“What do you want to be when you grow up?” As a child, I would often answer this question with, “A comedian!” And although I never made it to the big stage, I am definitely a full-fledged freelance comedian. If you need proof, just ask my friends. Everyone I know (with a respectable sense of humor) appreciates my diverting disposition. The others just laugh at me because they don’t know what else to do with me. Either way, I’m happy — as long as I’m harvesting smiles.
The truth is, though, that I always had only one true longing for my life, and it was this … getting married and raising children. Who would have guessed that a child of the ’60s and ’70s could harbor such a traditional longing? This was the age of women’s “liberation,” the dawning of Aquarius, the groovy era of turning your back on the established order of home life, job, and family. A sacramental, lifelong commitment to one person, and a longing for motherhood?! “Bah, Humbug!” the feminists were saying. What was I thinking?! But, you see, despite the flagrant lies and distractions of the culture in my formative years, and a serious lack of parental guidance, I still had a great advantage. Because of my Baptism, I had the Holy Spirit and my guardian angel watching out for me, and leading me gently on, a million missteps notwithstanding.
All that time, trying to navigate my path, mixed up by what our progressive society was telling me, God (who is Love) was guiding me gently along, there to pick me up when my poor choices had me meandering off of the trail, dangling off of cliffs, or stranded in deep crevasses.
While in photography school, Love led me to my future husband. I felt a strong pull in his direction, and followed up by flirting and joking my way right into that crazy man’s heart. Even though we were both caught up in the disorientation of our time, we traveled on together, while Love walked closely beside, His eye ever upon us, His wise counsel silently piloting our steps.
We were married in 1982, with a dispensation from the Catholic Church (of which my husband-to-be was a member) to be married in the Baptist Church in which I grew up. Within two years, I had to own up to the disappointing truth that we weren’t making it to church every week. I grudgingly told God that I would be willing to attend Catholic Mass regularly, if it meant we would be in church together every Sunday. It worked, and after eight months of full immersion, I was hooked. I wanted to learn all about the Catholic faith and receive Holy Communion.
In the summer of 1984, I was confirmed in the Faith. From there, it was parish retreats (and Love, of course!) that led us deeper, and gifted us with new, Catholic friends. I was soon enrolled in the LPMP program of the Catholic Church. While still attending classes, we found out we were expecting our first child. Even with serious medical complications, we went on to have two more children, trusting in Love for protection and aid.
Because motherhood had been my deepest longing, I was one of those “all-hands-on-deck” moms – staying home most days with them, while working a couple of days a week with my husband in his photo studio. The two older girls went off to school before our third one had joined us, and I did everything: room mom, cupcake baker, party planner, you name it. I was there every morning, willing to stay and help if needed …, until the end of our oldest daughter’s sixth year there, when Love stepped in again, calling me to even greater depths. The following year we kept the children home, to inaugurate our counter-cultural switch to home schooling. There was a learning curve for this alternative trajectory, but I loved every minute of it (well, okay … you got me: almost every minute!). And, through it all, Love was there, closer than ever before, still nudging us ever forward.
And, now, thanks to Love never giving up on me, my husband and I have celebrated 36 years of marriage, have raised three incredibly awesome (strong in their faith) daughters, and are blessed with 6 grandchildren (two of whom are our “little” saints in heaven, due to miscarriage in early pregnancy, and one foster child who we pray will become a “forever” part of our family!).
Some days, I can spend my waking hours just basking in the glow of “my” success. But, right about the time I’m busy patting myself on the back, I’ll find myself falling off another of those pesky cliffs, making a hard and painful landing, right into the arms of Love. With that harsh reminder, I will once again swallow my pride, and allow Love to lead, because His plan has always proved to be better than mine, and will always be best in the future. Will you join me on this thrilling journey?!
Can we trust in Holy Love to lead us where we need to be this day, and throughout the rest of this challenging, eternal journey?
Copyright 2019 Charlene Rack