Oh, rules. Rules and regulations and protocol. Each organization, club, community, family, church, school, etc have them. Some of them make sense and are designed to protect and better serve those who rely on them for direction. Some seem pointless and seem to better serve the pocketbook of someone, who is never you. A lesson I learned a long time growing up from my Daddy was that you may not see the lesson in the rule, but that's not the point. You still are going to have to follow, like it or not. And keep your whining to yourself, unless you wanted to endure a harsher punishment.
No matter the age, we still have someone elses' rules to follow and abide by. A particular organization that has rules that I'm struggling to smile through is my beloved Catholic Church. I am sure there is someone somewhere who will read this and instantly connect to the phrase "rules of the Catholic Church" with disgust. We're kind of known for our rules and regulations and protocol. Being Catholic is not a religion, but a lifestyle. And a lot of people find struggle in following our Church, because they don't' like "that rule" or "that teaching". They feel their freedom is being strangled by being told to not eat meat on Fridays during Lent. That's cool for them, however again, I learned that there will never be something that has rules that I'll always 110% agree with.
My marriage to Aaron is my second. My previous marriage was in the Catholic Church and we both were not the best spouses to each other. We both made our mistakes and believed that divorce was the best route for each of us to find true happiness. And I sure as hell found my happiness and can only hope that he found that as well. One little glitch in my dreams of becoming Mrs. Leiker.
In the eyes of the Catholic Church, I was still married. Marriage is a sacrament for those of the Catholic faith (an outward sign, instituted by Christ to give grace, if you're a memorizing kind of person) and it's not as easy as signing a piece of paper in a court room to erase that off your soul. Enter the annulment process and I made the decision to start this long tedious chapter in my life in May 2010. Endless pages of writing testimony and answering personal questions followed by myself listing several witnesses, who were also contacted for their long endless testimony in regards to me and him. The small speed bump of the refusal by him, his family, and his friends to participate only lengthened the process, because apparently by applying for the annulment meant that I was needing to "get over it" and he didn't want to have anything to do with it. Ahem, yes. That was WHY I had started the process, thank you very much. However, that was his freewill (thank you God for that blessed gift way back when....) to participate and he chose not to.
It is now 2012 and we have yet to have the official word from the Salina Diocese. It's been a long roller coaster of emotions, frustrations, bafflement, and anger. Aaron and I did not want to wait to get married, because we could not be given an exact guarantee that the annulment would be through by a certain time. And thank God we didn't wait to become married, or we'd still be waiting. We made the decision to become married by a judge last July and that decision had a stingy ripple effect through the waves of my extended family. Many members refused to celebrate our marriage, because it was not in the Catholic Church. Oh well, that was one less Thank You Aaron had to sign and I had to write. And don't forget the 44 cents we saved. Aaron and I have not participated in Holy Communion since the Sunday prior to our wedding, because "we are living in sin" since we live together and are not married through the sacrament of marriage. I teach catechism for junior high and explained to my kids why I don't receive Communion and only cross my chest for a blessing. And I am honest and blunt when asked. I have a mortal sin on my soul and that is no environment for the Body of Christ. It burns when I hear people testify that they do not attend the Catholic Church, because they just don't agree with "all those rules". Those rules probably did not personally affect them as they have me. They just hate to be told what to do and they think the Church is outdated and old fashioned and the Church needs to "catch up" with the times. Why should a Church have to mold itself to society?! Irony.
I am proud to be a practicing Catholic. No, I do not agree with the annulment process and the cost that I will be graciously levied to pay when the annulment verdict is delivered. No, I did not enjoy the hurt that I felt when my family chose to avoid my wedding, because they did not agree with the location. No, I do not enjoy not being able to fully participate in Mass on Sunday. However, it was my free will to get married outside the Church. Just as it is the free will of fallen away Catholics to choose not to follow the Church. And some of those fallen away Catholics are close friends and family to me and some of my friends are not (gasp) Catholic. Oh my word, how do I function?!
Rules. You will fail to avoid them. And all the hot air you blow venting and steaming and fuming over having to follow them is wasted. But one thing you have to decide everyday when you wake up, is what your priorities are and if you'll follow through with those today.
You have the free will. Use it. Just make sure what you do follows those priorities you agree to in the morning.
And you can bet your lucky 2011 penny that the moment (or the next Saturday) we have the annulment granted, Aaron and I will have our marrige blessed at our church in Holly with our close family present. And we'll be able to enjoy deeper the celebration of Mass on Sundays and will have a greater gratitude for the Church and the sacrament of marriage.