Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Conversion and Love, Himself: Part III

For the past two weeks I have been rerunning a guest blogger's post from last year. You may remember the story of the musician turned Navy man turned husband and father, Tim Ohmes, from his guest post here or again at Why I Am Catholic. It was a long post, as a life story can often be, so I have broken it into more easily digestible chunks.

I am rerunning it because it is so timely right now. With the Health and Human Services Mandate regarding contraception and abortion, this man's journey keeps coming back to the forefront of my mind. Through his experience, you can intuit some of the reasoning, the rightness, behind the Church's teaching on contraception. Although he never practiced contraception in his marriage, the cultural concepts of contraception, what we Catholics call the Contraceptive Mentality, came between him and his wife in such a way that it nearly destroyed their marriage. I'm paraphrasing his own words here from some of our many conversations on this topic.

He prayed for many years, even in the years he barely believed, for God to show him how to love and be loved. Tim thought he'd found that love through his wife, but God taught him a truer and a more selfless love through his children and through his wife's sorrow over losing children through miscarriage.

With that in mind, I will once again let the power of this conversion speak for itself...

To read the entire story, click here

A Catholic Becomes Catholic
The Conversion of Tim Ohmes
Part III

Before she left, my wife asked me if I loved her anymore. All I could say was, “I don’t love anyone or anything right now.”  She walked away and gathered the kids to leave.  Just before leaving, my 20 month old daughter ran in gave me a hug and a kiss and ran back out.  Then they left, and I truly felt our marriage left with them.  My heart was breaking.  I lay back onto the bed.  The room was spinning, and my body felt heavy.  I kept trying to force myself to get up and work, but I could not even lift my hands.  The voices continued their attacks.  Everything I thought about the voices turned into something repulsive.   I felt like a great weight was crushing me into the bed.  My heart was pounding painfully and my head felt like it was going to explode.  I felt I was about to die.   

Then something new happened.   I thought of the baby’s hug and the voices tried to attack her, but their accusations rang hollow.  The baby was innocent.  She could have done nothing to me; her love was pure.  I thought of my earlier words that I didn’t love anything and realized that I loved my baby.  I wanted to love my baby.  I wanted to love my wife and my children no matter what they may have done, but now it was too late.   God finally cracked my hard heart.  I saw how terribly wrong I had been all along.  I could see how my pride and selfishness was destroying everything.  I wasn’t ready to die, but I felt I was near death.  I was completely exhausted.   In tears, I said, “Jesus, I’m sorry, I can’t fight any more.  I give up.   I don’t want to die, but if I have to, please take me.”  Then, Jesus took me.

 When I gave up, the “voices” stopped.  I was lost in a fearful nothingness for a few moments. Then I received, “Seal your eyes until it is over.”  This may sound strange but it was not a voice and it was not a command or request, it was a fact.  My eyes closed tightly and in fear I began to pray the Lord’s Prayer. As I prayed, “Our Father”, I had a brief flash of the full meaning of God’s fatherhood and I felt a tingle go down my spine.  I prayed, “Who art in Heaven.” Again I had a flash of the incredible beauty of Heaven, and another tingle. It was if the words were written on a window pane and as soon as I read them, I would look through the glass and see their true meaning.  Then, I would be pulled into that reality through the prayer and every time I could feel it enter me as a tingle.  Every few words I was shown more and every time the tingles would push further into me.  They were like waves, moving down my body until they reached the ends of my fingers and toes and reflected back.  The reflected wave would collide with the next one and send ripples out in every direction.  I did not want to stop praying.  I went from one prayer to another, always being pulled deeper and deeper into the reality of God.  I was completely overwhelmed and lost within it.  The Mercy is deep.  The Joy is immense.  The Love is infinite.

I was vaguely aware that the weight that had been pressing me down was gone and I seemed to be floating above the bed yet at the same time I was laying very heavily on the bed with no feeling at all.  I seemed to be in both places at once.  I was aware of nothing else but praying and those wonderful tingles.  Gradually, they began to subside, and I could feel myself float (if that is the proper term) back down to the bed.  I continued to pray, but I could feel that a crisis had passed; the intensity of the tingles lessened and finally stopped.  Eventually, I rolled over in bed, then knelt down and said some intense prayers of thanks.  I did not understand what had just happened, but I knew God had given me a tremendous grace.  My clothes were soaked in sweat and the bed where I laid was wet also.  I was physically exhausted.  

I heard my wife come into the house and I heard her tell the kids to stay in the living room.  I saw her slowly peer into the bedroom and look at me anxiously.  I looked up at her and said, “I’m back. It’s over.”  We put the kids to bed and had a long talk.  God worked a lot of healing.

We had several realizations of how God works over the next several weeks.
First, when my wife left for Stations, she decided she was never coming back.  Later she realized she had to return at least to get clothing and necessities.  Near the end of stations she began to fear that if she returned she would find me dead.  After stations she felt certain that I was dying.  She told the kids to pray very hard for Daddy.  She prayed, saying in effect, “Jesus, if Tim has to die, I will accept that, but You have to take him.  Please don’t let him go to hell.” She did not realize it at the time, but the Blessed Sacrament was exposed for adoration following Stations.

Second, the baby we lost was probably conceived the night my wife had had her “touch of Heaven” experience.  I spit in God’s face and He still forgave me.  That is Love.

Third, I still needed to cut a whole in the floor but I wondered if there would be a better place than the closet.  We had a cabinet in the bathroom with a built in hamper.  After removing the hamper, I discovered a hole already cut into the floor.  I did not need to cut a hole. Later, while working on the plumbing under the house, I kept hitting my head on a pipe that should not have been there. Curious, I traced it out and found it to be an unknown pressurized gas line. It ran over to the bedroom was clamped to two by fours directly under our bedroom closet. Taped to the line were two wires.  They were energized.  Had I tried to cut through the floor, I would surely have cut through the line, possibly in two places, and would have cut into the live circuit.  The saw I would have used had metal body and the ground lug had broken off the plug.   There were a lot of ways I could have died, if I had just tried to cut that hole on that Friday night.  God does truly work in mysterious ways.

Fourth, my wife intended to take my children out of the house to go to stations without having my children say goodbye.  She was afraid I would have been cruel toward them.  The baby pulled away from her and ran back because she insisted on kissing Daddy goodbye before leaving.  I am still amazed how God can use a small act of love to yield great benefits.

A Christian musician named Michael Card has written a song called “The Spirit of the Age”.  He had some profound lines concerning the devil and children.

            “Every age has heard it, a voice that speaks from Hell
            Sacrifice your children, and for you it will be well.           
            If he can stop the cradle, then he can stop the cross,
            He knows that once the child is born, his every hope is lost.”

Children are a gift from God to us to help us grow up.  I had prayed long before for God to show me how to love.  He answered my prayers by giving me the cross of raising children.  Once I died to myself and accepted the cross God had given me, I discovered the joy of bearing that cross.  I discovered the self-sacrificial nature of love.  In Jesus words, “If anyone wishes to come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me” (Luke 9:23).  Yes, my children are certainly a cross I have to pick up and carry every day.  But they are also the only earthly good I can have here that will also last for eternity.  They are a very great good indeed.

At the end of John’s Gospel, After Jesus has had Peter affirm Him three times, Jesus says to Peter;
“Truly, truly, I say to you, when you were young, you girded yourself and walked where you would; but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will gird you, and carry you where you do not wish to go.”  (This he said to show by what death he was to glorify God.) And after this he said to him; “Follow me.”

            Looking back on my life, I can see how prayer was leading me all the way, but they weren’t my prayers for the most part. When I attended Mass, even though I wasn’t praying but I’m sure many others were.  The Mass contains the Eucharistic Prayer, which is a prayer of blessing and a call to conversion.  Good liturgical music is definitely a form of prayer and for me it is the most natural.  My wife and children prayed for me before the Blessed Sacrament and that has much to do with why I am here now.   Children’s prayers are very powerful, that is why the devil fears them.   Reading and meditating on Scripture was another form of prayer I was not even aware of.  Praying the rosary was more powerful than I realized.  I wasn’t paying much attention to the words, “pray for us now and at the hour of our death” but I can guarantee you the Blessed Mother was.  Have you ever noticed that in most of the Church’s formal prayers, the petitions are in the plural form?  “Lord, have mercy on US”, “forgive us OUR trespasses”, “pray for US sinners”, “at the hour of OUR death”, the Church’s prayers are communal, we seldom pray only for ourselves.  And when we pray, we never pray alone.  Even if we aren’t praying we can be assured that the Saints in Heaven are.  I have no doubt my mother never stopped praying for me, even after her death.  But even if she forgot me, I know God never did.

Scripture tells us in the first letter from Peter,

“Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that in due time he may exalt you.  Cast all your anxieties on him, for He cares about you.  Be sober, be watchful.  Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking some one to devour.  Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same experience of suffering is required of your brotherhood throughout the whole world.  And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself, restore, establish, and strengthen you. To Him be the dominion forever and ever. Amen.”  1Pet 5: 6-11

My wife has given birth to seven children.  Sadly, we have lost eight through miscarriage.  Counting miscarriages (and they do count) we have had 15. Three more than my wife wanted, and same number I experienced growing up.  The children are a great joy to us.  It has been a difficult struggle at times, but somehow things manage to work out.  I still wonder if I am crazy for what I have become, BUT I trust God to help me and guide me.  I have felt His holiness, His Justice, His mercy, and most importantly His love.  My life belongs to Him, and I mean that very literally.  I don’t know what His plans are for me or my family, but I know He does.  What more could I hope for?

Tim Ohmes

Tim will share his story live tonight on the Garden of Holiness Podcast at Deeper Truth, 9 p.m Eastern/8 p.m. Central.

No comments:

Post a Comment