“Love the Sinner, Hate the Sin.”

“On the fourth anniversary of Pulse.
In the middle of Pride month.
During a global pandemic.
Donald Trump’s cruelty truly knows no bounds.” ~ Joe Biden

https://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2020/06/12/868073068/transgender-health-protections-reversed-by-trump-administration. Note: this article has a left bias, but it was the clearest description of the bill I could find.

This is a powder keg.

Gonna dive in anyway.

In 5. 4. 3. 2…….

Ummmmm now?

Ok.

Come Holy Spirit.

“Love the Sinner, Hate the Sin.”

First of all, I want to note to those in my audience who are not Christian, are LGBTQ, or are already uncomfortable about this topic, this article is FOR you, not to you. Please understand that I am approaching this issue mostly through the Christian lens, though I will at times be addressing to you as an audience for your understanding.

Ok. Now.

Dear Christians, especially Catholics,

Yesterday, Trump created a rule designed specifically for you. He re-defined ‘sex’ as man and woman, removing the purposeful ambiguity created by Obama in the Affordable Care Act. The rule, should it pass, would make it so that hospitals and insurance could deny care to Transgender people. It also, for some reason encompasses abortion, like Obama’s did, which means Trump’s rule would allow Christians to refuse to give abortions, while Obama’s made it incredibly difficult for them to do so.

Here’s the thing. When Obama’s law passed it endangered human rights for Christians. Insurance companies scrambled to start supporting abortion and reassignment surgeries, but Christian companies cannot support abortion and don’t support reassignment surgery in every case. Colleges had to choose whether to go out of business or to go against their beliefs. Famously, Hobby Lobby, the controversial Christian icon, had to file a lawsuit in order to keep from funding abortion. Medical students I knew faced this on a smaller, but scarier, scale of having to decide whether to perform an abortion in order to pass medical school. It was a dark and scary time for Christians. No one wants to be forced to do something they believe is wrong, and that is what was happening to Christians at the time.

However, what many of you, Christians, do not understand is what this law meant for transgender people. This meant safety when they went to the doctor, it meant they could get care even if someone did not believe what they were doing was right. It meant that doctors who were ‘grossed out‘ by them could not fall back on religion as a way out of caring for their bodies. It meant that if they really did need reassignment surgery they could get it, even if their resources were limited. To them, taking their right to medical care without discrimination away, is justifiably terrifying.

An important part of the NPR article I posted above is when Andersen points out that there needs to be a separate bill which promotes the human rights of the LGBTQ 🏳️‍🌈 but it does need to allow for religious rights. The problem is, Trump didn’t suggest this bill. No, instead, he reversed their protections, without introducing any new resources for them, leaving them in danger of being discriminated against, and unable to defend themselves.

What’s more is he did this on the anniversary of the worst act of violence that has ever been committed against LGBTQ+ people. During a pandemic, when we are already facing a shortage of medical care, for a disease that is extremely dangerous. That means that doctors could deny them care because of who they are, and they could not do anything about it(unless of course they have the money to sue, which you know….no one does.) Trump did all of this in a time when he is not only failing to care for the human rights of Black people, but actively inciting violence against them, and also after abbreviating the secret service as the “SS,” the most iconic racist regime ever to stain our history.

Trump’s catchphrase MAGA, Make America Great Again, fails to mention that what he is built on has nothing to do with what made America great. America was great because it gave us a safe place to practice our religion, live our lives, exist, without one person or group of people being able to dominate over everyone else. We built our government as a democracy so that everyone would have a voice, we preserve freedom of speech, so that even those with whom we disagree will be protected. Trump destroys everyone in his path in the name of ‘Christianity’ but without respect to the personhood of people who are outside of his demographic. This is not Christianity.

Christians believe that every single person has value and is made in God’s image. In Scripture, a woman was caught in adultery, and in her time, that was an offense punishable by death. Jesus stopped them. Jesus protected that woman and sent the men away. Is that what we are doing here? Is leaving transgender people in danger during a pandemic the ‘Christian’ thing to do? I do not believe so. If this were being done in a Christian fashion, we would do everything we could to make sure the rights of both sides would be preserved and we would fight for justice for all of us, not just for our own agenda.

A phrase we throw around all the time is “love the sinner, hate the sin,” but do we really think about what that means. Christian “love,” what we are called to, is a desire for the good of the other person. Often, we use love as a weapon, everything we are doing that hurts the other person is ‘for their own good,’ but that is not what Christ’s love looked like. When he defended the adulteress woman, he could have used that argument to excuse her murder, but instead, He gave her life and He was gentle to her. That is what love looks like and it is what our love should look like in this situation. Please, in any way you are able, protect the LGBTQ+ community, preserve their lives and be gentle. Even if you do not agree with what they are doing or how they live, they are human and they have value. God loves them as much as He loves you.

Please also pray for them and the horrible fear and sadness they are feeling right now.

With prayers to the archangels, who have no gender(seriously look it up in Church teachings in angels).

Love,

Julia

The Tapestries(from PEACEWEAVER)

While I was practicing yoga regularly, I redecorated my home. My tastes were bohemian, but I was concerned about surrounding myself with tapestries made in India about gods I do not understand. I searched for Catholic art, but I could not find anything that even remotely hit the style I was seeking. What’s more is that everything was the traditional Catholic paintings that I had grown up surrounded by, the ones that embraced suffering so fully that it was all I could feel when I saw them. Other people may not have the history I have with them, but there is a lot of pain and confusion for me in the typical Catholic art. As I continued to search I eventually found a few pieces I really loved, but they were so expensive I had no hope that I could afford them within the next century. I was so angry at how expensive everything was, and so frustrated that I finally decided to just get the Indian tapestries, but I would only get the ones that had a strong Christian spiritual meaning for me.

I chose a popular yellow tapestry with the symbol for Aum in the center because of how God had revealed Himself to me in their philosophy, a tapestry of elephants-which God had used to help me pray about some issues in my life, and a peacock tapestry that as far as I could tell was not associated with any deities. I treasured these tapestries. I took every picture in front of them, I planned which one I was going to use in the baby’s room, when I hopefully someday got a nursery. I laid them on the bed gingerly when I needed color in my room during long periods of stress. I designed my bedroom around them when I was pregnant with my first child.

As my two babies grew into toddlers, they used to love to play with the tapestries. During a time of particularly difficult post partum depression and hormone balance aggravated by what I can only ascribe to spiritual warfare, my oldest pulled on the corner of one that I had awkwardly hanging from the curtain rod in our basement apartment. It shredded down the whole side. She had pulled on it before leaving little rips, but this time the whole thing was shredded. A postpartum rage rippled over me and a she ran giggling to the other room, I ripped the tapestry in half, holding my breath while I cried so she wouldn’t hear me.

It occurred to me that that particular tapestry was probably not a great one to have around kids. My husband and I knew and understood the reason I had it and what it meant, but my girls would not for a long time. I threw the remains of it away mourning the independence I had lost. I cried too about how in motherhood the pretty pieces of art I loved were getting destroyed, the worst was a painted bowl I ate from for practically every meal. It was a bag of chunks of ceramic now, and it broke my heart.

The thought that the girls would not understand the tapestries stuck with me. For about a month I prayed and thought about it until in a progesterone and anxiety and spiritual dark night induced haze I pulled them all down and threw them all out. I kept the peacock one a little longer because it didn’t have a deity, but one day in another of these turbulent days I read on google there was a cult that worshipped Satan in a dark blue peacock, so I threw everything in my house that had a peacock on it away. (I found out later that the peacock is a symbol for Jesus so take that for what it’s worth.)

I honestly don’t know if it was wrong for me to have the tapestries in the first place or not, God knew it was about Him. I think maybe it was ok for me, but not my kids who were too young to understand and impressionable. As I began to do yoga and decorate again, I got alternating answers from God, yes yoga, no idols, yes art, no misleading art. I began to pray that God would help me create art that would meet that desire for color I had, and that He would help me to help others with the same struggle.

At first I thought maybe His answer was no. I started finding all these Catholic artists who were amazing. Plus, what I was trying to do with tapestries wasn’t working. I was painting, and when I did I prayed beforehand. When I work on any art, it is a prayer with the Holy Spirit, I ask Him for help and sometimes I can feel His guidance, sometimes I can’t, but the best is when I dive see the plan and it suddenly turns into something amazing and I can’t take credit for it. I went through a phase where nothing was working, these weird amalgamations of color sort of happened and took over everything I tried to make.

I hated them, and I felt so down on my work, Until a few months later, when I realized that the paintings resemble the crystals and nature art I love so much, but are all actually connected to God. I could not wait to buy every single one(but I had to because we were on a low income budget with toddlers. 🤦🏽‍♀️) What’s more is I already had them available to buy as tapestries. When I built my page on a website I didn’t even know had tapestries, I allowed them but it did not even occur to me that this was an answered prayer. Months later, in the middle of the night I woke up and realized I had created a line of bohemian tapestries that were rooted in God and not gods. The tapestries I needed 5 years ago. I laughed to myself once again about how the Holy Spirit works, and wrote this out for Him.

Selah

Note: This post is not meant to be a promotional post, but if you are interested in my tapestries they are available at https://fineartamerica.com/profiles/julia-odonnell

The Man in the Moon

What if God is the man in the moon?

What if He loved us so much that His Son’s

Presence was not enough of a present.

What if He wanted to send His own face,

To watch over us, mourning our grief from above.

Write Where it Hurts: Quarantine

Quarantine.

For some of you it’s a dirty word.

For some it’s despair.

For some it’s loss and grief incomparable.

For me? It’s life.

For me, it was hope.

For me, it was a home

With incandescent joy and bliss.

Lie:The Problem with what John Cooper(of Skillet) said against Joshua Harris

https://www1.cbn.com/cbnnews/entertainment/2019/august/we-need-to-value-truth-over-feeling-skillets-john-cooper-reacts-to-christian-leaders-renouncing-faith

I grew up in the shadow of Joshua Harris’ “I Kissed Dating Goodbye.” The parents all around us were ecstatic and excited about this reverent and holy new way of dating, while I gazed on in horror and watched the future of my dating life crumble in the flames. You might think that sounds melodramatic, and, to be fair, this was my teen self, so it may have been, but if you knew the nights that my mom and I spent crying and screaming at each other, and how much time I spent crying into my pillow in confusion about sexuality and chastity, you would understand that it isn’t dramatic, if anything, it’s an understatement. I still deal with repercussions of the confusing anti-sex but pro-marriage theology put forth by those who adored Josh Harris and others like him.

When Harris came forward and renounced what he taught, admitting it’s flaws and being honest about the struggles and defeat it caused in his own life, I was devastated to hear the pain he is going through, but it healed my heart to hear him renounce it. I had lived by it because that’s what my parents and faith community believed was God’s word on dating, but I could see the damage it was doing while it was happening and I felt so helpless and confused by it. Harris humility in coming forward healed a part of me that had felt so ashamed of my own anger and confusion.

Much to my dismay, soon afterwards a singer I admire for his authenticity and raw honesty came out against Joshua Harris and Marty Sampson(the lead singer of Hillsong United who also admitted his struggles of faith.)

He said:

“Ok I’m saying it. Because it’s too important not to. What is happening in Christianity? More and more of our outspoken leaders or influencers who were once ‘faces’ of the faith are falling away. And at the same time, they are being very vocal and bold about it. Shockingly they still want to influence others (for what purpose?)as they announce that they are leaving the faith.”

I was so disappointed in this. First of all, because I really like Skillet and I felt personally misunderstood because this was such a deep part of my experience. More importantly though, this is very dangerous thing for a Christian to say.

Here John Cooper is showing a profound misunderstanding of what Joshua Harris is experiencing, and giving way to some ways of thinking that could be very damaging to Christianity.

Something I find very powerful and admirable about what Joshua Harris did is that once he believed he had done something wrong, he did not repent and slink into darkness. Instead, he did everything he could do to right what he believed was wrong. John Cooper’s mockery of his ‘announcement’ completely takes for granted the pain that must have come along Joshua Harris’ experience. As someone who experienced a great deal of suffering because of him, it meant so much to me to hear him admit the problems in his work. What he gave everyone who had ever been hurt by him permission to do is to stop battling the fear that he was right, because he wasn’t so they can rest. That is so incredibly valuable and Cooper is devaluing it.

Cooper’s words about how people who ‘abandon’ their faith shouldn’t go talking about it is similarly insensitive and actually dangerous. On a human level, it is cruel to suggest that if you lose your faith after being an evangelist you should then be sentenced to a life of silence like some sort of permanent punishment for not believing.

More importantly, though, saying something like that calls into question the integrity of those who are teaching Christianity. Genuine testimony comes from the heart, from a real experience of God, especially in Protestant circles which is something I love about them. Cooper seems to be saying that those who are in ministry should only be public about certain experiences. That immediately makes me want to ask, is he being honest? If he believes he can’t speak out if he disagrees, can I trust when he says he does agree?

Now, I know on some level this isn’t really what he is trying to say. However, it does give an impression of cultivated truth that has been a struggle for me in the Church. Painting over Christian lives to make them look perfect and free of any doubt ever hurts ministry because people who are not of faith or who are struggling with faith can see this lack of authenticity. They may not know what it is or why, but they can feel it. I can feel it. When people push a Catholic to only write the positive things about godliness, or when people edited saints biographies to make them look perfect, or when authority figures tell teachers not to tell the truth, this all adds up to create a narrative of Christianity as full of unreliable narrators.

I would rather praise Joshua Harris for being genuine and authentic and pray that he keeps seeking truth than to condemn him for coming to a different truth than me. I believe God is truth and He will bring good out of our authenticity. On another level, part of the beauty of the Christian life is in conversion, and if one is not allowed to admit the feelings of doubt, or the suffering one is feeling in relation to the faith, it negates the possibility of sharing that story with others.bAfter my own miscarriage and some other trials, I was very honest about my trials with faith for a long, long time. These people also knew when I was fighting to get closer and when I felt like giving up. When I share my stories now, the know the blood, sweat, and tears that went into my conversion, and they understand that I am different than I was when I first believed. I had my phase of “la la la God is good,” Christianity, and a phase of “FEAR God” Christianity, and I am always journeying through deeper and newer understandings of faith and lacks of faith, but I could not share that story if I believed I could only share it when I was right. In fact, and a little ironically, for a long time I couldn’t write this post for that very reason.

Overall, I think something that Christians need to understand is that there is a profound value to allowing someone their own real life experience. God has given us free will for a reason and we all pursue truth in different ways and from different angles. There is something beautiful and perfect in that even when it scares us. I am not saying that everyone is right about everything, but we can’t just force everyone to share our opinions, instead we should encounter them where they are at, and try to help them through their experience. What if John Cooper were to put down his high horse, and write to Joshua Harris and say, “Hey man, I cannot imagine the pain you must be going through. More than a lot of other people I can understand what it feels like to be held up on a pedestal for my faith. Can I be here for you through this?” Maybe they could actually learn from each other and experience a profound community instead of Cooper seeming to shove Harris into forced isolation for struggling with faith the way that every Christian does at some point in their faith life.

Note: This post is not about John Cooper, I don’t know him he could be perfectly non-judgemental in real life. However, this particular incident is an example of the kind of things I have heard Christians say a million times and it is a great example to explain why this attitude is damaging. Please do not hate on John Cooper if you read this. If you are in a position to Joshua Harris some comfort and love though, be my guest. 🖤

PEACEWEAVER intro

This lent, I had another identity crisis. I know, I know, every lent this happens right? Well, I ended up signing my life away that I would no longer do yoga and instead teach an alternative. Ironically, everytime I tried to send the papers, something went wrong. Every. Single. Time. Finally I sent them. You know what happened? Two weeks later I found the page with my signature in my scanner. 🤦🏽‍♀️ Also ironically, I had over and over again seen the Bible passage “let your yes mean yes, and your no mean no.” I saw it again Holy Saturday and I realized. I hated this alternative. I was trying to force myself into it because I was afraid I was wrong about everything, but I hated it so much! What I believe God was calling me to, and I want to share how, is being authentic to myself and what I believe about yoga, the Church, and ministry.

The truth is I love yoga. I sincerely believe in what yoga can do and can teach. I believe in a deep and profound beauty about the Sanskrit language and the way they developed it, and the way that the yogic postures emerged from that. I believe in the cultivation of peace and acceptance that I have found in my yoga circles. Though it is controversial to believe this, I sincerely believe that there are ways that those who practice yoga are genuinely reaching towards the same God that Christians are.

One thing I did learn, though, is that I got a little carried away with yogic spirituality. There are things the Christians need to be careful about in yoga. Our God is a jealous God, not the negative jealousy that might come up in your head when you say it, but if we believe in a God that loves us 100% and with the amount of passion and intimacy that I believe He does, then it only makes sense that He would desire us to love Him back. If you were in a beautiful marriage with someone(for those who believe in polyamory, please understand the point I am making, I am not trying to exclude you, just making an example) showering them with gifts all the time, spending quiet time with them every chance you got, wouldn’t it hurt if they started doing the same things with someone else? Especially someone who hates you? That’s a huge simplification, and we will get into it more, but, although I was not actually praising other gods, things got a little murky for me, and it’s easy to get a little lost in yoga’s philosophy or in the spirituality of those who practice it.

This brings me to the most important thing I want to say. Many Catholics talk about how so many people who do yoga fall away from the Church. They argue that this is a sign that that yoga truly is evil and the devil has a hold on the people practicing it. This makes me so angry, and not because I am so devoted to yoga that it’s more important to me than God. It makes me angry because the argument shows a gross misunderstanding of why yoga leads people away from the Church, and what we can do about it.

I really turned to yoga at a time when I was suffering from a kind of loss that I had never experienced before. The kind that rips you up from the inside out. I had tried turning to the Church over and over and I had been shamed, ridiculed, and accidentally made to feel like I was less valuable of a person because of what I was experiencing(it was not because of a sin). My yoga studio was the one place in the world where I was accepted. When I went to Cambio, I was not a broken person who needed to fix x, y, z. I was just a person who needed to exist.

Some Catholics take issue with that, because they say we should always be pursuing more, and yes we should always be pursuing holiness, but Jesus did not demand this constant new and more intense to chase holiness everyday. Jesus wanted a relationship with people, and He wanted us to experience happiness, and rest. Yes, He wanted his apostles to minister to others, and He said there would be suffering, but He also made wine at Cana, and fed 5000 people so much food that they couldn’t eat any more. This is not a good who wants us to beat ourselves to death with efforts to love Him.

What yoga did for me, is exactly what the name claims to do. “Yoga” means union, or “yoked” or something similar depending on your translation. The intention behind it, is to unite body, mind, and spirit, and yes a part of that intention is to connect to what most of them call ‘the divine.’ For me, it did all of those things, including connecting me with my understanding of who is ‘Divine.’ I learned ways that God was reaching out to early yogis long before any Christians could have come to them. I learned to accept my own body again after feeling betrayed by its weakness. I learned to rest again in a way I had not done in a long time, and with that rest I was able to pray again and sort through the pain I was so overwhelmed by.

As I healed, I was met with so much scorn by the Catholics I know. I cannot even count how many dirty looks or awkward mentions of evil happened around me. I earnestly tried to help those around me to understand, but it felt like they believed I was the spawn of Satan. I cried to a priest one day in confession, “I just feel like maybe I can never belong, but I want to.” His answer, “Why don’t you just leave?”(We weren’t even talking about yoga, this was about an election, but yoga was a huge part of my struggle.)

My point in bringing this up isn’t to say that all priests are awful, or everyone Catholic is judgemental. That is not true at all. However, there is a very vocal part of Catholicism that is not always kind, and frequently even when they are kind they can be really hurtful. The problem with a lot of these people is that they do not really understand the topic they are talking about. They have no experience of the other side, and sometimes they don’t really understand Church teaching on the topic either. There are parts of Catholic theology that get interpreted and thought of in a certain way when there is no real reason for them to be interpreted that way in the first place. It’s problematic because some of these teachings are so intense that they can really hurt people.

That brings me back to my purpose for writing this in the first place. This is a little sneak peek into a little something I am starting work on today. It is called PEACEWEAVER, and it is my story of what I have been through with yoga, but more importantly I hope to help both sides to understand each other. I’ll dive deep into what Catholic teaching says about yoga, but also what the history of yoga is. I will also talk about the ways the Church is not reaching people who love yoga, and most importantly, how they can find new ways to do so. I am passionate about helping people who love yoga to find peace with God, but also to help people who are concerned about yoga to understand what they should and should not be concerned about, and how they can grow closer to their loved ones who do love yoga.

Note: I hope to share excerpts here occasionally as I move through, but if I share too much, you’d have no reason to get the book, so, I won’t share everything. If you disagree with me, I would ask that you please send me your resources, tell me your story, help me to understand your side, and then maybe give me a chance to tell you mine too. I believe that we all are trying to do our best here, and I care about the truth.

Also, please let me know what you would like to see in a book on this topic. Whatever your point of view. ♥️

Disclaimer: This work is not meant to be an endorsement of yoga for Catholics or the opposite. All of us must discern what is right for ourselves. I want to share my story, and my understanding of both sides of the story to encourage understanding on both sides of the issue.

In the Name of Unity: A Seder Meal

Many, many years ago today, the tribe of Israel, living in Egypt, hid in their homes, the blood of the lamb on the door, as a plague passed over them. Many, but less, years ago, Jesus, the Lamb, hid in an upper room, so that He could feed us before He shed His blood. Many years later, faithful people everywhere still commemorate this day. This year is different. This year, we are living this day. We are hidden in our homes, as the Hebrews were, and as the disciples were at first. This year we have an opportunity to be united as God’s faithful people in a very special way.

The tribe of Israel was chosen to be God’s people from the very beginning of time, according to Scripture. However, in the New Testament, we see Jesus welcoming new people, the Gentiles, into His tribe. The descendants of Israel must have been so angry. “You chose us, and now you abandon us, for them?” They had judged the Gentiles harshly and now they were the Messiah’s favorite? It’s no wonder, on a human level, that they did not accept Him.

What a lot of people don’t know, however, is that theologically, Catholics still believe Israel is the chosen people. Fulton Sheen talks about this in detail in The World’s First Love, but to summarize, Jesus said He came to fulfill the law not to abolish it, so what Catholics believe is that Jesus did not change who God’s tribe was, He welcomed more people into God’s tribe. We are His adopted children, because Israel turned from Him. However, Fulton Sheen says, we are still to believe that the Jews have a special place in God’s heart, and he even talks about the prophecy that before the end of time, the Jews will convert and we will all be united. All of this is why it is still so important that we pray and study the Old Testament. 

This year, I believe God has given us an opportunity to feel this unity in a more powerful way than we ever have. This year, we are hidden in our homes praying for a plague to pass us by. Some have even suggested putting red on the door posts somehow,( I have yet to figure out how I want to do this, painting the whole doorpost feels a little rash, and we don’t own the house, and I don’t have red ribbon.) What I would like to suggest is that we take time to live what we have in common. Today, on Passover, let us commemorate with the Jews as they remember waiting for the plague to pass over them, and let us all pray for this plague to pass over us. If it helps you to visualize it, maybe you could put something red on your doors. 

The most important and beautiful thing we have in common tonight, though, is the meal. Tonight, the Jews hold “seder meal” a special meal in commemoration of the Passover. Christians too, all Christians-not just Catholics, also have a special meal to commemorate tonight. Tonight, Jesus instituted the Eucharist, whether you theologically believe it is a symbol, or actual presence, or in remembrance, all Christians believe that this bread and wine is significant. Jesus did not institute this meal on the Passover on accident. On the feast of unleavened bread, He offered the unleavened bread(that’s why our hosts for Communion are made the way they are) up as His body, so that we would not miss the analogy He was making. The Jews used to sacrifice a lamb, He offers His body and His blood so that we will not miss that He is the new lamb. We don’t do animal sacrifice because Jesus came to replace the lamb. 

Tonight, then, what if we all in unity offered the seder meal. For tonight, we could meditate on what we have in common and share the tradition of unleavened bread and wine. Jews, Catholics and Christians alike believe in the importance of the bread, so maybe we all can eat some kind of bread in commemoration of this night. If you don’t have bread or wine, maybe just take some today to meditate on the meaning of this day, and live today in a different way than any other. 

For those who are not Catholic or Christian or Jewish, I know you are a little left out of this post, please know that I see you, and I want unity with you too. There are many divisions in this world, and one of the reasons I write is to help people see common ground. We have common ground with you too, I just have to shed light into one spot at a time. 💚

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.






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