Listening and Healing

I tend to run away when I feel scared. I realized this week that I am afraid of my call. I feel a call to move back into the Catholic church, but I am worried that it will not allow me to live out my call to serve. It is like I’m stuck between a rock and a hard place. I lose something no matter what I do. 

I realized in my last meeting I cannot fully commit to returning is because of the hurt the church has caused me. I have internalized the patriarchal view of the church, that women are inferior to men and that I’m somehow lacking something essential and will never be able to measure up. It has taken me years of therapy to try and combat the negative view I have of myself. If I’m honest, I still hold a negative view of myself. When I am in Catholic Spaces, I still feel this way. Instead of dealing with this reality, I have avoided it altogether. Standing on the line of being involved in the church but from an arm’s length. 

I have several goals for myself in the upcoming year. 

Goal 1: Creating space to hear God. 

  • I want to create an intentional space to listen to the spirit’s call on my life.  I have a prayer time each day, I read scripture, but I have a difficult time sitting in silence. I want to incorporate meditation into my life. Specifically, I want to be able to sit in meditation for 20 minutes each week by Christmas this year. 
  • A practical daily step for me is to start with a few minutes of meditation each day. 

Goal 2: Healing

  • My other goal is to be able to sit in Catholic spaces (such as mass or other spaces) and maintain a positive view of myself. I want to come to terms with the pain that I have felt in those spaces in the past and learn how to use my voice in those spaces. If I feel like God is calling me to stay, I will need my voice to be heard. If God is leading me to another setting, I want my voice to be heard as I go. 
  • If I could come to terms with this, it would help me with a better self-image. It would allow me to heal the deep wounds that I feel and continue to ignore. 
  • The obstacles are numerous. The internalized patriarchal voice that exists inside me is one of the most significant obstacles. Also, my family. I love them dearly, but they are a strict Roman Catholic Family. The patriarchal voice in myself has been re-enforced by them my entire life. Another obstacle that I face is the lack of community. The community that I have currently are mostly Protestant, they do not understand why I would subject myself to this kind of pain. 
  • Some of the Gaps that I like to address is my lack of knowledge of the theological arguments against the patriarchal church. I would like to learn how to articulate my call to serve against the arguments of complementarianism. 
  • One of the practical steps I can take with this is to start that reconstruction of my self-image with the help of a counselor or other mental health worker. 

4 thoughts on “Listening and Healing

  1. Briggita, though I have not commented on your posts yet, they have moved me. From your call to shepherd God’s people to being afraid to dream to seeing these goals emerge. I just want you to know I see you and I want you to continue to follow this voice of God! It seems that this has been a clarifying process for you and you have many practical goals to do some important work. I’d also love a refresher on your second to last bulletin point. Anyone have resources on hand?

  2. Brigitta, first of all, kudos to you for the years of hard work you have done in therapy to move towards owning your own belovedness. The Church which is intended to be a privileged space of good holding and deep belonging and authentic community may not be that for you, and it cannot be that for so many for so many different reasons. Naming that reality and giving voice to your experience (whether you stay or go) sounds like a wise and holy and true choice, a saying “yes” to the abundant life that Jesus desires for you.

    Your goals of growing in healing and developing a contemplative prayer practice seem like they would be mutually beneficial. One resource that has been helpful for me in similar goals in the past has been Henri Nouwen’s book “Life of the Beloved.” I’ve linked to it below, if you feel drawn to that.

    A few questions as you deepen in the journey:
    What does the internalized patriarchal voice within you say?
    What messages does it repeat?
    Is there a particular memory or moment you can recall where that voice within you was born?
    How can you bring that voice before Jesus for healing? Can you imagine Jesus in dialogue with that voice – if so, what does he say and how does he respond?

  3. Brigitta, I don’t have a particularly articulate response to your very articulate post, but I just wanted to say thank you for sharing. <3

  4. Brigitta, you have articulated clear goals, and I hope you will consider journaling about your process and insights as you move towards your goals. So many Catholic women need to heal their self-image which the patriarchal church has wounded. Your healing journey will bless others as you share your healing journey. I don’t think most priests understand the damage the patriarchal church causes girls and women. I hear in you a vulnerability and an authenticity which will make your story important to read and understand.

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