A War Story: How the Catholic Women’s Conference Helped Lead Me to Victory

Joan of Arc by John Everett Millais (1865)

Joan of Arc by John Everett Millais (1865)

I got hit by friendly fire.

He did not mean to wound me, but he did. The shrapnel of his dismissive words ripped open my heart.

Just two weeks earlier, I had completed another two-day ‘basic training’ at the Pilgrim Center of Hope’s annual Catholic Women’s Conference. The group of conference speakers presented many tactics on how we can stay close to God, or as speaker Sally Robb advises, remain on the right battlefield. She said the wrong battlefield is where we struggle through our own efforts and will always fail. The right battlefield is where we allow God to do the fighting for us.

So, instead of bleeding out and suffering alone as is my usual response to hurt feelings, I choose to follow the tactics presented at the conference.

Dr. Margarett Schlientz spoke on healing buried fears. She said that covering up pain and turning inward only makes us vulnerable to bitterness and resentment. This infection can creep into emotional wounds causing them to fester. I know from past experiences how ugly this can get. I am afraid but I do it: I contact the one who struck the blow and explain my hurt. Exposing the wound to the light of conversation brings healing. The balm of amends calms my emotions and works to restore our relationship.

I am still limping, because we sensitive soldiers do not heal quickly, but I am able to march on. It does not take long however, for my true enemy, the one who seeks only to destroy, to take advantage of this incident and my weakened state to strike.

Before evening arrives, the battle begins.

The evil one joins forces with what speaker, Carol Weiler, calls our selfish self, and together these enemies of human nature storm my sensitivity with ground and air assaults. Suggestions, like missiles, bombard me from all sides. “You don’t deserve to be treated that way” . . . . . “He is supposed to be your consoler” . . . . . “He doesn’t care about you” . . . etc. They are relentless. At bedtime, I cover my head with a pillow hunkering down in the trenches of my mind and beg God to please rescue me.

Morning comes; I open my eyes and first thing offer a ‘Glory Be’ and prayer of thanks for this day. But before my feet hit the ground, the barrage begins again. “No one understands you . . . . . See, you are not special at all . . . . You don’t matter to anyone . . . etc.”

“Lord, make haste to help me.” I plead.

I trudge through the day and minutes feel like hours in a spiritual battle that is quickly taking its toll. To those outside looking in, I am a just a middle-aged woman completing her Saturday chores sweeping the floor, washing dishes and folding clothes, but inside my mind, body and soul, Hell is being unleashed.

I find a quiet place and pick up my Rosary. Along with this powerful spiritual weapon, I also offer prayers of forgiveness. In what will become hundreds of shots fired I say, “I forgive him, Lord. Please forgive me, Lord. Bless us both.”

A deep sorrow flows into all my cuts and with it the gentle assurance of our Blessed Mother guiding me to continue to pray, persevere and hold my position. Margarett Schlientz said crying is the cheapest and most effective psychiatric help, so I cry with abandon.

Morning becomes afternoon. “Come Lord Jesus,” I plead, “Where are You?”

My phone rings and the caller ID shows it is my father-in-law. He is undergoing chemotherapy and being a non-practicing Jew, I worry he may be going into despair trying to fight this illness without the help of God. I sent him a note along with the Lord’s Prayer and wrote, “This prayer has been given to us by God Himself. I hope it brings you comfort.” I brace myself for what I am afraid may be his harsh admonishment to stop pushing my religion on him. Instead of criticism, he tells me, “This is the best gift I have ever received from anyone.” He begins to cry and I cry with him and we finish our conversation sharing our love for each other.

About a half-hour later, the phone rings again. It is my husband telling me he will go grocery shopping for me. He says, “I am finished with my last client so I am going to get groceries before I come home. I know how busy you are and probably don’t have time to go.”

Reinforcements have arrived! Two unexpected allies have rushed to my aid with acknowledgement and affirmation completely blindsiding my enemy and airlifting me to safety into the arms of our Father. In God’s brilliant war strategy I see what speaker Sheri Wohlfert calls, God’s fingerprints. He is all over this laying a siege of grace against our opponent. He gave me the courage to call my friend and gave him the grace of a quick and conciliatory response. He sent our Mother to encourage me not to quit by remaining steadfast in prayer and constant to His Cross.

This rescue operation is not quite complete as our Lord knows me. He knows His sensitive one is quick to get herself trapped again. The enemy must be annihilated.

Our awesome God of Wisdom and Might releases His WMG – Weapon of Mass Grace. Coming up from deep inside the bunker of his bedroom, my teenaged son asks, “Hey, Mom, can we go out and get some lunch together or do you have too much to do?”

I take the advice speaker Noelle Garcia said we should make a daily habit of, and after first whispering it to myself, I tell my son, “You are fearfully and wonderfully made.”

He smiles awkwardly and responds, “Cool . . . does that mean we can go eat?”

Confident my true Consoler has victory won, we go to celebrate. As I close the door behind us, I do believe I can hear the distinct sound of crushing.

“Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28

The Pilgrim Center of Hope produces three annual conferences to aid women and men on our spiritual pilgrimages. Visit pilgrimcenterofhope.org to learn more.


About Nan Balfour

Coordinator for the annual Catholic Women's Conference, an apostolate of the Pilgrim Center of Hope - Catholic evangelization ministry in San Antonio, Texas. The Pilgrim Log is the blog of the Pilgrim Center of Hope, a Catholic evangelization ministry, providing weekly spiritual reflections to help you journey toward a deeper relationship with Christ. Learn more about the Pilgrim Center of Hope by visiting www.pilgrimcenterofhope.org.

2 responses »

  1. Thank you for the reinforcement, I too experienced the same negative attacks seeking destruction in my family…I also had to pick up my shield and find relief and comfort in prayer. Increasing my praying the rosary more than just once a day, and being mindful of Gods presence in my daily warfare. How comforting it is to have Him on my side.
    Oh and on a daily basis I remind myself how fearfully and wonderfully made I am, and how much our blessed mother loves me. God bless and have a wonderful day, everyday.

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