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.

Love First

I am currently reading a book about Boundaries that threw me for a loop and shut me down a little bit. I started to believe that maybe everything I ever said was wrong and everything I have ever believed is ridiculous. It discusses that it is ok to set boundaries and say “this is ok” or “this is not ok.” Some of the ways they talked about it made me feel like maybe I don’t believe in truth and everything everyone has said about me being a relativist is right. I’ve been thinking about that a lot. The conclusion I have come to for now is that I do believe that there is truth. I do believe that there I can know the truth and set boundaries. However, I don’t believe that I know all of the truth, and I believe that truth is better shared when love has created a foundation first.

I grew up in a community that was so focused on rules that everyone hated everyone. The adults were all constantly gossiping about and criticizing each other. It was ridiculous. Our priest was the worst of all of them. He gossiped about everyone and had something awful to say about everyone at one point or another. Before that priest, there was this meek, quiet priest who terrified altar boys behind the scenes. He had them trained so intensely that I saw an altar boy wet his pants so he wouldn’t get in trouble for leaving the altar. Even before that, we went to a Church that literally threw people out if they didn’t do exactly what the priests wanted them to do. In fact, a good family friend even broke off his engagement just on their say so. Obviously, my experience of the Catholic Church has been less than positive to say the least.

In college, I got to experience something completely different.

I went to Ave Maria University, and Father Colum and Father Henry terrified me. They were different than anything I had ever seen before. I avoided their Mass because it was the praise and worship Mass, and I had been raised to believe that was evil. One time I went to confession to Father Colum and he yelled at me and I thought he was a monster.

One day, I let my friends convince me to attend a silent retreat with the nuns associated with Father Colum and Father Henry’s order. Every day I am so grateful that I did that. Father Henry gave a beautiful meditation on the baby Jesus and His love for us. It was unlike anything I had ever experienced. I will never forget that moment, in adoration with a tiny monstrance in front of us, listening to his calming voice tell us how incredibly loved we are.

It changed everything for me.

He talked about a God who made Himself a baby because He wanted us to see that He loved us and accepted us. For the first time in my life, I felt completely and truly accepted. He thought I was wonderful and amazing and beautiful. I cried so. many. happy. tears. that weekend.

Later, I started going to the praise and worship Mass and discovered it was nothing like what I had heard about. It was reverent and beautiful and full of love for God. Rarely did Father Colum or Father Henry talk about rules or what Catholics do or do not have to do in their sermons. They did do it occasionally, but very rarely, and only when it was a public issue for a reason. (For Ave students-the pie eating contest 😉 and the once yearly porn sermon of course.) They spoke about scripture and who Jesus was. They broke down epistles and gospels and explained what they mean for our relationship to God. It seemed like every time I was overwhelmed or stressed, they had exactly the words I needed to hear.

Over time, I spent more time with them, and I learned so much. Their ability to love others unconditionally was something I still treasure. One of the most powerful moments in my understanding of spirituality was when Father Henry who I had never heard condemn a single person for how they acted sexually, or judge anyone for being inappropriate, told me and my boyfriend that he wore the black cassock in Florida because he wanted to offer up the suffering for anyone who struggles with impurity. He didn’t say this in any manipulative way, we asked him about it. It was a completely genuine admission of an act of love he does for others. He didn’t even assign blame to anyone, or a type of act, just impurity.

Father Colum ironically became a safe place for me. He heard me out on things that no one else would, and took the time to guide me spiritually on them. When we studied James Joyce in school, everyone hated him and talked about how evil he was, but Father Colum heard me out on my staunch belief that Joyce’s devotion to God is still present in his work, and in fact, he wrote a book about it, that I am slowly attempting to read right now.

When Father Colum and Father Henry talked about “rules,” it was always from a place of understanding God’s love for us. Rules were not made up to make us suffer, they were not arbitrary. They were help given to us by a God who loves us to help us in a hard crazy world. They didn’t throw rules around at people who had no reason to follow them, they gave love, and then when we needed help with making good decisions we asked them.

I learned so much from them, but the point of this particular post is that all I needed all my life was to hear over and over and over again who God is. There are a thousand voices that say He hates us, and all the reasons why He will condemn us, but that’s not who He is. When I say that love is most important, I am not saying that truth doesn’t matter, but the truth is different if Love is first. Every rule that the Church gives is different if love is behind it. The way we argue, the way we talk, the way we teach, is different if love is behind it.

Over and over again I have had authorities in the Church argue with me about this. A famous archbishop shut me down at a talk about why millenials are leaving the Church(I was thinking about leaving the Church and I am a millenial,) a nun who barely knew me blew me off. Over and over again I have reassessed and questioned myself about this. Our faith is meant to be a deeper relationship with Christ. Christ was radically loving to the point of making people angry. Yes, we need to speak the truth. Yes, we need to believe in truth. No, it is not more important than Love. The Church will not heal until it starts being about radical Love again, and only giving the truth after that.

Please Stop Choosing Sides

Lately, my newsfeed has been inundated with posts screaming, “YOU HAVE TO CHOOSE A SIDE.” Of course, half the time the premise also includes condescending language about how if you don’t choose a side, you are choosing the wrong side, and there is something wrong with you. I am so sick of this.

Let me tell you right now. You do not have to choose a side.

You do have to make decisions in your life based on the knowledge you have at any given moment.

You do not have to choose a side.

Isn’t there enough side choosing in this world? Everything is about how we are divided from each other, and what makes us different, and why “I” am better than “you.”

Stop. Doing. That.

For all of the people spewing religion as the reason, and promising me that God will punish me if I don’t. Name me one time that Jesus took a side when He was on earth. He did not take sides. He loved people on either side. The only time He went up against people was when they were hurting someone else.

In fact, the people He went up against the most were the ones who were constantly beating other people over the head with their words. He got in trouble for “breaking the rules” again and again and again.

Yes, He did not come to “abolish the law” but to “fulfill it,” but that doesn’t mean that He didn’t dismiss things that weren’t really a part of the law, or were legalistic things that people were using to hurt others. The Pharisees tried to trap Him by asking about helping a man on a Sabbath day. There was no right answer to that, they would have said He was unwilling to help if He said not to help, and they would have said He didn’t honor the Sabbath if He said to help. He called them out and basically said, “You would help a sheep if it fell into a ditch. Isn’t a human more important? Of course, it’s ok.” AND THEY PLOTTED TO KILL HIM.


Sometimes, I feel like the Church today has a lot of people like this. Some Catholics are so caught up in the rules that they don’t see the people behind them, or worse, they just see them as evil. The Church I grew up in was so caught up in this that even though I was a goody two shoes, I basically wore a scarlet letter “A” my entire time there.

People have argued with me about this over and over and over again, and the biggest argument has always been, “Yeah, but Jesus said, ‘Go and sin no more,'” to the Samaritan woman.” Sure. He did. He never said what her sin was, and He never shamed her for sinning, or was harsh to her at all. He offered her life, and he offered her love. Same with the adulterous woman. “Whoever is without sin cast the first stone.” Ironically, He was the only one there with no sin, and He did not cast a stone.

I am not saying by any means that there is no truth, or that there is no right and wrong. I am always being told that that is what I am doing, but it’s not. Just because there is truth and there is right and wrong does not mean that you know all of it and I don’t. It also doesn’t mean that I know all of it and you don’t. There is a lot to learn and know in this world, and it is wise to realize that you are not the only one who knows truth, and you do not know all of the truth, and neither do I. We are all doing the best with what information we have been given, and that is all we can do.

This doesn’t mean that we can’t share our truth with others. That is the point of real discussion. If we have good reasons for believing what we do, it is good to share those reasons with others. It is not good to bludgeon them with our opinion and say they have to agree because we say so and our authority is better than theirs. Be willing to share your opinion, when it is the right time, and with kindness.

There is one exception to all of this. The one thing that really riled Jesus up. We need to protect people who are getting hurt. Jesus whipped the people who were taking advantage of the poor at the synagogue, He reprimanded those who wanted to kill the adulterous woman. Over and over again He defends those who are being hurt by others. He is the protector of the weak.

Is that who we are as Christians? Are we unashamed in our protection of those who are being hurt? Even if we don’t agree with them?

Are we vocal about protecting LGBTQ people from violence and discrimination? Do we speak about immigrants with kindness and love? Do we protect women who are trying to live a Godly life but it is an unbearable cross for them? Do we make our communities a safer place for everyone, not just the people who follow our dress codes, know our rules, and speak in our way?

Because there is one side everyone should be on. The side of Truth and Love. It takes humility to do that, to not be on one side or the other, but to see both sides and love both sides. It is what I strive to do, and what I pray that everyone will learn to do, so that there will be peace on earth. (starts singing, ‘and good will to men….’….yeah, couldn’t help it. 😉 )

Pax Christi.

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 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. 

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