I was first introduced to Theology of the Body through my brother Sam and sister-in-law Beth when they shared how the message deepened the intimacy of their marriage. They encouraged our family to attend a TOB talk in Austin and so my parents made it possible for us to go. Honestly, I remember feeling awkward while Christopher West was teaching because my boyfriend and I were sitting next to my family and we were not living a chaste lifestyle. I felt my heart open to the archaic “beat” of the Truth being shared, but I was fighting the hope awakening in my heart. I doubted that purity and chastity were achievable and worthwhile.
My family loved me through the struggle and painful ending of that relationship. My heart couldn't help but overflow with tears during subsequent Masses... I finally got it. I realized that I am human, I am capable of serious sin, and I am in need of Christ's Redemptive Love. I read Heaven's Song by Christopher West and ate it up...with tears flowing, and my heart opening a little more with each page. Hearing the positive meaning of human sexuality was healing, especially after having experienced the negative consequences of lust.
Around the same time, I realized that God wasn't calling me to be a physician. All I knew is that TOB made sense to me. I could see how the concepts explained many of my most memorable experiences. I was intrigued, so I decided to attend a course with the Institute.
I attended the first TOB Head and Heart Immersion course with Bill Donaghy in June 2010. I walked into the classroom and marched up to the front row, poised and ready to learn how to be an awesome TOB speaker. I remember that one of the first things that Bill gently challenged us to do was to work on receiving the message God had to share with us first, so that He'd have the opportunity to change our hearts from the inside out.
God has abundantly blessed me in the courses I have been able to attend with the Institute. During the Penance Service, I confessed a sin I was ashamed of, and one of the amazing priests challenged me to discern what God was trying to tell me in that sin. I had never looked at my sin before as an opportunity to discern God's Will.
During the second TOB Head and Heart immersion course, a classmate approached me wanting to affirm my beauty. Later, as we were walking into Mass, he challenged me to ask God to affirm my beauty, and during Communion I asked, and He responded. The opening of my heart in that moment was articulated through tears. Towards the end of the course, the chaplain asked me, “Do you know that your tears are sacred?” That lesson has helped me abandon more of myself to God for further healing.
The Catholic Sexual Ethics course with Dr. John Haas in June 2011 providentially coincided with the feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. It was invigorating to connect my degree in biology to my developing passion for TOB. As a result of God working through other people throughout the course, I have begun to work on opening to God's Love without reservation.
Overall, learning about TOB has sparked the healing of my feminine identity. And that process of healing has had an effect on my relationship with God, others, and myself. When it comes to God and others, I have had many opportunities to practice patiently waiting to receive, rather than my natural inclination to grasp. Also, I have identified my deep hunger for an individual relationship with God. After all, only He can truly satisfy our aches and longings! And on a personal note, I am beginning to accept chivalrous acts as an honor. I look forward to following God on this journey of integration and healing.
- Anna Meier is the Medical Copy Editor for DAVA Oncology in Dallas, Texas.
- She attended TOBI in June 2010, TOBII in January 2011, and Catholic Sexual Ethics in June 2011.