Breaking the Silence

“Sometimes we’re up and sometimes we’re down, Sometimes the world goes round and round and we don’t stop to think that we got a lot in common…Just look inside your soul ‘cause we got a lot in common” -A Lot in Common by Group 1 Crew


At the beginning of this summer, my world felt right. There was so much good in life, so much good in everything I did. The people I called friends made me feel like we could overcome any obstacles, as long as we overcame them together. God was so present amongst our group, and it felt like we all had a strong foundation for our faith. I honestly believed we were helping each other grow in our faith; but what we were really doing was pulling each other in all of these different directions, and none of them towards God.


I didn’t realize how far we had all fallen until I was hurt by every single person I had called friend. I felt left out, forgotten, unimportant, unloved, and used. I had tried to love these people to the best of my ability, and they didn’t care enough to try for me.


After that day, I was prepared to tell those people exactly how I felt, but as time progressed, I convinced myself otherwise. I pretended nothing was wrong, and I told myself I was being forgiving by pushing the hurt away and not saying anything.


Unfortunately, the hurt stayed with me, and every time I was hurt by someone again, the pain would pile up. I would just push the pain away and tell myself I was being forgiving, but the whole time the pain was just piling up.


After a while, the pain turned into anger. I know I hurt people along the way; but I felt like they didn’t care, so I stopped caring, too. The sad part is that everyone pretended everything was good, great even. We were just one big, happy family…but we weren’t.


Deep down, we were all unhappy with something. Each of us with our own wounds and secrets…  Each one of us feeling left out and unimportant at some point…


I know I am as much to blame as everyone else for everything that went wrong with our friendship. The whole time I kept telling myself I was forgiving my friends for hurting me; but I wasn’t loving them, and there can be no forgiveness without love.


“He who forgives an offense seeks love…” –Proverbs 17:9


I rarely write down my feelings for people to read, but I felt like I needed to write these feelings down today because they aren’t just my feelings…


I know all of the people I have been talking about have felt or still feel just like I did. It’s sad how we all just keep living as if nothing bothers us, as if we’re strong enough to handle things on our own. We keep putting ourselves in bad situations because we think our life needs to be validated by people who are just going to lead us away from God. We keep fighting to bury secrets that are just destroying the foundation of our faith. We’re living lives that don’t bring any glory to God. We’re tearing apart the beauty of life and friendship through our silence and inaction… 


“…perfect in beauty, God shines forth. Our God comes and will not be silent…” –Psalm 50:2-3


If I can’t tell the people who I call friends how I really feel, then what kind of friendship is that? Where is God in a relationship like that? I’m tired of being silent and pushing my feelings aside; and if I continue allowing myself to do that, I’ll just feel further away from God than I felt before. So, I’m through pushing things aside and remaining silent and pretending that everything’s fine when it isn’t. I’m not going to just tell myself I’m being forgiving, instead I’m going to work on loving and trusting God more because then forgiveness and everything else will eventually fall into place.

“Picked all my weeds but kept the flowers” -Sober by Kelly Clarkson

 

Originally Written and Posted: August 31, 2010 at 9:16pm

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“To Be or Not to Be…”

“There is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part and it will not be taken from her.”
–Luke 10:42

All my life I had heard that I must serve others, that I must serve the church, that I must give of myself entirely. I was told that my faith could only get stronger if I spent my time praying rosaries and chaplets, reading the Bible, going to youth group, putting on retreats, giving talks, teaching CCD…always serving, always doing. 


By the time I realized that all of this doing was actually keeping me from growing in my faith, it was too late. I had committed myself too deeply. I had obligations to fulfill, but that’s all my acts of service became, obligations that I was tied to. 


I spent years trying to find more, but I was never able to find any freedom from all of the things that I was doing. Every time I tried letting go of some of my obligations, I would have to deal with the emotions of the people that I was letting down: anger, sadness, pride. Some people made it very clear they believed that if I wasn’t serving in the way they thought I should be serving, then my faith must be getting weak. 


I cared about it all, at first; but as time progressed, I just got tired of everything. I felt trapped, and instead of looking for a way out, I let myself become numb to all of my feelings. I sang, I smiled, I put on a happy face, but I didn’t find joy in any of it. I prayed for everyone and everything, in hopes that my prayers would fix someone’s life, if not my own; but after a while, my prayers became just words. I kept hoping and praying that God would tell me what He wanted from me, but the answer never came. 


It wasn’t until this past summer that I realized how far I had let myself fall into the emptiness and was finally able to find my freedom again. 


My freedom came when my question was finally answered: All that God wants from me is that I just be. None of my acts of service are any good if I’m not happy simply being with God. God wants me to find happiness in his presence without having to do anything beyond just sitting with him. To put it simply, I was too much of a Martha and not enough of a Mary (Luke 10:38-42). I had to teach myself to be more like Mary, and the only way to do that was to just stop. I had to stop focusing on serving and doing so much so that I could be closer to God, so that I could make my faith stronger, and so that I wouldn’t be empty anymore. 


It’s true that God calls us all to serve others, to wash one another’s feet (John 13)…but what happens when we run out of water? We can’t keep washing if we have an empty pitcher. We can’t keep serving if we have nothing left to give. Jesus clearly shows this when he washes his disciples feet. 


“I have given you a model to follow, so that as I have done for you, you should also do.”
–John 13:15


His model was not that His disciples should only wash other people’s feet, but that they also allow their own feet to be washed. The emptiness can’t be filled if we don’t allow others to serve us as much as we serve them. 


Faith doesn’t come from how much we serve or from how much we are involved in other people’s lives; it comes from finding freedom in the presence of God.



“We worship with the sound of broken shackles falling to the ground…I have been set free…” 

                                                                                                                    -Sanctified by Mercy Me

Originally Written and Posted: December 14, 2009 at 10:06pm

A Response to 1 Corinthians 11

When I first started wearing my veil, it was because I wanted to give God greater glory. “…whereas if a woman has long hair it is her glory…” (v 15). I had been told that a woman’s hair is her glory, and by covering what glorifies us, we give God back his Glory. I thought that this was a beautiful statement, and I felt called to cover my hair in church as a way of honoring God.


The first time I wore my veil was a very humbling experience. I was too scared to look up because I did not want to see other people’s questioning faces, and I was too scared to move because it felt like my veil would fall off if I did. I was left with only one place to put my focus on……the altar. I left the church that day feeling not only stronger in my ability to witness to others through my actions, but also renewed and humbled because I was able to forget about the world and put my entire focus on Jesus. 


Since that day, I have come across people who have criticized me for wearing a veil, and others who tell me that it is a beautiful devotion. Those who look down upon the veil the most are women who see the wearing of a veil as a sign of submission to men. In the early days of Vatican II, feminists called out for women to burn their veils as a way to liberate themselves from their perceived submission.


“But I want you to know that Christ is the head of every man, and a husband the head of his wife, and God the head of Christ…” (v 3). God established a hierarchy within the family where the husband was the head, not the wife. The veil is a sign that a woman accepts this hierarchy, that she accepts God’s call to service. Marriage creates one life out of two. The husband, as head of his family, has a responsibility to make sure that his family lives out the ideals that both he and his wife wish to carry out in their life. The husband might be the head of his family; but the woman is the heart, and no one can live a truly enriched life without both their mind and their heart.


Advocates of feminism hate the veil because to them, it represents men’s power over women…to me; the veil is a challenge and a promise.


By wearing my veil, I honor God by telling him that His will is all that matters in my life.
By wearing my veil, I promise God to do my best to grow in modesty and humility.
By wearing my veil, I make a promise to God that I will put aside my selfishness and be a true servant to my future husband.
By wearing my veil, I challenge my future husband to lead by example and be a better man of God.
By wearing my veil, I challenge my future husband to honor and to cherish me.
By wearing my veil, I challenge my future husband to honor my God given gift to bear life because it is only through me as a woman that he can ever have children.
By wearing my veil, I challenge my future husband to see me as the most valuable gift in his life because it is only through God that he will be given my heart.
By wearing my veil, I challenge my future husband to see me through God’s eyes.
By wearing my veil, I challenge all men to respect me as they would respect their own sisters, as they would respect their own mother and, most importantly, as they would respect our mother Mary.
By wearing my veil, I challenge all men to see God’s light and love in me above all else.
By wearing my veil, I challenge all men to see me as a humble creation of God’s love and grace. 


As women, we have a choice in what we believe and in how we show our beliefs to others. I’ve made my choice…and I end with one last thought……


What is feminism if not a challenge to men to see women as more than just ordinary?

 

Originally Written and Posted: September, 12, 2008 at 9:10am

I Am Pro-Life. I Am Pro-Forgiveness.

It’s that time of year again…election season.

I can honestly say voting is one of the most conflicting things I do in life.  It feels like we are constantly reminded of how important it is to vote so that our voice gets heard. Looking at the ballot for this year, and for previous years I’ve been able to vote…my voice feels anything but heard. I look over the issues each year hoping someone will really be my voice; but in the end, I sift through my mind and think, “Which issues do I want to compromise on this year?”

What bothers me the most out of all of this isn’t the frustration I feel towards voting, but the comments I hear from other people in regard to voting (i.e. other Catholics).  “As Catholics, it’s our duty to vote! We’re pro-life, so we have to vote for the pro-life candidates!”  At face value, I agree with these statements. Voting is important, so we need to vote; and we are Catholic, so we are pro-life. Where I have problems, though, is when we really get down to what people mean by saying they are pro-life.

Most Catholics I know often equate the statement “being pro-life” with “being against abortion,” but the pro-life movement is about so much more than just abortion. The pro-life movement is about respecting life from conception all the way to natural death. A lot of people get stuck on just the beginning of that phrase. They seem to forget about natural death and about life between conception to natural death.

Yes, we are a Church that believes life begins at conception, but we are also a Church that believes in the beauty of family and in the beauty of helping the less fortunate. We are a Church that focuses on being charitable to others and focuses on loving everyone regardless of where they are in life. We desire hope and peace, and the pro-life movement strives for all of these things.

Abortion, poverty, bullying, education, suicide, addiction, unfair wages, health care, immigration, war, capital punishment…the list of pro-life issues is endless. If I had to sum up the pro-life movement in one word, though, I would use the word forgiveness because if we don’t have forgiveness for others, we don’t have respect for life.

My heart breaks every time someone contradicts him/herself by condemning the act of abortion but just as easily refusing to provide help for the homeless. Maybe the deeper issue lies in the fact that we are condemning people for their wrong actions, in the first place. We have to give people a chance at redemption. We have to let people make up for their mistakes before writing them off.

My heart further breaks every time someone contradicts him/herself by standing up against bullying but just as quickly pushing for the cruel punishment or death of a criminal. I am fully aware we can’t allow criminals to run free and do as they please and that there are criminals who don’t want salvation or change in their life. As a counselor, though, I’ve seen more times than I’d like the pattern of the abused becoming the abusers, generation upon generation of people who have never known anything but abuse in their lives. Punishing criminals in cruel ways only lets them know it’s okay to treat others in a cruel way.  It doesn’t show them a better way to behave, it doesn’t teach them that people in their right mind don’t kill or abuse, and in the end, it just makes us the abusers…it makes us the cruel ones.

Forgiveness…sometimes, we have to forgive ourselves for the mistakes we’ve made or for not living up to our goals. Other times, we have to forgive others for their heartless actions and for all of the pain they’ve caused…and still, other times, we have to forgive God for letting us down, for not letting us take the easy way out, and for having a plan different from the one we’d like.

So, this year, when November comes around, I will, once again, vote for the lesser of two evils. My voice may be just a whisper in the election results, but as long as I remember to keep forgiving, then the pro-life movement in all stages and journeys of life will be heard in my tiny corner of the world. My voice may fail at times, because I’m only human after all, but maybe if other voices join in with mine, I’ll finally be able to stop wondering which issues I’ll have to compromise.

Originally Written and Posted: October 21st, 2014