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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Yes, The World Needs God, But Not Like That

A couple of weeks ago, there was a shooting in Texas that just devastated me. A couple days before I watched The Hate You Give, which rocked me as well. Both of these events are on the heels of, and preceding so many horrible tragedies and fearful events happening all over they world lately. I find myself desperate for God’s love to be present in our culture. However, I immediately feel guilty and annoyed at this sentiment, which then makes me feel guilty and annoyed for feeling guilty and annoyed at that. I caught myself thinking at one point, “The world just needs God,” and immediately rolled my eyes at myself. That phrase is one I have heard a thousand times, and it’s one that makes me instantly angry and I disagree with, even though I technically agree with the sentiment.

The problem with the phrase “The World Needs God” is that most people who use this phrase mean it in a very particular way. “The World Needs God” means that the world needs people who believe the same thing I believe, teach the way I teach. Mostly, what it really means is “the world needs people who follow all the rules I believe in.”

In my experience, the people who use this phrase are often the same ones who talk about how “the homosexuals are taking over” and they are going “ruin the family” or are hateful towards mothers who are thinking about abortion, or who are unkind to a woman because her skirt is one inch too short. What they mean by “The World Needs God” has nothing to do with who God is as a person, and everything to do with who they believe He demands every person to be. These are the same people who talk about how the Church is getting smaller and that’s a good thing because all the lukewarm people are being weeded out.

What I mean when I say “The World Needs God” is something very different than the above. What I mean when I say it, is that the world needs UNCONDITIONAL LOVE. The world needs a force of love and acceptance that heals wounds on contact. The world needs tenderness, thoughtfulness, kindness, respect, and love. The world needs something that is more powerful than itself that can radically help people suffering in an unkind world. When I say “The World Needs God” I mean it in a desperate plea for an outpouring of love and mercy that can heal the hurts that are far too big for any one person to heal.

I’ve had many eyes rolled at me for making this distinction. “Oh but rules are important too.” Sure. Yes. How we act is important. But what did Jesus do when He came? Did He come down and look for people doing wrong so He could make them feel bad about themselves every day? Do you think He would’ve been invited to dine with the sinners every night if He had? He talked to people about sin when they hurt others, or when they already knew what they needed to change. Far more than that, He worked miracles in their lives, He touched people, He was kind to people when no one else would be kind to them.

What would the world look like if Christians stopped talking about who doesn’t belong and who’s not good enough and started letting everyone know that God wants them? What if we looked for the abandoned and lonely and told them they were worthy? What if we healed people, touched people, embraced people? What if we were happier with a loud bustling Church than a quiet perfectly fine Mass?

I have seen churches where this happens and it changes everything.

So yes, the world needs God, but not a God who only shames every person who comes to Him. The world needs Jesus who loves people where they are at, and guides them tenderly to their best self.

T.H.U.G.L.I.F.E. Part II: The Babies

Just to clarify; This may not have been what Tupac meant, but this is what keeps coming to me when I think of this line. A post closer to what he meant is in part one.

The

Hate

You

Give

Little

Infants

Fucks

Everyone.

I’m going to write about something I don’t particularly like to write about.

Abortion.

I know, you’re rolling your eyes, so am I every time I read another of these posts.

Oh great, here’s another hateful post talking about how our society are killers, and we are evil.

Look, that’s not fair. Abortion is a very complicated subject because for centuries we were not able to get much information about babies in the womb. Even St. Thomas Aquinas wrote an article that could be used as a defense of abortion. He said that the soul joined the body at birth. Well, if that’s the case, then technically according to the philosophical definition of a human body as a body soul composite, then it wouldn’t really be considered a human until birth.

The problem, for lack of a better word, is that we have a lot more information now. We have seen babies shy away from the instruments used for abortion. We have seen babies born at 21 weeks and LIVE, even if not for long.

I do not believe we are a society of killers, I do not believe that pro-choice people are murderers. I do, however, believe that these children are in pain. I also am starting to believe there are consequences sometimes to actions we don’t understand.

Just some consequences of abortion are:

Struggling in motherhood is not respected or valued in the same way as it could be, because we had the power to end it, so people don’t need to help mothers because they will just condemn them and say they shouldn’t have had a kid in the first place.

There are women who are suffering because they chose not to have their own child, and now their bodies and minds cry out for their baby who is missing. (This is a real struggle that happens to moms who have had abortions, not necessarily all but enough to be a serious suffering that people are enduring.)

There are men who have made children who will never get to meet them.

There are children who know that someone in this world did not want them to exist before they were even born. That is a horrible feeling to grow up with.

Our society is in a social war and constantly talking about the death of children, what does that do to a collective consciousness?

The Hate U Give Little Infants Fucks Everyone.

I don’t think anyone would deny we are a culture in pain. I would not go so far as to say abortion is the only reason, but I don’t think it’s helping the situation. If babies are supposed to be our hope for the future, then what happens when we end then before they begin?

T.H.U.G.L.I.F.E.

The

Hate

U

Give

Little

Infants

Fucks

Everyone.

-Tupac

Last night, I tried to watch The Hate U Give, the emotional true story of a black girl who watches her friend get killed by a police officer. Later, she is called to testify, but I haven’t gotten that far, because I had to take a break. (White privilege is that I was able to take a break.) The above line T.H.U.G.L.I.F.E. is discussed just minutes before the shooting happens.

The Hate U Give Little Infants Fucks Everyone.

This phrase resonates in my soul and it has taken up residence in my heart as a truth so powerful I almost can’t handle it, representing an anger in me that is boundless. For the last week, the image of the children of immigrants that got left at daycare because their parents were taken by ICE has been indelibly burned into my consciousness. There is also the image of black children being told by their parents how to act when a policeman comes so that they don’t get shot. Then, there’s the image of children wearing bulletproof backpacks so they have protection if there is a school shooting.

People call millennials entitled, but what does it do to a person to grow up with the fears we have? We watched as thousands of people died in New York City when we were little, and we were barraged with news coverage about the two kids who shot up Columbine. What will happen to the children that are suffering now? What does it do to a person to lose their parents to the government? What does it do to watch your child die because they went to Walmart?

The Hate U Give The Little Infants.

Our little ones are suffering in ways that are unimaginable. It is unbearable for me to even think of what is happening to them, the constant undercurrent of fear that must be crying out in their bones, and then all the people who are silent or who turn a blind eye, or say, “It’s not that bad!” If one child was abandoned because their parents suddenly disappeared, that is too many. If one child died in a shooting, that is too many. If one child saw the news coverage of any of this, and has to know they live in a world like this, that is too many.

The pain will come back to us. It already has in some ways. Our hope(as a country) is depleted, our children suffer from anxiety, our lives feel without meaning sometimes. We sit still while people are being hurt in unimaginable ways. I know we can’t spend every moment of our lives trying to fix every evil, but there are some really big evils going on, are we doing anything at all to fix them?

681 Children: Lord, Save them and Have Mercy on us.

I am so angry about what’s happening at the border. Like, so angry.

I have this horrible image in my head of a little baby boy at daycare, crying because he doesn’t know where his Mama is.

I want to wake up from this horrible nightmare, and tell myself it isn’t true. It isn’t happening.

But it is.

And not just one little boy.

681 families.

Lord. Have Mercy on us.
That is disgusting.

That is evil.

That is horrifying and unbearable.

Even one is too much to comprehend for me, how can we handle 681?

Where is our mercy?

Where is our love for the children? For their parents? For anyone?

If you are feeling this way too, here is a list of ways you can help. Please, do whatever you can, if you have extra money, donate it, if you have time, use it, if you are good at politics and that stuff, do something. I am working hard to do whatever I can, but just me is not enough. We all have to rise up to MAKE. IT. STOP.

https://www.yesmagazine.org/peace-justice/immigrant-children-border-crisis-how-to-help-20190625

How to Stop Mass Shootings: ACTIVE LOVE

https://www.latimes.com/opinion/story/2019-08-04/el-paso-dayton-gilroy-mass-shooters-data

Today, while researching what to do about mass shootings in America, I came across this article. The author of this article researched what the commonalities between the shooters were. Two of them, made my heart ache: most of the killers suffered from some sort of mental illness, and most of them suffered some sort of traumatic event. As someone who has a mental illness, and someone who has been alone through a traumatic event, I have been there, and I have lived moments where I just wanted to watch the whole world burn, but it doesn’t have to be this way.

I have struggled with anxiety and depression my whole life. I didn’t know how to talk to my parents about it, or how to get help. They didn’t understand what was happening to me, and neither did I, so we just pushed through. I pushed through nightmares, stomachaches, paralyzing fear, fainting, and more. Sometimes, every day seemed like my worst nightmare.

It got worse as I got older. I had to take on more responsibility and more worries, when I was already crushed under the weight of what I was already struggling with. I was constantly yelling at myself for not being able to get it together like everyone else could. I tried to go to counseling, even made it a couple of times, one was really helpful, the other was really not. Counseling was expensive though, really expensive, and I was struggling with money and years of built up money anxiety, so it wasn’t an option.

Something that I think a lot of people don’t understand about depression and anxiety is the brain fog that complicates everything. While some people may just say, “Oh, I’m going to a counselor,” it may not be that simple for someone who really needs it. They may be paralyzed with fear of what the counselor might do if they say the wrong thing, they may be terrified about how the heck they are going to afford the counseling, they may be worried about how they are going to get to appointments, if the counselor is going to judge them, or even if the counselor’s office is going to smell weird. It could be anything, but it’s terrifying. If the person also can’t afford it, or has a hard time affording it, on top of that, it’s really hard to see it as an option.

The thing that sucks the most, though, about depression is the loneliness and isolation. Our culture, especially Christian culture, is hellbent on positivity. We talk about “energy vampires” and negative people, and “debbie downers,” and we encourage each other to back away from them, to keep ourselves healthy. This makes me so angry I could literally spit. These people are the ones who need help the most, and they are the ones who are not getting it. When I was going through my very worst period of depression, nearly all of my friends stopped talking to me. Completely. Then at the end of the year, they were like, “Why didn’t you tell us it got so bad?” This is how we treat people who are struggling, and then, we are surprised that they are losing their minds?

This brings me to a part of my history that is really hard for me to talk about. My miscarriage. When I lost Emma Rose, I was a newlywed with big hopes and dreams for the future that all came crashing down around me. We were navigating the complicated time of figuring out new family relationships while everything I believed in seemed to me to be a lie. We were grossly mistreated at the hospital after waiting for 6 hours, so much so that even three years later, when I complained too late, the hospital held a training session for the doctors.

It’s not just the medical field though, Catholics are great at helping out the people that they think need help. The people that they see as good and holy and fun get an abundance of help when they need it. They get meals delivered to them, flowers, money sometimes, all kinds of things. I DO NOT IN ANY WAY BEGRUDGE THEM THIS. I AM HAPPY FOR THEM, AND I EVEN HELP. However, I was the unpopular Catholic. I got the facebook “I’m sorry’s” and a meal from my mom(who did offer to help more, but we just were so lost we didn’t even know how to ask.) Worse though, my husband and I were treated horribly by the Catholics in our area. A youth group ganged up on us making nasty side comments about birth control and bragging about who got pregnant earliest. We said nothing, though we were pregnant first, but we cried on the way home. Priests gave homilies over and over again about how holy the families with a lot of children were, and I couldn’t bear staying in Mass for one second longer than I had to.

Now, I am struggling with post partum depression, on top of the depression and anxiety I already had, on top of being low income and figuring out motherhood. After months of searching, I finally found a counselor I could afford, then the entire world fell apart every time I tried to go, and then my car broke down and my mom got a job, so now I don’t have the time to go, and even if I did, I’d have to take both toddlers. I have called multiple remote therapy places, and their discount rates are absurd. If you are low income, $180 a month is NOT going to happen. Seriously. Even Catholic Psych’s low income option at $120 a month is crazy. If you are living on a low income with anxiety and depression, this is your worst nightmare.

My point is not to ask any of you to feel sorry for me. My point is that, in a lot of ways, I am a person with MORE help than usual. Not less. In fact, a LOT more help than most people have. People who are dealing with traumatic events, and dealing with mental illness, or heaven forbid, both, are falling through the cracks. I can promise you that is the truth because I am fighting a hard battle to try not to fall through the cracks and I am seeing the other people who fall.

We HAVE to get more and better help out there for people who are struggling. We HAVE to have people looking for those who are struggling and offering them a helping hand instead of turning them away. WE HAVE TO HELP THEM. We are all struggling, I know, and we are barely holding our heads above water, but we all have to help each other, and we have to watch out for the people who are getting missed.

Please, next time a friend of yours is upset more often than you want her to be, or a guy friend is acting weird, or struggling, don’t turn them away. Please give them a shoulder to cry on, not just to prevent the violence, but to heal the hurt that is all over this world right now. Please do whatever you can to help the mentally ill. Use your talents. Whatever you are good at, DO IT. Help them. Help our world to be a better place. There is so much pain, please help anyone you can.

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.

5 Years Ago Today: Trigger Warning-Miscarriage

Trigger Warning: Miscarriage

5 Years Ago Today was the day I lost my first child.

5 Years Ago Today was the day she died.

Today, I lived my life like nothing was wrong.

I played with my double rainbow babies.

I did the dishes.

I cleaned the house.

But I saw a butterfly and I asked if it was her.

I asked her to be with me, but only if she wants to be,

Because I hope she’s happy in heaven without me,

Even though she’s without me, and I’m without her.

5 Years Ago Today, I screamed like I had never screamed before.

5 Years Ago Today, I held her body.

5 Years Ago Today, there was blood all over the floor

Of the tub. I didn’t know that that could happen.

Usually I don’t bleed when I shower,

But when you’re losing them it doesn’t stop, even for the water flow.

5 Years Ago Today, I thought I would die if it didn’t stop.

5 Years Ago Today, she died and I did not.

Some Hope for the Way

Lately, I have been struggling, like, a lot. I’ve been sharing that story because I believe in honesty about our struggles, and I believe that sharing our truth helps others who are struggling, but lately I have been trying to make sure I am balancing out those posts with the amazing ways that God is working in my life, to comfort me and help me move forward.

Yesterday, God took me aside to give me some encouragement. I am working hard on writing my screenplays, which is something that I believe God has called me to do, but I have been feeling so hopeless about our future that it has been hard to continue even trying some days. Yesterday, He saw that in me and He filled me.

First thing in the morning, I woke up to see a meditation in my email about God hearing those who pray for a long time. The theme was “it could be tomorrow” and the Bible readings for it were all about people who were promised things by God, suffered for a time and then, received what they were promised. This year, I felt convinced that God would hear my prayers about my film career, and that it was one for me to start working towards it in earnest again, but I’ve been praying for this since I was born. I have suffered being mocked for it, told it was evil, lectured about how God doesn’t care about it, and I left what I believed God wanted me to do because other people didn’t believe me. I felt Him telling me, “Hey, any day now it could happen!” Which really is true, because I’m waiting on a lot of people who are reading my work.

The second thing was an article about Lady Gaga and how she went completely bankrupt without even realizing it. She had to pay for all of these things for her tour and she put it all on credit cards, so she ended up 3 million dollars in debt. The third was another article about a screenwriter who made 5.1 million one year and was homeless the next. Again, the culprit was credit cards and spending money he didn’t have. In addition, he talked about how hard it is to deal with the pretense of wealth in Hollywood.

Both of these were really powerful for me to read because my husband and I have done Dave Ramsey this year, and we have learned a ton about how to manage our money. We are struggling with money in a very emotional way right now, and we have spent a lot of tears. I have learned to over and over again put my financial worries and longings in God’s hands. I have learned that God cares about our financial needs, and that if we put it in His hands, He will take care of us. It will not always be great or what I want it to be, but He will provide. I have also learned how important it is to do well with the money you are given. Film is a business where you may make a ridiculous amount of money one year, and nothing the next, and I believe that God was showing me that if I had made it into film before this year, I would not have taken care of the money well, and we would not have used it the way God really wants it to be used.

I felt so encouraged by all of this, not because God has given me everything I wanted or I know He will and my wait is over, but because He saw me, needing some encouragement, afraid that nothing in my life will ever get better, and He sat with me and talked with me in the best way He could about how wise His timing is, and that I should keep trying and praying.

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