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Sunday, August 20, 2006

Conversion Story Chapter 3

I apologize that Chapter 2 of my Conversion story was so long but I'm not sure any of you would have really understood the humiliation of the experience had it been broken into parts. Granted, I was broken into pieces as a result, but that part continues here.

I was given a choice...resign or be fired. It wasn't "quitting" anymore...I had a chance to save face, but only with anyone who didn't know me, so I wrote a very nice "resignation letter" and I brought it in at the same time I turned in my uniform. I learned later on, via bumping into various officers in other places that as far as they knew, I had moved on and was already working in a different field.

I didn't tell them that I was unemployed, but I did let them think my resignation was voluntary.

No one saw my true feelings...no one, other than God, understood my suffering.

All the way through college, my family (mostly extended) worked to dissuade me from this career...they argued that women weren't supposed to work in such dangerous fields. A cousin who was close to me was approached and asked to talk me out of becoming a cop. Rather, she was one of my only staunch supporters...God bless her!

Then when I "resigned", I realized that I really had not "saved face" at all; in fact one of my uncles, one who had worked the hardest to prevent me from my goal actually had the gall to pointedly ask me, "So you're going to find another department, right? You're going to get another job soon doing the same thing?"

You would not believe the absolute pressure to go back to the same job...after all their fighting against me...after all the energy spent trying to force me into something else...anything else...and once I left they suddenly decided that being a cop was the thing I was supposed to do?

I was actually speechless and when I tried to explain my reasons for "leaving", my family only suggested I try another department. As always...my words fell on deaf ears.

I continued to pray...this time for another job since I needed to pay my rent. I was facing my worst nightmare...the prospect of having to go on welfare. I had been raised on welfare and I had vowed that I would never live that life. I would never apply for that particular aid...I was going to find anther job come hell or high water, and I would survive.

I did attend Mass here and there and seemed that I always heard the message of the prodigal son. I continued to cry when I did attend Mass yet sometimes I could not disobey the pull to attend.

It was around this time that I began to explore New Age, psychics, palm reading, and crystals. I read books, I bought candles with special intentions, telling myself it was harmless and "couldn't hurt" to light a candle for the intention to bring in money or romance..or something.

I found a job working with the developmentally disabled--I was making maybe $1200 per month before taxes, and my rent was $600...sometimes I could barely pay my bills. It was a long, cold, precipitous winter and I continued to pray for another job, more money, the ability to survive...and then I got sick. Really, really sick. But I didn't think I had any sick time so I continued to drag myself to work...not to do so meant the potential of not eating, or not making rent...which of course would lead to eviction, which of course meant even deeper humiliation.

As it was, I had gone from being a police officer to literally changing diapers...yet even so, I was learning something. I was learning about the inherent dignity of each and every human life. Within me, two powers fought one another, although I was not aware of the battle...on one hand was my Catholic upbringing and of course, God. On the other hand was the Evil One who sought to bring me fully into his own camp.

Even as I learned to love the people I served and began to accept my humiliation, I began to question my pro-life stance. I expressed to a friend (who had always been politically liberal, a complete secularist, and of course, pro-abortion) that I was seeing the "pro-choice" platform and now believed in "a woman's right to choose abortion". Yet even though I expressed this, I wasn't sure I really felt that way. The guilt was nearly overpowering and deep inside, I realized I had not explored this position far enough. I prayed for guidance but continued in my life of sin. I wasn't sure where God was in all of this or even if He cared.

Then I was sent to a location dealing with very severe disabilities...people who couldn't feed themselves, who wore diapers...who had no hope of improving. Yet I observed and was a part of their compassionate care and even though I really hated the work, I loved the people.

When it came time to chart, I came across one DNR (Do Not Resuscitate) order after another, and upon inquiring, I learned that EVERY SINGLE RESIDENT had one of these orders. EVERY SINGLE ONE.

On one hand, I understood...their care was expensive and their quality of life...low. Yet on the other hand, I began to wonder who was the judge of "quality of life"? It certainly wasn't the people this judgment affected. Rarely have I ever seen such joyful people. It was as though they were not really aware of their "disabilities". As far as they were concerned, this was simply life, and their perception of the world allowed them to take delight in the most amazing things...things the rest of us take for granted.

I noted that residents in their middle age actually appeared to be much younger...they did not have the wrinkles, the gray hair, and certainly not the cynicism that most of use possess by those ages. I realized, partially in conversation with my "liberal" friend that they lived lives without the same stressors the rest of us experience...and this helps to keep them young, in spite of their alleged "suffering".

My friends, those "disabled" people suffer less than you or I and their lives have a much higher quality...for I am convinced that they are closer to God than most of us will ever understand.

I will end this chapter here...for I'm not sure that any of you, patient as you are with my long-windiness, has any interest in such a lengthy post as the last one.

4 comments:

Cathy_of_Alex said...

Adoro: I'm with you. I read both of your conversion stories and I was so overpowered by your Blue Coyote story the other night that I was incapable of responding.

I agree wholeheartedly with your comments about the "disabled". I was a PCA/Housekeeper for a couple of independently-living (meaning they had their own apartment) people (a quadriplegic and a paraplegic) on the East Side of St. Paul in the late 1980's. They taught and did more for me then I ever did for them. The best conversationalists I've ever known. They also had a belief in God that put me to shame.

I fully believe God put me with them for a reason. To prepare me for the similar, upcoming care, I would do for my mother and brother.

RobK said...

Don't worry about our keeping up with your posts. You are the one who may need to rest. This is a very compelling story. My heart is with you, and I look forward to the continuation.

Adoro Te Devote said...

Thank you for your comments! I've found that as I'm trying to explain my conversion, it was a far deeper experience than I ever realized.

Amazing how a few minutes before the Blessed Sacrament helps one realize the depth of Christ's love for us, and how much he can clarify details we've never noticed before.

I will add the next installment soon, God willing.

God bless you both!

Jennifer F. said...

I'm just now getting a chance to read through these. Wow, what powerful stories.

I think your sharing of your insights into the lives of the mentally disabled is particularly important. Most of us have never been close to people like that so we have no idea what they or their lives are like. Thanks for sharing.