7 Quick Takes Vol. 6: I am a Misfit #7QT

I need to get this out so please bear with me. Some of my friends are Catholic, some are not. Some are white, some are not. Some are belly dancers, others are Anglican-Catholics. Some are atheists, and still others could care less about God and are even homosexual. Some have had abortions, some just won’t have children.

So what are they really? They are really God’s children. What are they not? They are not to be judged. Even Pope Francis said it best:

“Who am I to judge them if they’re seeking the Lord in good faith?”

Granted he wasn’t talking about my friends to be sure, but he is infallible! So, I will extend that blanket to them. It was even in the readings on Wednesday for #Vespers

READING 1 Corinthians 4:5

Stop passing judgment before the time of the Lord’s return. He will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and manifest the intentions of hearts. At that time, everyone will receive his praise from God.

It was also listed in the intercessory prayers for Vespers last night.

Christ Jesus, you come among us as the Son of Man,
– transform those who know you into the sons and daughters of God.

I pray the Liturgy of the Hours which are psalms, readings and prayers recited the world over. The Holy Spirit prompts me as I write, always. These prayers are not coincidental.

So with that, I thought I would share with you who I am, or who I think I am, because you know, God has a plan for me that I don’t have access to. He gives me just enough bead to pass to the next mystery.

— 1 —

As you may have seen, I am a Latina. Specifically, I was born in Bushwick, Brooklyn, in NY. I am the eldest of 7 children. I do not speak with most of my family. My mother and father were never married – yes, I would be considered a bastard child! But she remarried and they are Mormon now. I don’t have contact with my biological father. He, too, was quite abusive. I tell people who ask that I don’t know where he is, but that’s a lie. I know exactly where he is, and he can stay there. That’s all I’ll say about him. I was pushed to marry a white man and not a black man. Because why wouldn’t you want to marry up?! We were raised without speaking Spanish, learning to dance salsa, learning to cook typical Spanish food, going to mass or having any accent that would be associated with what you would “light bulb” oh yeah, she’s Rosie Perez, or Jennifer Lopez – you know.Those kinds of Latinas. Real Latinas. I was never considered a real Latina. I was always interested in learning, teaching, writing, reading and helping those who couldn’t help themselves. In elementary school, I remember looking for the most picked on children and befriending them. I am fiercely loyal – and maybe now that I look back, this is the only identifier, to others in my neighborhood, that I “checked out”.

— 2 —

I was baptized Catholic, but never received my Sacraments until recently when I came into the faith at Easter Vigil 2012. My faith journey wasn’t easy, but it’s mine and it’s perfect in all of it’s perceived imperfections. My mother wasn’t religious and didn’t really give me any kind of faith, other than faith that I would have 3 meals a day, a roof over my head and education. Those were things you could see. Tangible things. I never connected to faith until I was alone. We moved to PA from NY three years ago. We moved to a place where there were no family, friends, or acquaintances. I didn’t even know how to get to the supermarket or where it was. There were no distractions though. God put me there, so I could hear Him. His whispers.

— 3 —

I am not a typical Puerto Rican – or Nuyorican, if you will. I learned Spanish in school, how to cook Latin food from a book and will start taking (and learning) salsa lessons at the end of the month. In high school, I was too “white” to be Puerto Rican, and I was too “dark” to be white. I hung out with musicians and other misfit “toys”. I basically sang my way through High School. I went to college (a few times) but the first 5 years of my college education were spent in Texas. A New Yorker going to college in Texas? Can you imagine? I love me some Texas, but back then (and not too long ago) the assumption was that I had AIDS and was a lesbian, just because I came from a filthy, big, Sodom-esque city. So that’s what they assumed, and I ran with it. I identified with my feminine wiles as my currency, because it’s not like anyone else wanted me. I dated too many boys. I didn’t care about my worth. (Sorry God, for not recognizing that you wanted me then).

— 4 —

I am covered in tattoos. Yes. I am. I have a naked geisha girl covering my entire upper arm (supposed to be me) with my two little boys in flowers at the base. One on the back of my neck and another on my hip. My back, is covered with a phoenix and it whips around my other hip. Why a phoenix? Well, it’s told that when they cry, it sounds like opera being sung (which I sing), their tears are good for healing (amen) and always rise from the ashes in my life. I know this is *not* very Catholic. I am planning to have more work done on my birthday and will get my other arm started next year. I love it. I do. And my priest has a tattoo too.

Picture1

— 5 —

I don’t talk about music much. It’s only recently that I shared it with you. You see, music has always been a currency in my life. Believe me, I am being modest. When I sing, people listen. People are touched. People are moved. All they hear is music and then, it seems, I go away. I’ve been made to believe that I’m not good at much else. Not writing, not teaching, not math, not even motherhood. This is what I was told or experienced growing up. I was picked on for being musical in Brooklyn. I was picked on because I got early acceptance to Fiorello LaGuardia HS (you know, that school from the show Fame, yeah.) Other kids actually wanted to meet me in the schoolyard to beat me up over it. So, when I figured out that my voice was becoming me, I hid it. I wanted people to know me, and see that I am more than just a singer. You may think it’s stupid to waste a God given talent. And it is, but it’s something that God and I have talked about and will continue to. We’re figuring it out and I am slowly “coming out“. Thank you Blessed Mother for leading me.

— 6 —

I cannot have any more children. I have endometriosis and had a miscarriage, then had Lexicon. I have endured quite the reproductive journey. As such, I wanted it all to be over. I have three step children who lived with us so I thought our family could be complete. After Little Monk, I had a tubal ligation before I became Catholic. I regret it every day of my life. My step children left and we’re blessed to have the boys, but I cry about it. I’m sad about it. It pains me a little when I see babies. Ok, it pains me a lot. I love their feet. I love breastfeeding. I love their little coo’s and sighs. I love how they feel when I nap. How their little, soft hands wrap around my pointer finger. I just love babies. All of their wonder and promise. I love being pregnant, I love motherhood. I relish it. My tubal ligation is not reversible and no, I won’t adopt. My husband and I have talked about it quite a bit and even spoke with our priest. If the Holy Spirit doesn’t come and burn me up with the desire to adopt, he said to keep praying on it. No flames here, but I am getting more spiritual children. I am the confirmation sponsor for two people this year and was asked to be a Godmother to my sweet girl, L. See? God’s hearing my prayer and answering it, His way.

— 7 —

I want you to know a little more of who I am. I don’t know if I’ll ever get it all out there, but I feel that I have to share. Some of my friends are different. Some of my friends are feeling a little exposed because of their differences and I, a very protective, pitbull of a friend, am here to help in my own way. By exposing myself. In all of this contemplation and thought around being a misfit and judged so many times myself this topic has been simmering for a couple of weeks now. I am coming to realize that I am just beginning to learn who I am, now. I am not a tattoo, or a particular faith, a talented singer, a writer, a bastard daughter, or a fake Latina.

What I am is a wanted child, a loved child of God. That’s what we all are.

Fin de la historia.

Don’t judge, lest ye be judged. Matthew 7:1

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

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30 thoughts on “7 Quick Takes Vol. 6: I am a Misfit #7QT

  1. Cristina, thank you for sharing part of your life and your journey. You have a great story so thank you for sharing. I gathered that you are were a wonderful wife and mother but I did not know that you have tremendous musical gifts also. I admire that mostly because I lack them.

    I especially like your comment that “God has a plan for me that I don’t have access to. He gives me just enough bead to pass to the next mystery.”

    Sending you prayers and wishing you joy and peace this Advent Season.

    Peace,
    W. Ockham

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    1. William! Thank you. I am always so honored when you visit. I know you write often and it’s always intricately wondrous! Truly.

      I share with trepidation because not even most of my parish know I’m tattooed, tied up and tarnished.

      God loves me, a sinner.

      God bless you and your family this Advent and always,

      Cristina

      Like

  2. Cristina…I was mesmerized while reading this…in tears. I feel inspired to do the same someday…to share it all.

    God is so merciful…the more one is sinking in the mire of the swamp, the more He bestows graces and love and mercy…then those who rise from the mire are the most passionate and so dependent on His grace and they KNOW where they have been and they KNOW they are nothing without Him.

    Well, I have one little tattoo on my ankle…so I can’t compare LOL! I always joke about getting LoTR quotes tattooed in Elvin script on my body…teehee.

    All my love and gratitude for your friendship.

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    1. It’s hard to share it all. If you unravel one knot you have to unravel the one prior. Where did it begin? How do you get from one knot to the next? How do you explain the image that burns so bright in your memory that the tears just come, and you squint not because you’re trying to hold back the tears – you’re trying not to feel so much, so you can type, so you can get it out. It’s not an easy process. At all. I am a little afraid because I feel like this is a Pandora’s box I’ve opened. But, if God led me here, He’ll lead me to the other side. Just enough bead…

      God bless you, Dearheart.

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  3. Couple of clarifications:

    The Pope is not infallible. He’s very much a sinner. Only a couple of Papal pronouncements in history have ever been infallible. Most like his most recent are meant to be obeyed but can be reversable. Infallible means they can’t change. The quote was from a newspaper interview which as far as church obedience is concerned means that you don’t have to obey it.

    As for judging. We aren’t to judge the state of someones soul. We are as a matter of conscience supposed to judge action. You wouldn’t lie if your boss asked you too? In that same vein we are called to speak out against sin when the occasion calls for it. Otherwise silence isn’t charitable. It’s essentially condemning a person to hell. If a gay person asked you to attend their “wedding” as a Catholic you are obligated to decline, for example. And it’s then you may have to explain why. (Scandal is the reason).

    I hope that makes sense.

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    1. Hi Deltaflute,

      I appreciate your taking the time to read and respond to what was for me a very difficult and uncomfortable post to write. I have shared things here that I haven’t with Tiffany or even S, my dearest friends. Most people in my parish don’t know that I have tattoos, my parents are Mormon, that we don’t speak, that I had an alcoholic, abusive father – well you read the post.

      I understand and adhere to the teachings of the Magisterium, always. I also understand and am frightfully aware of the secular media’s twist on what the Pope said and the intentions – hence my linking to a Catholic newspaper. I was being a little cutesy in my introduction simply because, for me, I needed a little comforting in how I was about to share what I did. Thank you so much for giving a teaching here, to those who may not be familiar with me, my blog or the Catholic teaching on these issues.

      I would never attend a same sex union (I don’t feel comfortable using the word wedding in quotes or not in quotes – I feel, for me it could be disparaging). I would and don’t however shun those with same sex attraction. I pray for them and the peace of their souls.

      I used to work at Bear Stearns, I quit when I was asked to make trades when I wasn’t certified with a Series 7. I am aware of judging action. What’s right it right and what’s wrong is wrong. I do, however feel that there is a sense of late where things like belly dancing, tattoos and faith journey’s are judged. It is to this that I am speaking.

      I fully comprehend walking the fine line between love and obedience. I am married to an atheist after all! Again, I thank you for taking the time to reach out and share your clarifications.

      God bless you – very much dear sister and I hope to see you around here more often!!!
      Cristina

      Like

  4. I lived with at PR family while I was in college. The mother fiercely didn’t want her children to be Latino but the dad did. It eventually, among a few other things, destroyed their marriage. What sticks out most in my mind is when the 4yr old told his dad to stop speaking such a dirty language. Be strong. Children come in many fashion and forms.

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    1. Can you believe, when I was working as a Bilingual Trading Assistant, my boss at the time, said to me, you need to get rid of that filthy Puerto Rican accent when you speak to my clients. I’ll get no commission.

      I never stood up for myself then. I just ate it.

      🙂

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  5. This is incredible. Thank you for sharing. I hope I can do this one day. Although I’ve never had the exact experience, I see my husband go through similar feelings. He is part Mexican and looks very Mexican but he got that from his mothers side. His mother left him when he was 2 so you can imagine he does not like to identify with that part of his background. Only recently has he been trying to find peace with it and come to appreciate the parts of him that, without Jesus, are too painful. I’m going to have him read your post. I think your words can do such incredible things, it’s crazy how it can touch someone who you’ve never met. Just look at all the people who’ve commented about this post! Your words and testimony are such proof of God’s love AND your trust in Him is beautiful. Trust with Jesus is something I struggle with (despite having “Jesus I trust in You” tattooed on my foot) but thatnk you for being such a true examaple of blind obedience.

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    1. Why don’t you? Even if it never makes the publish button.

      Coming to the realization of who you are and how labels can make, break or build you is a power that is both scary and exciting. For me, I’d rather remove the label completely and start fresh with God as He sees me. His labels of my faith.

      God bless you and your husband (I like how that sounds newlywed! I still pray for you every time I get to the 2nd Luminous mystery)

      Cristina

      Like

  6. Cristina
    You are a wonderful writer. You can tell that everything you say flows from your heart.

    I too have endometriosis and I had a hysterectomy. Even though I was blessed with four children, just knowing I couldn’t have any more was very hard. The only thing we can do, just like with everything else in our lives, is trust in God and accept what is. Love the ones we have with all that we have.
    When my daughter had a son of her own, all of those wonderful feelings came back and I knew then that there would be babies in my family to love and fuss over once more.

    I love reading your posts. Your faith and your acceptance of others is a true inspiration.

    Sending you prayers,
    Donna

    Like

    1. Thanks Donna. Lately I have been discerning whether I would like to write a book. Because I am so “shaky” in my confidence or ability to do anything else but sing it’s still simmering, this dream of mine. I also wonder if I am ready to unpack all of the memories I have tucked away.

      Thank you for sharing with us.

      xoxoxoxox (always)
      Cristina

      Like

    2. I completely forgot to comment on this. I am sorry for both of you. I am blessed with four children, too, Donna but lost two after my youngest who was born when I was almost 40. I grieved for the LONGEST time…and became very depressed. It is only now, when I have reached an age where it’s pretty rare (49) to conceive that I have come to a state of acceptance with the knowledge that God knows what He is doing. I am grateful for the healing He has given.

      I hope to work on mine for next week. See the stuff you start girl?

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  7. Cristina, I love reading your posts. You are a wonderful writer. Everything you say flows from your heart.

    I too have endometriosis and I had a hysterectomy. Even though I was blessed with four children, it was still hard. The only thing that we can do, just like with everything else in our lives, is trust in God. Love the children that we do have we everything we have.

    When my daughter had a baby of her own it all fell into place. I realized that there would still babies in our family to love and fuss over.

    Your words, your faith, and your acceptance of people are a true inspiration.

    Sending prayers,
    Donna

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    1. Why did this response never go through?! I had no idea that you had endometriosis (of course) I am going through quite a trial here – nothing major, but still it’s a daily struggle.

      Bless you!
      Cristina

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  8. This was a lovely post. Bless you for being you, Christina. You are beautiful, from toe to tattoo, from dreams to DNA. Inside and out.

    Praying for you,
    Bonnie

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  9. Thank You for the book

    Dear Cristina,

    Thank you for el libro, God’s Bucket List by Teresa Tomeo. It arrived in this afternoon’s mail and a quick skim shows me it could be good, thoughtful reading. I’d start it tonight but am recovering from a cold and have other things to tend to before church tomorrow.

    Eight Forever stamps to mail it; did you send it book rate or media mail to save money? Muchas gracias for sending it and including your tabs on so many pages.

    Since reading Filling my Prayer Closet for a short time I thought you lived in Texas, perhaps in a warm area of our country. Your return address listed [removed to protect the innocent :)] and I don’t know where that city is. My family and I now live in southeastern Michigan about fifty miles north of the Ohio border. Our little community is west of Adrian, east of Hillsdale and south of Jackson, Michigan, in God’s beautiful country of lakes and hills.

    God bless you and hope your Advent is blessed.

    Nita

    Date: Fri, 6 Dec 2013 11:01:18 +0000 To: [removed to protect the innocent :)]

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    1. Hi Nita! I am SO glad. I mailed it from my office. While convenient (to ensure I actually get mail out) the downside is, they only use stamps.

      I hope you enjoy it! Do come back an share your thoughts…we’d love to read them!

      Blessings,
      Cristina

      Like

  10. I am a New Yorker who went to Ft. Worth, Texas to attend a Baptist seminary! But I am back in the Catholic Church now. This is a great testimony, as out Baptist brethren would say. Thanks for sharing it.

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    1. NO WAY! How did you like the culture shock! I have to say, I miss me some biscuits and gravy.

      Thanks for saying so, BTW – my brothers, Mother and Father are Mormon (as you may know) and so I hear testimony a lot…I get testimony-speak!

      God bless and WELCOME HOME!

      Like

  11. Cristina, you write here about being a mis-fit, but of course, that’s what makes the church, -the world such a beautiful place. And of course it shows off God’s infinite imagination.

    As I read your post, I kept thinking of another of my favorite “mis-fits,” Heather King. You can look her up, if you’re not familiar with her. But, here’s a link to a beautiful Lenten reflection she read on NPR some years ago:

    http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=1138018

    With Ash Wednesday coming up this week (!) I thought you might enjoy this.

    Like

    1. Precisely Tim! Do I know Heather King? I bought a Bible based on the fact that her reflections were in there. I have NOT seen this – and I *cannot* wait to skip over and read. Thank you so much for thinking to share it. God bless you!
      Cristina

      Like

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