I lost so many people over the past 20 years because of mistakes I made and because of the path towards God that I chose. Those who have rejected me because of my bad behavior are perfectly justified to do so and the ones that decided I am "too Catholic' are simply, well, bigots. That is OK. Everyone has the right to be whatever they want to be, to reject, to not forgive, to build their lives in the way they think is the best.
I cried for years over those who have decided they do not want me in their lives. It hurt like heck.
My spiritual advisor and my 12 step sponsor guided me to let go, to accept their decisions and remember that my job is to keep an open heart so that if they ever change their minds they know where to find me and that they are welcome in my life.
Meanwhile, I set about rebuilding my support system. I started asking God to guide me to those who do not think everything I do and say has to be filtered and approved by them, to surround me with people that I can laugh and cry with and with whom I can share my life without fear. I hoped that God would give me a chance to find people I can talk with, play with, worship with, have fun with and call on in times of trouble.
Slowly but surely, that has happened and today my life filled with solid Catholics, good sober people who believe one can stay sober without leaving good morals and God by the side of the road.
It makes me wonder why it took so long?
Maybe the changes in my life, the ones that first isolated and caused me pain, were part of the walk towards Calvary that all Christians have to take?
Jesus tells each of us to take up our cross and follow Him. He made other promises as well - He promised we would be hated by the world as He was hated. We read that in Holy Scripture and it doesn't always make sense until it starts to happen. Then, when it does happen, it takes us by surprise and we find ourselves on our knees, crying in pain and wondering what we did to deserve this treatment?
The answer is simple.
We chose to follow Him.
The number of people I have met over the past 10 years who have experienced what I have experienced have caused me to totally accept that what Jesus says is true. Sure, intellectually I accepted the Truth of His Teachings but I am going to tell you it is not until one feels the weight of the cross on their own shoulders, feels the trickle of blood down their face caused by their own particular crown of thorns that the full impact of becoming an Intentional Disciple of Jesus Christ becomes a reality.
One of my brothers told me recently that his birth family is always making snarky remarks about him, his wife and his children.
A member of our Catechumenate was told by their grown children that if she joins the Catholic Church she will never again be welcome in their homes.
A young teen, recently confirmed, called me in tears. His father and mother laughed out loud when he said he thinks he has a calling to be a priest, telling him that only losers at life become religious. They did this while still taking their family to Mass every Sunday.
I guess what I have learned is that many of us who face holidays alone or want to run screaming from the room when some talk show host gives tidbits about how to meet Mr. Right when we are in our 60's have now fully embraced the path we started walking 10, 15 or 20 years ago. And because that path leads towards heaven, we are picking up the other lost ones along the way. We are gaining in numbers and in strength and the results are so much better than we ever imagined.
Today, I am not alone. I may be lonely, I may get tired, I may get down and I may miss what I had - but today, I cannot ignore what I have..and what I have is amazing.
Thank you, God, for my life today exactly as it is..I would not change a thing, even if I could!