seeking family

Just over sixteen years ago now, I sat with a bunch of people I didn’t know in a large church in my cult in North Carolina. I was twenty years old, I was single, and back in Australia I lived on my own which was unacceptable to the church and I needed to marry. Women are supposed to live with their fathers until their father gives their hand in marriage to another man. I had been staying with a family who had two children, a boy and a girl.

Seeing as I was single, and female, the father in the family, who I had known for years, decided that he was my authority, and he tried to arrange a marriage for me to one of the young men in his churcuh, who subsequently rejected me because I had been raped many times, making me not a virgin becuase I didn’t do anything to not get raped. He tried to arrange a marriage with another young man, whose father said absolutely not, he wasn’t for arranged marriages. It would not be until the following year, when I was back in Australia, when the trafficking attempt would be successful. The man who became my husband was not aware of all the intricacies behind the arrangement, and he was a victim in this as much as I was. He would not have participated if he had known. It seemed like it was entirely his choice.

Anyway, back to the church in North Carolina…

The pastor was preaching a sermon that didn’t make any sense, but he brought up part of a Psalm, which said that God places the solitary in families. That’s all I remember, and of course, it was in the good old King Jimmy because anything else was not a legitimate Bible to them. It’s the first thing I remember claiming as a promise from God, even though it was not written to me and was not ever a promise from God to me. However, I took it as one, and I asked God to make that true for me. For the last sixteen years I’ve been kind of miffed that God didn’t do something God never committed to, because I’m a bit of a bitch like that.

I was miserable, and I didn’t belong anywhere. Tonight, after an argument with God in which God won, I sat down to pray the rosary despite not wanting to pray the rosary at all. I’d had a major PTSD trigger earlier in the day and I was royally pissed off. I didn’t want to talk to anyone, including Jesus or Mary. I just wanted to sit and sulk. It’s Sunday, which means I was praying the Glorious Mysteries. I got to the mystery of The Assumption of Mary, and that verse came to mind.

I realized something…

God has given me what I asked from God. Mary, the mother of Jesus, is my mother too. I have one or two people I’m close to that I consider to be family. I’ve also connected with and found family with a bunch of holy dead people. I mean, saints. I’ve connected with the saints and consider them ancestors gone on before. I have family, it’s just not the kind I expected. It’s better.

The mystery of The Coronation of Mary as Queen of Heaven is the final mystery in the five Glorious Mysteries. I thought about the song of Mary, the Magnificat, where she rejoices about what God asked of her, to be the mother of God. In the cult, a family was a married couple, always a man and woman, with a bunch of kids. Families who had step parents or step siblings or a single parent were called “broken families,” or “broken homes.” Never mind that those of us who grew up in the cult, who were in the right kind of family, were broken. But here is Mary, having conceived a child by the Holy Spirit, who is her heavenly spouse. She’s supposed to be getting married to Joseph, and she does. The Holy Spirit doesn’t raise their own kid, Joesph, Mary’s husband, and Jesus’ stepfather, raises him. This to me legitimizes all kinds of families. Jesus lived in a “broken family” according to these people’s standards. Except, it wasn’t broken. God had designed it that way.

God gave me family, and it’s not how I would have envisioned it, but with God that’s the norm. It barely ever looks the way I think it will or should. God knows what God is doing, and it’s always a beautiful thing.

Thanks be to God.

Published by MaryClare StFrancis

MaryClare StFrancis is a writer who sounds as boring as hell but who is intimately acquainted with the horrific and the sacred. For a long time, darkness has been her friend, but she now walks in the light of Christ. As a committed Episcopalian, her main contribution to the church is her ability to make the priests facepalm or swear, depending on the day and context. MaryClare has a Master of Arts in English and Creative Writing and lives in Mississippi with her four children.

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