My Story

I have recently recorded a long video with my friend giving my entire story of faith and de-conversion: from protestant to serious Catholic to atheist.   I am not sure how many people will find it beneficial, but those who were in my Catholic type of circles hopefully may. 
Here it is:

My written story of faith and loss of faith:

I was raised in a Southern Baptist protestant home. At thirteen, I accepted Jesus into my heart and walked the aisle and got saved. I began reading my Bible and trying to live for Jesus as I knew how.  

Not long after this I met a really cute boy in high school.  He was a skater and not at all the Christian type. His mom was however a devout Catholic. We started to get to know each other he became more interested in his own faith. We would attend Catholic conferences together and go to retreats. 

 I learned more about the Catholic church and eventually attended RCIA and became Catholic.  My boy friends' mother was my sponsor and became my de facto “godmother.” Unfortunately for me, my relationship with this boy took a backseat to his new found love of Jesus and he started contemplating the priesthood. This boy is now known as Fr. Pio Maria with the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal.

During high school, I was very involved in Catholic retreats held by a group in Alexandria, LA. I was friends with many who are now nationally known speakers and priests in the Catholic world.  After high school, I attended John Paul II Catholic Bible School in Alberta Canada. I was then on a youth evangelization team called Behold the Lamb.

During my young adult years, I was a campus minister with Catholic College Fellowship in St. Augustine, FL.  I wrote a Catholic music CD called Outpour and performed at various conferences and events. Bishop Robert Baker gave an endorsement of my music and it was played on EWTN Radio.  I also was very close to the group, Comunita Cenacolo and am very good friends with its’ leaders in America, Joyce and Albino Aragno.

I attended Franciscan University of Steubenville and completed my BA in Theology, studying under Dr. Scott Hahn, Dr. Mark Mirivalle, and Dr. Regis Martin. Many of my roommates and close friends have gone on to become sisters in various orders.  I also was a worship leader for multiple masses at the Chapel on campus.  

After college, I decided to take a year and devote it to Jesus as a missionary and community member in Italy with Comunita Cenacolo. I knew many of the priests and sisters associated with that order quite well.  Fr. Stephano and Sr. Elvira were like walking saints to me that I got to interact with.

I have experienced multiple types of Catholic Charisms and versions such as Regnum Christi, SOLT, Youth 2000, Sister's of Charity, parish life, etc. I attended WYD, the Pope’s visit to Toronto in 2002.  I have been a Religious Ed teacher at a middle school in New Mexico.  

I contemplated entering religious life if I did not find a suitable man at some point after that.   I had only been interested in dating men who had similar convictions regarding faith and the Church as I did.  Unfortunately, all the guys like that I knew were basically not ready to commit to marriage or unable to support the kind of Catholic family I desired. 

I met my future husband and “settled” for a basically good guy who loved the Pope and Church, even if he didn’t really understand her teachings. He said things to me when we dated like: “adoration is really your thing” and “what’s a Catechism.”  I quickly taught him the ropes and he complied with my desires to live an “authentically catholic life.”

In 2005, I married this military Officer and life changed drastically. I quickly became pregnant and my husband deployed. Instantly all of the theories of spirituality and life became reality I lived.  My husband deployed to Iraq for 15 months when my first son was 6 months and I was pregnant with my second.  

My first son, I would later have confirmed, had mild autism and would not allow me to sing or play guitar, as he would scream at the sounds.  Life became really real, and I needed more than theology and prayer to figure it out.

We tried to practice NFP, but I had very irregular cycles became pregnant very easily (my first two children are 11 months apart).  This is when my understanding of being “open to life” started to get challenged.

Before marrying my husband, I was a good conservative republican. I was against abortion. Democrats were for abortion. So, I voted Republican.  Once I was married to an officer in Iraq and I began to see the injustices of war and the wastefulness of our military, I realized there may be more to consider about government.  When I would bring up issues to my Catholic religious friends they would mostly give me blank stares and check out. It didn’t fit into their priorities and wasn’t an issue.

My third child was a girl. We named her Zelie after the mother of my favorite saint, St. Therese of Lisieux.   When Zelie was born we knew right away something was wrong. Her last three fingers on both hands were fused and she had abnormal appearances. Over the next two years I spent most of my time learning to navigate the hospital systems as she needed multiple surgeries and therapy.  

Ultimately she was diagnosed Failure to Thrive and at a year was given a G-Tube because she refused to eat. Zelie did not coo or cry like normal babies. She didn’t crawl until nine months and didn’t walk until 2 and a half. All the while my husband had changed jobs a few times and rejoined the military.  He was leaving me often and going on “missions” with his unit. Our marriage was struggling and I was getting overwhelmed. I went to counseling and ultimately had to go on anti-depressants just to deal with my panic attacks.  To see my innocent daughter suffer and struggle was a hard thing to grasp in relation to a just and loving God.

Fast forward 4 years later, 2 children later.  We had another few moves and job changes, trying to find something that could work for our family.  All the while I was trying to maintain my faith by going to mass, prayer, adoration, women’s groups.  I thought I had a calling to be full time members of Comunita Cenacolo.  That was the place I had felt peace and strength.  But, after months of communicating with my friends, they let me know it was not possible. My dream and last hope at clinging onto Jesus in some authentic community and conviction was rejected.  

I became exhausted.  What was God’s will? Why was life so hard? Was this an attack from Satan? I was homeschooling my children because Catholic school was just a joke on our income and number of kids. I became more and more disillusioned.  It all became too much.  I decided to stop focusing on prayer and faith so much and just try to live everyday as best I could without regard to spiritual matters. This was extremely hard for me considering my past.

But, life got better.  I became less anxious. I was more down to earth and accepting of life’s struggles.   I still loved Jesus so much. I battled with my faith and my life, my love for Jesus and my growing discord with Catholicism. More and more I saw hidden lives of Catholic leaders and secrets I couldn't forget. I reached out to all of my dearest friends.  They were struggling as much as I was.   I was grasping at anything to keep me from letting go. But nothing was working.  

In October of 2012, I decided that although I still wanted to believe in Jesus, I had to admit that I was running out of reasons to believe.  Ultimately, I decided to say goodbye to Jesus and hello to reality.

 I was still trying to practice NFP when I got pregnant with number 6. At this point, my body was tired, my mind was spent and my emotions were out of whack.  How could this be God’s Divine will?  If I, a devoted Catholic and minister, could struggle this much to make the Church’s teaching functional in reality, how could it be expected to be a universal norm? 

Slowly, most of the things that I once believed had to radically change for
my intellect and integrity to be maintained. I could no longer turn a blind eye to my doubts and struggles. I couldn’t explain this away as some greater good.   I had no one to relate to. All of my closest friends were devout Catholics. My family were protestants. Who could relate to me? I had to get my thoughts out somehow. I began my blog, Catholicism on the Rocks, at this point.

Interestingly, I never researched any atheist writers or speakers until after I decided I could no longer believe that God was real.  At this point, I found Dan Dennet, Sam Harris, Chris Hitchens, and many others. It was like water to my soul to have these people articulate what I had come to accept as reality.  

Eventually I learned about the Clergy Project. It is an online community for current or former religious leaders who no longer believe. Luckily, having given my life, education and career to Jesus constituted me as “clergy” in their eyes, a dignity I would have never been awarded in the Church.  In this community I was able to speak freely and communicate with other ministers who had gone through the exact struggles I was.

Since 2012, I have continued to blog and learn and develop. I had to relearn everything I had understood under faith. What is the meaning of life? How can we find morality in this world without God?  It has been a very difficult road. My husband is still Catholic. This dilemma has been the root of many of my blog posts. How do we raise our kids? What about teachings of prayer, demons, angels, heaven, hell?  How can I sit back and let my kids be taught things that I now consider cultish mind control? 

I am beginning the next phase of my life after faith. I am reaching out to Catholic evangelists. Soon I hope to write a book about my experiences and the logic behind it.  My love of music can be used for focusing on positive things in this world. I am beginning to get involved with secular communities for creating positive connections without a need for a supernatural belief.  I am excited to live, embracing the real world. 

The following is taken from a letter I wrote to a wonderful Catholic friend, trying to explain my decision to stop practicing the faith.

I am coming from experiences that include 3 countries, 7 states, multiple churches, wonderful friends and difficult (and good) family.  I have a Theology degree from Franciscan University of Steubenville. I have spent a year at a Catholic Charismatic Bible School, 6 month on a ministry team, a year in a fervent Catholic community (Comunita Cenacolo), and have baptized all of my children Catholic and lived a very pro-life marriage. I've lived the good and the bad of Catholicism. More than anything, I have loved Jesus and the Eucharist and Mary, the saints, and angels. I have many personal friends who are priests, sisters, religious, missionaries, devout Catholic families, etc.

Through it all, I have grown in morality, peace, wisdom, life, joy. I've seen the sanctity of many doing all they can to be devout, selfless, loving and committed.

For a very long time I have struggled with leaders and obligations in the Church. Here are a few of the most disturbing realities, for me, in the Church.  In my heart I knew that there was something wrong with the Legionaries.  The overly burdensome demands they make on the followers, the unqualified obedience and secrecy. And then to find out its founder was a complete liar, womanizer and thief.  Another example is Fr. Corapi.  I loved him so much, but I knew that there was a point when he crossed over to the dark side. And, I know of influential person who has significantly challenged the faith for me. Then there are the priest scandals, etc.  I know I don’t have to go on.  You get the point. I have also really struggled that some of the most important people in my Catholic walk have been SUPER juvenile and just downright unloving. They have not lived the life I want to emulate.

I have thought for a long time that if I just prayed more, had more faith, hope, love, selflessness then I would find the peace and break through the dark night.

I have come to the point where I am prepared to appreciate the blessings of faith and leave the burdens.

I am curious if there may be something to the basic precepts of faith that are so vital to the Church.  Things such as morality, hope, forgiveness, community and empathy could these things be perhaps universal (Catholic).  While the rituals and obligations and “traditions” which are compulsory are in fact, useless?

Consider how many wars are fought in the name of God. Consider the prejudice and judgments. Consider the divides and self-righteousness. For a long time, I have been so consumed with the guilt of not living my faith by the precepts of Sunday Mass, daily Mass, the Rosary, Confession, trying to get my kids to be good at Church when it goes against everything natural to a child. At least in the protestant Churches they figured that one out.

I have kept at it so long out of fear of hell and disappointment of God.  I also cannot deny that my life of faith has brought much more joy than I ever had before.  But, as I consider life, I am trying to take a more objective approach.

I grew up in a divorced family. My parents were not from good families either. So, what example I got was confusing and lacking.  I was forgotten and unloved in concrete ways. I was left to fend for myself and figure it out.  I got mixed up in some SHADY company and my life got messed up!  So, when I met God and Christians, it seemed like beauty, goodness and truth vs. the secular world of empty promises. With faith, I instantly became important not only to myself, but God himself! My life had a plan, purpose, I was never alone, there was hope, etc. I could not believe in myself alone, so I believed that since God did, I could too.  Although my parents had forgotten me, God never would.  I was HIS child.  I was lovable. No wonder I only fell away from faith one time for about a year and a half.  I got mixed up in the “world” again and then came back to God.   It’s been over 16 years now that I have been trying to faithfully follow the Church.  That leads to another story on how I became Catholic.  I fell in love with a boy. He was Catholic. I wanted to spend time with him.   I was happy as a Baptist, but because of him, I studied the faith and was convinced of the arguments for Catholicism.

Anyway, if I can be objective, the reasons for faith were not very reasonable in the end.  I was desperate and lonely. In the end, faith SAVED me.  It did.  I am FOREVER grateful!

But, I have known a few very wonderful people who have been very secular and good and peaceful.  Actually I have been loved and supported by some people who the Church would consider evil heathens.

So, for me the question is… what makes the world go round????  Objectively.

I am taking the time out right now to just consider other options. And objectively, without considering faith and belief and the personal “relationship” we have developed with Jesus, the concepts of faith are VERY far-fetched.

There is no credible evidence to base decisions and priorities on things such as angels, heaven, spirits, and dare I say, sacraments.  I know it is sacrilegious to say, but….  I am saying it.  We are all so busy. It’s hard to take the time out to really consider these things.

The things I've experienced in the military and as a libertarian have opened my eyes in SO many ways.  I've realized that there are people who are in control of many of the major things that happen in this world.  I realize the mainstream concepts of our news and priorities are probably a bunch of propaganda. But, it has taught me to question authority.  When I see the Church stepping in line with the two party system.  When I see them playing the politics. I can’t help but feel frustrated.

This is obviously not a complete account of my history. But perhaps being a bit vulnerable will help others and myself to find some truth.


code monkey said...

I wish you the best of luck and all good things on your journey and I look forward in hope to your returning home to us.

Anonymous said...

Hi, stumbled across your blog. Your's is an interesting journey. No doubt there are MANY Catholics who are in your shoes.

I'm going to participate in your blog and try to be as helpful as I can. I myself am a cradle Catholic. I'm the father of 8. I've had 5 teenagers at the same time, so I know a thing or two about Catholicism on the rocks. Much of what you say in your blog is sadly, so true. Dadof8.

AJL said...

Hello, Thanks for coming by. I would love your input! I think some people get the wrong impression that I am angry at Catholics. More than anything I am frustrated with the realities of living a Catholic life. I am just tired of struggling on my own and want to put my thoughts out there and see what others may have to say or share. what is your experience? Are you still a strong Catholic? Has anything made you stay?

Lydia said...

I grew up a Protestant Preacher's Kid. I slowly deconverted from Christianity in my late teens and early 20s.

You're not alone.

CatholicOnABike said...

Interesting to find someone on the way out of Catholicism who is blogging about it, as I who is on my way to becoming a devout Catholic and is blogging about it.

AJL said...

Like I said, it's been a long, hard, great, confusing 20 years.

There are many great things about religion... and many dangerous.

the things to be very open to are community, love, forgiveness, hope..

the things to avoid.. superstition, fear, judgement, self righteousness, separation, fanaticism... etc

Good luck. I am finding more simple living, truth, acceptance, friendship, love is doing well for me.

Ben Dunlap said...

If you are genuinely interested in exploring the reasons for belief you might consider looking into traditional Thomistic philosophy.

Edward Feser is a great contemporary representative of this school of thought and he has a very lively blog as well as two books which address the question head-on. The more punchy one, which directly engages folks like Dawkins, Dennett, etc., is called "The Last Superstition", and the calmer/more-scholarly one is called "Aquinas: A Beginner's Guide".

Perhaps you encountered the following idea in the pursuit of your theology degree at Franciscan, or perhaps not, but the traditional Catholic viewpoint is that the existence of God is in and of itself not a matter of faith at all (even though one may, I suppose, choose to take it on faith -- and perhaps most people do).

The Catholic understanding, rather, is that the existence of God can be known, with certainty, by unaided reason. The traditional arguments for God's existence are difficult to understand without a certain amount of careful engagement and study -- you have to understand what the terms of the arguments mean, and the terms are unfamiliar to modern ears, which leads many people, particularly of the Richard Dawkins persuasion, to dismiss them out of hand without ever actually understanding them -- but again Edward Feser is an excellent guide to these things.

My own interest in philosophy has recently been rekindled by discovering Feser's blog and books, and while I have not personally struggled with my Catholic faith, my very-much-beginning studies in traditional Thomistic philosophy have already opened my eyes, in a dramatic way, to how rich of a tradition of reason and logic the Church has preserved -- a tradition that has, unfortunately, often been obscured in the last several decades in Catholic circles.

I would just say that, generally speaking, most Catholics today have probably only been exposed to a tiny fraction of what the Church actually teaches and of what the best and brightest Catholics have thought and argued about over the last several centuries -- this in itself is probably a much graver scandal than the behavior of any particular cleric -- and so I would invite you to deepen and broaden your study of these matters. Feser's writings might be a good place to start.

AJL said...


Yes I have studied St. Thomas' work a bit. Thank you for the suggestion, and I will look into that blog.

For me the 5 proofs seems wanting, most going back to a leap of faith. I read recently, "the proper question is not who began the universe, but what." Once we assume an agent, things get jumbled.

I also agree the Catholic Tradition is much more reasonable than many new denominations. But that doesn't mean that there aren't huge leaps of faith made. Angels, demons, miracles, answered prayers, the afterlife, etc. These cannot be explained through reason.

The temptation I think with Catholicism is that it seems so well constructed and ancient. It is such a large group with such defined beliefs. It appears to be based on more than faith. But, it's not.

Ben Dunlap said...

Well the fascinating thing about the Five Ways of St. Thomas Aquinas -- or at least some of then -- is that they are basically just developments of the thinking of Aristotle, who was of course pre-Christian and probably not even particularly religious, at least in any sense that his contemporaries in the pre-Christian pagan world would have acknowledged.

Aristotle simply thought that it was unreasonable, for example, to suppose that things could change without the existence of what he called a "prime mover". And he didn't simply assert this, he argued to it rigorously (through hundreds of pages of text) from the knowledge available to his senses. And he thought that he had demonstrated the existence of God, which in his jargon means that he had shown it to be necessarily true (as opposed to, say, resorting to it as an explanation for something otherwise unexplained).

Now one can certainly imagine that Aristotle went wrong somewhere in his investigations or arguments, but to suppose that he was somehow engaged in some sort of act of faith is to completely misunderstand what he was up to.

And St. Thomas Aquinas devoted a significant part of his career to understanding and developing Aristotle's thought. In fact, a great deal of his famous Summa Theologiae -- hundreds of pages of it -- is devoted entirely to considering what he called the "preambles of faith", which are those things that he thinks can be known about God, certainly, without faith.

Of course faith is an essential part of Catholic life and I'm certainly not trying to downplay it. I guess all I'm saying is that quite a lot of the things that we might casually suppose are matters of faith are actually not, in the traditional Catholic view.

So even if one no longer accepts the teaching authority of the Catholic Church ... going from there to the denial of the existence of God, or the assertion that physical matter is all that exists, just doesn't follow.

AJL said...

I have the "Summa of the Summa."

Have you heard the argument that to suggest a prime mover causes a bigger problem to explain?

Thomas Hart, O.S.B. said...

Dear COTR,
A fellow alumnus of Steubenville here, to greet you today when the Catholic Church honors the memory of the Apostle Thomas. The Office of Readings today includes these words from Pope Gregory I: "The disbelief of Thomas has done more for our faith than the faith of the other disciples."
I admire Soren Kierkegaard. A lot of output on the occasion of the second centenary of his birth in 2013. If I had to choose a favorite quotation it would be this: "O Luther, you had 95 theses—terrible! And yet, in a deeper sense, the more theses, the less terrible. This case is far more terrible, there is only one thesis. The Christianity of the New Testament simply does not exist."
So maybe you're in good company with both Kierkegaard and Thomas. Who knows? Your candor suggests you seek Truth. What's not to love?
Meantime, regardless of "where you're at," you are welcome to make a private retreat at my abbey. People just like you find it a soft place to land for a little while. Think about it.
Be well.
Thomas Hart (Order of Saint Benedict) Latrobe, Pennsylvania.

fRED said...

I love the new stuff you added at the top of the original. And then you updated further with pictures. VERY NICE!

I think it give a more comprehensive view of your trajectory in religion and Roman Catholicism to the present. I think it makes a lot more sense now.

I would be curious to see what kind of story your husband would tell about his faith journey. I wonder what impact 15 months in a war zone has on someone separated from their family.

I have a brother that served in the Air Force for 20-some years. Seemed like they moved every two years. That frequent relocation is hard on a family. Did you have any sense of what you might be signing up for when you married?

My son was diagnosed with ADHD (and PDD and others). His schooling was extremely challenging in so many ways. Fortunately he finished ok and graduated from High School. However, the whole Special Ed scene is a corrupt racket and sometimes I believe made things worse.

ajl said...

Thanks fRED, so far special ed has been a huge help. nothing corrupt for us yet. I told fernando that I didn't want to stay in the military before we got engaged.... he agreed, but was stop lossed and then chose to stay in, against my wishes.

Fernando Lavana said...


This is Fernando, Ashley's husband, and soon to be Ashley's ex-husband. I am answering your question on my faith journey that you asked on 21 May 2016.

"I would be curious to see what kind of story your husband would tell about his faith journey. I wonder what impact 15 months in a war zone has on someone separated from their family."

I was born and raised Catholic. I did not truly see any difference between Catholicism vs. anything else unit the 6th grade. I was at a local Catholic private school and one day I realized that God was real. He was answering prayers left in right whether it was putting me into a good school or helping me cope with in fighting among my parents. I grew up very poor and basically a second class citizen here in the US which would affect how I saw my life as well.

I think I had one of the best times in life in high school. I went to Christian Brothers High School in Sacramento and enjoyed every moment of it. It was unique in that it was very diverse and we went to school immersed in catholic teachings although it was not readily apparent to me then. I learned to love God so much at this point. I saw that the church could pull me out of poverty and that the Church was bigger than I initially expected. However, my devotion to Mary and God was very high and I would pray often.

I went to UCLA and got a political science degree, and focused on middle eastern religions, in hopes of restoring or helping society become a better one. I saw many faiths protest against each other and some that came to mind were the UCLA Jewish Student Association rally against the Muslim student association and vice versa. I was intrigued to understand
why each one though of each other as THEE religion. I even studied Arabic and was in classes with Jewish and Muslim students trying to integrate in their culture while upholding my Catholicism.

However, I got off track for several years with another student and we courted for over 7 years. What was interesting about those years is that I basically reduced my footprint at the church, i.e. I stopped practicing my faith although I called myself a Catholic, I didnt rarely went to church. In the end my relationship was my demise because I was no longer myself and sacrificed way too much for someone else.

I came back to the church and also got involved in IVCF, which was a hardcore non-denominational Christian group to regroup myself. I eventually became a Charismatic Catholic and went on to enlist in the Navy Reserve which led to me become an Army officer Full Time in 2003.

In 2004, I was in Iraq the first time, and I would pray often because I thought this time frame of the war was a lot like Vietnam. We had no clear mission and the enemy was changing almost week to week. I went to church as best as I could at the local Catholic service on the Camp. I remember having a great time every single time I was there. I prayed at that time that all I wanted in life was a wife and for this war to end. No real soldier is looking to fight wars for fun, only to see them end and return home.

Well, my miracle occurred with Ashley, and we soon got married and you know that part here. What I think she could have explained better was that we both were strong Catholic's and I was really devoted to prayer and often said the Rosary and loved Mary. She was enamored at how much I did love her and she did help me understand the reasonings of the fatih. We discussed the range of knowledge of God may not be enough to know God, and that it does come down to faith at some point. I tried to explain to my children how our former Dog loved us but did not have the capacity to know more about the full us. We may not have the full capacity to know God, but we know we love God, but we still don't have the ability to reason at that level yet. Similarly, our Dog loves us but lacks the capacity to know more but trusts us to help him. part 1

Fernando Lavana said...

Anyway, when I was stopped loss, it was a horrible was to go back, I left Ashley pregnant and with our first, Isaac. I did not doubt my faith, but I was praying constantly and asking God what was the reason behind all of this. I think this test of faith allowed me to see the war again in a different light. We had gone from proctecting land and buildings to our new mission of protecting its people outright. We were more culturally adept to being more focused on tolerance of the muslim religion as well. Some of the best faith talks I had were Catholicism vs. Muslim faiths with the local Iraqi Army leaders in Arabic and English to try to understand how much knowledge we both had about God and our respective religions.

When I came back, I grew more fond of the military people and loved the soldiers I worked with becuase we experienced a lot that many generations would never experience and walked in a few select shoes that no one else understood. Also, the Surge, taught me some hope at the time.

Ashley and I had our differences on how we saw the time, but I my faith grew to new levels of what it was to understand to be Catholic. I felt more strengthened because of this if nothing else. I was stopped loss to help the local people directly with my Arabic language skills and to be placed in strategic assignments that allowed me to affect what was happening there. I felt purpose out of initial chaos that was out of my control, but when I looked back at the whole reason I was stopped loss, which seemed like a simple crap shoot. I took it as God creating something good out of something very bad. Ashley had to learn to cope with her life back home. She missed me so much, but stayed loyal and became super healthy. She went to church and grew in understanding how the world operated from a close perspective of the Army.

I think when I came back, I had my doubts of leaving the Army. I enjoyed the people in it and still loved God and my faith, and probably even more. However, Ashley saw it different which would eventually which would be the firs ripple in our relationship.

part 2

Fernando Lavana said...

After I got back, I was struggling in staying in even part time and tried to do the civilian world. Ashley and I stayed strong Catholics. However, in 2012, I believe this is when Ashley first had her doubts on her faith. She was fervently Catholic then all the way to the decision made by her local Catholic spiritual guides that she could not enter a religious communal life with Communiti Cenacalo. This was her test of her faith which ultimately she could not reason. AS I recall it, she went into a logic spin. Here she is a devoted Catholic woman with significant abilities that she can offer to the organization and husband as well, but we could not go in because of Zelie, our daughter. She was a blessing but also somewhat of problem from us getting into the program. Ashley could not reconcile that Zelie, our special needs daughter, and in many ways our test of our faith, was the reason why we could not get into her long life spiritual dream of getting into the program. It almost seemed that these two facts and "tests of faith" led to Ashley's demise of the Catholic Church as having all the answers. She in the end could not reconcile these facts, which were thrust upon her and me. In psychology, two opposing competing facts and philosophies cannot stay in the same areas, which otherwise leads to a cognitive dissonance. If one cannot reconcile the differences and see how they relate, then one actually gets headaches but also has to choose a side. Reconciling is more amending the two and accepting them as one, but I think Ashley could not which was the smallest microcosm of her reality which as you know would grow into another form of Ashley's philosophy which I believe is Atheism. Reducing dissonance helps people stay consistent in thought, but only if the person allows it to go one way. I believe that Ashley could not accept that her dream was not real, and built her new attitude around those facts. I.e. She chose not to to reduce her inconsistent thought, the church is right about these matters and God has a plan for Zelie that ultimately is good to something different and built around that platform. If we stick around long enough, we do find out its ultimate relevance. Just ask Gold and all of our chemical compounds how long it took to get here so we organisms can even think about becoming who we are.

Anyway, both of faiths were either validated or invalidated by this small decision and the birth of our daughter. I accepted and reduced my cognitive dissonance by saying that her life matters and that her life will give happiness to others and make them appreciate theirs more. I think Ashley had a different take which she writes on here. However, she could not reduce her cognitive dissonance on accepting the church decision as being the right one. If you cannot accept it, something has to go. As it turns out in this case, its the church. Eventually, it will be me and the children as well. That is another story.

These tests of faith are serious and can be lethal ethically and morally. A test implies that failure can occur. If you past the test, then you feel empowered, if you don't you feel invalidated in whatever the test sought out to do. You can either take it again or accept a new reality. I think Ashley accepted a new reality from this point forward which would eventually impact her, our marriage, and our kids.

Long story short, I did compromise with Ashley on Catholicism to stay with her and tried to make our lives work with the Army which was my problem. However, Ashley could not accept Catholicism as her paradigm. Also, she married me conditionally, I will marry you if you leave the military, which would prove to be another element that was not reconciled. Ultimately, Ashley and I would grow apart and pull away at the seems as she accepted a new way of life at the eventual cost of her marriage, but that is another story under a different topic. Marriage on the Rocks. Part 3

fRED said...

Hi Fernando (and I hope AJ too). Thank you for taking the time to comment and add your perspective. Very interesting.

You identified yourself as soon to be ex-husband. As an "ex-husband" myself, I would not recommend that position to anyone. So, if you have a choice, do whatever you can to preserve your marriage. The same advice goes to AJ.

Anyone who tells you that divorce is no big deal and your kids can take it, blah, blah, blah, is LYING. Divorce is horrible, terrible, bad, destructive, etc. And especially on the kids. Of course, we all will likely survive but who knows what wounds will be inflicted. And for what?

While I understand the cognitive dissonance thing, I don't buy it as a reason for trashing a marriage with six kids. Because of the six kids, you have to find a way to MAKE IT WORK. And it can be done - you just have to commit to do it.

The atheist/christian thing is also no excuse. Others have done it. Each perspective has some validity. Got to find some common ground. "Accentuate the positive and eliminate the negative. Latch on to the affirmative. (don't mess with mister in-between)."

AJ-What will it take for you to keep going with this marriage? Be realistic.

Fernando-Would you be willing to quit the military in order to keep your marriage intact? There are consequences for changing careers, so think of your options. If I were you, I would not let this be a deal breaker for your marriage.

I am so mad with both of you!! You have a beautiful family. A family many people like me could only wish we had. Why would you want to throw that away? The thrill of being "single" is a lie-I know, I speak from experience. You will always share your children - whether you want to or not. Each of your children will make that decision. They deserve a mother and father and a loving home. You owe it them to make it work.

It's time to look forward, and reflecting on the past and hopes and yearning for the future, and learn from the mistakes and ignorances of youth and work on being responsible parents and spouses. You are a corporation not a partnership. Easy? Probably not. Ultimately satisfying-Definitely YES.

Maybe a good coach would help, a trusted third part to be a guide. I have not had good luck with the Church (most of the Catholic Church is no longer Catholic) nor with most secular counselors (most are looking for a revenue stream rather than your success). But I'm sure there is someone that could help. Maybe even for just a little bit, to at least help pick up the pieces.

And if this comment is read after the divorce, well..., nothing but your own ignorance and ego is keeping you from restoring your marriage. This comment is for both of you. I want good things for you. PLEASE.

Fernando said...

Fred, this is not my choice...its my wife's choice. I tried to save it. It's her choice. That is all I can say

Anonymous said...

I read your story and what kept popping up for me was: what was her prayer life like?
I heard about your struggles but nothing about who Jesus really was for you.

I think about by Mom who suffered so much worse than you did with 10 children, no income, extreme poverty and through it all kept her faith. All through the hard times, she never doubted the providence of God and she experienced many acts of "salvation" which some people would probably say are too little.

I hope you will allow yourself to be found by God. The other option is utter meaninglessness.

Anonymous said...

Second post.

Jesus is found where the cross is. The road to Easter is through Good Friday. I think you wanted a Christ without the cross and that is just not possible.

When you come to the point of learning to embrace the cross, then I think you will find Christ again. And only once you've embraced the cross will you also know the resurrection.