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Monday, March 29, 2010

What Was Your Standout Moment on the Weekend?

My stand out moment this weekend was definitely my speech. I finally did it this weekend. Three times, in fact.

It went really well. For most of Saturday, I was pretty relaxed about the whole thing. I had read it through a number of times, and knowing I could have it in front of me was reassuring. (When I did those speech competitions over 20 years ago that I mentioned in this post last week, we were allowed palm cards only for our 8 minute speech.) However, just after lunch, re-reading it again, I started to feel the butterflies. That churning in the pit of my stomach. Nothing major, but there, nonetheless.

I was ok in the afternoon. My wonderful friend, Jen brought dinner and we had all our kids eat before church. Then we walked down to church and arrived just in time. The kids were very good. By the time I got up (it's was a long mass this weekend!) I felt ok. Not bad at all. I was a little bit nervous, but I relaxed in to the speech about 2 minutes in. When the first one was over, I felt incredibly relieved. The first one was the hardest.

Both speeches the next day went well. I wasn't as stressed out as I thought I would be getting the kids over to my friend's house by 7.10am. It was all pretty easy. 

Now it's done, I'm relieved. I got a great response from many, so that was really nice. 

And so my speech follows. It's about my personal faith as a Catholic. Therefore, it contains my religious beliefs. (For those of you who follow Mamamia, you may have read a little of this before, as I commented on one of Mia's post detailing my becoming a Catholic.) 

I am not posting this speech to convince you to believe in what I do. Not at all. I don't judge anyone for their choice of religion/belief system. I don't preach. What you believe in, is your choice. I am posting this speech simply because I knew some people would be interested to read what I talked about. That's all. 

Anyway, enjoy. Or not. Whatever. Here it is...

Once upon a time, I was not Catholic. In fact, even though I was raised Church of England, my parents were not churchgoers.
The first time I attended church (apart from some relatives’ weddings and baptisms), I was about 10 years old. My friend, Kim Adams, and I decided we wanted to find out what this whole “going to church thing” was all about, and so we put on our best frocks, hitched up our skirts, and rode our bikes to the local Anglican church. We attended regularly, and even joined the Sunday School there. In fact, I won a bookmark there once, and decided that it was a sign that God must be very pleased with my attendance!
Then in 1993, I started seeing my husband, [Hubby]. A Catholic. And Christmas Eve, that same year, I was asked to join him and his family for Christmas Eve mass.
To be honest, I was nervous about it. I was worried I would do something wrong and embarrass myself. My future mother-in-law was great. She said, “Just do what I do.” And so I did. When she sat, I sat. When she stood, I stood. And when she kneeled, I kneeled. And before too long, I was feeling part of the community, and quite confident in following what was going on.
A little too confident though. At one point, I thought that the priest was about to make the sign of the cross. As he raised his arm, so did I. But he, ah, didn’t make the sign of the cross at all. And so I quickly pretended to shoo a fly away. It was summertime in Perth, so I think I got away with it.
But after that, I attended church regularly with [Hubby]. I felt as though I had finally found the missing piece of the puzzle in my life. I felt more complete for going to church, and praying as part of a community.
Then one weekend in 1995, I felt a strong need to attend mass. [Hubby] and I had missed a few weeks due to other commitments, and I was insistent that we go.
As we stood in my parent’s kitchen washing the dishes - with my hurrying [Hubby] along - he asked, “If you weren’t seeing me, would you still go to church?”
“Yes,” I replied. “I like going. I always feel better afterwards.” And then I said, “Who knows? Maybe I’ll become a Catholic someday.”
As we arrived at church, the priest was inviting a guest speaker to address the parishioners. She got up, introduced herself and then she said, “Some of you here tonight may have thought about becoming a Catholic, but don’t quite know how to go about it. I’m with the RCIA programme (which is the ‘Right for Christian Initiation in Adults’) and I’m here to tell you how you can go about it.
I was amazed. Immediately, I felt that this was a message from God to me. After the conversation with [Hubby] in the kitchen, and my strong desire to attend church that very night, I believed and still believe wholeheartedly today, that it was God’s plan that I be in that church the moment the woman from the RCIA spoke.
At the first RCIA meeting, I found that the priest who was coordinating the program was the same priest who had married my bestfriend and her husband two weeks prior. It was he who suggested my bestfriend’s mother be my sponsor. When I first asked her about doing it, she lowered her head, and I thought that perhaps she really didn’t want to do it at all, and was about to tell me just that. But instead, she raised her head, crossed the room to embrace me and expressed her relief that I had asked her. She had just, that morning, cancelled a trip back to her homeland of Northern Ireland (which would have coincided with my catechisms), as she didn’t feel ready to see all her family, and had hoped instead to get more involved with the church again. And there I was, standing before her, giving her that opportunity.
Both [Hubby] and my parents were very supportive. [Hubby] only had one stipulation when I announced my plans to become a Catholic: that I do this for no one other than myself. And that was my plan. But there was someone else other than me that I felt I had to do this for. I had to do this for God.
And so, on Easter Saturday, 1996 (almost 14 years ago) I became a Catholic.
My faith in God did not start that Easter Saturday. Nor did it start that first Christmas eve mass, or even when I won that bookmark when I was 10. You see, even though my parents didn’t take me to church, they, and in particular my mother, are the reason I have such a strong faith in God today. 
When I was 20, I went on my first overseas holiday. For the 6 weeks I travelled through Europe and the UK, it all went pretty smoothly. Well, except for that one night in a German bier hall when I indulged in a little too much of the local beverage. Ahem. However, one day during that trip, I called my Mum – reverse charges, of course - upset about one thing or another, and she was great. She consoled me and she comforted me, and then 5 days later, when I arrived back to my hotel in London, there waiting for me was a letter from my mother. In it, she wrote something in relation to my phone call that I have never forgotten. She wrote: “God has a plan, and in the end, everything works out for the best. Have faith.”
My mother knows a thing or two about the importance of faith. In fact, her own faith in God was tested 20 years before she wrote that letter to me in London.
During Easter time, 1971 - on Good Friday in fact - my 17-year-old sister, Valda, and her 20-year old boyfriend, John set out to drive north of Perth to Geraldton. Both ballroom dancers, they planned to compete in a dance competition there. However, they never made it. Their car was involved in a car accident, and they both died. I was not quite 7 months old at the time, so fortunately for me I can't quite recall what it was like in those early days after losing Valda.
But I have no doubt that in the hours, the days, the weeks and the months that followed my sister’s death, my mother questioned her faith in God. No doubt, she asked, “Why?” a million times. And yet, growing up, you might be surprised to hear that it was my mother who taught me about God from a very early age. She taught me how to pray to God, and, in fact, how to talk to him. She taught me to believe in Him. Put my trust in Him and to have faith in Him. Which, as a mother of 3 boys today, I can appreciate just how strong that faith was for her, and continues to be, considering all that she, and my father, went through in losing a child.
My mother strongly believes, as do I, that God will determine which path our lives take. It may not suit us at the time. It may not be part of our plan. And we may not understand His decision as to why certain things happen in our lives, but we we should know that in the end, everything will be ok.
My faith is strong, and I owe much of that to my mother. It's just as she wrote in that letter to me back in '91. God has a plan for us all, including me. I just have to have faith.
How about you? What was your stand out moment this weekend?



MegsyJ said...

What a fantastic speech, Jodie. Well done! It's great that you have your faith. xo

Jeanne said...

Jodie - So glad your speech went well - as someone who also has a faith I totally understand how it is such a comfort to be able to trust in God's plan. :-)

Ami said...

Beautiful speech Jodie. Loved it! xx

My standout moment was actually on Friday when I went to Sydney to catch up with some family. I was watching a DVD with my 4 yr old cousin Mikey when he sat right next to me put his head on my shoulder and his arm around me and said "I might just stay here till the movie finishes if that's ok". He's such an affectionate little boy and it just made my day! xx

Thea Smith said...

Oh Jodie, I have goosebumps! What a beautiful speech, I wish I was there listening to it.
This post is a 2-for-1 for me because I've been dying to read your speech AND I remembered on the weekend to take notice of my standout moment for your blog!

My moment - we went to the coast to visit my husband's parents on Saturday and took the kids for a walk along the beachfront. It was a gorgeous day. I needed to stop at the toilets (public toilets....ick!) and when I came out could see no one waiting for me. (One of those things that annoys me about my husband, he continues to walk slowly until I catch up). Then I rounded the corner and saw my 5 year old boy standing with his grandma, waiting for me. As soon as he saw me he ran back to me. Grandma said, he wouldn't keep walking without his mummy. So precious.

Michelle said...

Romans 8:28-29 And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son...
Love that you have deepened your faith in the Catholic church - I had to leave the Catholic church to find relationship with God. It's great that His church comes in so many flavours.

Jane said...

What a beautiful speech! Glad to hear it went so well.

My stand out moment? The moment on Friday night when I realised that Macca's was a HORRIBLE dinner choice. I don't know how people eat that crap on a regular basis. It was a bad and good moment. Bad, because I felt like absolute shite. And good, because I will now be keeping my distance from the golden arches for a very long while.

Once again, fantastic speech xx

Jayne said...

Jodie, Thank you for sharing. You must be so proud to have completed and presented such a personal speech. Well done.

Interestingly our journeys are almost opposite. I was raised as a Catholic but we were by no means devout. I fluctuated during my adult life in varying stages of belief. It was often strongest at important times like my marriage and the births of my children.

But last year I lost my faith - religious faith that is - almost completely. Currently I identify as agnostic, although my children are still in a Catholic school and I'm fine with that. As you said, religious beliefs are truly personal. I have no idea where I will end up with regards to mine but I'm happy to be questioning right now.

One thing I do believe - as you also mentioned here - is that a sense of inclusive and loving community is incredibly important to all of us. And if you find that at your place of worship then it's a beautiful thing.

I'm so glad I read your post. :-)