ASH WEDNESDAYMy story begins February of 2009. That’s when I innocently and unsuspectingly ventured into a Catholic Church to “do ashes.” I had been invited by a gal I was quite enamored with. Truth be told, I was so happy to spend time together I’d have said “yes” had she invited me to get a root canal. But she said, “let’s go get ashes,” so off we went that Ash Wednesday afternoon to get our foreheads smudged. And that would pretty much be it because as much as I liked her, me Catholic? No way, no how! First of all, I thought Catholics were a bunch of church going pagans. I grew up Baptist…and I knew my Bible…and how to pray freestyle without the aid of a prayer card.  And the other reason becoming Catholic didn’t seem all that desirous to me–well, I had been in “not so gay life” for the better part of three decades and I knew from all my ex-catholic homosexual friends that the Roman Catholic Church wasn’t the place to go celebrate when you came out of the closet and wanted to have your relationships affirmed. So my plan that afternoon; enter, get ashes, get out!!!!

Funny thing, God also had a plan that afternoon and His plan was slightly different than mine. Much to my surprise I found myself at Mass the following Sunday, then the next and next… Six months later I started R.C.I.A. and in April of 2010 I entered the Church at the Easter Vigil. Shall I tell you about the weeks and months in between Ash Wednesday and the beginning of R.C.I.A. where I was constantly arguing with God concerning the whole, “gay issue”?  Was it really so wrong that I wanted someone to love and share my life with? Seriously- what was so bad about people of the same sex being in romantic partnerships? You’d think after eleven failed relationships I should have figured out that perhaps God and the Church were on to something, but what can I say? I was so wounded, broken and desperate to be loved I kept right on believing that the Catholic Church was still living in the dark ages so I could pretty much ignore its teaching on homosexuality, join up and not feel compelled to mention any of this when I went to confession.

So, I signed up for R.C.I.A. with this deception still influencing my behavior.  It all came to a head the week-end of my 54th Birthday when my hopes for relationship #12 being “the one” blew up in my face. I woke up on my birthday and prayed a prayer that opened the door to healing and restoration. It went something like this: “God, you’re right- I’m wrong. You’ve been right all along. I’m done!” That was it. That morning I walked away from my “un-gay” life and haven’t looked back once.

And then there was R.C.I.A. What a trip that was! I was such a pain in the you-know-what and caused my instructors so much grief, they’ll probably all bypass purgatory as a result of it. What can I say? When I came back to Jesus and emerged from the spiritual funk I had been in for 35 years I discovered I was still a Baptist. Although I was there to learn about Catholicism, I went on a mission to convince my instructors and classmates that Luther had it right!!! Ah yes, what a trip we all were on from September through January. I almost got booted out. I was pretty much told I should perhaps wait to convert until I actually believed what the Church taught! That conversation sent me into meltdown mode because even though I still thought Catholics were crazy, I had fallen in-love with the Church and everything in me wanted to convert. Fortunately, Jesus rescued me from the turbulent tailspin I was in by showing up the next night during devotions, personally calling me to become a Roman Catholic. What a night that was and it changed everything. I realized just what an amazing gift the Catholic Church was to me and how through it, the Lord was healing my battered heart.

midnight massSo now, as I write this, we are in Advent with Christmas right around the corner. Life is different for me now, as you might imagine. Gone are the days of mistletoe, being spoiled by a significant other, having someone to go see Christmas lights with and all the other special things one does with the person they love. Do I miss any of this? Amazingly, I really don’t. It’s beyond amazing: it’s a miracle because being “alone” and not significant to someone else was once upon a time, very terrifying to me. How on earth did I get to a place in life where I’m able to go to Mass on Christmas Eve, get there 90 minutes early just to get a good seat and sit there the whole time bubbling over with  joy and excitement that I’m in God’s house to celebrate His birth? Here’s how: I’ve discovered that God’s gifts are way better than anything I ever found under my Christmas tree and even beyond comparison to my dreams of finding a new Lexus in my driveway Christmas morning with a big bow on it.

Where shall I begin listing the gifts and expressions of Divine love that He’s lavished upon me? Let me just mention the two that I cherish most because they are constants in my life. I wake up every morning and go to bed every night with the gift of God’s peace. His peace is beyond the absence of conflict, it’s knowing, it’s the absolute assurance that all is well between Him and me. You see, there was always this “thing” between us. I knew on some level I was being disobedient and grieving God’s heart and that made me miserable. The second I repented His peace filled my heart. No kidding- it was instantaneous. Thank you, thank you, thank you, Lord!

Let me share one more “knock your socks off” gift with you- and this one is miraculous because there’s no other explanation for the healing and transformation that has taken place in my life. With all my heart, I give thanks for the gift of Jesus’ glorified body and blood. I couldn’t behold Him as an infant and I wasn’t around to touch the hem of His garment when He walked the earth. But 2,000 years later I can be one with the King of Kings when I eat His flesh and drink His blood. Oh, my goodness: I’m still blown away by this miracle.

Well, all I can say to those of you reading this who basically think this is all all way too good to be true. Remember- I just came for ashes.

 

 

5 Responses to I Just Came For Ashes

  1. Thanks for sharing side “B” graces. In awe of your loving relationship with our Lord. The love of Jesus changes us in ways visible and invisible, conscious and unconscious. No one leaves with only ashes!

    • Robin says:

      Amen & amen. God is so good. I love Him more all the time.

      Tanks for your uplifting words. I pray you have a blessed Lent and fall deeper in love with Jesus.

      Robin

    • Robin says:

      Sorry it took so long to reply. I actually did weeks ago but being technically challenged, it never posted.

      Anyway, God is so good. I marvel at His healing mercy to heal, mend and completely transform our lives. I also feel so sad that far too many who profess to follow Him deny this power and settle for lives stuck in the muck. We truly need a major shake down in the church.

      The Lord be with you and thanks for your kind and encouraging words.

      Robin

  2. J. R. says:

    Robyn Therese Beck,
    I heard you on the January 26th Terry and Jesse Radio Show and must tell you that your testimony was a blessing to hear. I’m on the battle field right now, opposing an LGBTQIA ministry at my parish that affirmed last Fall that they’d not be teaching chastity there but have been praying and working with our Pastor to encourage transformation toward the truth and am being persecuted for it right now. Your courage in sharing that true Mercy, tells the truth with love and that we are all called by God to be Saints is giving me great consolation right now. It is out of love for them, true happiness and their eternal salvation that I first inquired and it’s with that at the center of my heart that I will persevere with all humility and great courage. Bless you for sharing your humble repentance before the Lord and how he’s transformed your life into something wonderful for him. I pray that your story will give innumerable others the same peace, hope and fulfillment in Christ. Pax Christi

  3. Robin says:

    You keep fighting the good fight, JR. My heart breaks for all the young people who are feeling attractions for their same sex and being given a green light to act on them. Years ago I read a book by two evangelical women who gave me the go ahead to pursue a loving relationship with another woman. The book twisted Scripture and advocated that God was fine with these relationships, if they were monogamous and committed. I was so wounded and so desperate that I decided they were right and I could be happy at last. It took 35 years and 12 broken relationships to finally admit God was right.

    That was just one book. Today kids are hearing its, “Okay” from just about every place they go. What a battle we are engaged in against the forces of evil. I’m so with you, in standing for truth and not caving in. Seems like we are really outnumbered but…we have the Lord on our side and if God be for us, who can be against us. (Romans 8:31)

    May the Lord be your strength and your hope.

    God bless you.

    Robin

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