Tag Archives: Bible

The Un-Perfected Art of Not Holding a Grudge

2 Sep

Grudges are hard for me. When someone wrongs me I chew on what they did for a really long time. Then when I’m done chewing I take it out of my mouth and I put on my bookshelf so that I can look at it whenever I feel the need (or when the wrong-er asks me to do something for him or her…in this case it’s a her).

I would try and explain how hard I try to let go of things…but the truth is, I don’t really try that hard at all.

Somewhere along the way I picked up this idea that if I were to forgive someone, then that would be opening myself up for that person to hurt me again. Or that if I were to do something nice for someone who had hurt me then that person wouldn’t learn his or her lesson and would just go and do the same wrong thing again to me or to someone else. And of course I have more little justifications for why it’s okay for me to cling to my grudges.

And then I remember the words of Christ…

“But I say to you who hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. To one who strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also, and from one who takes away your cloak do not withhold your tunic either” (Luke 6:27-29).

I learned these words when I was 6. I can still hear Mrs. R reciting them with us over and over.

These words were easy then. Because they were just words – words that I could mindlessly speak as a child but that I now find haunting me as an adult.

It’s really hard when you know exactly what it is that Jesus wants you to do and it’s exactly the opposite of what you want to do. Such a Jonah day…

Spiritual Normalcy

23 Apr

I’m in a weird spiritual place right now. Honestly, I’m in a normal spiritual place right now. It just feels weird because for the past few years I’ve either been in a spiritual low place or in a spiritual high place. I’d forgotten what normalcy feels like. I’d forgotten the feelings that come along with being in the spiritual “middle-ground.”

I spent most of my teenage years in this same type of “middle-ground.” I hated it. I fought against being there. I was so afraid of being like the church in Laodicea that is neither hot nor cold, that John talks about in these verses, that I would do almost anything to keep my faith “hot.”

I went to camps, retreats, conventions, and Bible studies where I would grasp at anything that I thought would give me a constant desire for God. And of course, I thought that I had to feel on fire for Him. I thought that if I didn’t feel hot, then surely I wasn’t hot. I’m so glad to be free from that mindset…if I wasn’t, then life right now would be a lot more difficult.

I don’t feel God’s presence right now – but I have no doubt that He’s with me.

I don’t feel like obeying God. I don’t feel like respecting my parents right now. I don’t feel like being a good steward with my money. I don’t feel like being kind to hurtful people in my life. I honestly don’t even feel like praying or reading anything of spiritual worth.

But I am. I don’t feel like doing any of those things, but I am still trying my hardest to be respectful, to save money, to be kind, to be patient, to fill my mind with words of goodness and peace.

The other day I obeyed God and I really didn’t want to. My roommate was privy to the whole situation and she was surprised that I did what God wanted me to do – I had some pretty good justifications for being disobedient. We were cleaning the kitchen together and talking off and on about my choice. And then I had a strange moment of clarity.

“You know,” I said, “Jesus made me do it. You know how sometimes as a kid you like to blame Satan for your bad choices? In this instance I can really only put the choice I made on Jesus’ back. I didn’t do it because I felt like doing it or because it would make me happy. I just did what Jesus told me I needed to do.”

I think that maybe that’s what God was trying to say when He spoke through John to the Laodiceans. I don’t think that God was worried about whether or not His people felt like obeying Him. I think He was more concerned with whether or not they actually were obeying Him. Even though I feel like a lukewarm, spiritual mess of a failure, I am not one. My feelings will never change the fact that I am God’s child, and through His strength I can seek obedience and perseverance. 

Five Things I Want My Cradle Catholics Friends To Know

17 Apr

[I’ve joined a Bible study for Catholic young adults. I’m one of two converts in the group. I’ve really enjoyed being a part of this study, and I’m so glad to have some more Catholic friends, but over the past few weeks I’ve definitely seen and heard some things that have made me cringe a little. I’m hoping and praying for the Holy Spirit to provide opportunities for me to share some of the following things with my new friends.]

1. I don’t get always get along or agree with my parents. Sometimes I need to talk about this. When I do, I want to be listened to and maybe even agreed with. I might even appreciate a healthy outside perspective on my parents. However, I don’t want to hear them bashed, I don’t want them to be put down or unfairly judged. They’re still my parents, after all.

I feel this same way when I find myself in the middle of a group of Cradle Catholics bashing on Protestant views and people. I know better than most that there are certain Protestant beliefs that from a Catholic perspective make no sense, justify sins, are just downright confusing, and that sometimes lead to people dealing with a lot of hurt.

But no matter what, the Protestant Church is my parent church. She raised me. She fed me as a child. She was who first taught me to love God and to love others. The bad situations and bad people I encountered in the Protestant Church will never cancel that out.

It’s easier for me to discuss Protestantism with former Protestants because they’ve been there. They’ve truly known her and been one with her. It’s hard for me discuss Protestant issues with people who just don’t know her that well, especially when the conversation has a very negative tone. Dialogue and discussion don’t need to put any person or group down in order to be useful.

2. I love the Blessed Mother and I love the Saints. I have absolutely been thrilled to recognize them for the beautiful and powerful people they are. What a blessing to be showered with their love, prayers, and examples!

Please know that I’m not hiding my devotion to them by praying the rosary or reading my book of Saints in my car instead of when I’m surrounded by Protestant friends, family, or roommates. I am not hiding them. I am keeping them safe from silly arguments and accusations. I would far rather not discuss them at all than hear comments about worshiping dead people.

3. It’s nearly impossible to make a blanket statement about Protestant beliefs or people. Between individual interpretation of Scripture and the vast number of denominations, it’s really hard to create a firm description of specific Protestant beliefs. Each Protestant is going to have different views on Salvation, Baptism, Communion, and the color the church carpet should be.

4. Some things about the Catholic Church are still hard for me to wrap my mind around. I’m still new here, so please be gentle and patient with me. I’ve had a year-long love affair with the Catholic Church in which the Holy Spirit has been hard at work healing old and broken ways of thinking. He’s not finished with me yet.

If I don’t understand something, speak your peace, let the subject go, and then pray for me. Jesus led me here so far, so let’s both of us trust Him to complete the good work He started in me.

5. As a child I learned three new verses every week. As a teen I read the entire Bible three times over.  I went to Christian schools where I had Bible classes. I’ve taken three Bible classes here at college. The Bible is very close to my heart. I seek shelter and comfort in it’s words. I even love the dry and uninteresting parts because they are as familiar to me as my parents’ house. Reading the Bible feels like going home.

I don’t expect everyone to think or feel this way at all. I know that as an English Major the written word is closer to my heart than for others. And I know that as a former believer in Sola Scriptura I will always have a soft spot for Scripture. But it absolutely appalls me to hear statements like the following:

“You should read about Saint Nicholas – you know Santa Claus. I’m pretty sure his story is in the Bible.”

“What book is the story of Noah in? That’s in Matthew, right? Matthew’s a book, right?”

“I don’t believe in reading the Bible on my own.”

I have loved being Catholic because it has freed from needing to read the Bible in order to be saved. At one point in my life I believed that my salvation rested on whether or not I was “in the Word.” I am so glad to be free from that type of guilt. But in saying that, if you’re a Catholic and you aren’t at least familiar with the basics of Scripture, you’re missing out! Scripture is beautiful and powerful. It is such a source of strength and comfort.

Not only that, but it’s a lot harder for Protestants to accuse you of not knowing Scripture if you actually know Scripture. The best part about it too is that you already know more than you realize. The prayers said in Mass come straight out of the Bible. Many of the songs are rooted in Scripture passages. And of course, the readings too!

As I came into the Church I recognized the Scripture immediately – it was honestly one of the most stunning experiences of my life. How beautiful would it be to encounter the Scriptures and recognize the Church immediately? The two are intricately intertwined in a beautiful, Holy relationship and I have a deep desire for those who don’t see that relationship to discover it.

Current Reading

13 Apr

Somehow I’ve managed to compile a mile-long reading list!

Websites

A Guide to Being Catholic – this has been a fantastic resource for me! I haven’t read all of the pages the author has up, but everything I’ve seen so far has been really good. Everything is written at a basic level so I don’t find myself having to google words or phrases. This website pretty much covers everything – from devotions and prayers to the foundations of the Catholic worldview.

Don’t Let Problems in the Church Steal Your Peace – my mom has been throwing fits about things she’s read about the Vatican, so I went on a mission to find a way to be okay with problems in the Church. This article was an answer to prayer! Even though it’s written by a Catholic for Catholics, it’s perfect for Protestants wanting to defend their faiths as well. Sadly enough we live in a culture where “bad” people in our Churches steal our peace about our faiths – but Jimmy Akin’s explanation of why that shouldn’t be soothed my heart and mind, and hopefully it will yours as well!

Books I’ve Recently Purchased

If Protestantism is True – I will be honest…I’m slaving through this book. The concepts are really, really good…but I’m really not a fan of Devin Rose’s writing style. I find myself having to read with a notebook because he crams really huge concepts into tiny sections. He also jumps from topic to topic fairly quickly, which causes some confusion. However. I am determined to get through it because he really does have some amazing stuff to say. I also find myself thinking a lot as I read – which is exactly what I want out of a religious book. (Also the kindle version is only $2.99!)

A Year of Biblical Womanhood – How a Liberated Woman Found Herself Sitting on Her Roof, Covering Her Head, and Calling Her Husband “Master” – I love, love, love Rachel Held Evans. I loved her as a Protestant and I love her even more as a Catholic. She’s one of those people that just has a beautiful soul. Her words are full of truth and beauty. In this book she spends a year following the Bible as literally as possible. It’s a very light-hearted yet serious book – she’s really good at making you think and laugh all in one sentence.

Books I’ve Recently Been Loaned

(I don’t have any comments on these because I haven’t even looked at their back covers yet!)

A Biblical Walk Through the Mass: Understanding What We Say and Do In The Liturgy – Edward Sri

Sinners Welcome: Poems – Mary Karr

Rome Sweet Home – Scott and Kimberly Hahn

Signs of Life: 40 Catholic Customs and Their Biblical Roots – Scott Hahn

 

 

 

1 Apr

Easter Vigil was absolutely wonderful – such an indescribable and great night. Even thinking back on it now…it makes me just want to smile and sing.

I’m so grateful for my sponsor and her family. They have showered me with love, prayers, kind words, books, and gifts throughout this whole process. The night of the vigil they all sat with me and then Easter day they invited me to have lunch and spend the day with them.

One of the books I got as a confirmation gift is The Illustrated Lives of the Saints. Since it separates the saints based on the days they’re celebrated, I’ve decided to just read through it day by day, starting yesterday. I’m excited to get to know the saints and also to have a new saint to ask to pray for me each day. For some reason this book is helping me to let go of some of the stigmas I’ve been holding against the saints…

I also got a Catholic Book of Prayers. I’m super excited for this one, because I was relying on the pamphlets I’d picked up here and there and on a Book of Common Prayer that I picked up at a used bookshop a few years ago. While all of those things were great, I needed something a little more portable and a little more Catholic. I’ve looked through the prayers, and my sponsor put little sticky notes in it to mark the ones she thought would be important for me, but I’m hoping to figure out a way to pray through the whole book. Maybe I’ll just say a few new prayers every day and then start over when I reach the end.

I’ve had a Catholic Bible for quite some time now, and I’ve looked through some of the “new” books, but I have yet to actually sit down and read through them. I can’t decide if I want to just read the whole Bible and therefore have a better appreciation of context, or if I just want to start reading the “new” stuff. I’ll probably end up with a mixture of both.

I also received quite a few prayer cards. I LOVE these! Yet another thing I wish I had had when I was growing up. Today I had a test that I was kind of nervous about and right before it I took out the card with St. Thomas Aquinas‘s picture and prayer on it and was able to pray it right there. I’ve sometimes made up prayers for tests before, but this one was nice because I didn’t find myself stumbling for words – it was a nice quick prayer that said exactly what I wanted to say.

Ick! Since when am I such a judgmental witch?!?

26 Mar

Here is my problem:

I’ve done a lot, a lot, a lot of thinking these past few months. (S says this whole conversion thing has definitely fed my love of over-analyzing stuff.) So I’m finding myself growing irritated with the people around me who I perceive as not really thinking about what they believe and why they believe it – especially because nearly every person around me is a Christian.

I am annoyed with people for not thinking about things the way I do. I don’t necessarily want the things they think to be similar, I just want them to put the same amount of time, energy, and desire for truth into their thought processes.

I am also kind of hurt with God for not giving people the same challenges…

I cannot describe the envy I felt when I watched a co-worker mindlessly pop her birth control pill. Then I listened miserably as she told the girl next to her about how she and her husband aren’t ready to start a family.

Later I found myself laying awake praying, “Seriously God? How is this fair? She’s a Christian too. Make her feel the things You have made me feel. Make her ask the questions I’ve been asking. Or at least make me feel like I’m not a horrible person for not wanting six kids.”

My school has chapel once a week, and the judgmental, heinous, witch that lives in my heart came out some more…

I watched the movie with challenging quotes cleverly woven interwoven with artful photos and the latest hit from Christian radio. I listened to the speaker’s emotional appeal for me to “rededicate” my life. Then I watched the popular kids on campus get up and sing/play their instruments/look really cool.

And the whole time I wanted to scream.

“God, why are you okay with this? Doesn’t this annoy You the way it does me? No one has even thought to mention You during this service. All that we’ve heard about is how we need to change our lives or go to Hell. Whatever happened to You changing our lives because You love us and want us to be with You and like You? Whatever happened to just reading the Bible, and talking about how wonderful You are? Surely You’ve got to be as irritated with this as I am.”

That was not a good day for me to walk by the classroom that was watching a video about how to convert Catholics to Christianity.

I’ll spare you that prayer because it involved a lot of me telling God how I would go in there and make fools out of them all if He’d let me.

I am struggling because I am seeing the ways God is calling me to be different. And I don’t thinks it’s fair of Him not to ask that of others. But I am also struggling because I am judging others because I see them as not being open to the Lord’s leading. I have searched for Truth and now I am angry because that Truth has changed me more than I expected. And I am angry because I feel like no one else has to change.

But you know what sucks the most?

Even now I feel the Holy Spirit asking me where my humility has gone. “Who do you think you are?” He’s asking. “You are certainly not the first person called to the life of a Catholic and you won’t be the last. And yes, you feel it’s unfair that I’m asking you to be humble, but you don’t know what I’m asking others to do. You struggle enough with figuring out how to obey Me in your own life. Why in the world would I let you in on My instructions for other people?”

Also as a post-script, I definitely feel like these feelings, thoughts, and doubts are the Evil One distracting and attacking me as I get ready to enter the Catholic Church this Saturday night.

I am a Catholic now.

26 Mar

I go to Mass on Sunday – it’s in a church, but I call it “Going to Mass,” not “Going to Church.”

I have become friends with the Church Fathers – when I have a question about Scripture I turn to Sacred Tradition and the Catechism. What a joy to be free from the chain of Sola Scriptura!

I rest in the knowledge that Jesus never disinherited my Church or my faith. In spite of all the flaws of the Catholic Church, she has never once been abandoned by God.

I have the Eucharist instead of Communion. I have Jesus’ actual body and blood instead of a symbol. No more “snack-pack” or “self-serve” Communion services – instead every Sunday I honor Christ’s commandment to eat His flesh and drink His blood in remembrance of Him.

I have the liturgy. If I faithfully attend Mass on Sunday, within three years I will have heard the entire Bible read. Never again will I have to endure a three year sermon series focused on one book of the Bible. Now I can look forward to partaking in every part of the Word of God.

I have rest and peace. I used to leave Protestant churches feeling emotionally drained and physically exhausted. It was a challenge for me to endure the ups and downs that often accompany Protestant services and sermons. I also often found myself being asked to clean the church kitchen, work in the nursery, teach Sunday School/Children’s Church, and usually afterwards there was something else to clean, someone who needed a meal cooked, or a Youth group project to plan. While ALL of those things are good things, they were what I focused on when I went to church – and I often missed out on having time to spend with Jesus. I don’t miss that.

I have a rosary. I still cringe a little before I begin to pray, but afterwards (and throughout) I am filled with an indescribable peace. What a joy to meditate on the lives of Christ and His holy mother, and to think on the glorious things the Father and Spirit did through them!

I have more books in my Bible. Honestly this was the most exciting part of becoming a Catholic for me! I’ve flipped through them but haven’t had time for a sit-down read. I absolutely cannot wait to dive into these new books.

I see the Holy Spirit helping me to work out my Salvation with fear and trembling. I find myself falling into the habit of examining my conscience and making peace with God, others, and myself. It’s a beautiful (but still rather painful) process.

I love the Cross more than ever. I love Jesus so much, and I am more in love with Him than ever. I cannot describe for you the joy I have always found when I fall at the feet of Father, Spirit, Jesus. Becoming Catholic has increased that joy ten-fold.