So, I’m doing some stuff to make things better with the big giant thing that’s wrong right now. One of those things is praying. A lot. I was really upset at myself for not thinking of/doing it much much sooner, and for not continuing the first time I started up. Since getting it properly underway, consistently and seriously, I’ve been getting what I firmly believe are small, progressive answers. So far, they’ve been things I’ve realized I need to do to (I’m hoping) set the table for the main thing(s) I’m praying for. If you don’t believe in this sort of thing, read on anyway, because the experience is valuable interpreted either theistically or atheistically.
I started with a novena (nine-day prayer campaign) for the intercession of St. Jude Thaddeus, patron of hopeless and desperate causes. The second day of that novena, I realized I also needed to pray, specifically, for the two of us to be able to forgive ourselves and each other. So I started a novena to St. Maria Goretti, who is not specifically recognised as the patroness of forgiveness, but her life does make her an excellent choice for that petition. She was venerated (later beatified and canonized) after being raped and murdered at the age of 12, and on her deathbed forgiving her rapist and eventual murderer, praying for God to forgive the man for these sins, and praying for the man’s redemption in this world, and the world to come. I had said this same novena some time ago, and meant to continue saying it but stopped. So, I started it again. There being no patron or patroness of forgiveness that I could find, St. Maria Goretti appeared to be the best choice to me. After completing that novena, I started a new one the next day, Our Lady of Mercy to my request for prayers.
What I think was the next answer was a recognition that something that had happened to me many months ago kind of transferred from me, to the other person involved, and they were now suffering. All I could really do about this particular thing was pray, and ask others to pray. I was inspired to write a second novena prayer (this one to St. Michael the Archangel, St. Catherine of Siena, and Our Lady of Victory) for this person’s spiritual protection, specifically including victory over pains in their past, present and future, and for their mind to be protected so that their thoughts, words, and actions were their own and not in any way directed by other people or things. So, I began that novena right away, in addition to the first two. I made a very careful effort in wording it only for the protection of this person, and not for my own wants and hopes; I considered that very important.
A day or two after that, I realised I had put up a barrier with certain people that were connected with this person I was praying for, and these barriers could only serve to stymie progress. At first, it was only about one person in particular. Talking to this person was just about the last thing I wanted to do, but I am doing my best to be open to the answers I receive. I reached out an olive branch, and had a, short, interesting, and enlightening conversation with this individual. I won’t really get into it, but I think it will turn out to be the cornerstone of a whole broader, vital thing.
While I knew that the person for whom I’m praying was having mental health struggles, but had not put together that (1) I needed to find a way to help and (2) one of the ways I could help was by praying specifically for that. This occurred to me the day after the enlightening conversation I mentioned, so I started a fourth novena, specifically for that person’s mental health, to St. Dymphna, patroness of mental and nervous disorders. I am also continuing to try to think of other ways to support their struggles with their mental health.
The following day, there were a few more people I realized I needed to offer olive branches too as well, so I did. As I expected, I didn’t get any replies, but that wasn’t the point. Interestingly, the person I’m praying for pretty much shut down communication with me after that. Initially, I was very worried about that. At first I resisted, but then realised the only thing I could do was try to give them space for now. It was hard not to continue attempting to make contact, but I felt it might do more harm than good. That provided motivation to keep to myself for the time being. That took a few days to fully internalize, or habitualize, or whatever. Basically, the day my default had become “okay just leave it for now,” I had a night where I was just overwhelmed with frustration and anger, and it blew up. I said a bunch of things I didn’t mean because, well I was just overcome with anger, frustration, and desperation. I vented to a few friends – I think it took three – and had some dinner, and calmed down. My point with this, is that the sequence here resulted in my NOT raging at the person with whom I’m trying to resolve things. I don’t think it was a coincidence. Maybe it was, and you can decide what you think.
The same day as sending those three emails, I reached the single most important milestone in a major project of self-improvement and self-healing. I actually did not have any idea it was coming. I thought I’d pretty much reached the end; I couldn’t envision a change that would make it any better. I thought I’d reached the point that’s normal for most people. Well, I hadn’t. There was a change of kind that had to happen, whereas I had only had changes of degree. Now this change of kind happened, and basically the old state of being is fading gradually, as the new one takes over gradually. And, now that I’ve seen it, I know I’m in the home stretch. If it was a road trip, I’d be thinking “hey just three or four more tanks of gas to go!” I now see just how crucial this was to getting where I hope to go with this other person. I did not know I had to pass this landmark, but it did have to be passed.
In these intervening days, between the messages and the outburst, I realized I needed to go to confession. It had been 25 years. I had been wanting to go, and telling myself to go, for 10 or 15 years. So, my knowing I should go clearly wasn’t getting me there, or it would have a long time ago. Over the next couple of days, I was able to prepare myself for it, and I followed through. It was every bit the relief I hoped it would be! It was necessary in order for me to totally move on.
The day after I confessed, I went to a theatrical production that was not just enlightening and informative, but profound and deeply moving. It taught me things I expected it would, but also resonated with me in a way I did not expect at all. This made me see a lot of things about myself, that I now know I have to try to help the other person involved here to understand.
Throughout all of this, I reflected and learned here and there on the things I’d realized from that first olive-branch email and the conversation it generated. There was a lot to process, and there is still more to process now. I had been waiting for an important reply from someone I needed to talk to about these things, and get advice from. I had actually given up that I would ever hear from him. Well, once I had really gotten all the thoughts together, and actually written them down and gotten some kind of handle on what they really meant, within a couple of hours I finally got that reply, and he let me know he’d have some time for me in the next few days. I just don’t think that’s a coincidence.
While it’s really hard to be patient, because I want a miraculous change and everything to be fixed right away, these really visible increments toward a goal, are showing me that if I am persistent, and patient, I will make progress. Not all of you will be with me on this part, but it is clear to me that God is on my side, and He has a plan. Patience is hard, but I’m going to trust God. It has all stemmed from the intercession I was given from that first novena. So if something is important, even if it seems like a lost cause, my advice is to remember this: