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Perfect Love Casts Out All Fear

By Anna

The words of Mother Teresa sum up our lives three years ago: “And so more and more we are homeless at home because less and less we are in touch with each other.”

My husband, John, used to spend most of his time at the office, and I was at home alone with the children. We hardly saw each other and, when we did, it was too late and we were too tired to talk much. By the time we were eight years into our marriage, there was not much of a relationship to speak of. Our lives were hanging together by a thread.

{pullquote}Jesus has healed so many areas of our lives. We now have a confident and happy marriage, our kids are happier and it gives us such joy to witness to our family and friends. Thus, a frightful, ugly and potentially life destroying illness has been changed by God into an abundantly fruitful situation.{/pullquote}

Then something happened which made us come almost completely undone — John was diagnosed with a brain tumour. It was like someone took the ground out from beneath us. He was operated on but they couldn’t take out the whole tumour, so now, for the past three years he has had uncontrollable epilepsy.

I remember we were so confused, like lost sheep — frustrated, scared and in the dark. Then John began to do something very strange — he began to pray and go to church. I thought he’d gone mad! His behaviour angered, disturbed and embarrassed me.

When I asked him why he was doing all this, he said he wanted to find the Kingdom of God. Then I really thought he was crazy, because I knew of course, that there was no such thing! I used to drop him off outside the church and go home, but deep down, I knew if we continued this way, that we would eventually go our separate ways. So I made the conscious decision to follow him. I began to go to church with him.

Now, you must understand, I hated going to church. On Christmas day, John would suggest we go to church, and I would protest and complain that we only just went last year. So it was a real sacrifice. But the more I went, the more I found myself actually listening to the priest’s words, instead of looking around bored for half an hour. And his words began to fall into my soul, like drops of water into the parched desert earth. I found I craved these words, and then the Mass wasn’t enough. So I picked up the Bible.

The first time I began to read it, I had to throw it down, unable to pick it up again for weeks. It shocked and confronted me. It started showing me who I was, not how I liked to see myself or how I liked others to see me, but who I really was — in the eyes of God. And I did not very much like what I saw. I found there was much about myself that needed correction. The moment I picked up the Bible, I instantly knew this was the word of God, and therefore had to be respected and obeyed. I believed everything in it completely and marvelled at its wisdom. Its words were so powerful, I knew they could not have been written by a mere human being. For me, the Bible was immediately alive and from the moment I picked it up, it began to mould and change me.

At around this time, John began going to a prayer group. This was another challenge for me. Was he now going to turn into one of those religious nuts — you know the ones who always go around being joyous all the time and praising God? But through being exposed to the prayer group environment I was moved to begin praying. I found that when I prayed, it was like reaching upward with my finger and poking a hole through the barrier of disbelief between me and God, and letting a tiny ray of his light fall onto my life. The more I prayed, the bigger the hole got and the more of his light poured on me.

But still, after having read the whole Bible from start to finish, most of what I knew about Jesus remained in my head. I still didn’t feel any love for him. At around this same time, I began to feel a physical hunger for the Eucharist as it was being prepared during Mass, so I began to receive Jesus. I prayed to him, that he might help me to love him. Apparently, he found this request irresistible, because he blessed me with so much love for him, that I could barely contain this feeling in my body. But again, he showed his compassion and thoughtfulness by providing me with a way to cope with this over abundant supply of new love. He gave me the gift of tears.

Now each time I think of him, I cry. Each time I pray, sit before the tabernacle, receive the Eucharist or sit in church — I cry. Tears of love, joy, gratitude — I can’t express in words the feeling I hold for him in my heart, so I just cry. This is the only way the beautiful feeling can exit my body when it wells up inside me.

Jesus has healed so many areas of our lives. We now have a confident and happy marriage, our kids are happier and it gives us such joy to witness to our family and friends. Thus, a frightful, ugly and potentially life destroying illness has been changed by God into an abundantly fruitful situation.

John still has the epilepsy, which has been getting worse. He is now facing another operation. My words of comfort through all this are of course from the Bible: “Perfect love casts out all fear,” “Trust in the Lord.” I ask God to take my fear away, and he does. I know God is with us right through this situation as we pray for a miracle — for John to be healed before he has to go through another operation.

But realising that our problems are not all there are in the world, understanding the big picture which the Bible gives us, is so comforting to me. It puts our troubles into perspective and gives our suffering reason. Our suffering has moved us to grow towards God. This makes everything worthwhile.

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