No matter one’s faith, stature, professional prowess, or any other advantage, he’ll face — without exception — searing junctures for grappling with heartbreak and uncertainty. Life is chock full of them, with no roadmaps for bypassing.
Some years ago, after an exhausting 15-year run with a succession of profitable clients, I was jarred by a 5:30 a.m. call the day after Christmas, with Dad telling me Mom had just died. We were supposed to see them for dinner that night. Why hadn’t I sensed she was as sick as she was? Many chronic health problems along with latent cancer did her in at 65, and yet I blindly assumed she’d recover. I was in shock for months, tasting despair at its worst. My business faded into meaninglessness. Daydreaming, crying, and sleeping became the norm. I was petrified and powerless as I drifted from my own life.
I realized I needed to reorient for the good of my husband and children. The hidden toxins of relentless stress, deadlines, long days, and client commitments had eaten away at life’s margin for relaxation, downtime, and an awareness- barometer for what else was going on. Nice retainers didn’t compensate for what was traded off. My cardiac test told the tale — too-high-levels of C-reactive protein. In layman’s terms, the doc said, “Lower the stress in your life and get some healthy balance, or else.”
And it was January — the month I’ll forever associate with starting over, but without a clue on how. Dad was a new widower, and we became his weekend helpers, mediators, repair crew, and advisors. My husband picked up lots of slack — cooking, doing laundry, grocery shopping, shuttling the kids to music and sports practices, treating me like I was fine.
One snowy afternoon I went to my favorite place in town, Our Lady of Czestochowa Shrine on Beacon Hill, and sat dazed before the Blessed Sacrament. The heaters hissed in the empty chapel as my thoughts smeared in all directions. Hours of tears streamed to the floor. What did God want from me? Why did I feel so hoodwinked?
Then the wise words of my mother echoed again in the memory-chamber of my heart: Why don’t you consider using your talents for Christ? I had dismissed her suggestion as ridiculous countless times over the years, laughing, saying only desperados did that churchy stuff. They had blue hair and carried rosaries and holy cards everywhere. We were sophisticated communications pros who dressed well, had great parties, and traveled. What would I possibly do for the Church?
I soon found out.
As I was cleaning my office one afternoon — having not spent a day in it in weeks — the phone rang with a message from a new Catholic publisher. They’d been referred to me and needed some marketing help. Would I consider talking with them?
I returned the call. I re-embraced my life and purpose that day, affirmed by The Great CEO.
CHRISTINE VALENTINE-OWSIK is Legatus magazine’s Editor.