College was very tough for me. Much of the reason was because I didn't have a faith community to call home. There were other reasons, too- much to many to go into here. I became depressed at the large university I attended. I was in no way prepared for the challenges college presented. In the middle of this disaster, I met Guitar Man. He also was a disaster in the making. There is no reason our relationship should have flourished during this time. Yet, it did. It was because Guitar Man loved me. Sure, I loved him back. But, he loved me unconditionally and fully. I was not so generous with my love. In that way, God was present in our early relationship. Guitar Man's love was a healing balm on my wounded heart. He taught me what it meant to be loved. We started a 7 year tumultuous, secular dating relationship- if you know what I mean.
When we were married in 1998, we weren't ready to go back to church. Instead of getting married in a church we were married in a ceremony led by a laicizied married priest. Even though part of me shudders now thinking of it, his gentleness and acceptance was an important part of our journey. Shortly after our wedding, Guitar Man started his PhD. in political philosophy. His advisor was a devout Catholic and through the study of philosophy under this brilliant man, Guitar Man's heart slowly began to open.
During this time, my father underwent surgery for prostate cancer. I mentioned to my boss that I would like to go back to church, but wasn't comfortable in any church, but the Catholic Church. She mentioned that I should try the Newman Center at NIU. I started attending Mass sporadically for about 6 months. Guitar Man was very encouraging and I probably wouldn't have gone if he didn't encourage me to go. I felt right at home at Newman. It's a relaxed, diverse atmosphere with upbeat music (I'm pretty sure B16 wouldn't approve of the music, but it really was part of what drew me back). The priest at the time, Fr. Steve, was gentle and humble. His homilies contained the recurring message of letting God's love into our hearts. One day, Guitar Man came to church with me. It was like a switch went off in his head and we were back. I probably would have just kept going intermittently. This is a pattern in our relationship where I venture out as the wandering explorer and Guitar Man follows for a while and then he runs ahead and makes a decision about which direction to go.
On August 5, 2001, our marriage was convalidated in the Catholic Church by Fr. Steve. All of our parents were present as well as my sister who wore her bridesmaid's gown from our first wedding. Guitar Man calls me his first wife from his second marriage and I call him my second husband from my first marriage ;) It was a glorious day. We were finally home and could take part in the Eucharist. Sadly, we missed church the next day because we were out celebrating. Oh my. Kinda embarrassing, but the truth. That very day, we conceived our son, AJ. Never, ever hearing of Theology of the Body or NFP, but knowing contraception was wrong, we used the 'rythmn method' by not having relations on days 10-18. Well, I was way off on my cycle and I erroneously thought it was day 6 when it was day 13 which I know now means nothing, but evidently it was a fertile day. *
Once we find out about AJ, we decided Guitar Man would stay home- I was in no way ready to stay home. I was still nursing wounds from childhood and would have been a depressed stay at home mom. The women at my work mothered me and taught me how to be a mom. If he asked me now, I could totally do it ;) We thought he could finish his PhD. while he took care of the baby (hahahahahaha) . We bought a small house. AJ was born and I never felt natural at something until I was a mother. He had some developmental delays which took much of our time and energy to help him overcome. I kept working as a teacher and still do. Guitar Man has since abandoned the PhD. Having him teach and write while I worked was becoming more and more stressful. We decided we didn't want to move out of state so we could closer to family. If he wanted to pursue a professorship, we would have to move. He took a great, flexible job at a local business.
Guitar Man is an excellent father. In many ways, he's much more of a natural than I am. But, he never wanted more children. He didn't feel the Lord was calling him to have more. So, I began a prayer campaign for him to find his vocation hoping that more children would be part of it. At this time I also found Relevant Radio and my faith life took a huge jump forward. That radio station helped me fall head over heels in love with the Catholic Church. Then, I found Danielle Bean and Elizabeth Foss and all of you guys. I can now say I'm starting to have a relationship with Jesus and most days, my life is a prayer. We look forward to Mass, it is the highlight of our week. This brings me now to the present time when now Guitar Man is open to life and yet, after two years of trying (with pretty much perfect timing every month), I've been labeled infertile.
All of this sounds just like a quick history of my life. But, when I think of my faith, I can't help think of my history because of the guidance the Holy Spirit has given me. Through all the pain and hardship, I could have a falling apart marriage and a bitter heart. But, He kept me open to the love that Guitar Man has for me even though our life dreams don't match. He filled my heart with gratitude and joy. He put me in a school with early childhood experts that could guide our beautiful child through his delays. He placed us in a community with a strong network of support and a laidback attitude- just what we need when navigating life with a child who needs a little extra help along the way. He led me to this part of the blogosphere and to Napro which will hopefully help us have another child and if not, help discover why I've had life long fatigue. He is the author of Life and I know my story is safe in His hands.
*I am so very sorry if this information is in anyway painful for anyone. It's actually painful for me knowing for so many years I took my fertility for granted. It is one of my biggest regrets and I'm still working through the pain. So much of it is in education. If I would have only known.....But, who knows if my heart was ready to hear it. Give it God, Kim, Give it to Him.