Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of May 10, 1999
She found a merciful God
Candice Court felt she was being punished, but prayer helped her find and give forgiveness
By ANH HOANG
WCR Staff Writer
God was out to get Candice Court. She was sure of it. He was punishing her for all those years she had missed Sunday Mass.
In 1981, Court watched as her mother slowly died from cancer. Her marriage ended in divorce.
Her second marriage brought with it three stepchildren, one of whom had trouble adjusting to Court as his new mother.
Her second husband was involved in an accident that nearly crushed his legs and left him bedridden for almost a year.
Her son was diagnosed with autism and was told by doctors that he could never attend regular classes.
She developed diabetes in 1991.
After a dozen years of marriage, her second husband wanted out. She was transferred to another office at work only to have her husband transferred within 50 feet of her. She felt herself becoming the object of his anger.
"One weekend, I read the book of Job and I said 'wow,'" Court said. "If he could go through all that - I had the nerve to compare myself to Job - I thought if (Job) could accept all that, what am I carrying on about. My life's not that bad."
Court, 42, spoke of her string of bad luck and how it brought her to a more prayerful life to more than 100 people at the Catholic Renewal Services monthly prayer breakfast May 1.
Court's road to trusting in God began when she grew up in Grenada. She lived next door to the Catholic church and her mother was the keyholder for the church.
"We went to church every week," said Court, a member of Sherwood Park's Our Lady of Perpetual Help Parish. "Sometimes as a child, it was not by choice. We were told to just be there."
Court's mother was a prayerful woman. But her mother did not leave much of an impact on Court, who stopped attending Mass after she immigrated to Canada in 1975.
Court married her first husband in 1980. She was in recruit training with the Edmonton Police Service the following year when her mother was diagnosed with cancer.
"I had never experienced anyone ravished by this disease. But all through this, she had great spirit. She listened to tapes on Bible teachings. She prayed constantly."
Court said her mother embraced death because she was "going to meet her Lord."
Her mother's death brought some reform to Court's life. She began occasionally attending church.
Her marriage soon ended and a new one blossomed.
But with the new marriage came some rebellion from her oldest stepson.
On the advice of an aunt, Court prayed to deal with her new family.
Prayer seemed like a good idea, thought Court. But she found herself making excuses not to pray.
A stream of unhappy events followed Court. One of the most heartbreaking was the diagnosis of her son, Kevin, with autism.
"I had all these plans for him," Court said. "He was going to attend French immersion classes, go to university.
"I felt all my dreams and plans were over. And the doctor chose to give me the absolute worst scenario. He said Kevin would not be able to survive a regular class structure. He would have to go to a special school."
The news did not deter Court, she "vowed to fight it."
Kevin was placed in an early intervention program in kindergarten.
Seeing the struggles her husband was going through after his accident and her son trying to pick up a pencil and write his name, she continued to believe God was punishing her.
To find out why nothing good seemed to be happening to her, Court turned to prayer. This time she found no excuses for not praying. And when she prayed, Court found it easier to cope with all that was negative in her life.
Her son Kevin also became a motivator. When she had hesitations about going to her prayer group, especially during those cold winter months, it was Kevin who gave her the extra push out the door.
After her second husband left, Court felt her life spin out of control again. Again she started wondering if she was being punished. Her prayers seem futile.
"I remembered my aunt saying 'You have to go down on your knees and lay it all out to the Lord.' All that time I was very bitter, I felt betrayed. My thought was not Christ-centred."
Court poured more effort into prayer. Now she prays every morning. There are no excuses. Even if she's running late for work, she still takes time to pray.
"I find that even when I think I'm late, I end up not being late. I will take the time to pray. And it seems like I hit all the green lights and I end up getting there on time anyway."
Through prayer, Court has found some peace in what she had thought was God's punishment. She overcame her biggest obstacle, forgiving her ex-husband.
Due to her bitterness toward him, Court found herself praying "to send him to hell." She knew she was on the road to forgiveness when she one day found herself praying a blessing for him.
"I knew that as long as I didn't forgive him, my spiritual growth would be stunted."
And all those years of prayer have led Court to believe that nothing she endured was due to God's wrath.
"The Lord was not punishing me. He was creating blocks I was to overcome in building my spiritual house.
"When you have a problem, why lose sleep over it? Take it to the Lord. He is always awake."