First Holy Communion Day

I drove to Ohio yesterday after I got some work done (~work never ends, because it went on all day and once I got to the hotel~). I love my job, though! The company I work for is AMAZING. As I was driving here for meetings, I was thinking about how this company is the opposite of the family I grew up in. Stick with me, I promise there’s a point to all of this, and First Holy Communion ties it together!

Me on my First Holy Communion Day

Several times in the two years before my dad died, he told me that my best wasn’t good enough. I grew up in the harsh reality of parents who would say they weren’t proud of me, who would verbalize things like, “You won’t make it.” Thankfully, God gave be a survivor’s spirit and I did make it through OCS (Officer Candidate School) and I did graduate college. I don’t know if my parents thought it would motivate me to hear then say, “You won’t make it,” or if they really believed it. After I graduated from OCS, my mom said something to me that prompted me to say, “You never tell me that you are proud of me.” To which she replied, “You haven’t done anything to be proud of yet.” A friend and the only other female to graduate our OCS class was standing there and was shocked. As we went back to the barracks to prepare for the OCS ball, she said to me, “I cannot believe your mother said that to you!.” I told her that I was used to it, because it was the way it always was for me. Somehow, I managed to succeed despite it all.

The people I work with, the company, have such different values. One of their core values is appreciation, and they live it. It has blown me away the entire time I’ve worked here. Integrity is their first core value—the most important. They also value work life balance. The first tie I received a note of appreciation from my boss, a note that said she was looking forward to my growth, I literally cried. I didn’t sob, but I got teary and couldn’t believe it. Someone appreciated my hard work and believed that I could continue to grow!

As time has gone on, more people in the company have reached out to me. Summary: they felt I had potential and could play a bigger role. I don’t know if they realize how deeply touched I am that they believe in me. Oh, they don’t leave you hanging, either. They train you, work with you and are always there to help. Including the CEO! We have a CEO that meets with all of his employees. THAT is amazing. When he personally called me after my promotion, I was shocked!

I’m nervously excited about my new position. I know I can do it if I work hard. Hard work has always paid off in my life and I KNOW it will continue to do so. Every once in a while, I hear my dad’s voice say, “Your best isn’t good enough, you won’t succeed,” and I do my best to focus on all the people in my life who do believe in me, who do believe I’m smart enough and work hard enough. My dad never saw any value in the jobs I’ve had since he who shall not be named exited stage left. He thought running warehouses was stupid and told me to get a job at Walmart. <laughter> When I told him about this job, he was less than thrilled. Again I heard him say all the things he always said. Not, “I’m proud of you for working so hard,” not, “This job sounds great!” and certainly not, “WOW! The company you work for does what?” As I head to meetings today, I’m hoping and praying that I can do this, too. I don’t have a business degree, but I know with folks who believe in me guiding me and teaching me, that I can do this!

Growing up, I had to dig deep inside of myself to find the courage to overcome the harsh criticisms. God sent the right people into my life at the right time to encourage me, too. I never gave up. Looking back, I know it was God who protected me, who gave me strength, even though the only thing I knew of His son was very little from Catechism class and the little white book I was given on My First Holy Communion day. Which brings me full circle to this past Sunday. This past Sunday was First Holy Communion at our church.

As I watched the cutesiest little boys and girls going up to receive their First Holy Communion, I prayed that God would protect them and guide them just as He did for me. I don’t know the children or their life stories, but I DO know God and I do know that there may be one little child in the group dealing with the same things I faced growing up. I know that He is able and that He will protect them from harm– physical, mental and emotional. I prayed that no matter what they faced in life, that the right people would show up to encourage them. He always did this for me. I can’t say that I had a mentor growing up, but every now and then, at low points, God would send someone with an encouraging word. I know that He was that small voice inside telling me, “You’ve got this, if you work hard, you can leave this shit behind.”

I delivered newspapers, then worked at Burger King until I left for college. I balanced making decent grades with running track and cross-country with work. I tried to spend as little time at home as possible. Somehow the voice inside of me told me over and over again that there was a better life ahead if I just kept working. God was right. I eventually made my way back to the Catholic Church and was confirmed while I was in college. It was then that I first realized what a HUGE role God played in my life–even when I didn’t really know Him.

Like so many First Communicants, I never went back to church after receiving First Holy Communion. My parents never went to church. My dad was a committed atheist. My mom was Catholic in named only. So, I prayed for all those little ones who may never see the doors of the church with their parents, too. I prayed that receiving Jesus for the first and only time, that He would remain with them and bring them back into His fold when the time was right. I know that is exactly what happened to me. I received Him and He stayed with me.

I head to work today knowing that He is with me. I know that His Holy Spirit will guide me in all I do and say. I am also blessed to be at a point in my life where I am surrounded by people who believe in me, pray for me and encourage me when I am down. God is SO good. I am thankful that with Him and hard work, I left ALL that shit behind.

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