(Several years ago I asked my FB friends if anyone wanted to talk about their spiritual journey. I wanted to share the stories of many different people. I think I said something along the lines of “whether you worship Jesus, Buddha, Johnny Cash or an Oak Tree I want to hear from you.” I did have many people reach out to me and this is the first person I interviewed. I wrote this in 2014. I wanted to compose a book of these in the Ethnographic Style of Studs Terkel. I have decided to add these to my Swizzle Stick blog. ) I hope you enjoy. Reach out to me if you want to share your story with me.
In a law office filled with antique bound Punch Magazines, the Weekly publication of humor and satire which ended its reign in 2002 the reigning Queen Regnant is MD, a southern lawyer. Some people claim to be Southerners by the grace of God; MD claims it was a move to Georgia when she was 8 1/2 years old which gave her this regional pedigree. When I asked her about her spiritual upbringing she is quick to explain that as an army brat she was different; they did not go to church even though her mother’s family were Baptist from Missouri. Before moving to Georgia she and her family lived on an army base in Germany where her mother would tell them Bible stories, and they attended Vacation Bible School, but she is quick to point out they were not “total heathens.” When I asked her if she would have been a heathen if given the chance she replied without missing a beat, “No, because I always wanted to be Catholic because my best friend in Germany was part of a Catholic family from New Mexico.” She felt a sense of connection and life from the Sacramentals displayed in her friend’s home. When she attended Mass, she felt an authentic emotion and connection with God. After leaving Germany, her family moved to a new assignment in Georgia. The first question was always, “Now, where do Y’all go to church?” So, her mother “fell into the routine of taking MD and her brothers to the neighborhood Baptist church on Sundays.” MD is not sure if it was out of particular conviction or if it was because the other mothers in the neighborhood followed this ritual and it seemed like the thing to do. Her father who was originally from Iowa was not affiliated with any church, so he continued his tradition of staying home while his newly southern transplanted family created theirs. After leaving Georgia as a teenager, their family moved to Texas, which was more cosmopolitan with more opportunities to meet people. The church was not the center of each families social life, and Sunday became a day off. In 1972, MD was 16 the Viet Nam War was being fought there was counterculture, drugs, and hippies. There were young people who wore their hair long, listened to rock music, looked like real hippies, but they wanted to worship Jesus in a church unlike the traditional churches of their childhood which expected crew cuts and polished shoes. MD and her friends found acceptance and salvation in a non-denominational evangelical church. They found peace, love and Jesus wearing jeans and long hair. This church became part of her existence for 16 years. As she approached her 30’s, she began to drift away spiritually from the church. Also, at this time she began having health problems which consisted of migraines and gastrointestinal problems. Her church leaders became concerned about her because this was a sure sign of the devil and demons invading her body due to a lack of prayer and discipline. She was bored, living at home with her parents, and she didn’t date because of the church’s fundamental beliefs that this would lead to a path of promiscuity. She was unhappy and depressed. She was working at the public library at the time, and she began to read books about strong women a subversive choice for a young woman who was in training to be a Proverbs 31 wife. As a member of this church MD found herself being expected to be accountable to the church for all of her decisions yet the leaders had no one to whom they were accountable. As she covertly read books about the saints and their faith and the strong woman who inspired her she thought she was escaping and losing herself in their world yet, she found that she was finding her true identity as a strong woman of faith with no regrets and no shame. The books became a strong foundation for her life, and she said,” it was as if she stacked them on a glass table that finally broke and she broke free.” The facade was gone, and she still had the same faith and desires as she did as that eight years old seeking her truth and who desired an authentic connection and emotion with God.
MD made the decision to leave this church and go to law school in another state so she could become the woman she knew God wanted her to be and not what church leaders thought she should be. She carried with her more freedoms, but she still believed that she could still be this strong woman and still be a Godly wife. She converted to Catholicism in 1990 and continued to grow in spirit and faith. She met a man, and they married in 1993. MD gladly accepted her husband as the leader of their union, and she felt led by God to “bring him good and not harm and wanted him to be respected at the city gate where he takes his seat among the elders of the land.” Her husband didn’t want to lead; he wanted to control her. He didn’t believe “that charm was deceptive and that beauty was fleeting and that a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.” He just wanted her to lose weight. He was demeaning and abusive. They divorced and she never lost sight of the most important relationship to her. Her relationship with God. MD said that “the evangelical church was the major conditioning which led to her abusive marriage.” She had allowed herself to please church leaders, her husband and so-called Christian friends instead of following the God of love and peace she felt like that eight-year-old who connected with very real symbols of what is now her very important faith as a follower of Jesus in the Catholic Church. She has no regrets because she has the steadfast belief that she is right where God wants her, and it is not important for her to debate with any of her old friends who continue to show concern at her choosing a denomination which they perceive she is being controlled by liturgy and symbols. Yet, MD is not controlled by her Catholic faith she is transformed by it. During mass, the Eucharist is a miracle and a mystery every time. She may be the Queen Regnant of her law office, but she knows the true divine one who guides her as she continues her spiritual journey.