Tag Archives: Religion and Spirituality

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…

Advertisements

Healing

14 May

Father, Spirit, Jesus – heal me.

Take my broken heart, my tears, my long lonely nights of insomnia, my hours of holding my tongue as my mother speaks daggers into my life.

Take them – they’re Yours.

And in return give me a heart of strength, eyes full of joy, nights of rest, and days of uplifting words.

But if you can’t do that right now, help me to accept more of this cup of bitterness. Hold my head and my hand as I taste more of the things I do not want.

Help my parents. You and I both know that this isn’t just about me becoming Catholic – I’m growing up and that scares my parents. They need to feel needed. And I don’t need them the way that they want anymore. Give them opportunities to feel – and be – needed.

I trust You.

I asked for a place to live and You gave it to me two hours after I asked.

I asked for another job and You gave it to me two weeks after I asked.

You have provided and I trust You to give me the things that You know I need. I also trust You to withhold the things You know I don’t need – or to give me the things I need in Your own timing.

So whether it takes two months, two years, two decades, or two centuries – please heal my family. Heal my mother’s anger and my father’s disappointment.

Heal me. Love me. Take me. Mold me.

 

30 Apr

I serve a God who works in mysterious ways…

Sunday night I sat on my couch with a cup of coffee and a plate of brownies and I prayed:

God, I’m done. I’m done with all of this. I don’t want to be here right now. Please get me out of here somehow. Please, please, please…

Then Monday I got a phone call from my S…

I’ll be back for a week. I already bought your plane ticket to come meet me when I get in. You leave Wednesday night so go pack your stuff!

I’m not sure what happened or how it did…but I’m going on a much needed vacation!

28 Apr

This weekend I saw my parents for the first time since telling them about my conversion. It was awful.

My dad said “Hello,” to me. That was the one word I heard from him the entire 37 hours I was there.

My mom, however, had quite a bit to say. And ask. And micro-manage.

Throughout the course of the weekend she publicly accused me of:

  • cheating on my fiance (whom she told me she doesn’t like anyways)
  • being pregnant (I kept trying to get away from her by telling her I was tired)
  • wrecking my car and not telling her (I drove up with a friend rather than driving myself)
  • intentionally not being able to find an internship/job for the summer
  • being lazy and selfish
  • doing drugs (I have no clue where this one came from)

Not once did she bring up the fact that I’m Catholic now.

There is literally nothing I can do to fix this…except maybe a long shower and a good cry.

Pray for me, friends.

An Open Letter to a Single Momma

25 Apr

You were sixteen when you found out you were pregnant. You were alone and ashamed. You had no idea how you were going to finish high school with a baby.

But you knew that the baby inside you was alive. You knew that that baby was special and unique. Most importantly you knew that that baby was not just your child, but God’s child as well.

How did you face your strict Christian parents? How did you look them in the eyes and tell them your secret?

How did you face the teasing – the cruel jeers about your body and your sexuality that your peers felt free to make? How did you find the courage to walk down the hallways of your school each day?

I wish so badly that I could go back in time and hold your hand during those hard times. I wish that I could un-do the cruel and careless words said about you and your beautiful baby. I hope and pray that some day I will have just half of the strength that you had during those nine months – and the years after.

You’ll never know how much I admire you for the beautiful words about your baby that you shared with me last week:

From the moment I knew he existed he was my reason for breathing.

I love you so much sweet lady. I love your soul and your strength and your love for God. I love you because you loved your baby more than you loved yourself.

I am proud that someday I’ll be able to call you mother-in-law. That beautiful baby that you gave birth to grew into the best man I’ve ever met. He is my hero and I love him with my whole heart. Thank you for giving him life. Thank you for giving him to me.

God did a great work in you. He took what Satan intended for evil and made it into a love more beautiful than words can describe – a love between mother and son, a love between man and wife, and a love between mother and daughter-in-law.

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. 

5 Things I Want My Protestant Friends To Know

18 Apr

[These are all based on personal thoughts and feelings about my dealings with Protestant friends these past few months. No arguments, or anything like that!]

1. Some of you have been absolutely amazing throughout this special part of my life. I cherish you and the beautiful, kind souls within you. Your support, prayers, and words of advice, encouragement, and honesty are worth more to me than I can describe. My relationships with you give me hope – hope for myself, hope for you, and hope for a day when Protestants and Catholics can be at peace with one another.

We have agreed to disagree – and that’s okay! We have spent so many wonderful nights sitting at our coffee tables and talking about Jesus. We didn’t always share the same beliefs, but we shared the same risen Lord – and He is the true heart of the matter. Thank you for showing me Jesus within yourselves, thank you for seeing Jesus in me, and thank you for letting Him be what is important.

The rest is for everyone else:

2. I cannot explain my faith in a ten minute conversation – especially not with you standing there grilling me. If you want to discuss the Catholic Church, you’re going to have to pick one topic at a time. It’s really confusing when you ask me about confession and then when I’m in the middle of answering your question you ask me about Mary. And then in the middle of that you ask me about two or three other things.

If you really want to know what’s going on with my faith then feel free to sit me down and ask any and all questions you want. I love talking about Jesus and I love talking about what I’ve learned in the Catholic Church.

If you’re just looking for ways to twist my words and argue with me then I’m going to stop you as soon as I realize that. I do not like to argue and I’m not going to debate you.

3. So help me if you hand me another another anti-Catholic pamphlet I just might throw it at you.

Have you even read those yourself? As an English Major most of those things are an insult to my intelligence. They’re full of grammatical/spelling errors and poorly constructed sentences. Most importantly,  the arguments in those things are not really true because they take things out of context or they twist things around

4. Trust Jesus. I know that watching me do this has scared you. It’s made you angry. It’s maybe even filled you with doubt. Know that I am simply obeying my Lord. I became Catholic because I knew that’s what God wanted of me. I trust God and His direction. Won’t you please do the same?

5. The Catholic Church is beautiful. I can’t sum her up sufficiently. Just know that as Protestants we were all taught a lot of lies. We were taught to hate, and that was wrong. We were taught to slander, and that was wrong.

Before you criticize me, worry about me, or argue with me, go to a Mass. Most Churches have Mass on Saturday nights so then you can still go to your own church on Sunday morning. Don’t worry about anyone trying to convert you, Catholics don’t really worry about that the way Protestants do.