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.

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The Beauty of the Crucifixion

My entire life I have struggled with the Crucifixion. I could never wrap my mind around God allowing His Son to go through something like that. To be honest, I don’t see that fully going away anytime soon, the problem of evil is my biggest hang up in life, and even when I find an answer to satisfy me for a bit, there’s still this nagging frustration about it existing. However, I have this image of what Jesus was trying to do that comforts me a little about it.

The biggest part of my struggle is this idea that Jesus came down to get crucified on purpose. That idea just literally makes me nauseous. I can’t stand it. However, I’ve had this idea lately, that maybe Jesus came to be human and all that that required, aka powerlessness over His fate.

What if He didn’t come for the purpose of being crucified, but to love. What if He came to be a person who loved us through everything, knowing that that does not end well in most circumstances. Maybe He chose a time in history when the suffering He would experience for it would be the worst it could be, but maybe His plan was not the pain.

I have this image of Him bloody and bruised looking at me and saying, “It’s ok to have a hard time. I’m here. I’ve been there.” It sounds crazy, like He would care about my tiredness on a long day of moming when His was so much worse, but I don’t believe that is how He works. Jesus said to the weeping women as He was carrying His cross “Weep not for me but for yourselves and your children,” and that revolutionized how I saw Him. When He was at His worst suffering, He was thinking of our pain. He saw us too. That doesn’t mean He wasn’t in pain, or struggling, but He saw us too. He didn’t say that we had no right to be sad because His suffering was worse. He basically said, “It’s okay to cry about what you are going through too, it is awful.” ♥️

Let that sink in for a second. I know I have to.

What a beautiful and amazing friend. Can we be that to other people?

Walls: Start with Love

Lately, I keep finding things that people say are rules or how things should be that are hard for me because I have walls up because of things that have happened to me. I learned this because I read a blog post about giving God our pain, and as I have been offering up my hurt to Him, God has repeatedly comforted me, and then shown me where my pain is making something I have learned impossible to understand.
This lent, I went to confession shaking and consumed with guilt and shame. The priest condemned me and even maybe mocked me, and it made it even worse. When I came out of confession though, “Reckless Love” was playing and it was as if God was telling me, “That’s not how I feel about you, I love you. I love you. I love you.” That gave me the courage to pray with some people who were there, and they prayed through my fear and pain with me. Only after their prayer, and God’s reassurance was I able to see that the sins I was accusing myself of were not sins, they were barely even mistakes. I felt like the most evil horrible person in the world, when in reality, I am just going through some things that make it really hard to keep up with doing everything.
The most intense example though, is seeing how much of my anger and hurt at the Church, and resentment of her teachings, came from my pain from being pregnant with and losing my first little girl. I was not treated well by the Church when I lost her. I was snubbed because groups thought I used birth control. I couldn’t bear being in Church and hearing the litanies of how holy people were if they had a ton of children, I was looked down on because I didn’t want to try again.
At the same time, resentments started to build in me against the Church. Pregnancy was my worst nightmare, and the Church demanded that women be pro-life. I was so angry about it. I felt like a baby-making machine, and if I was not making babies, I had no worth, not only that, but I felt punished by all of these Church rules that kept coming up to rule over my married life that was already hurting enough. I had experienced a loss I could not bear, and instead of being given comfort, I was given judgement. I was lost, and I was condemned, not loved. I wanted to hate the Church, I wanted to hate children, I wanted to hate God. Instead, I subconsciously put up walls to protect myself, and I waited to deal with what I was feeling until I felt like I could handle it.
That is not what the Church is supposed to be. No one should ever feel condemned or abandoned when they come into Church, let alone cry when they feel like they have to go to Church because it is the most painful place to be in the entire world. The Church should be a place where we have an encounter with the living Christ, where people pray for healing for us, where people embrace us in our struggles, and help and heal us. There are places where the Church is that way, but it is far from universally that way, and even in the Churches that are that way, it is easy to get missed if you are not good at saying what you need, or don’t know the right person to talk to.
I don’t know all of the answers in a practical way for these problems, but I do know that Love is the only thing that will change any of it. Everyone needs to stop fighting each other about rules and regulations, and LOVE each other. Only when I felt loved did my walls start to drop enough that I could understand anything I was learning. Only when we start to love will we be able to heal the crisis of pain that our world is consumed by.

Acts 15: Christians Chill Out and Love

“Reading 1 Acts 15:22-31

The Apostles and presbyters, in agreement with the whole Church, decided to choose representatives and to send them to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas.

The ones chosen were Judas, who was called Barsabbas, and Silas, leaders among the brothers.

This is the letter delivered by them:

“The Apostles and the presbyters, your brothers, to the brothers in Antioch, Syria, and Cilicia of Gentile origin: greetings. Since we have heard that some of our numberwho went out without any mandate from us have upset you with their teachings and disturbed your peace of mind, we have with one accord decided to choose representatives and to send them to you along with our beloved Barnabas and Paul, who have dedicated their lives to the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

So we are sending Judas and Silas who will also convey this same message by word of mouth:

‘It is the decision of the Holy Spirit and of us not to place on you any burden beyond these necessities, namely, to abstain from meat sacrificed to idols, from blood, from meats of strangled animals, and from unlawful marriage. If you keep free of these, you will be doing what is right. Farewell.'”

And so they were sent on their journey.

Upon their arrival in Antioch they called the assembly together and delivered the letter.

When the people read it, they were delighted with the exhortation.”

Can you imagine a world where religion worked like this?

In my life, the Church has not worked this way. Every time I have obeyed all the rules I was given, I was given more rules, and more until my head spun with all of the things I could and couldn’t do, and could and could not think or feel or want or say or not say. I HATE that.

I hate the feeling of being convinced that no matter how hard I try God will not love me, and will not want me, and I will never be good enough for Him. That is the conviction I believe that Christ came to fight. He didn’t come to find “sinners” and call them out and yell at them, He lingered with them and showed them love and talked to them like they were people too. The only times He got angry or renounced someone was when they were putting burdens on others. The Pharisees judging everyone while they themselves were just as bad if not worse, the people trying to kill a woman for sinning. Jesus came to LOVE everyone, and to teach us to love everyone.

So what if religion took that into consideration more often? What if Catholics spent less time calling other people names and talking about how evil they are and instead, came to them in their pain. What it when we saw a meme about abortion or about homosexuality or a tv show or whatever, we took a second to think about the other person and how they feel, and we approached the situation with love.

What if we took into consideration that the entire world is a huge mess of confusion and so much information about what is and isn’t right and all of the contradicting rules are too much to constantly be throwing new ones at people, and we took a second to just tell them they are loved.

What if we let go of our pride about being “right” and knowing all of the truth better than anyone else, long enough to really understand what someone else believes?

I’m not saying that the truth doesn’t matter, but what I am saying is that the Spirit we are in this letter is a spirit of seeing the suffering of others and tending to it, instead of having impossibly high expectations of people and being cruel because of it.

There is a passage in the gospel that talks about people laying burdens on others that even they can’t carry, and it calls to mind the Catholics I have heard devastated and exhausted under the weight of everything they are asking everyone, even those who don’t even believe in Jesus yet to do. Some of the most judgemental Catholics I know are Catholics who have “fallen into grievous sin,” and are imposing their own grief and shame into other peoples lives.

What if we didn’t do that?

What if we just let Jesus be love?

What if He gave us everything He did to love us, not to consider every move we make sinful?

What if “Catholic Guilt” was not a thing anymore, but instead “Catholic love?”

What if we were as joyful as the Christians who celebrate Christ’s unconditional love for them?

What if we didn’t ask for a life free of any possible even not completely perfect act, but instead asked for a life dedicated to Love and living in Love?

What if we healed others and loved others in their pain instead of causing more?

Can we Be Jesus to others in our lives, so that they can feel the love we get to feel? How can we make that effort? How can we ease the burdens and sufferings of others in this world and accept them where they are at, like the apostles did in this letter.

Can we just decide together not put “any burden, just the necessities” on each other and instead spend our time and energy loving others and taking care of them?

The Abortion Bills

Tonight, my newsfeed is full of anger and sadness. Pain is manifesting all over the internet in 100 ways, from the women whose hearts are breaking over the children dying, to the women who see their own lives being torn away in front of them. There are screenshots being shared in all of my groups of what other people have said accompanied by comments about how wrong they are, how sad it is, condescendingly talking about how they could be so stupid(though of course never worded that way.) I am just overcome with sadness for all of it.

The pro-life people I have met in my life tend to downplay the struggles of having children. They talk about what wonderful gifts children are, and how grateful we should be to have them. They are right, but they are also full of it. I have listened while many of them talk about how important it is to talk about the good things about having kids, because our culture doesn’t. Many of them are in denial over their own problems and/or are constantly talking about offering their sacrifices up to God and how we are just meant to suffer on earth. The truth is though, if they were to be honest, they KNOW how hard it is to raise a child to the depths of their being. Pro-life mother’s everywhere are crying because they found out they are pregnant and they don’t know how they are going to feed another child, they are screaming angry at God because they don’t want to have another miscarriage, they are wishing they would miscarry because they are so tired, they are angry that they can’t have a child when mothers everywhere don’t want theirs. The thing that sucks is most of them are afraid to say any of this out loud. They are full of dark thoughts that make them feel afraid they are evil or something is wrong with them and they try to fit into the mold of what they are supposed to be because they are pro-life.

Many pro-choice women are strong women who have been through hell, and they are done with it. They want to have control because they know what it feels like not to, and they never want to feel that again. They don’t believe they are killing children.

Let me repeat that again.

They do not believe they are killing children. Literally, I have never spoken to a woman who believed an abortion actually killed a child who was also pro-choice. I have told this to pro-life Christians over and over and over. Over and over I hear other Christians telling each other, “how can they believe it’s ok to kill a child?” They. Don’t. It makes me so angry, that right now I want to spin off into a rant about how mad that makes me and how angry but that’s not the point of this post.

Almost 50 years ago, the pro-life side was in shock and tears when abortion was made legal. Tonight pro-choice people everywhere are living the same thing, different side. Yet, neither side has any compassion for each other. Condescending pity, sometimes, but not true compassion or empathy.

Someone with true compassion or empathy would truly see how the other side feels. Maybe say to the pro-choice moms, “Hey, I know how scary this must be for you. I know you believe this is a matter of being told what to do with your body in a world where that happens all the time in really scary ways. I’m here for you.” Pro-life people have already been through this side. You know the pain of living in a country that doesn’t agree with you, that’s what they are afraid of right now. That is a terrifying thing to experience, whether you agree with them or not.

Facebook sucks for this because the internet is mostly made up of the facades we put together to try to be who we want to be instead of who we are, so our defense mechanisms go wild whenever anything emotional is going on. Instead of throwing knives at each other like people did in ancient times, we are throwing around insulting or quasi-informative fear inducing memes and hoping that we will change the world with it. We may change the world with some memes, but will we change the hearts of the teenage girl who is crying alone in her basement right now? The dad who is grieving a loss? The mothers who have lost children? The mothers who have had abortions? Anyone else who is acting out about the changes happening whether on the pro-choice or pro-life side, and is really just crying out on the inside.

There is so much pain on both sides tonight. I don’t want to argue the right or wrong. I just want everyone to stop throwing words at each other, and really talk, hear each other, love each other. Grieve for those who are feeling fear, and rejoice for those who are feeling joy and hope for the first time in a long time.

If you are commenting on Facebook, or Twitter, or wherever else, just take a second tonight, and be love to that person. Slow down before you respond, and maybe just think about their side before you respond, or what they have been through. Better yet, ask them about it, not just to argue with them, but hear their story, and love them through it. I’m not saying you have to believe they are right or agree with them, but you can change how we handle issues in this world.

I Choose Love

I wrote a post a couple of days ago about who God is, and how He will reveal Himself to you however you ask Him to. That being said, something felt wrong ever since I posted it, but I couldn’t figure out what because I really believe He does that, but then I realized that I didn’t talk about why I have chosen who I have.

Every day I choose Jesus. Even when I am left standing gaping at Him like what the heck did you just do? Or even what was that for? I have a lot of friends who don’t believe in God, and honestly, I don’t blame them because I wouldn’t either if I hadn’t had a few really amazing experiences of the real-ness of being with God.

Here the thing, I have rational reasons for choosing Him.

Jesus is love.

He ate with sinners.

He lashed out at those who hurt other people.

He wants to be our friend, lover, family.

He forgives everything.

But what really matters when it comes to faith is your experience with the person of God. Some people have never experienced Him, some have experienced Him in different ways than me. For me, He is friend, lover, father and more.

Since I got married and lost a child weeks into my marriage I really struggle with God. The problem of evil is nothing when you aren’t faced with unfathomable pain, but once you are, it is everything. I raged at God, I questioned Him, I begged Him to be with me and heal me, I wondered if I’d leave Him completely.

I didn’t.

This year, He took me aside to talk. 

He wanted me to have a deeper relationship with Him, and to clear up some confusion about who He is. See, I have experienced some very negative religious communities in my life, that have given me some really messed up ideas of who God is. 

This year, He took me aside and took me through so many lies I had been told, and showed me how wrong they were and who He was instead.

He started with Financial Peace University. So many of us have been told the lie over and over and over that God does not care about our well-being here on earth, and that all He cares about is our salvation. This year, I learned that He has plans for our success here, and I learned about His advice to make that happen. He does not promise that there will be no suffering, but He does give advice to help us make smart decisions, and He does give extra grace and blessings when we ask for them, and when we follow them. 

He also sent me to Bible Study. Bible Study was the center of a million different things He showed me, but the biggest one was that He still wanted me to be close to Him. It had been years since I had been at a Church that I really loved, or in a spiritual community that I felt safe in. The Bible study I went to is a beautiful testament to what I really believe the Church is meant to be and I am undyingly grateful to have been there. 

Lent was like a spiritual boot camp of feeling completely destroyed by the lies I had been told and climbing out of them learning how to cast them off. It was hard. Holy Week was the most intense week, and anyone who reads this blog knows how dark Holy Week got for me. Easter was even more intense because God showed Himself to me in a way I haven’t fully seen Him in a long time. He showed Himself to me in bright splendor, and I was scared because I was afraid to believe that He had the power to overcome all things, because there are some big things in my life He has not overcome yet, and if He hasn’t and He can, that is a worse pain than believing He can’t sometimes. 

I want to live with the assurance of God’s love, assistance, and abundance like the Christians do. I want to live with the Eucharist and intimacy that I find in the remains of what the Catholic Church should be. I want to live with the freedom that the atheists do. 

The crazy thing is that I believe that through Jesus, God showed us that is exactly what He wants for us. He wants us to be assured of His love. He wants us to be close to Him. He wants us to be free. 

I can hear all three groups fighting, seemingly constantly about who is better,  and has more truth, and condemning each other, but the truth is that everyone is seeking God in their own way. I even believe that the people who have left the Church are looking for the God that the Church is not always putting forward. Jesus did not divide, unless people were getting hurt. Jesus reached out to people who were considered unworthy. He went and found the woman with 5 husbands, and talked to her even though He knew it would be a huge scandal if He was found out, and He didn’t condemn her. He loved her where she was. He encouraged her not to sin anymore, but their conversation was not about sin. Their conversation was about love, and need. Over and over again, we see this happen with Him. Even down to the two commandments He gives-Love God, Love your neighbor. This is because if you really love, sin disappears. Not that doing the right thing doesn’t matter, but that if you love, you will do the right thing.

So, I choose Jesus, but not in a vague, whoever the Church or whatever person I talk to says He is, but in who He says He is, and I believe that in Scripture He told us He is Love, and I choose which Churches I attend, and people I trust based on Love. The Catholic Church as it is now, is a huge, huge mess, but the actual teachings of the Church, are not as cruel and hateful as so many churches can come across or be. There is a nugget inside of what the Church is supposed to be, and there are Churches that are living this reality, or at least striving to, and that is where you will find me. You will find me also in friendship, understanding, and conversation with those who disagree with me, and who are opposed to my views, because I believe in Love, not fear. You will also find me siding with the protestants and the non-Christians, fairly often, because Catholics don’t tend to hear them. They have needs, and many feel hurt by the Church and her people, but that is not who the Church is supposed to be, so I will not be that. I will be love to them, and I will be their voice among the Catholics, even when I am condemned by Catholic people for not being “Catholic enough.” 

 

Tangent note: To be clear, it’s not that I believe that I am better than most Catholics, or that I am better than the Church. I don’t believe that. I do, however, believe that there are a lot of things that are believed to be the Catholic Church, and are not, or are not explained well, and are not explained in love, and it is my responsibility to discern which truths are actually the truth, and which ones are not. I am not choosing to not follow the Church, I am choosing to understand what the Church is really saying, and to help them to say it better. 


There is a woman saint, St. Catherine, who went to France when the Pope left Rome to live in Paris long ago, and she told him, he needed to be in Rome. There is precedent for holy people coming forward and saying, “This is not okay.” The Catholic Church as it is now, is not okay, and the only way it will become okay, is if we make it what it was meant to be in the first place. The only way to do that, is to love the people that hate the Church, and see what happened to make them hate it, understand them, and give them what Jesus actually had to offer, not condemnation, but love. 

“The Elusive Nature of God”

*title by Patrick O’Donnell

The hard thing, the impossible thing, about God, or really I guess about a true relationship with God, is that He is not physically present in the way that our other relationships are.

The philosophical question as my husband phrased it is, “Is it even possible to have a relationship with someone who is not accountable to us? Is it possible to have a real relationship if He won’t just come down and talk to us?”

I have struggled with this time and again throughout my life.

The analogy I use for my relationship with God most often is that of a Bridegroom and His bride, but to be honest if my earthly bridegroom left me some letters and ditched me with some stuff to remember him by, while he had the ability to stay with me, I would hate him for it. I would never forgive him. I would swear he did not love me. Basically, that’s what sucks about a relationship with God. He left us a book, and the Eucharist and we are supposed to believe He is present in it, and we do or do not believe that, but we still have to put that forward, we still have to believe that, and worse, we are taught that we HAVE to believe He is there or we are going to Hell for it, because that’s equivalent to not choosing Him, but again, if my husband left me alone in the midst of people who wanted to love and/or hurt me without letting me know what the heck was going on or where he was, that would be unconscionable.

It’s hard for me to write this, because this year, I have had consolation after consolation. I have read Scripture and I have felt God’s presence in ridiculously tangible ways that I know are Him, but the thing is that even in those moments, I know how crazy I sound. I joke about how God uses the GMC Acadia as a comfort for me because as we are Dave Ramseying our future I needed a visual, and it has been the symbol of the “covenant” so to speak that God has made with me this year-I know Catholics may balk at that because it seems irreverent, but a covenant is a promise, and I believe God has made promises to me from the time I was born, and I believe I am meant to believe in them, and I believe He has sent the Acadia to help me through a very difficult year.

It’s not just that either, I have a million stories of crazy things God has done in my life or asked of me or how He has revealed Himself, but there is always that question in the back of your head, “Was He really there, or did I just make that up? And if I made that up, then what about all of these things I believed in because of it?”

That is where Faith comes in, whether we like it or not. Faith is the decision to believe that the weird crazy relationship you have with God is real. In order to have faith as a relationship, you have to believe in your own experience of Him, even when it seems crazy. And my way of solving the fact that we will never know the truth for sure is that I have told God that the minute I get to Heaven the first thing I’m going to do is ask, “What the heck?!?”

A Good Friday Style Easter

This Easter was a hard one for me so far. On Friday, I saw a headline out of the corner of my eye, “When Easter feels like Good Friday.” I had a sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach.

As I crawled through lent this year, my refrain was, Easter is almost here, Easter is almost here. Now that it was here it was almost harder in some ways. I felt like everything was supposed to be happy, we are supposed to be feasting, but I think I was in tears for half of this Easter week. I was exhausted from trying to reach the Resurrection and feeling like it’s so far away.

I repeated over and over “I believe,” because I choose to believe in the Resurrection and hope, but I heard myself in my head being like Martha, “I know we will rise, at the Resurrection of us all,” and then I crumble in fear for all of our struggles here. Jesus rose Lazarus after weeping with Martha when she said those words. I kept asking Him to understand where my fear is coming from and to be with me, and help me.

It feels arrogant though sometimes to ask for help when my worst problems are nothing compared to the horrors going on in the world. Every day there’s a new tragedy. Over 200 people died on Easter. How can we feast when the entire world is crying out in fear and pain? So I feel guilty for my joyful days, but then when I am caught up in my own misery I feel guilty for thinking my problems are anything in the grand scheme of things.

This Easter in particular was a weird one. How do you reconcile the birthday of Hitler/20th anniversary/national pot day with each other, let alone with Easter the next day? How do you reconcile incomparable world ending joy with unimaginable evil?

I think there was something happening this year. Something we couldn’t see. This lent it seemed like everyone was dying. Everytime I got on Facebook there was a new notification of someone dying. And these were not just any normal expected deaths, many of these were out of nowhere terrifying horrible things happening. The fire in Notre Dame was like a symbol for everything happening.

Yet there have been little moments when I have seen hope in the world. One night when the world seemed so heavy, and so many terrifying deaths had been announced, I fell to my knees(and I hate kneeling) and I just begged for mercy. The next day was the most beautiful day outside, the sun was shining and everyone was happy. So many people were talking about how the world felt so much lighter. I know that my prayers were not the only ones going up that night, but that time I felt prayer work.

I didn’t realize during lent that it was the 20th anniversary of Columbine. I found out on Holy Saturday, and it seemed only fitting. Something about the gravity of this year made sense with that being the case. I had hoped that on Easter there would be some great turn around and this year would turn into everyone’s most amazing year ever. I know that’s a little crazy, but I’ve always been known to have high expectations. I can’t help being an idealist.

Well, there wasn’t a huge immediate turn around, but I’m starting to see little changes in people and even bigger changes in me, so I don’t know, maybe it’s a battle we have to fight the long way, maybe we have to feel like we have earned it or we won’t appreciate it, or maybe it’s just too big of a battle for one moment to win, but whatever the case, I am working on fighting every little battle that is given to me, and I believe that one day we will see the battles we have won.

Easter

I have been procrastinating this post since Easter. I don’t honestly know how to write this without sounding all the kinds of religious crazy. It’s funny how much easier for me to share my spiritual struggle than to share this.

This Easter, God sent me a gift. The city we just moved to has concerts all the time, and it is so hard for me that I never have the time or the money for them. A couple of days before Easter, I got a notification that Hillsong United was giving a free concert for Easter.
Hillsong United is so special to me. Oceans (Where Feet May Fail) was the song I walked in to at my wedding and it is my comfort when the ocean feels too far away. Their music centers me and brings me hope, and you know how much I was struggling with hope this Holy Week. I was so touched that I immediately wrote to my husband begging that we go. Despite all the sacrifices it required of him, he agreed. (He ended up making a lot of sacrifices to get me to this concert, but it was so worth it-at least, I think so.)
We almost didn’t go. It was SO difficult trying to maneuver our schedules and plans for Easter and for Easter Mass around the concert, and then we got in a huge fight on the way, and got lost, and then couldn’t find parking. I was so determined though, I was praying my heart out. “God, I believe this was your Easter gift to me, get us there.”
Those of you who did not grow up Catholic probably know already what I found out pretty quickly, this was a service, not just a concert, but even though I was kind of freaking out about that(Catholics technically aren’t supposed to go to other religions services) I decided the concert part was worth it. I hadn’t’ been to praise and worship in far too long.
Let me tell you, we celebrated Easter in a way I have never seen before. The lyrics to the main song we sang were “Here I stand high in surrender, I need you now, take my heart, now and forever my soul cries out. Once I was broken, but you have my whole heart now, sin has no hold on me, and your grace holds me now.” The worship leaders talked over and over again about how through Christ’s Resurrection sin’s hold on our lives is destroyed. If He can be victorious over death, than He can win over anything else. A friend who is studying to be a pastor had told me these same things, and technically, the Church teaches the same thing, but hearing them this way, with the music, something just clicked.
I kept hearing Dave Ramsey talk about ending a family tree that is used to debt, and how “the sins of the father are visited on the son” no longer has to be true because of Jesus, and everything they were saying gave me so much hope, and simultaneously so much fear.

It sounds crazy to say hearing this brought fear, but hope is a dangerous and terrifying thing. If you believe in hope, you could end up humiliated and ashamed. Embarrassed for even thinking you were worth whatever awesome thing you have believed in. Hoping in a good God who wants to save you from anything He can is terrifying, because He won’t always save you. So there will be times where your hope looks absurd and ridiculous, and you just have to trust that there is something else going on. That’s easy to accept when you haven’t been through tragedy, but once you have, its incredibly difficult to accept that a good God who wants us to live abundantly would allow your child to die.

Over and over again throughout the service, the songs, the talks, everything, the theme was believing that God wants us to experience life and joy and love. That He wants us to let Him inn, and He has wonders in store for us. The Our Lady of Lourdes saying that haunts me echoed in the back of my mind trying to create fear and despair, “I cannot promise you happiness in this life, only in the next.” I’ve written before how this phrase has been a stumbling block for me over and over and over.

I struggled so much to maintain the hope that the concert had brought to me. I kept downplaying it because it was weird that we ended up in a service, or it was hard to get there. Even now though, I am replaying over and over in my mind the celebration, the absolute joy of living in a religion that believes in hope. The thing is, Catholics believe this too, but it is so rarely emphasized. So often we hear about offering our sufferings to Christ, and bearing our Crosses, and we have Crucifixes all over our homes, but we almost never mention the Resurrection(yes there are exceptions to this, but in my experience this is a pretty common issue.) We almost never mention the fact that the reason why the Crucifixion is not a sign of complete despair is that we had the Resurrection three days later. We are not a Crucifixion people, we do not believe that suffering is our glory, though many people treat it like it is. We believe that suffering is valuable, but only like pain is-because it does other things.

Since that concert, I have been making every effort to remember Christ’s victory, and that He wants us to have a Resurrection to every Cross. We are not meant to worship suffering for sufferings sake, though we are asked to make the best of it.
The pastors asked us, “What would you do if you believed that God had already won your most important battle?” and I have been letting that question inform my decisions. I entered Academy Nicholls because if I believe that God loves me and that He can conquer anything for me, and I believe He wants me to do film, then He can get me into filmmaking. I took a break on the night I needed to, because God would take care of the last little bit of money stress, and He did. I dedicate myself more intensely to my kids during the day and ask that God take care of my worries while I love on them.
So let me ask you, “What would you do?” And why don’t you go do it now, because He is there, and He is watching you, and supporting you like none other can or will. At least, I hope He is because I’m going to stake my life on it.

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