I wanted to tell the forum in question before I mentioned it here, but I finally did that yesterday. And the short story is, God spoke.
And I didn’t like it.
Here’s the long story: On Saturday, the family went to Confession over at an awesome church we found “about ten miles from here.” Two priests, two hours scheduled, and there’s always a line. I noticed people would wait extra long for the “shrine director” rather than “Father Jerry,” but I didn’t know why, as Fr. Jerry was nice enough. Then one day I got the Shrine Director, and I fully believe the man can read hearts (yes, just like Padre Pio and St. Philip Neri).
That’s who I got this weekend, too, and for my penance he said, reassuringly, “Go in front of the Blessed Sacrament and let God talk to you.”
After I got the kids out the door with my Patient Husband, I slipped back in to “let God talk to me,” and after a minute, yes, He talked to me.
I don’t say that lightly. In the past four days, I’ve consulted with other people, asked two online groups for prayers for discernment, and prayed over it myself just to make sure I’m not being deceived. Because if there’s one thing I’ve learned about mysticism and spirituality, it’s that as far as Satan is concerned, I am stupid and tasty. But the verdict from every quarter has been: that’s the real deal.
What I was told was to leave the online forum where I spent about 75% of my online time. Where I’ve been a participant for five years. Where I felt safe, supported, and welcome. Except that God wanted me gone.
I thought, “But — But — ” and tried to deny I’d heard that, and then when it was obviously real, I thought, “But how am I going to do that?” because of all the people, the stories, the support, the concern —
And then I was back in the church, kneeling in the last row, and it was clear God was done talking to me.
I imagine that heart-reading priest heard from God: “Send her to me. I’ll take care of her.”
That forum wasn’t on the table. I wasn’t praying “Should I stay there?” or “What should I do about the fact that I’m a lazy slob?” I wasn’t asking anything at all, in fact. Just reaching for God and wanting to be near him.
In retrospect, that forum was getting too much of my time. My kids need me more. I get that. Also, when I wanted to run away in my head, the board was a positive, supportive place, so I’d go there. In fact, even after I decided to give it a “board break” while I discerned what to do, I found myself automatically hitting the key-combo to take me there whenever I finished something else online.
My Patient Husband said, “What if you just cut down?” but I said no, cutting down wasn’t an option. It’s the same thing as the ants in my walls. What if the exterminator had said, “I’ve got a treatment that will kill eighty percent of the carpenter ants eating your house”? My house is tasty to ants. Same thing here. And as CS Lewis said in “A Grief Observed,” a surgeon has to cut out all of a tumor. Even if it seems cruel to the patient, it’s actually crueler to leave the cancer there.
That forum isn’t inherently evil like cancer or destructive like carpenter ants, of course. It’s a positive place that has done a lot of good. But the thing that sends a person into a spiritual ditch is never an inherently bad thing: it’s always something good that’s taking up too much space. To me, to my soul, to my family life, I guess it was becoming that way. I’m not sure if I’ll be able to go back ever.
Yesterday I signed off. It was a sad thing. I haven’t gone back since, even though there are threads I want to check on, posters whose stories I wanted to hear through to the end. I didn’t want to go back and read a thread of goodbyes, either (and, well, I’d said I was going, so it was only polite to go) but I kept getting messages all day. It hurts. I’m glad my time there helped others, but it hurts to say goodbye and hear “goodbye” in return.
I’ve been praying that God makes the most of this. That whatever good is supposed to happen will happen and not be ruined because I’m an idiot. I’ve been feeling very small and stupid because most people know how to prioritize their lives, but I needed a divine smackdown.
After twenty years of reading about angels, I know the etiquette when God gives you a direct order is either to beg for mercy or to say “Yes, sir.” Even though it stinks to say goodbye to the wonderful people there, for now it’s “Yes, sir.”