journey finally arrived. I said farewell to my Texas friends, loaded up my Ford Fusion, and headed north on I-35.
Jesus, I trust in You!
Thank you for reading! Join me next time for a reflection on a more recent period of my spiritual journey: how the events of last March led to an outpouring of love upon my family, during our darkest hour.
About the Author:
From Army public affairs to convent life to marriage and motherhood, Mary Rose Kreger’s journey has been filled with twists and turns. Wherever she’s journeyed, she’s always been writing stories. She lives in the metro Detroit area with her family, where she writes fantasy tales for teens, and blogs about her spiritual journey: before, during, and after the convent.
Mary also shares faith-based poems and fantasy quotes on her Instagram account, @faithandfantasy1.