Relentless Pursuit… Part II

My graduation day from my Catholic High School was a joyous one.  I mean joyous.  Not because it was a beautiful heart-warming ceremony where I was awarded a valedictorian honor (which I wasn’t!) or because I was so proud of emerging from a college-preparatory school with a 4.0 GPA and lots of accomplishments (which I didn’t have, but 3.4 wasn’t bad)…

All around me were students crying as they played the theme “Friends are Friends Forever” by Michael W. Smith, and they were grieving for leaving such a wonderful phase of life and entering the scary unknown world of college… I myself was trying not to laugh, or cry from the hurting in my eardrums, because of that song.  It felt like a joke to me, no offense to anyone else in the class, because there was nothing much meaningful or Catholic about the ceremony (that I remember), and I couldn’t wait to get the heck out of school.

I had done my best to meld into the accepted group in my last couple years of high school, and was somewhat successful in acquiring some handy four-letter words and practicing some less than moral behaviors in order to end the torture of coming from a moral, strict, and conservative family, and being stuck with 30 other students not living at all like my family.  But still, deep down, I was Catholic Shal, pro-life Shal, and I never really and truly fit in, even though I could have won an Oscar for the acting I did to be accepted.

And so for me, I was ready to leave school, to get out in the ‘free world’, and be myself.  In fact, much to the disappointment of the school counselor, I didn’t want to go to college right after high school.  I wanted to ‘help people’, which made him cringe with the amount of apparent naivety I had.  He tried to get me to come to my senses, told me I would be wasting my life, and that since I was ‘ranked #5 in my class’ and in the National Honor Society (things that meant virtually nothing to me because I hadn’t even tried to earn those), I was destined to be a career woman in some office somewhere.  That I wanted to do mission work didn’t fit into the scope of what this Catholic school wanted to produce in its students.  But the pressure brought out even more rebellion in me, and I resolved to purposefully not go to college anyway.  And then I added a little twist to the knife for him:

“And, I mostly want to be a stay-at-home mom and have lots of kids, after my mission work.”

So I was written off as insane by the school.  But at home, I was fully supported in my ‘calling’ and encouraged…

A year after I graduated, my dad (who was active military) was reassigned to an Air Force base in England.  And so, I was left with a troubling decision to make… I was 18 years old, with no fast track to a career and still immature, but with the option to accompany my family to England as a military dependent.  We didn’t know the right decision, so we asked our bishop at the time, who was a family friend.

He advised me to move to England with my family.

That advice would have implications that I could never have imagined, but that would shape my current faith for the rest of my life.

And so, I packed along with my family to make the biggest move of our lives…

… to be continued…


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