By Sally Schwieterman
I said to myself, “Why am I here?” as I sat on a cold metal chair in an open hall at our local church. I was waiting for the women’s formation classes to start. I had just moved to California from Phoenix, and I knew no one.
I sat there as the ladies all walked in chatting among themselves. Most seemed to have known each other for years. They were of various ages and stages in life. The ones that walked by me and took their seats politely smiled at me, the new girl in the room.
“Why am I here, God?” I said to myself again, feeling uncomfortable, but I knew the answer. I was there because I was being called to be there. Being called to grow, but I had no idea how.
A couple of weeks before, I had the opportunity to listen to the leader of the group talk about the upcoming Bible study. It sounded OK. Nothing that I can say I was very interested in.
I went to Mass … check! Confession once in a while... check! Good person... check! Good Catholic… sure, why not?! I wasn’t looking for more.
Then she said something that night that stuck with me:
“I started this group because I was craving authentic relationships with other Catholic women."
This was a word that stuck with me. A word that I longed to hear. It meant a hope for a friendship that wouldn’t be on the surface. It meant a hope for friendships that would encourage, not criticize. Friendships with women who shared my values. An opportunity to be my authentic self with others. This was what I wanted too.
So, there I was sitting in a cold metal chair not speaking to anyone, waiting for my name to be called to be placed in a small group of women to discuss the Bible, the church, my life, and how it all ties together. I was hoping and praying for authenticity.
God blessed me that day as I sat alone in that chair. He blessed me more than I knew at the time. He filled a longing in my heart that I didn’t know was there. He was calling me to more. And the relationships I have made through The Daughters of Mary have been life-changing for me.
Recently, my father-in-law was in a terrible accident. The day he got hurt, I happened to be at a women’s conference at our church. In the middle of the keynote speech, my husband called me to come home. He was catching the next flight to Texas to be with his Dad. I ran back into the room to grab my purse and tell my friends what was going on. They looked at me with concern and said they would be praying for my family.
That was a few weeks ago. My father-in-law was terribly hurt and alone. My husband had to stay in Texas with him, and it was hard for me and my family. However, during this hard time of my life I realized, I found it. I found the authentic friendships I was looking for.
What does an authentic Catholic female relationship look like to me? First, it starts with prayer. I didn’t realize the power of prayer in friendship. That Saturday, and almost every day after, I received texts from these wonderful women saying, I am praying for you. I offered Mass for you. I was praying for you in Adoration. As if that didn’t fill my soul enough, I also received a text that said: My husband is praying for your husband. My children and I said a Rosary for your family. I was overwhelmed with prayer. And boy did we need it. I needed it.
These women also brought me dinner, took me out to dinner, had my kids and me over for play-dates, brought my family lunch, and called just to talk. That is my example of authentic friendship played out in my life, the friendship that I craved, that I would have missed if I did not sit in that cold chair in the open hall four years ago.
You might be reading this and think that formation doesn’t sound very exciting. I am not interested in learning more about my faith right now . . . I have so much going on . . . Maybe I can go to something like that when my kids are older. Or maybe when the kids are not so busy . . . I just am too tired at night . . . [Insert other excuse here]
As I think back on sitting in that room alone, uncomfortable, waiting for my name to be called, my heart overflows with gratitude, because I’ve received the answer to my question, why am I here?
Do you feel a deep longing for more? Are you craving a better relationship with Christ? A deeper relationship with his mother, Mary? A longing to have women support you on this joyful and sorrowful journey called life? Please come see what The Daughters of Mary is about. It will be worth it.
Join us for our first Bible Study gathering of the year. Our schedule is on our Events page.
Sally Schwieterman is a wife to her wonderful husband, Levi, and a mother to their three creative and crazy children. You can typically find her running after her toddler, homeschooling her two older children, and volunteering as co-director of The Daughters of Mary, usually with a cup of coffee in her hand. In her free time she enjoys reading and spending time with friends and family, preferably with lots of laughter and mimosas.