Happy New Year 2020:2 Weeks Later

I am at that weird point a couple of weeks past the new year where it feels like all your resolutions were useless and stupid, and all the hopes of the New Year seem to be empty. 2019 was a war for me, and I was so excited for 2020. I felt in my bones that this year was going to be different, but the first day felt like a reality check. Social Media and daily life was full of reminders that people still die, the fall is still real. The 2020 pain was overwhelming and this year has not gotten off to the sparkling glitter that I was expecting. I gritted my teeth and told myself to manage my expectations and everything was going to be ok.

Today, I felt God reminding me that He does want abundance for us, and I felt the bitterness of the last few weeks working in my heart. A prayer thread I follow asked us to “Ask big” from God, and I felt a voice in me saying “why bother?” It was followed by the Gospel passages about Jesus feeding the 4000 and the 5000. Then, I watched a powerful meditation about nature and God and the ache of my desires weighed on me even harder. My little ones cried for daddy, reminding me how far we are from the together-more-often family life we are working towards.

There are times in life where we keep the faith even when everything around us looks impossibly dark. In 2019, I thought I was probably dying, I was in physical and emotional pain almost constantly. God and my faith in Him has worked so much in my life in the past year, and He has brought beauty from struggles I never would have imagined. I received and acted on life-changing opportunities and I am so incredibly grateful for them. Still though, doubt in Him creeps in so easily.

Maybe what we need to remember when we feel this way is that this is exactly what the serpent did to Eve. He made her believe that God does not want what’s best for us, and she believed Him. Over and over in my life I have been close to my dreams and I have given up because they were hard and I couldn’t see them ever working out, but last year, over and over I pushed through these terrifying times, and that’s when the Spirit took over. God worked in those moments when I felt like I could not go on. He didn’t always change everything, but He knew what I needed the most and He would fill that. He let me see over and over how He was working in stages so I would be ready for each step.

When Jesus came, He showed us the kind of love He and the Father want to show us. He healed the blind, the lame, the sick. He raised the dead. He comforted those who were hurting and fought for those who were marginalized. He sacrificed Himself to save us, but even in death He emerged victorious. He showed us that He has power over everything including death, and He wants to use it for us. It is true that there is still suffering, and even Jesus Himself suffered, but what God really wants for us is the abundance He brought with Him, not the suffering that is present in the world.

So today, though I’m feeling discouraged and lost, I will give that to God. I will remind myself of His goodness. I will be patient waiting for His goodness and I will continue to serve Him. A writer I admire wrote a prayer about her deepest struggles, “Lord, you can, but even if you don’t…” I am praying that prayer today while I fight for my dreams, and lay them at His feet. I pray that this year is a year of miracles, and that God heals every single person from the pain that is breaking their hearts. I pray that He frees us from the weight on our souls, and that He restores. Even if He doesn’t do it every single time for every single person though, I believe that He wants to, and in time He will. He will wipe away every tear. Continue to ask big from Him, even when it feels like He is not listening. Then, ask Him to pour His love on you in the meantime.

How to Pray about Same Sex Marriage

A few months ago, I went to a Rosary event at a parish in my city. It was a gorgeous day out, a farmer’s market down the street, and a small gathering of people in the square of the parish praying the Rosary for the Nation. It was a really beautiful experience and I kept thinking what a great witness it was. That is, until we reached a certain set of prayer intentions. One of the prayer intentions was “for an end to same sex marriage” and my heart broke. All I could think was that if someone who experienced same-sex attraction had come up to that Rosary in the square, it would only have taken 10 minutes for them to feel like they do not belong there.

Don’t take me the wrong way, I understand that the Church teaches that same sex marriage is wrong. I am not arguing that point right now. What I am arguing is that even if the Church does believe that homosexuality is wrong there are better ways to pray about it, especially in an event that is meant to evangelize.

The first and most important problem with this prayer is that to someone who is same-sex attracted it is a prayer that they will never get to experience the committed love that straight people do. (Again, not arguing whether it is right or wrong at this point, just arguing points of view.) Can you imagine being drawn to a beautiful prayer service, only to hear them pray that you could never get married? How would that make you feel? All I could think was what a punch in the gut that would be. What’s worse is that they already have to deal with so much from the world, people acting like they are worthless, and in that moment, I can only imagine it would feel like God hated them too.

I closed my eyes and continued the prayer in my head, “Lord Jesus, if same-sex marriage is wrong, then take away their desire for same-sex marriage. If it is not, than help the Church and the world to understand and embrace them. Lord, if you get rid of same-sex marriage, then comfort these people who will feel so lonely and abandoned.” I’m sure there would be LGBTQ people who would be displeased with the prayer because it allowed for the possibility of same sex marriage being wrong, and Catholics would object to it because it allowed for the possibility of it not being wrong, but my point is that right or wrong was not the point for me in that moment. The point was that if this prayer got answered, people would suffer. Whether it is right or wrong, their hearts would be broken, at least for a time, and we were praying for that break as if we did not care about the people who would feel it at all.

We need to remember compassion when we pray for intentions like these. We need to remember that there are people who genuinely do not believe they are doing something wrong and yet will feel shunned by this kind of prayer. I am not saying that the prayer I prayed is quite the right way to say it, because it is just what came into mind at the moment. I do think, though, that if Catholics are going to pray for an end to same sex marriage, then we have to pray for healing for all of the people that would hurt. In the same way, whenever we pray for something that may hurt other people in some way, even if we believe it is for their greater good, we must also pray for protection and/or healing for them.

To be honest, I even do this when I pray for snow days now. “Jesus, I would love a snow day today, but please protect everyone and if I need to not have a snow day in order that people will be safe I accept that.” It’s cheesy, but true. 😉 (Yes, I pray for snow days, my husband works long days and I’m home alone with two toddlers, 8-0 ) On a more serious note, I also recommend this if you are praying for an end to abortion, because there are a lot of scared women out there who are desperate and feel like they do not have a choice, so if abortion is not an option, they are going to need some serious help from God and from us. I also pray this way when I am angry at someone and praying for resolution, I’ve been praying for whoever is working on my taxes for the last 10 months of trying to get my tax refund.

To put it all simply, if you are going to pray for something that may hurt others, pray for protection and healing for those people too. Ask God to comfort and help them if His will is to answer your prayer, and be there for them yourself. Most of all, please, if you are evangelizing to people, do not start out with condemning them ten minutes in, there are some teachings of the Church that are really, really hard to understand, and it takes a long time to appreciate or even accept them, but compassion and love are the most important things to know about our God, and that is how we should start the conversation, with His love, and ours because of Him.

Amen.






Longing for God’s Will: What did Mary Know

In my advent journal this week there was a meditation about how Mary “longed for what God was asking of her.” The meditation referred to how Mary asked “be it done unto me according to Thy Word,” when the Angel Gabriel told her she would be the Mother of God. It continued to talk about how Mary’s yes would have been a continuation of other yes’s in her life; that she would have had a habit of saying yes to God’s will for her. The combination of the two thoughts made me curious, was Mary longing for this her whole life? What if the Angel Gabriel was the answer to a calling she had always felt?

According to some historians, Joan of Arc always knew she would be a great soldier, but no one believed her. It would not have made sense to believe her at the time, women did not fight. Yet when God called her to be a soldier, Joan said, “I am not afraid, I was born to do this.” The Angel Gabriel tells Mary not to be afraid when he appears to her, and today, the Immaculate Conception feast day, we celebrate our belief that she was born to do this, so it doesn’t seem too out of touch to suppose that maybe Mary knew just as Joan of Arc did, though perhaps she would not have said anything because if people wouldn’t believe Joan of Arc was destined to be a soldier, how could we expect them to believe Mary would be the Virgin Mother of God?

Often, Mary is described as this kind of perfect blank canvas, as if the only good thing about her was that she was nothing at all except open to God, but that is not what Catholics believe we are meant to be, so why do we expect that of Mary? I believe she was a real person with emotions, passions, and desires, and meditating on her longing for God’s will in her life, really helps me to imagine who she would have been. God uses our desires to guide us towards His will, so I wonder if we can learn about her through what He asked of her.

We know very little of Mary, basically that she was a consecrated virgin, betrothed to a widower, from a quiet family and town. Based on what God would eventually ask of her, I wonder, did she long for a child? Did she allow herself to be consecrated knowing that she wanted a child? Did she know that she would have a child even though she was consecrated? Did she know her child was going to be God Himself before the Angel told her?

I keep imagining that she did long for a child and she knew there would be something important about Him, although maybe not the fullness of it. I keep thinking what courage it would have taken to consecrate her virginity knowing that she had that desire. Many times in life, I have had experiences when it seemed like there was no hope for what I really wanted, but then God pulled it out of thin air in a way I never could have guessed, and I keep wondering if that is what happened to Mary. Over and over again I have heard the same story, people have a desire that seems absolutely crazy, but God fulfills in a grander more amazing way than anyone could ever have imagined. What a deep meaning that would lend to the Magnificat? Was Mary filled with gratitude for an answer to prayers she had prayed her whole life long?

What do you think? How do you imagine Mary before her story in Scripture begins? What do you think she was thinking and feeling when the Angel Gabriel came to her?

The Hierarchy of Suffering

This meme has been going around like wildfire lately. It expresses the common idea that the way not to judge others for their struggles is to think that maybe they are not as strong as you are. On the surface, the intention is great. The idea is to encourage people not to judge others’ suffering. Every time I see it though, or hear someone express the idea it visualizes, I get so frustrated about the more subtle issue with this idea.

In the picture, one dog is smaller than the other dog. There’s nothing wrong with that, he’s a Jack Russell terrier, they are meant to be smaller than a Golden Retriever. Of course, the mud comes up much farther on the Jack Russell Terrier than it does on the Golden Retriever because the Golden is taller. In the same way, many people comfort others who compare their struggles to others saying, “Maybe God gave you this cross because you are strong enough to carry it,” “Maybe she just couldn’t handle what you are going through,” and other variants of you-must-be-stronger-than-them-because-their-struggle-is-smaller-than-yours. That’s where I struggle.

There is this idea that there is a hierarchy of suffering. My dislocated elbow is not as intense as my friends breast cancer, my post-partum depression is worse than someone else’s anxiety, etc etc and so on. It leads to a kind of competition about suffering. There are real life consequences to this competition-who gets taken care of in a hospital, who is allowed to talk about their struggles, who doesn’t get judged for being tired, who gets help from friends or the Church. To be fair, we live in a world of limited resources, so to a certain extent this can be avoided, and to a certain extent there is a hierarchy of suffering, no one would argue that a paper cut or a dislocated elbow is as bad as cancer.

However, I do think that the hierarchy of suffering is much more complicated than we might think. There are so many unknown factors that go into suffering that sometimes a seemingly small thing can be monumental and something really big can be nothing. When I had a placental abruption and ended up in the hospital terrified that my baby and I were going to die and then went through a terrifying labor, it was honestly far less terrifying than the experience I had with my dislocated elbow, as ironic as that is. Recovering from the elbow has been actually much more difficult than recovering from what should have been a much more difficult trauma.

The reason for this is that there are countless factors that contribute to how intense pain and suffering feels. Researchers are finding more and more just how many things affect how the brain perceives pain. There are whole industries and books based on all the different ways we can affect the pain in our bodies.

As far as my example above about birth vs. my elbow, there are some big obvious differences. I got a baby out of the equation, not so with my elbow. I did fear for my life in a way I didn’t need to with my elbow. However, I DID fear for my life with my elbow, because I have already been struggling with Post Partum Anxiety that has been debilitating, and I wasn’t struggling with that as intensely during labor. This was not helped by the fact that when I fell I was actively praying, and it seemed like an answer to a prayer, which felt like God was a God of wrath who hated me, sending me into a terrified circle of spiritual crisis that haunted me the whole night, while the doctors and nurses encouraged me with prayer during labor.

Another huge difference is the care I got. When I went to the hospital for my placental abruption, I had been reading Hypnobabies which works really hard on preparing women to communicate with their doctors. Because of that I was able to communicate my anxiety and physical worries in a rational way, and did not feel guilty for forcing doctors and nurses to stop and listen to me if I felt like they were rushing. On top of that though, immediately when I got to the hospital, the nurses attending heard my requests and needs and did their best to meet them, even when they were silly. When I dislocated my elbow, the nurse immediately denied every request I had, rolled her eyes at me, and communicated her annoyance to a doctor who came to help. No other nurses came in contact with me until much later.

I believe the care I got for my elbow is a consequence of exactly what I am discussing in this post. A dislocated or broken elbow is nothing in the grand scheme of things. I am aware of that. I am aware that much much worse things happen to people every day. But the care I got reminded me of that every second of my struggle. Every second I felt reminded me, “you don’t matter because it’s not your femur, it’s not cancer, it’s not blood.”

I was also dehydrated, hungry and away from my baby while breastfeeding. All things I didn’t realize until much later, but that are probably the explanation for the random cold sweats and hormonal shifts that turned into panic attacks that plagued me all night on top of everything else, and probably made the care I got worse because the nurses couldn’t see what was happening so it just looked like anxiety to them.

When I dislocated my elbow, I had a veritable cocktail of things that are known to make pain worse, while during labor I had many that are known to make it better. On the surface and on paper the elbow should be nothing. Anyone comparing the two would have said that labor was worse, but after the traumatic labor I was joyful and relieved and felt invincible; after my elbow I felt that there was no hope in life, angry, and worthless.

My point is that what someone’s suffering looks like on the outside may be nothing compared to what it looks like on the inside. The assumption that someone’s pain is not as intense as yours, or you are just stronger than they are dismisses the fact that you have no idea what is going on in their story. You have no idea what is making their pain worse or better or different than yours. I think it’s comforting to us to feel like our pain is better than someone else’s because then our needs deserve to get validated, but that’s just part of the competition. We need to feel like our pain is enough to be worth taking care of, so we have to put down other peoples because it highlights how bad our own pain is. The problem is that that affects how we take care of the other person, and how we view them, as well as how we describe their problem to others and help them to get help. Their suffering grows and our need to justify our own gets more intense too.

I want to live in a world where we recognize that everyone’s suffering matters. In the Gospel, when Jesus was carrying His cross, about to be murdered in arguably the most monstrous way possible, He stopped to talk to weeping women. He told them not to weep for Him, but for their children. I have heard some say that He is telling them to weep for sins, but the way He says it tells me that isn’t the case. I believe He was genuinely expressing compassion for the suffering that women experience, while He was on the road that we would say is the worst suffering imaginable. I would like a world where everyone does that, where everyone accepts that we are all on an unimaginably and sometimes unbearable journey, where we accept our own suffering and that of others as worthy of healing, no matter what it is, where we acknowledge that our struggles do not make us better or worse than anyone else, just different. Then, we would have a spirit of sorrow for everyone’s tears even if we didn’t understand why it was so hard. We could show the same amount of compassion for someone who had to wait at the DMV as someone who got crushed in a car accident. We could heal all the big hurts and all the little ones too.

I’m not LGBTQ, but I don’t Belong Either

https://www.usatoday.com/story/opinion/voices/2019/08/18/churches-need-less-tradition-more-flexibility-welcome-teens-column/2011731001/

This article and others like it have been posted and talked about on my online and in person Catholic groups over and over again. There’s always a couple of people kindly talking about it and then the avalanche of more traditional Catholics who start mocking the author and saying, “Oh they just want the Church to be open to whatever, be ok with doing anything, anything goes, they just don’t like rules.” It’s so frustrating to me because they get so caught up on deciding that this girl is a sinner and therefore shouldn’t get to belong in the Church, in their eyes, that they forget that this girl is a PERSON, and God loves people.

Catholicism is not an exclusive club for the perfect people, though it is often treated that way. I think a lot of people like the idea that they are the people who are “right” they are “God’s people” and everyone else is wrong. There is something liberating to that, I get it, that makes you one of the ones making it through the narrow gate, as it says in Scripture, and “they” are the evil ones.

Let me just come forward now and say, I always felt like I didn’t belong. I wasn’t doing something wrong. I wasn’t a bad kid. I was a praying the rosary daily, offering it up, making sacrifices, going to Mass, and being kind kid, teenager, adult. I was M-I-S-E-R-A-B-L-E. I was terrified of doing something wrong and God would hate me, I was shunned in multiple Christian groups, once for a rumor because I quoted a sex joke on MySpace-so that all made all rumors about me true, once because I danced at Homecoming(no I didn’t grind but that’s what everyone thought), once because they thought I was on birth control, when I had really had miscarriages. I was HATED by the Church no matter how hard I tried to do things right.

I cannot tell you how many times I have raged about what a horrible place the Catholic Church is, and I am not one of the people who are just made because they don’t want to follow the rules. Stop blaming it on some public sin, or then not being good enough. The Church, as it stands right now, is not a welcoming place. There are Churches that are welcoming, there are a few groups that are welcoming, but they are few and far between and the hurt we are causing is monstrous.

The Church has a huge power, and that is to connect people with God, or to disconnect them from Him. My friends are falling away because they do not feel welcome or loved. I have wanted to fall away because I often do not feel welcome or loved. At my amazing Alma Mater, Ave Maria University, I met people who taught me that God is love, and He wants us unconditionally, and any rules He makes for us are to help us to live better lives. That God is a God who finds ways to heal people whether it is in Mass or not, He finds ways to help people, even if it’s a walk in nature. That is the God St. Paul talked about in Scripture when he talked about “easing burdens” for the people.

If it were not for that experience, and some that I am happy to be having right now, I would not be Catholic anymore. I would have run as far away from the Church as I can. Instead, I cling to what I can find of the God I recognize as a God of love, and I try to bring Him to others. I do not shame the people I know who have left because I have felt their pain, and I have seen how they have been hurt. And, for better or worse, I point out what the Church is doing wrong, because I pray and hope that one day Gods mercy and love will be what people think of when they think of the Church, and not anger and hate.

Mother Teresa, who ministered to all faiths, and saw the pain humanity is in, pray for us.

Depression and The Boundaries Book

I started to read a book called “Boundaries” a couple of months ago. I had bought it a long time before that, but I hadn’t read it. I was nervous because I have talked to several people who were very callous and used this book as their excuse, but I have also talked to others who say it changed their life. Now that I’m actively reading it, although slowly, I have to say I understand why.

“Boundaries” is simultaneously comforting and terrifying for me. Te first time I read it, I had a legit panic attack that I am such a worthless human being who does nothing but take from others and I have nothing to give and I don’t deserve to live. That’s dramatic, but honestly, it was kind of dramatic. I got so lost in the way they break down how much help to take and not take, and grew terrified that I take too much, or not enough, and I talk about my problems too much but not in the right way, etc, etc, etc.

The basic thesis of the book is that it is ok to set boundaries, and say “No” to someone who violates them. It gives Biblical support for that which is incredibly necessary for Christians especially who are taught to “Give until it hurts.” It was comforting in some ways to hear that I don’t have to just always give in, and it’s ok to take care of my needs too. I needed that. However, it is a hard time for me to be reading the book, because I hate needing help, and I am in a season on life where it seems like no matter how hard I try not to, I need more and more of it.

My senior year in college, I went through what I now know must have been an incredibly severe period of depression. I had nightmares, a weird kind of sleep paralysis, anxiety, thoughts of worthlessness, and at the same time, I lost many of my friends to a crazy whirlwind of drama. Meanwhile, I was writing my thesis about Hell, so that was great. Every time I tried to talk to anyone about what was going on, it seemed like they would stop talking to me. I had very few friends left by the end, and I still treasure every single one of them for sticking with me.

One Sunday, at a household meeting(for those who don’t know, households are a religious version of a sorority, basically) I broke down. I started sobbing in the middle of the meeting(and I was leading it so that was bad.) I ran out of the meeting and collapsed in tears on the floor. No, I don’t know why I broke down on the floor instead of the perfectly good bed next to me. Maybe the cold felt good on my body, sad people do weird things. Minutes later, a couple of my sisters came in and they listened to my story. Really listened. They heard out what was happening throughout my year. I will never forget what one of them said.

“Why didn’t you tell us?”

I will never forget that, because I DID. I told them, over and over and over again. I tried my hardest, but I couldn’t get across what was happening. I couldn’t express the magnitude of what was going on in a five minute conversation, and I was paralyzed by the feeling that they were done with me because I was talking about my hard time.

This book has brought that feeling back to me over and over again in the last few months. I will read one page and feel like a monster for talking about my feelings, while the next page, I feel like maybe I need to be better about sharing them. I just keep thinking about that moment, I felt so alone, and even though I had tried to tell them, no one knew.

I think this is a problem for mental health issues. People get annoyed if others “complain too much,” or are “Debbie-downers” or “sad all the time,” and I get it! It is so hard to be happy when you are around others who are not. There is even self-help advice to stay away from these people, and murky psychological articles accusing them of being narcissists, or energy vampires. Of course, I am not saying these people do not exist, but I do think that people who are genuinely struggling may sometimes look the same as a narcissist or energy vampire or just a downer. What happens though, when someone is just genuinely having a hard time for a long period of time? What if someone is just grieving and they aren’t feeling better yet?

The point of the book isn’t just about talking about feelings, but it is an example of the things that has been hardest for me. The author uses two images to demonstrate when to ask for help and when not to. It’s ok to ask for help when you are carrying a large boulder, but when it is just a backpack, you can carry that yourself-the backpack symbolizes daily struggles. What happens though, when the daily struggles feel like a boulder, like they do with depression/anxiety/grief/whatever?

How do we decide when someone is upset “too often” or “too long” or “too much” or “too upset?” How does someone struggling with this know when they are upset too long/too much/too often/too upset? I had a huge wake up call to this a couple weeks ago when I took a hormone balancing medicine and all of a sudden the whole world was a different place. I spoke with hope, I believed in things again, I was able to focus on other people. Unfortunately, the medicine had tons of side effects, so my search for something better continues, but it was literally a night and day difference. I felt like someone had taken a blindfold off of me. How does someone in that kind of fog for any reason figure out how much upset-ness is too much for everyone around them, and yet still express how bad what is going on is?

So, I struggle with this book. I really do. I know, and appreciate, what it’s trying to do, but I also know what it feels like to be told everything is ok and you need to handle it yourself when you are screaming out and begging for help. I also know what it feels like to swallow pain so hard you think you will die from it, and that is a dangerous mess I refuse to start up again.

I guess what I’m saying is, if you struggle with depression/anxiety/grief/sadness, please don’t hold it in because you are afraid no one wants to hear it. Even if some people don’t, some do, and you may not know who they are, so keep going until you find them. If you know someone who is struggling, please be patient with them. You may not know how bad what they are going through really is, and you may not know how badly they want to fix it.

Jaded

Ever since I grew to adulthood,

I hear the echoes

of everyone who told me,

“That’s not real.

That’s a fantasy.”

Most of the time, I silence them

With a wave of the hand,

And maybe a deep breath,

But then,

Sometimes, a wave of grief comes,

My heart begins to ask,

“Were they right?

Does God give us dreams to take them away?

Does He dangle hopes of a beautiful future,

Just to laugh when you are in pain?

There are times in my life when I believe them,

When the hope that God is listening grows as faint as a fading heartbeat,

The ache swells until my chest begins to cave into itself.

I cease to breathe in in terror of reality,

I force myself to breathe and anger overtakes me that God has turned His back.

But He hasn’t turned His back.

He is here when hundreds have told me He doesn’t hear me.

He is waiting for me when I can hear Him through the despair.

He hears me when I cry out in the pain of the skepticism that is our world.

Cast behind you the words of those who condemn you for belief in hope.

Cast behind you the belief that grief will win.

Cast behind you the grief that God doesn’t hear you,

And doesn’t love the real you.

There is a place for you.

Just because you haven’t found it doesn’t mean you won’t.

Use your wounds to heal others until you escape the chains,

And then free the slaves.

Sometimes God answers no, but not when it’s His promises to you.

If you are called to something, He will bring you to it somehow, I believe.

I believe.

I believe.

I believe.

Even here in the darkness.

I believe.

The Paradox of Being Grateful When Things are Hard

I find myself oscillating between two extremes fairly often. One is that I am struggling and I am frustrated that things aren’t getting better. The second is that I feel like maybe my struggle is not actually that bad, so I’m actually just a horribly ungrateful person who doesn’t deserve to live. Okay, that’s extreme, but there are some days it feels pretty intense. I think sometimes it’s easier for me to feel like I am a horrible person who deserves to suffer, than to acknowledge that sometimes bad things happen to good people and there’s no rhyme or reason to it. Sometimes God helps you, sometimes we are responsible for believing He is there in the storm. I’ve tried my whole life to be someone so perfect that God wouldn’t “punish” me, but that’s not how He works, and it’s really just hurts me more than just living would anyway.
The thing I’m struggling the most with is waiting in hope. I am not a patient person even when I know something is coming, but when there is a question about it, my entire emotional system goes into revolt and I turn into a 2 year old who hasn’t eaten in 2 hours. Right now, there are several things that I am waiting for, and they are not coming quickly, they are coming slowly, and they are things that I have been told are impossible over and over and over again, and they are things intrinsically connected to every trauma I have experienced. That being said, I am wanting them, and I am waiting for them, and I am working towards them. That is a miracle in and of itself because I had taught myself not to care anymore, and I had given up. I had convinced myself that those things didn’t matter to me and I would figure out life without them. But I asked God to bring me back to myself, and He did that, with a fire that burns a little out of control sometimes.
I desire with everything in me to serve God with my art, and my desire is not just for teaching, or volunteering, or whatever else though those are positive endeavors too and I don’t mind doing them also, but my desire is to MAKE GREAT ART. I want more than anything in me to spend my days creating films that reach deep into the depths of your soul and rip you apart in sadness or joy or horror or whatever it is your soul needs. I want to create films that wake people up to the other people who are struggling in the world. I want to create films that let the lonely know they are not alone. I want to make movies that sell like crazy not because I want to be famous but because I want to touch people and I want to spend every waking minute in the freedom that comes from being successful at what I love.
Is this a big ask? Yes.
Am I asking this in a world where most people do not get their big asks? Yes.
Does that make me terrified beyond the ability to breathe sometimes that I am asking? Yes.
Can I stop? Not if I want to be the person I was created to be.
God has asked us over and over to ask big things of Him, so no matter how stupid I feel or how hopeless this whole adventure seems to be or how much I want to give up, I am going to keep asking over and over and over again and throwing my pen at his feet and begging that He use it and give it a place to be heard.

A problem, though, with having such big asks, is that sometimes I feel like I shouldn’t ask for such big things. Who am I to ask to make art for my career when so many people would kill for one minute to work on theirs? Who am I to long for the money to have a nice house and maybe even a housekeeper because my artist family hates and sucks at cleaning? Who am I to long for more happiness in this life when I am not a Holocaust victim, I am not dying of cancer, I am not alone in life. I have so many amazing amazing blessings. My double rainbow babies are the most amazing thing that has ever happened to me. I am the luckiest girl in the world to have the husband I do. My parents have gone above and beyond to make sure I get to be with my babies. My in laws saved us over and over again from trials.

The point is, I know I have so much to be grateful for, and sometimes it makes it hard to ask for the big things, like I’m a spoiled child for wanting more. I’m not sure how to handle that. Maybe this is just a side effect of the constant meditations on gratefulness that I am always surrounded by, or the knowledge that sometimes I am not as grateful as I could be( although I’ve recently noticed that I do not handle gratitude very gracefully, so this may just be an attempt to escape the total panic that comes over me when I am deeply grateful for something. ) Or maybe it’s another lesson in balance. I do tend to run across paradoxes frequently and usually the answer is a little bit one and a little bit the other. So maybe the answer is to work on gratitude a little more, but to remember it’s ok to want things. I don’t know. My gift isn’t answers. My gift is really freaking big questions.

Make Your Choice

About a week ago, I wrote a blog post about man’s ability to choose his God. I have noticed that God will, in many ways, be whoever we ask Him to be. Even immediately after I wrote it, though I felt it was finished and said it was supposed to say, I felt like there was something else I was supposed to write in addition to it. As time has passed since then, I have tried to put into words what exactly I was thinking, but over and over I couldn’t quiet get there. Tonight, with lightning streaking across the sky, and my whole body in a creative blur, I feel ready to at least attempt to describe what I am going to say.
God will, in many ways, be whoever you need Him to be, but that doesn’t mean that there isn’t a real person that He is. God wants us to love Him, so if we want Him to act a certain way, and we ask certain things from Him, I believe sometimes He will go along with it. Sometimes though, He will eventually take a second to say, “Hey, I’m actually a little different than that. This is how I do things.” When that happens, get ready for a wild ride.
I talked already over and over about my relationship with God the last few weeks in this blog, and I don’t like writing about that. I think religious writing can be way too preachy, and it’s very very personal, so sometimes its nearly impossible for things to get out in the way they are meant to be perceived. Plus, I hate feeling ‘holier than thou’ because I am not. I’m not any better or worse than anyone else because I think about this stuff all of the time, I just like to offer my thoughts on it.
This year, I went to a Bible study that changed my life. I haven’t been really happy with any Catholic community I have been a part of for years, so to suddenly walk into one that I felt at home in was incredible. I believe that God used the study and the women in it to teach me so much about who He is.
My husband asked me once rhetorically, “I mean, how do we even know, which version of God is the real one?”(Not that he was renouncing belief, we just debate theology and philosophy….a lot-and we both play devil’s advocate when necessary) I think the only answer to this, and it will never satisfy anyone fully is-“Who has He told you He is?” The answer doesn’t always work, because some people do not listen, or don’t want to listen, but I do believe that if we ask God to show us who He is-He will.
This year, God told me a lot about who He is. He is Love-in a powerful all-consuming, always present way. We got to a crossroads, where I asked Him how He could say that when He had abandoned me, and I raged at Him about it. A couple of days later, I was reading the book of Job, and there is a chapter where God yells at Job for questioning Him and lists all of the powerful things He does, and basically says, “Job, you don’t know what you are talking about.” I’m not going to lie, there was a little fear and trembling for a second there.
The beautiful thing is though, that it didn’t end there. I have always hated the Book of Job because I felt that God was horrible to Job and that his friends were cruel and he had no vindication, but then, I read a section I had never read before.

God was so angry at Job’s friends for misleading Him, that He straight up asked Job to pray for them, and only forgave them because Job asked.
Basically, God said to Job, “HOLD ME BACK, IM’MA GET AT ‘EM.” And Job of course did pray for them, and God forgave them.
That changed the whole thing for me, because I have had people who have mocked me for my suffering before. I have had people who didn’t understand it, and who told me that God must be displeased with me. I needed so badly to hear that that is not who He is. To feel that God took me aside to say, “No, it’s not that, it’s just that you don’t know the reason for what I am doing.”
Anyway, the point of this is that God is love in a way that we cannot even fully comprehend, and He will show us who He is if we ask Him. Sometimes our own thoughts and impressions are not enough. Sometimes our feelings cloud our judgement and make it difficult for us to see what God is trying to say. That is why what Job’s friends did to him was so incredibly awful. A friend should help you to see God’s love while you are struggling-not condemn you. For me, my husband friends, and the Bible study, reading scripture and taking in art, help me to sort through what my thoughts are about God, and who He really is. I can’t tell you how many times I have been terrified of the wrath of God and despairing of His love, and have been lifted up and help by someone else.
In the end though, we can only know our own experience of God. We can seek Him out and do our best, and we can ask our friends, but there is something in every heart that knows what the truth is, if we can be quiet and hear it amidst all of the noise, and there is a lot of noise. Our knowledge of them is always evolving and growing, and we should never give up on figuring Him out, but He is there to be understood, if we ask, and we make every effort to learn.

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