My name is Jolly. And if you’re thinking exactly what every Starbucks barista asks—yes, it’s my real name!
I am the youngest of a sprawling brood of children born to a free-loving hippies searching for authentic love. My brilliant father sadly became a full-time addict and died tragically when I was just a toddler. After his death, the pendulum swung for my mother and me. I was raised in an affluent yet extreme sect of religious radicalism. Chaos, brokenness and loss pressed my heart.
In miraculous paradox, the Holy Spirit came for me in the hardest of places.
Even in the darkest, early moments, the Holy Spirit was there to reveal a blazing light and draw me closer to finding my ordained “jolly.” Where there were broken pieces, He forged hope and even peace.
I fell deeply in love with Jesus as at a Christian summer camp at age eight. It was true love. And yet it has been a poignant path of healing and redemption. I have suffered from chronic bouts of broken trust in my relationship to God and others. At every turn, the Holy Trinity, the Blessed Mother and the community of saints have come to my rescue.
By the time I was in college, I had seen too much, and I was sure I wanted to opt out. I had no plans to be married or have a family. Instead, I’d dedicate my life to missionary work. Maybe even run an orphanage?
At the time, I couldn’t imagine trusting in the sanctity of marriage. My own family of origin was fractured at the fault line. Being raised with wealth had only thickened the plot of confusion in my heart about pursuing the “good life.” So I packed my bags in pursuit of a single life and headed to an evangelical missionary training program. Where, unexpectedly, I fell in love with a cradle Catholic.
The sacramental love of Jesus in the Eucharist and holy matrimony are what saved me. Catholic marriage and motherhood have been the sanctifying work of cross-to-resurrection in my soul. I have spent hectic, exhausting seasons being a wife, a mother and a teacher to our children. The days have been raw with the grit of heartache and gleeful with the joy of life and family. In those moments, I am truly Jolly.
The joy and pain of the call to family life is stranger than fiction because it’s not fiction at all. This is the kingdom-bound story of love. This is real. God is a love-community of persons calling us forth to bear souls to become HIS – this is no small thing. And you know what? My heart is in constant formation. I love deeply. I cherish this holy work. I stand and feed at the table of the Lord. The church and the Eucharist are my home. I stand open and ingest the crucified, risen Lord.
He feeds you and me His heavenly body and longs for our openness to to be made H I S in our call as mothers. In my call to be Jolly.