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.

Planning for the Future: Even When All You Have Feels like Nothing

All day I’ve been cursing at myself about how we haven’t been planning for the future. “We had one good paycheck and we used it all up. We should have saved every penny for the future. This is God punishing us because we messed up again.” Over and over again I thought of all of the things I could have done better, or should have known about.

It took my husband forgiving me for yelling when one of the little one hit me, hard, in the face with a wet swimsuit, to snap me out of it. I immediately called her out to apologize for yelling. I saw him looking at me and said, “Look, I know, I’m a bad mom now. I’m trying, it’s just been a stressful day.” He silenced me and told me that he was just letting me finish. “You are being a good mom, most moms wouldn’t have apologized so quickly.” He told me I was a great mom, and all of my discouragement came out at him. I told him I felt like there was no point to anything and we failed and nothing turns out right in the end. He told me, “What makes the difference is you keep going.”

It rang in my ear for hours.

What makes the difference is you keep going.

I kept thinking about how many times I had started something and given up, how many times I had told myself that I would never get better, how many times people told me I would never succeed. I thought about what if it wasn’t true, what if everything really is hopeless? I thought about how important my why is.

Then, I started to realize little ways I am planning for the future that I wouldn’t have before. Last month we bought diapers in bulk with extra money so we would have leftover to get things for the girls. We are learning how to plan how much we will need for groceries. We have been planning out which paycheck we will need our medicines on. Then, I realized some little ways we are planning for the future. My husband is going to school for our future. I am submitting my writing everywhere I can think of for our future, we are living with my parents for our future. Our sacrifices may look like nothing to my naked eye, but, it occurred to me, maybe they are the seeds we will reap(‘you reap what you sow’ has been on my mind lately.)

Then I thought about faith as small as a mustard seed, and how small a mustard seed. What we are sowing now in this dry and hard season feels as small as a mustard seed. It feels like it doesn’t matter, like there’s no point, but we ARE sowing. Every single day we are planting seeds of financial freedom, planting seeds of a loving family, planting seeds of hope for the future of our dreams.

I don’t know if we will get to the end and say it was all for nothing. I sure hope not. I know that I have been told over and over about how God does not promise happiness in this life. I know though that God does WANT happiness for us in this life. He wants abundance in our lives, and no matter how many people tell me otherwise, He has told me over and again who He is when it comes to that. God wants us to have abundance. I also know that I can’t get to the end and know I didn’t at least try for a better future.

When Every Choice Feels Like Life or Death: Dave Ramsey with a Small Shovel

Last week, I spent too much of our grocery budget.

I was sick of not having snacks to eat or to give our toddlers. As any mom knows, all toddlers want to eat are snacks, all day long, every day, and it gets really old cooking a new meal every five minutes just for it to get thrown on the floor and crushed. Plus, I’m breastfeeding, so trying to get enough calories to sustain myself feels like a full time job in itself. On top of all of that, I was stressed, exhausted, and hungry, because the week before I didn’t overspend my grocery budget.

So I overspent.

Of course like every time I make a mistake, there was an avalanche of other things that went wrong in the paycheck, so there was nowhere to cushion. Plus, it was the first paycheck that I had really felt like I could breathe so I treated us a little bit. We got Downy Unstoppables, and I got the expensive bar soap. Some Dave enthusiasts would remind me that this was my stupid and it was fault, and I should’ve planned for the future better, do better next time. I can hear it now, because I’m telling myself all about it now.

The problem is, it’s not stupid. Right now, we really don’t have a lot of extra money. We are making big, big financial sacrifices to keep our babies healthy and loved. We can’t afford for me to be a stay at home mom, but we are working every day to make it possible and to survive it because it is so important to both of us that our little girls have me home with them.

Because of those financial sacrifices we are operating on a very low budget, with very few places to save money. Because of having so much going on, we have very little time to make more money, or to find ways to save more money. Yes, there are little places we could cut, but even our FPU coordinator said she thought we had it cut down to the barest bones possible.

The problem with being that low with only that much money coming in is that every single mistake is a world shattering stupid moment that can domino into a thousand different things going wrong. When more money is available, it’s easy to just switch around the budget to cover a mistake and it’ll be okay. In our situation, if I make a single mistake ever on how much I spend, it could affect our lives for the next month. If I get sick and don’t meal plan perfectly, or if I am tired, or if my husband works overtime, its like the entire world falls apart and I start to feel like there’s no point in even trying.

What’s even worse is the ridiculous amount of guilt I am consumed by, like it is my fault that we are suffering and I don’t even deserve for us to be better because I am so stupid. I am not stupid, I am a human going through a million different huge life transitions all at once with hormones flying in a thousand different directions. I am swimming against the current with weights tied to my back. In these moments, it is important to tell myself that. It is crucial to remind myself how freaking hard our situation is, or I just crumble in shame at my own weakness.

I have to remind myself every single day that even though it doesn’t feel like it we are moving forward. I have to remind myself to be grateful for what we do have, but it’s ok to struggle with what we don’t. I have to remind myself that we are learning important life lessons, and we have to be patient. I have to remind myself that it’s okay to accept help when it is the difference between spending time with our babes or not. I have to remind myself over and over again that there is hope.

I’m not always good about this, and sometimes the reminders feel ridiculous and I start to feel so worthless because we haven’t worked it out yet, and we haven’t finished our journey yet, but we are still trying. We are not giving up, no matter what it takes. We are moving forward even if it feels like it will never be enough. Even on the days when I feel like I am inside of a tornado, I am not giving up this fight.

If you know what it’s like to struggle like this, and you want to cry when some people talk about paying off huge chunks of debt, know that I am here fighting alongside you, you are not alone. There will be good days when you make some headway, and there may be days where living within your means feels like dying, and I am here with you for every one of them.

If you don’t know what this is like, that is totally fine. I am happy for you, and I am glad that your experience is better, but please just be gentle with the people who are in different situations than you are. Don’t assume someone is lazy because they aren’t making every choice you would, don’t assume anything about them. The greatest thing you can do is to just be there, hear them, and remember when something was hard for you, and what you needed back them. I pray every time I feel this way, that when I am rolling in the dough in my nice, big, beautiful house, I will never forget how hard it was to get there, and I will love on anyone who is trying to make their own journey forward.

I hope we see each other on Baby Step 7 one day, have a blessed day. ♥️♥️♥️♥️

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.

Opportunity Cost

The hardest lesson I learned while doing Dave Ramsey has to have been his brief mention of “Opportunity Cost.” He mentioned it as if it was a given, but ever since then I have been hung up on it, struggling with what it means. Basically, opportunity cost means that when you spend your money on one thing, you can’t spend it on something else, and vice versa. It’s a silly thing to be so hung up on, but as someone who is low income and struggles with money anxiety, it is really throwing me for a loop.

I keep catching myself about to spend money working myself into a tizzy about how if I spend this money on this now I won’t have it to spend later. This could be a choice between x or y. This paycheck we had a small amount of extra money, and I worked myself into a panic trying to decide whether to pay off debt, go to the doctor, or go to the dentist with it. It is an almost crushing fear that if I make the wrong decision God will never forgive me and we will never have money again, which is ridiculous, but it is the worst of the fears that arise in me. What sucks even more about this, is I’ve done it a couple of times, and ended up wasting the extra money because I couldn’t decide which important thing was most important.

Even writing this it sounds ridiculous. I keep debating if maybe I was too spoiled as a kid. Maybe I didn’t know it but I got everything I wanted, so now I’m incapable of accepting defeat, but to be fair, that’s not how my childhood was, however much the people say millennials are entitled because they got whatever they want, I didn’t. I watched my parents struggle, a lot. I was terrified about money as a kid, so I think it’s more likely that every defeat feels like a promise that there will only be more defeat, and it will never get better. I think what I fight within myself is less the spoiled rich kid and more the savage Scarlett O’Hara turns into when she is fighting to make sure her family never goes hungry again. Who knows which is crueler, one who is fighting for their life, or one who doesn’t know how to fight?

The point is, though, that I am working on learning to be patient as we work the baby steps, and to accept that we are meant to use our money, and it is ok to take the risk that we take every time we spend any. Every time we spend a single penny, we cost ourselves the chance to spend anything else. What I have found is that when my Scrooge takes over(the side of me that hoards and is afraid of letting go) the money doesn’t get spent until my irresponsible side screams her way out and throws the money away on something stupid. Then, I lost the opportunity to give the money to any of the truly important things that it belongs to.

As odd as it sounds, I have found the most effective way of fighting this is to spend some money. While I am in Scrooge mode, I go grocery shopping, or I set some money aside. I practice trust in myself and my decisions, let go of the money, and afterwards I am able to breathe a little better. It’s not irresponsible spending, but something that has to be spent anyway, to give myself the feeling of letting go, but in a responsible way. I’m not sure this is sustainable because sometimes I feel like I should have waited, but for now it works against the hoarding impulse.

The other thing that is really helpful for me is talking to my husband about it. Even if he doesn’t have the right advice at a given time, speaking my concern out loud sounds insane enough that I’m usually able to calm down a little and see what’s happening. But usually my hubby has some great calming words that help me to slow down, take a breath, and make the right decision.

Overall, doing Dave Ramsey is sure ripping up the carpets in my mental fixer upper. He’s opening up closets and caverns and broken pieces I didn’t know were there, or if I knew, I didn’t know how bad they were. I can feel the change happening in me as I try to stick with the baby steps and the intentionality that they require. It’s amazing to see how much money affects your personality and how much working on it can change who you are as a person. It’s humbling in a big way, but I’m hoping it pays off just as big in the long run. ♥️♥️♥️ Baby step 7 here we come!

Finding Freedom in Motherhood

When I became a mom, I was terrified. I thought this meant I had to be into legos, Lincoln logs, and other little people toys and I was going to have to give up on everything I actually do love. The problem with this that a lot of people don’t have is that I wasn’t even into these things when I was a kid, so being forced to play with these for the rest of my life seemed like a horrifying fate. I still get the head tilt eye roll combo from some moms when I’m vocal about how much I hate that stuff.

Lately, I’ve been struggling with feeling like I had to give up and just be that mom, and it was killing me. I’m not a good mom when I try to be that quintessential mommy because it’s not me at all. This morning, though, I was reminded of how good it feels to be myself as a mother.

Yesterday, I found Useless Magic, a compilation of art and poetry by Florence Welch. I bought this for myself, to share with my oldest when she was not even one yet. It’s a beautiful red velvet art book with odd drawings and sketches, accompanied with random phrases from the wild imagination behind Florence and the Machine. She is my favorite singer and an artist I respect incredibly deeply. Willow curled into my lap and had me read it to her again and again. We traced the “Heartlines” on each other’s hands, laughed about the eye that was also a heart, and she misunderstood a song lyric to say “play dough head!”

Afterwards we scrambled to get our swimming gear on and we went to the pool to spend a glorious hour in the water and sun, which is by far my favorite activity in the world. We watched other people play, and ran our fingertips through the water, spun, and splashed. It was amazing, and the great thing is they got the active play and sunshine they needed, and I got to do something I enjoy.

Last night, I was wondering if parenthood meant giving up everything you love and becoming a shell of yourself. Today answered me that it doesn’t have to be like that. It reminded me of how much my oldest loved staring at mandalas with me when she was only a few weeks old, how much she still loves to read classic literature(at one year old her favorite book is an old copy of Crime and Punishment we let her play with), how happy her sister is when I do yoga, and how much they both love to dance and draw. All of these things are things I am so passionate about, and often felt lonely doing them alone, but now we can enjoy them together.

There’s been a lot of talk lately about how hard motherhood is, and whether or not the sacrifice is worth it, and honestly, it is hard on a level that I cannot even explain, and I’ve never felt so defeated in my life, but at the same time, there is something to it, something more than happiness, something more than joy even, maybe even something just so perfect about that moment when you see your family becoming a family. That is what you do it for, worth it or not.

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?

Ugly Cry, or, My Awakening: The Tension Between Cultivating Joy and Feeling Heard

Lately, I have been feeling like a ping pong ball in my own head. I’m learning a lot about a lot of things, but the problem is they all seem to contradict each other. I am learning how to cultivate joy, but I am also learning how to give myself space to be sad, I am learning about how to let good things in, and bad things out, I am learning about how anger is a secondary emotion, and about whether or not acting it out in some way helps, I am learning about healing, and I am learning about how much hurt can hurt, and I am learning to love and trust myself, and I am learning all of my weak spots all at the same time. I read an article that talked about how ugly real-life awakenings are, and if that’s the truth, it makes a lot of goddamn sense.

I’m so pissed off about this awakening. I’m humiliated and angry and frustrated, oh and presently actually literally sick. I am so aware of every single one of my flaws and yet it seems like every day someone thinks of a new one to add, not that they are even meaning too. I’m as sensitive as a porcelain doll right now because I feel like I’m trying to become this new person and every single move I make could change the world or end it. And to be fair, I don’t blame them, I can’t stand being in my own head anymore than they can stand what a mess I am.

I’m bouncing between all of the things I’m learning at the highest extremes of each trying to figure out who I am and where I stand inside, and just knowing I don’t belong on any of the sides I see. I see flaws everywhere on everything and everyone especially myself, but I am also seeing beauty in a way I haven’t in a long time, and for the first time in a long time, when I see the flaws I am doing something about it, or at least trying to. Sometimes I feel literally on fire because I’m so angry when I see someone else get talked down to, when I see anyone being ganged up on or feeling isolated. I’ve become, possibly a little too much, intense about standing up for the people who feel alone in that particular way.

I want to be a crusader for the lonely, and the misfits. That’s how I see who Christ was, and that’s who I have always wanted to be. I want to heal broken hearts, I want to hold those I can’t heal in my figurative or literal arms, I want to wipe away tears, I want to scream as loud as I can with people who need space to be angry, I want to pull dreams out of people who are afraid to dream, I want to answer despair with hope, I want to dive into their mud and muck and I want them to breathe again.

The problem is, I’m not big enough yet. I feel like a three year old looking at my life and realizing I’m not a grown up, and I keep throwing tantrums that humble me beyond what I thought was possible. I am so deeply angry at fate for whatever it has dealt everyone who is in pain including myself. I don’t want just answers to my problems, I want my answers to be the answers for everyone. I want to revolutionize how the world does life right now, because people are hurting so freaking bad. So the problem is, again, I’m not big enough to do all the things I want to do.

My answer to this, that bothers some people around me, is to complain. To live the truth of my struggle instead of sucking it up and pretending everything is ok. There’s been several articles out lately about society keeps giving “self-care” advice to people who really just need HELP. A prophets/artists job in life is to state the truth, and I am living that curse right now. There are things in our society and culture that are seriously fucked up. There are things in our Church that are horrifying. There are things in our world that are disastrous. I am a ball of positivity sometimes and I love to see the good in people and in the world, but let me tell you, there are some awful things happening right now, and the only space for my positively right now is my all-consuming hunger for helping to change it all, so I write, and sometimes I hate my negative confusing messy scribbles, but I’m not writing them for me. I am writing them for the little girl who wishes she was dead, so she knows she’s not alone. I am writing them for the mom who can’t stand up another day, so she knows someone else is fighting the war with her, I am writing them for the people who think the Church hates them, so they know they matter too. There is beauty in the truth even when the truth is ugly.

I catch myself sometimes feeling like I am trying to excuse the fact that I’m having a hard time. When I do that, I try to just stop writing right there, because it gets insincere real quick. Sometimes, I have to just push through it to get to the other side, and sometimes the other side is excusing the fact that everyone in my situation is having a hard time. I try to write letters for those who are struggling, or write comforting words to them, or write about their struggle, but sometimes it seems like the most powerful way I am able to struggle with someone is to stand with them and say, “Yeah, this fucking sucks. I’m here.” I catch myself defending people from themselves, other people, even myself sometimes, saying, “What you have been through is really hard, it’s ok to have a hard time.”

And ok, that is partially selfish, because when I am sad that’s all I want-my loved ones to see that I’m struggling and accept me through it, but it’s not just selfish, because I think the whole world needs that. Mother Teresa said that the people in America were suffering more than the people starving in Calcutta because they are lonely. That hasn’t changed, if anything, it’s gotten worse, and I believe one reason why is that we have this standard of perfectionism that no one can ever attain, but everyone is expected to, so no one is accepted for who they really are because everyone is so desperately trying to keep their mask on. Even the women who share their makeup free selfies are sometimes hiding how insecure they really are about it, and how scary it is to put themselves out there.

The thing is, that cultivating joy and choosing the good and all of that, do matter. I am not great at them and I am practicing, and failing, a lot, but sometimes, when someone is going through something really hard, just choosing joy isn’t enough. Sometimes the whirlwind of problems are so much that choosing joy seems completely impossible, and the litany of different medical and physical and emotional things that could be wrong with you are so overwhelming that all you know is that you are all wrong. Everyone else is happy and you aren’t, so something is horribly wrong with you. I am here to tell you, it’s okay to have a hard time. It’s even okay to have a hard time if you are STILL having a hard time. Recovery from grief is not an easy process, recovery from abuse takes titanic strength, recovery from addiction takes insane amounts only effort, recovery from anger at fate for what your life looks like seems almost impossible. It is ok to struggle.

If you are reading this, and you are not having a hard time, try to remember a time when you felt completely helpless and powerless, and if that’s never happened in your life, thank God and the people who have made that happen for you. If, though, you are reading this and you are having a hard time, know, you are not alone. We are here for you, all of the other silent people longing to be heard, we are here for you and we love you. It is ok that you are having a hard time, you will see better days. Try to get there, cultivate joy where you can, but let our love hold you while you struggle to get there. You are loved, completely, accepted completely, somewhere, we just have to find the place where we belong. Until then, we love you.

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