Holy Crappers… I think I’m a little bit Catholic.

When I was in college, I was attending this charismatic, pentacostal, evangelical, non-denominational conglomeration of a church that hated women. It was weird. It was uncomfortable. It was… gross.

The main reason I attended this church was because the “holy of holies” attended this church. You know, the campus worship leaders, the students on fire for Christ, the futureĀ  youth pastors of America. (You know the type.) And I figured, if they were going, then I should be going too. Clearly, they knew something I didn’t. Clearly, they were being fed here. Clearly, this was the place to be for the who’s who of campus ministry.

So, I went. And I almost instantaneously hated it. But this is not that story. This is the story of the story that came out of being asked about “my story”.

Almost as soon as I started attending this place, I was cornered and confronted by some of the “holy of holies” within the church – the people who had made it their mission to determine who was “saved” and who wasn’t so they could either give them the seal of approval or pray their souls out of an eternity of fiery damnation. The “holy of holies” wanted to know my “witness” – my “story” – the moment the heavens opened up, God revealed Himself unto me and made a prophetic proclamation about my life. Because apparently, this is the rule rather than the exception in these churches. And if you’re the exception, then you’d better hunker down for one heck of a hot eternity.

So, apparently, in order to be accepted into the fold, I needed to have my salvation story ready. And I didn’t. And I was all…

I’m sorry. I have no idea what you’re talking about.

And they were all…

HEATHEN!

And so I stuttered and stammered and limped my way through a story about giving myself to Christ at Vacation Bible School with Missionary Larry at the age of five. But, apparently, that wasn’t a good enough salvation story because it wasn’t dramatic enough and puh-lease… everyone had gone to that same Missionary Larry VBS and that did not make me a born-again Christian.

DUH.

And I remember going back to my dorm room and calling my mom and telling her that I was pretty sure I wasn’t a Christian because I didn’t have a bonafide “salvation story”.

She was able to convince me that that was silly, that a bonafide “salvation story” didn’t make me a Christian, and that I needn’t worry about my “salvation”. So, I believed her…. or at least pretended to. But I couldn’t shake the nagging feeling that maybe I wasn’t a bonafide born-again Christian after all because… well… even when I had been standing there reciting that prayer in front of Missionary Larry at the age of five, I wasn’t buying it.

You see, in order to understand the thought-process of a five year old Annie, you have to understand that even at the age of five, Annie was a bonafide cynic. This was the kindergartener who had been given a stern talking to by her kindergarten teacher after laying out for her classmates the exact reasons why Santa Clause wasn’t a real dude. This was the kiddo who laughed maniacally at her older siblings when they tried to convince her that the Tooth Fairy was an actual thing. I didn’t buy into things easily. I was a realist through and through.

But when it came to Jesus… well, Jesus was an entirely different story. Jesus was the real deal. Jesus was awesome. Jesus was love and goodness and grace and mercy and forgiveness and awesomeness all rolled into one. That was just fact. That wasn’t something little Annie even flinched at. Jesus just was. It wasn’t even up for debate. What was there to debate? Reality? Reality wasn’t up for debate. Reality just was. You know… kind of like Jesus.

So, since little Annie knew this from a very young age, she found it somewhat bewildering that she should have to “give her life to Jesus”. This concept was baffling. What was there to give Him? He already had it. She already knew Him. She already loved Him. But now she was supposed to officially make a public proclamation in order to make it stick?

Little Annie, being the realist she was, found this absurd. I mean, let’s be honest… WHY???

However, Annie was not yet the feisty, spunky, spit-fire she would one day become. So, when she saw everyone else going up to the front to give their lives to Jesus, she figured she should too, because she didn’t want it to look like she didn’t love Jesus. So, she gave her life to Him again and asked Him this time if He could make it stick.

Fast-forward almost 30 years later and I’m sitting in Fr. McCutie’s office, asking about the Catholic thought-process of baptism and suddenly, this happens:

Whaaaaaa????

I’m sorry… are you trying to tell me that my inclinations, understandings and proclivities of the Christian faith have been CATHOLIC this whole time?! That maybe, just maybe, when five year old Annie was standing there all confused in front of Missionary Larry, that there was a teeny-tiny Catholic just dying to get out?!?!

No. WAY.

Holy crappers… I think I’m a little bit Catholic.

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Be careful what you wish for…

Be careful what you wish for… you might just get it.

Isn’t that what we’re always warned about? You wish for something, that wish comes true, and it turns out the grass really was greener on the original side of the fence?

I wonder if the same thing goes for what you pray for. Be careful what you pray for… you might just get it.

But I suppose that’s how things work in an imperfect world. Nothing is perfect. Therefore, if nothing is perfect, then the after-affects, the consequences of an imperfect world must be imperfect as well. Even with perfect intentions, there are pluses and minuses, pros and cons. Nothing is perfect. Perfection is impossible in an imperfect world. So, even if you wish for perfection, you’ll never get perfection – you’ll get reality – and that’s the downside of the whole thing.

It’s funny when you look back on the things you once wished for – things from long ago, and things more recent. Sometimes we wonder, “Why did I ever want something like that?” Other times we wistfully think, “If I could only grasp that one thing…” That was my mood today. While waxing philosophically, I was thinking back on things I wished for… things I prayed for… and I was taking account of answered prayers and unanswered prayers. Some of the unanswered prayers were blessings in disguise. (No, scratch that. ALL of the unanswered prayers were blessings in disguise.) While some of the answered prayers were among the greatest challenges, the things that forced me to grow and stretch – especially when I didn’t want to.

Case in point: When I was younger (Okay, not that much younger. I’m not that old to begin with…)… college-aged… young and naive about my future… restless and adventurous and slightly rebellious… I used to pray for a life less ordinary.

I didn’t want an ordinary life. I wanted a life full of surprises and adventure and wild expectations and miracles. I didn’t want a house in the suburbs with a stable job and 2.3 kids, a trustworthy husband named Stewart, a golden retriever named Lady and a reliable car that got 15 mpg. No. I wanted to live by faith, and I wanted to see God do great things and I wanted to achieve great things and go where God led me.

And now… 10 years later… I think I actually got what I prayed for. Which at 32 years old isn’t what I really want at all. At 32 years old what I really, REALLY want is a house in the suburbs with a stable job and 2.3 kids, a trustworthy husband named Stewart, a golden retriever named Lady and a reliable car that gets 15 mpg. But instead I have an apartment in a podunk farming town, no kids, a husband who left me, an emotionally insecure cat and a 10 year old car whose rusty bumper is about to fall off. I work at a CATHOLIC school for very, VERY little pay, I have zero financial security, a ridiculously boring social life, my parents are gone and I have zero family nearby and… and… and the highlight of my days is going to Mass with my second graders. I’m excited about possibly becoming Catholic, and taking my kids on a field trip, and getting them involved in their church, and learning all I can about all the things I never knew about my faith. And here’s the really bizarre thing: I. LOVE. IT. It’s exciting and adventurous and miracles (big and small) are happening every day and I’m literally hanging on for dear life not having a clue which direction God is going to take me in and yet loving every single minute of not knowing and not having a plan but feeling all giddy because I know it will be good. It might be slightly uncomfortable at first… it might require me to stretch and grow… it might force me out of my comfort zone… but it thrills me!

It’s… in no uncertain terms… a life less ordinary. And there are days when I hate it and lament it and abhor it. Days when I want to get off the roller coaster and get back on the swing set. Days when I ask God (like I did just last week), “Can I PLEASE stop growing now? I’m about as strong as I can get. I’m good here. Just… let’s just leave it be… seriously. I’m tired. All done. Annie go nigh-nigh.” But that’s what you get when you ask for a life less ordinary. You might just get what you ask for.

And most days? I wouldn’t change it for anything.