“Throughout the process of writing this testimony I’ve been reminded of how important it is to give praise and thanks to God, particularly for our hardships. I feel like the only difference between a blessing and a curse is the role we think God plays in it. If we can wrap our head around the idea that God never really abandons us, but rather we are often we are quick to abandon God, it can help shift perspective a little bit. Ultimately, I wouldn’t be standing here tonight if God hadn’t allowed me to experience the things I’ve faced. The hardships I’m going to talk about are not merely things of the past, but rather daily struggles I still live with but seek to endure through the goodness of His love.”
“My 20’s have been a wild-ride and over the last few years I’ve carried a lot of shame around the path I took during this period. And what we know about shame is that it carries with it incredibly powerful implications. Shame keeps us hidden. It keeps us locked away. Shame has kept me from sharing this journey that I’ve been on up until now. Shame has made me feel like a hypocrite and a fraud.”
“From a young age I guess you could say I was always searching for a deeper meaning in life. My mum was raised in the Methodist Church but hasn’t stepped foot in one for over 40 years. My Dad on the other hand was baptised Catholic but has spent the entirety of his life searching for answers outside of the Church. When I was five my parents divorced, my father met someone else, and I was now faced with learning how to be a mediator and a social chameleon from a very young age. I lived in a constant state of duality, torn between each of my loving, well-meaning but at the time misguided parents. The only positive to come from their messy divorce was and is still the extended family I gained, many of which are here and present tonight. Even then, God was planting the seeds of staunch Catholicism in my life well before I realised it.”
Morgan achieved academically at school, was well liked and went on to become Vice Captain. She developed a strong outspoken sense of identity, taking a keen interest in Feminist Literature. Morgan was intrigued by how gender roles impacted society and began to identify with sexual fluidity, where she dated women for several years as she had grown to fervently believe that men weren’t capable of deep emotional intimacy.
“Looking back, I was so wounded and lost. Lost in a hardened protective shell that kept me from facing what I believe to be the childhood sorrows I carried with me into early adulthood. I was wrestling with severe anxiety and depression. I was pharmaceutically medicated and with little to no coping skills I began to medicate myself.”
In her early 20’s Morgan’s world was surrounded by many different types of drugs, during these encounters she thought she was experiencing some sort of higher consciousness and moments of clarity.
“I was now heavily entrenched in the ambiguity of new age and found myself drawn toward Eastern religions. I clung onto the fact that in Buddhism they talk about suffering as being an inherent part of the human condition. And I guess I clung onto this because deep inside I was suffering with something I could never quite identify.”
This stage of Morgan’s life was chaotic with heavy drug taking, cycling through relationships, and falling into the trap of being taken advantage of from a group running a sophisticated identity theft syndicate.
“I often look back at that period of my life, when everything was just starting to unravel but no one really knew yet and I often wonder how I even made it that far. I’d been drowning for years. Metaphorically speaking I’d been treading water just trying to keep my head up, gasping for air. By the time I’d finally succumb to addiction, I was spiritually and emotionally tired.”
“In amongst the chaos that was my life I was introduced Harry; a man twenty-five years my senior. He became my best-friend, my confidant, and my protector. He provided me safety, shelter and comfort in some of the darkest days of my life. He saw through my false sense of bravado and quietly showed me that men could be everything I thought they weren’t. He managed to do all of this whilst keeping me at a gentlemanly arm’s length.”
“I look back at the relationship that Harry and I had forged in those early days and the verse from Matthew 11:28 comes to mind, “Come to me, all you who are weary and heavy burdened, and I will give you rest”. And that’s what Harry did for me. He provided me safety and comfort during a time of complete and utter vulnerability. I didn’t know it at the time, but this man would go on to become my future husband. He would be the man who ultimately acted as a catalyst for me to encounter Christ.”
“Over the 12 months of knowing him our relationship evolved and together we decided to leave the fast life behind us in the hopes of embarking on a new journey together. And two weeks later we found out that the journey awaiting us was parenthood. My pregnancy with our baby girl seemed to go smoothly, a low-risk pregnancy with two very excited first-time parents. I was starting to develop a newfound sense of identity around becoming a mother and it was all becoming very real for Harry, who up until now had thought he’d missed his opportunity in life to have a child. It became apparent that something was changing in him and one day, seemingly out of nowhere he casually says to me, “I feel as though Jesus is calling me back to him. I hadn’t ever heard Harry talk about Jesus before. Suddenly I thought to myself, “God, I’m having a baby with one of these Jesus people”. I was perplexed. I said to him, “I didn’t know you were into Jesus”, to which he replied, “Just because I haven’t been a practicing, doesn’t mean I’m not a Christian”.
Around the 33-week mark of Morgan’s pregnancy she started having strange experiences of waking up and being panicked in the middle of the night, feeling a profound presence in her bedroom, and dreaming that she lost her baby.
At 38 weeks Morgan and Harry received the news that Eden their unborn child didn’t have a heartbeat. Harry sought out God’s strength and protection as the couple endured the 18-hour labour, knowing that were not bringing a baby home.
“In that moment of holding my first child it almost didn’t matter that she wasn’t alive, through giving birth to death I gained some concept of eternal life. It was in Eden’s delicate little features that I saw the face of God and profoundly understood for the first time that life truly is a gift, one that can be taken away as quickly as it’s given.”
“I was desperate to have Eden blessed, but as my husband is Greek Orthodox by baptism, I came to find out their church couldn’t oblige my request, as we were having her cremated. I was so hurt and deflated. But as it turned out God would hear my pleas. The very next morning Harry took himself to the chapel and returned to tell me that a Catholic Nun had walked in at the very time he was in there and was on her way up to bless our baby. I came to find out only a few months ago that this Nun was Sister Mary O’Hearn and I was reunited with her the same day that I was giving this testimony for the very first time. This had to be a God-incidence.”
“The weeks following Eden’s birth were incredibly sorrowful. More often than not I found myself on my knees begging for God’s mercy and it was in these moments that I was shown the meaning of true surrender. For the first time in my life, I knew I was completely powerless, all I could do was try to hand this grief over to God because I couldn’t withstand it on my own. The verse from Psalm 34:18, “The Lord is close to the broken-hearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit”.
“The series of events that led to my baptism were nothing short of a calling from our Blessed Mother. After I had lost Eden I craved religious consolation, feeling like a fraud because I had never been remotely interested in the church. I remember telling a friend of mine that I wanted to get a tattoo of Mother Mary and she just looked at me stunned. I had no relationship with Jesus but here I was feeling so drawn to his mother. I tried to convince myself that I was experiencing some sort of grief related trauma response, but the signs from God just keep coming.”
“On the 11th of July 2021 our family celebrated a beautiful proclamation of faith. I was baptised and received my first Holy Communion. I did so alongside our second child Lily who was 9 weeks olds, my husband and I also went before God and had our marriage convalidated within the Church, and we did all of this while recognising our baby Eden who’s first birthday and anniversary was only 3 days earlier. I used to be one of those misinformed people that believed the Catholic Church was an institution created to elevate the status of men to great power. But the reality of our faith traditions is that we give the upmost respect to the Mother of God; “Hail Mary, full of Grace the Lord is with thee” - that says it all.”
“I’ve only just come to terms with the fact that this journey with God can often feel like a wrestling match. As life experience has shown me the flesh is strong and it wants what it wants. I’m never going to stop being tested, I’m never going to stop repenting for my failures, and I’ll always have that prompting of the Holy Spirit that says “be careful, is this worth risking your soul?
“My life today is so much more fruitful than I ever could have imagined. I feel free from the grips of addiction, I’m a married woman something I never ever thought I’d be, I’m growing strong in my faith and seeking to serve God through serving others. I have been blessed, despite not feeling worthy, God has shown me I am.
“And with that I’d like to finish with Proverbs 3, verse 5-6: Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.”
I have come to know Morgan through the Pastoral Placement Program and the Christian Formation Course, both experiences have assisted explore her calling to a life of ministry. If you would like to learn more about these programs visit www.mn.catholic.org.au/
Images from Unsplash: Milada Vigerova & Johan Arthursson
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