Over the next several months, and until now, I can only describe what grace must feel like when it comes to work in one's life. There is no other reason or explanation for the strength I had to resist sin, the courage I had to go back to confession again and again, and the sheer distaste for what used to be "me." It was as if, overnight, my humor had changed, my spirit had changed, my tastes had changed. I don't know if anyone noticed but me, but notice I did. I'm not saying I'm a saint now, not by any means, but just the step of inviting God in - really inviting him into my life - for possibly the first time - made a huge difference.
For one thing, I stopped being sarcastic. I used to have the most sarcastic, biting humor. Sure, it revealed how clever and quick-witted I was, but it came from a place of deep bitterness. The bitterness simply disappeared, and with it, the sarcasm. I found a new compassion for others that was not there before. Rather than jumping in to say something clever at every chance, I was able to hold back and see how unkind those instincts had been. Nowadays, if I ever slip up and decide to say something sarcastic, people don't "get" my jokes anymore. That tone is so unfamiliar to my new way of speaking, that they usually get confused and don't realize I'm joking.
Secondly, I didn't have an appetite for alcohol or getting drunk anymore. I used to brag that I (a very petite female) could drink anyone I knew "under the table." I could "hold" my liquor well, I could drink with the best of them, and I drank to get drunk. I enjoyed the high, the inhibitions coming down. I understood on a deep level the fundamental despair of addicts and partiers. I wanted to numb the pain so badly. I would do anything to make it go away. I wanted a break from my competitive job and cut-throat atmosphere. I needed something to escape - and alcohol worked for me. I will never forget the first time I was at a party after my conversion experience of going back to confession. My friend was having her bachelorette party. For the first time...possibly ever... I remember thinking that I could take or leave the alcohol at this party. I did drink that night, but without the desire to get drunk. I think I had 2 glasses of wine over the course of the evening. I was definitely more coherent and enjoyed myself more than most that night, for sure more than the bachelorette herself. This was all God's doing. Since the day I went back to confession after 6 years, the taste for alcohol to numb the pain has left me because that pain has left me. I'm not running and hiding from God or myself anymore.
Finally, and this I can't really quantify, but I began to feel hope again. I thought, maybe it was possible, with God's grace, to stay in a state of grace. Maybe I could not only have the grace to refrain from sin, but the grace to want to go to confession regularly. I began to see that the Church's teachings were not there to oppress, but to give hope. I lost my cut-throat ambition to get the highest paying job at the top of my field, and I thought about Rosalind Moss's question all the time - was I living as selflessly as possible? The answer was still no. [And it still is.] But, I knew I wanted to try. I also knew that it was not too much to ask for the Church to put forth her teachings on sexuality. I knew I could continue to live chastely and purely, by God's grace. I knew that my gay friends could too. It wasn't until I tried to live the life I was called to, that I could see the value in those teachings, that I could have hope that it was possible, and that I could believe God's laws were for our good.
See parts I, II, and III of My Conversion Story.
Here is a little bit about my encounter with Theology of the Body and Natural Family Planning.