In the Shoes of Trust

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Lately I have found myself thinking a lot about the specifics of the early Church. I wonder about what it looked like to live so close to the person of Christ. I am mystified by the development of the Christian faith and the wanderings of St. Peter. I think about the shock and amazement of St. Mary Magdalene upon discovering that the tomb was empty. I admire the conviction with which St. Stephen lived in order to face the sentence of being stoned to death for the cause of Christ. I consider the transformation of all the followers of Jesus: from the tradition of adhering to every Judaic law in the Old Testament to taking on the newest and most perfect law of Jesus to love one’s greatest enemy. I marvel at the amount of utter dependence the first disciples must have had on God’s providence in order to carry out this mission to reach the entirety of humanity with the gospel. I think about the word trust and what that meant for the first Christians, what that means for me now.

I contemplate extensive questions, and sometimes there are certain stories that capture me in such a way that I can’t help but pause to put myself in the shoes of a particular character. In this case, I pause at the story of Ananias in the Acts of the Apostles.

There was a disciple in Damascus named Ananias, and the Lord said to him in a vision, ‘Ananias.’ He answered, ‘Here I am, Lord,’ The Lord said to him, ‘Get up and go to the street called Straight and ask at the house of Judas for a man from Tarsus named Saul. He is there praying, and he has seen in a vision a man named Ananias come in and lay hands on him, that he may regain his sight.’ But Ananias replied, ‘Lord, I have heard from many sources about this man, what evil things he has done to your holy ones in Jerusalem. And here he has authority from the chief priests to imprison all who call upon your name.’ But the Lord said to him, ‘Go, for this man is a chosen instrument of mine to carry my name before Gentiles, kings, and Israelites, and I will show him what he will have to suffer for my name.’ So Ananias went…
— Acts 9:10-17

I can’t be sure what exactly Ananias’s vision from the Lord looked like or sounded like, but I can attempt to put myself in his shoes in the best way I know how. If I had a sense that the Lord was asking me to walk up to the person who was actively imprisoning and oppressing the very type of person that I am, my stomach would twist with sickness and fear. I wonder if my choice would be to trust in God if presented with this horrifying circumstance. According to everything that I know, according to the information that I have and anything I can possibly make sense of in my own head, Saul is my enemy and I would be walking into my death if I willingly approached him.

But Ananias, after one brief question, to which the Lord again replied, ‘Go,’ acted immediately. Ananias didn’t ask about the step following his laying of hands on Saul, nor did he ask ‘What if Saul’s heart isn’t really transformed and he sends me to be tortured?’ Ananias didn’t bring an army as a security blanket to make sure he wouldn’t be assaulted, and he didn’t require a plan B of God. He didn’t labor extensively in his head over the various scenarios that could occur should he choose to obey, nor did he make the choice to commit to doubt by not making any decision at all. He acted, in the moment, immediately after he received his instructions.

This is trust. To trust is to take the step in front of me because it is the only step I am being asked to take. To trust is to ask questions, but not to be governed by the discomfort of not knowing all the answers. To trust is to receive and take action before the entire picture is painted, knowing that my ‘Yes’ is critical for the painting to be continued. To trust is to brush a stroke not knowing if there is enough paint to complete the original idea; to begin a dialogue with someone without the certainty of knowing how they feel or what is ruminating in their head. To trust is to be satisfied with the now and to let go of the next.

Dear Jesus, help me to make decisions based on the picture I know you have created instead of the incomplete one that I am trying to make sense of. You are the author and I am your handmaid. Have mercy on me in the midst of my lack of faith in you, and give me grace to trust in your providing hand.

The First Revolutionaries

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Jesus came and stood in their midst
and said to them, ‘Peace be with you.’
When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side.
The disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord.
Jesus said to them again, ‘Peace be with you.
As the Father has sent me, so I send you.’
— John 20: 22-27

From the beginning, the apostles were part of a different kind of revolution than perhaps they, or anyone else, expected. Jesus was not what we might picture as a radical revolutionary. He didn’t arrive in clouds of heavenly justice. He wore no crown except for the one that bore our own sin. He gave the disciples, and us, a mission of extraordinary kindness and forgiveness.

In this past Sunday’s Gospel reading, he comes to the twelve for the first time since his Resurrection. He stands in their midst, saying, “Peace be with you.” He offers them his hands and his side, and they rejoice at the sight of him! The Lord has returned, just as He said.

He looks at his apostles, his closest friends, and he tells them, “Peace be with you. As my Father has sent me, so I send you.”   

I can only imagine what the apostles thought in that moment. They have just spent years with this man, the Son of God, watching him minister to the forgotten and hopeless. They have watched him bless and welcome prostitutes, tax collectors, and mere fishermen. They have seen him perform unbelievable miracles. They have been there as he lived a humble, kind, and generous life, and then they watched as He was mercilessly killed for it. They have seen him live this life for his Father -- and now He is asking the same of them? Now He is sending them out in the same way as his beloved Father sent him?

I, for one, would have felt woefully unprepared.

But this -- this is what the Lord does for us. He gives us exactly what we need in order to accomplish his plan. For the apostles, He breathes on them and gives them the gift of the Holy Spirit. Later, at Pentecost, they receive the gift of tongues, so that they can communicate with all peoples. This includes the people who will join in their “yes” and follow the Lord, but also the people who will mock, scorn, and kill them for believing in God. Even more than being given the ability to speak to these people, the apostles are given the ability to love them.

And, through him, they do.

These extremely imperfect revolutionaries, through an utmost perfect God, are given what they need to spread a radical message of love, gentleness, humility, peace, and salvation. They are the first. Their lives serve as examples of the extraordinary upendedness that often occurs in meeting Jesus, and the incredible possibility of what can be accomplished through Him. He gave them the ability to pave the way for generations upon generations of Christians to come.

There is a story in Acts of the Apostles in which Peter addresses a large crowd of people just after healing a lame beggar. He says to them, “Men of Israel, why do you wonder at this, or why do you stare at us, as though by our own power or piety we had made him walk? The God of Abraham and of Isaac and of Jacob, the God of our fathers, glorified his servant Jesus . . . but you denied the Holy and Righteous One . . . and killed the Author of life, whom God raised from the dead. To this we are witnesses.” (Acts 3:12-15) Peter, while exemplifying faith with courage, power, and truth, also displays humility and understanding that God alone is the source of his abilities.

Now we have been given an extraordinary opportunity. We can examine the incredible example set by those who came first -- those who laid down their lives, in entirety, so that we might see the path and be able to follow it in the name of God. Striving on the path of a (Be Love) Revolutionary will not always be easy. But it is one that has been marked out in love for us by those who came first, and this particular destination will always, always, be worth the journey.

The Easter Light

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One of my favorite worship songs ever is “What a Beautiful Name” by Hillsong. The bridge summarizes the Resurrection of Christ in a powerful way that touches me every single time I hear it. It says, “The Heavens are roaring the praise of your glory, for you are raised to life again. You have no rival, You have no equal. Now and forever God you reign!”  

I think what strikes me most about these lyrics is the fact that nothing rivals God – even Satan’s most powerfully evil act proved but a fraction of the power of our Lord. A couple of days ago, it seemed the devil had won – the King of the Universe was beaten, whipped, forced to carry His own cross, and brutally murdered without even a fight back. However, Easter serves as evidence that even in these moments, when darkness seems to have overcome the Light, our God is omnipotent, and no one – even the enemy himself – has power to challenge Him. But what’s even better news is the fact that although His power is perfectly complete in and of itself, He chooses to share it with us.

At the Easter Vigil, the Priest says “the things of heaven are wed to those of Earth”. The roaring Heavens and omnipotent God who created them, are united to us through an unbreakable bond! How incredible is that? We, undeserving and unfaithful, are chosen by God in His Goodness to be recipients of His relentless love and redeeming mercy – to partake FOREVER in His outpouring of life! This is the Good News of Easter -the Light of the world is within us!

But, Easter presents us with a call to action, too. At the Easter Vigil, every member of the congregation begins the Mass with an unlit candle, until eventually, the Priest takes the flame of the Easter Candle and begins sharing the fire with every member of the congregation. Within minutes, the once-dark room fills with hundreds of flickering lights until the darkness dissipates entirely. To me, this is the Easter Challenge – we are to overcome the darkness of the world by sharing the light of Christ that is in our hearts with those around us. Like Mary Magdalene, sprinting from the empty tomb to joyfully proclaim to the world that Christ is risen, we should zealously pass the light with which He fills us to all the hearts of those around us.

And what’s the best way to emulate this light? 1 John 2:10 tells us simply, “If we love others, we live in the light…there is nothing in us that will cause someone else to sin.” So, to summarize: The all-powerful and ever-knowing God who sees our iniquities and understands our shortcomings, chose to die so that we wouldn’t have to; He conquered darkness so that we might live in light. Therefore, it is our mission, as disciples of Christ in general, and as Be Love Revolutionaries in particular, to not let His sacrifice be in vain – to go out into the world as beacons of His light and love, understanding that alone we can do nothing, but together, with the light of God illuminating our hearts, darkness cannot even rival the Light.

On Friday, we mourned the death of our Lord; a death resulting from our sins and subsequent infidelity. But today, we celebrate. We celebrate because the same Lord who hung on a cross because of our sins, deems us worthy of redemption and deserving of love.

“We are the Easter people, and Hallelujah is our song.” – Pope John Paul II

As We Find Ourselves Surrounded by Holy Week...

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Good news, folks: only one more week until Lent is over and the celebrations following the Easter Triduum descend upon us with all the fervor of a hundred little children racing for the last Easter egg at the Easter egg hunt. You can almost taste the impending overindulgence on chocolate/gluten/social media or whatever else has been given up for these forty days. There will be chocolate bunnies! Jellybeans! Brunches galore!

But anyway, we’re not there yet. Holy Week, like the celebration to follow, also abounds with grace. This is the sacred time set aside in which we remember and reflect on Christ’s enormous sacrifice for us. Holy Thursday, Good Friday, Holy Saturday and Easter Sunday: the four most important days of our year as Christians. The question for us, before the feast and fanfare of the celebration of the Resurrection is: what can we do to put the “holy” in “Holy Week”?

Answer: Nothing! Jesus’s sacrifice on the Cross for our very salvation did that, duh.

The better question is...what can I, a recipient of this marvelous grace, do to create the time and attitude which allows that grace to seep into my heart, impact my life, and ultimately make me a better lover of the Lord?

I’d like to offer an image for reflection as you do this—a mallet with which to tap and crack the crust that might have formed around your social media- or sweet-starved soul this Lent, to make accessways for the grace to drip and trickle and flow in.

Like a cold-water stream coming to its end in warm ocean waters (although in nature I think generally the water temperatures are the opposite, but whatever), the currents of Lent and Easter mix and blend this week, and by their contrast reveal the true purpose of the suffering we impose on ourselves during the Lenten season. We speak of this purpose when we talk about our penitential attitudes during Lent and the forty days Jesus took in the desert that we try to emulate in our own fasts. But the spirit of this purpose is what’s brought to light in Holy Week: we have been abstaining from a few good things all this time to clear our minds. Let’s not forget our purpose was to get to know Him better by this as we truck through the bitter end.

Nothing for me captures the somber, beautiful qualities of Lent as they blend into full-throated Easter joy quite so well as the Easter Vigil Mass. The Roman Missal calls it “the greatest and most noble of all solemnities.” It starts off in the dark, at 8 or 9 p.m. on Holy Saturday, and after the Easter candle is lit, a flame spreads across the church. No, it isn’t an accidental blaze triggered by too much Holy Spirit. Every congregant (above the age of 5 and responsible enough to do so) holds a candle, and the church is lit with a cozy glow as a brave cantor steps up to sing the Exsultet, only the most heavenly song I’ve ever heard, followed by seven readings and seven psalms (yes that’s right). Then, the waters blend: the Gloria is sung, and the aahh-ley-loo-yahh word is spoken once again, and the Gospel proclaiming the Resurrection is read to the faithful. Christ is risen! God is good. Mic drop. Amen.

As Lent flows into Easter this week, let’s set aside a little extra time to be present and aware of the presence of God. He’s holding out so much grace to us—grace to see, grace to understand.

Running the Race

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Each Monday and Tuesday morning, I get to wind down the barn-lined, back road highways to Fremont, Michigan for my clinical rotation. At first, the thought of driving an hour there and back sounded a little tiresome, but now I’ve come to really cherish the uninterrupted silence. I think amidst my busy college student schedule, the Lord knew exactly what I needed; especially one week where I was feeling overwhelmingly inadequate. I was having a tough time adjusting to my new role at the hospital, I didn’t feel pretty or confident, and it was in one of these quiet, snowy drives that I had to face my frustrations and literally just shout out: Lord, who do you say that I am?

Lately, I had noticed that the devil loves to push me towards either the prideful or insecure names that diminish my identity as a daughter of Christ in the hope that I will forget my true calling. When I put myself on a pedestal, it shifts my focus to looking down on others through comparison and makes it impossible to look up at God. I reflect arrogance and contribute to the world’s fallen state. Then, once I’ve built myself up, the devil speaks inadequacies and inconsistencies to trap and seal me in the opinions of the world.

In both scenarios, I am either negatively viewing myself, or negatively viewing others. Nobody wins. Everyone becomes divided by competition. That’s why, in the end, I don’t even know who the real Emily is anymore. At that point, I’ve been called so many contradicting names that I cling to anything that comes along to provide me with a sense of identity. This is dangerous because then who I am is based on my circumstances.

This was especially evident in my clinical rotation. The first few weeks, I had felt really good about my scanning and on top of the world. But sure enough, as soon as one exam came along where I couldn’t get good images, my confidence plummeted. I suddenly became so wrapped up in falling behind my peers that I felt like I couldn’t even enjoy the opportunity to get my hands on the machine and interact with patients. I became so focused on trying to be the best that I didn’t even open myself up to what God could do through me.

And in that morning drive, I came to this realization: what if there is no competition? What if this sense of competition was made up to divide us, and in the end, we can all receive the same prize? People would be so much more willing to stop and help someone who was injured or congratulate someone who has kept a consistent pace if they knew, at the end, they would both achieve the same reward. This would shift our eyes from those other runners around us to the final goal available to us all. Christ on the cross, the Obedient Son, is the mirror that reflects to each of us our true identity.

This identity is consistent, unchanging, and restorative. It reminds us that we are sons and daughters of Christ. Not only that, but He wants to run the race with us, and that is literally why he became part of the HUMAN RACE! Mind. Blown. Through His death, He opened that reward as a possibility. He can be alongside us to whisper those nuggets of truth: that we are enough, that we are loved. And He can remind us that everyone else is too.

For the remainder of this Lent, bring to light those identities that you tend to cling to and lay them down at the foot of the cross. Ask the Lord for healing in relationships that are wounded by comparison. Let Him in to run the race at your side and to help keep your eyes on the prize, all the way to the finish line.

Made for Greatness

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The world offers you comfort. But you were not made for comfort. You were made for greatness.
— Pope Benedict XVI

As humans, we have become content with staying inside our comfort zone. In fact, a lot of the time we crave being comfortable; whether it’s changing into sweatpants and sweatshirts after being in a fancy dress and heels, or curling up with the softest blanket one could find on a blustery winter day. This sort of comfort can be carried over into our spiritual lives as well. Now don’t get me wrong, I enjoy fuzzy and warm things just as much as the next person, but we can’t rely solely on comfort if we want to grow closer to the Lord.  During Lent, we are called to risk our comfort for God and to step out onto the water to reach greatness.

I’m sure many of you have heard the quote above, but it’s been on my heart throughout Lent and even before then. I was sensing this year that God was going to present some sort of challenge to me. In the previous years, I’ve done social media and junk food detoxes, but I found myself returning back to my old habits once Lent was over. If I’m being totally honest, I have a really hard time stepping out of my comfort zone.  Some people may not know this about me, but I struggle with anxiety, so a lot of overthinking occurs when I try something that’s new for me. I also struggle with self-reliance. I find comfort in planning my own schedule and doing things on my own terms. Trusting others to be in control can be a challenge for me. So, when things don’t go the way I intended them to, anxiety and frustration creep in.

However, this year the Lord planted a thought in my head about fasting from doing just that. Whenever I catch myself getting anxious over things out of my control, or complaining about how my plans changed, I put them at the foot of the cross and say yes to His plan for me. I’ve realized two things: first, that saying yes to Him has to happen in those little moments, along with the big ones, and second, while this is challenging and uncomfortable for me, He is so worth it.  

Think about Peter when he took that step out of the boat after seeing Jesus walk toward him and the other disciples. Despite the fact that he was fearful, he did it anyway. Jesus is calling us to not be afraid during moments like these; so we should ask ourselves- are we willing to go there? Think about Christ dying on the cross for us. Comfortable is probably the last word that comes to mind when imagining this. However, his love for us is so great that He was willing to suffer for us and pay our debts. His grace will always outweigh the suffering we endure.

There is still time to take a bold leap of faith during this Lenten season. Part of being a revolutionary is being bold and trusting that He will bring something good out of everything. I encourage you to really dig deep and go to those uncomfortable and hard places. I know that is easier said than done, but you never know what He has in store for you!

Hope Does Not Disappoint

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“And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.” (Romans 5:2-5)

OK ladies, we’re about halfway through Lent. Right now is an excellent time to check in with yourself. How are doing? Do you feel exhilarated and energized? Do you feel overwhelmed? Do you feel like you’re running on fumes and exhausted? Do you feel excited and hopeful for Easter? Take a moment and think about it.

If you’re feeling exhilarated and excited, thanks be to God! What a blessing! However, if you’re feeling overwhelmed, exhausted, or discouraged, I invite you to reflect on Romans 5:2-5 with me. (And if you’re not feeling any of those things, I still invite you to reflect, as scripture has a way of speaking to each of us, no matter where we are.)

“And we boast in the hope of the glory of God.”

When I read this line, I immediately think of Easter. As we journey through Lent, we try to fix our hearts and minds on the hope of His resurrection and glory. Jesus suffered much for us on the Cross, but the glory of God was shown in that suffering. So we hope. We hope that God will reveal his glory in our sufferings as well, no matter how small.

“We know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.”

The suffering that we experience, as inconvenient, frustrating, or uncomfortable as it may be, is not pointless. Over and over again we hear in scripture how suffering produces so many good things. You may have heard someone say, “Offer it up!” to you when you were complaining about something. Offering up suffering for others unites our sufferings to Christ’s and pours out grace on those in need. Not only that, but suffering also helps us become saints. The perseverance that we develop when we suffer with something for a long time helps us to grow in virtue and those virtues prepare us for Heaven. So that virtuous character that we’re all working on? It gives us hope for Heaven and an eternity where there is no more suffering.

“And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.”

My favorite translation of this verse is that “hope does not disappoint”. It’s my favorite because I often struggle with being afraid that God’s plans for me will end up disappointing me. If you ever feel the same way, meditate on this verse. It’s a promise, not just a nice saying. Hope will NOT disappoint. When we fix our eyes on Heaven, strive to grow in virtue, and accept suffering as one of the best tools for growth, we are putting our hope in Him. And best of all? Our hope will not disappoint because “God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.” The fuel that we often feel like we’re lacking when we’ve been beaten down by suffering and discouragement? It’s the Holy Spirit. God’s love is poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit which gives us the strength to persevere and the courage to hope.

So as we pass through Lent into Easter, let’s pray for more of the Holy Spirit. Let’s ask for more grace that God might be able to use our suffering to bring about His glory in our lives and the lives of those around us. Let’s practice perseverance and grow in virtue. Let’s put our hope in Him because hope does not disappoint.

Unlocking God’s Love Languages

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“You will seek me and find me when you search for me with all your heart.”

–Jeremiah 29:13

This is really such a beautiful verse, but I think it’s easier said than done. Finding the Lord and searching for Him with all of my heart is difficult and it’s a lifelong journey. I don’t have a perfect prayer life and in fact, I am glad that I don’t. It means that I am a work in progress and it helps me to be humble. I have not yet arrived at perfection and you know what? That’s okay!

Today I am writing to talk about our prayer lives. I’m not going to get into the importance of having a prayer life: AKA communication with the Lord. We probably all agree that it is important so I will leave it at that. Let’s talk about thinking outside the box when it comes to prayer. I have been struggling a lot to find a good groove/rhythm/system to praying now that I have Joseph, an active two-year-old. When I was single, my time was more of my own and I could pray when and how I wanted. I preferred going to a nice, quiet chapel and writing in a prayer journal. Once I had a baby, I found it a lot more difficult to connect and feel close to God. It didn’t really feel like I prayed if I didn’t go to a chapel. Looking back now, I think that is because I really only took a prayer time in one particular way. Now I see the importance of being flexible, branching out, and learning to find God in different ways. I wish that I had seen the importance of doing that long ago!

Imagine any romantic relationship or even friendship for that matter. Would you ever just talk to someone on the phone or text and call that a good relationship? I hope not! A relationship needs different love languages, face-to-face time, activities, love letters, gifts, etc. I encourage you to see your relationship with the Lord in the same way. He is good at all the love languages, so expect to find Him in whatever way you seek Him. With that said, I just want to give you some quick tips on how to think outside the box when it comes to our prayer time. Here are six ways to find the Lord:

  1. Praise and Worship: If singing is praying twice, then does this option count for more? There are so many amazing worship songs…close the door and sing your heart out! My current favorite is Take Courage by Bethel Music.

  2. Acts of Service: This is the hardest one for me. Try to get out of yourself and DO something. Do a chore without being asked, do something loving for that difficult person in your life, choose to volunteer at a soup kitchen. We usually receive even more when we give.

  3. Nature/Beauty: If you’ve never been to the top of a mountain or stood on the shore of a great ocean and prayed, then I encourage you to so when you have the chance. Sometimes even just going for a walk can lift the soul.
     

  4. Chapel: Sometimes our lives are incredibly noisy and all the Lord needs is some quiet and some undivided attention to speak to our hearts. Did I mention how much easier it is to hear Him without distractions? Find a chapel or at least a very, very quiet place.
     

  5. Talking AND Listening: This suggestion follows my last one because I forget about this all the time. Communication is a two-way street. If you’re a talker like me, then it is hard to just stop writing and talking and start listening. Some of the most intimate moments with God are the ones where we hear Him speak.
     

  6. Daily Intentions: This one has been really helpful to me. I set reminders on my phone throughout the day to pray and offer each day up for particular people and intentions. Since I struggle with complaining so much, it helps me to be offering my little sufferings (and joys) for someone or something else.

And there you have it. These ideas are not complicated, but anything that is worth doing will require some effort. Don’t be discouraged if you find it difficult to step out of your comfort zone. You will find Him when you seek Him.

God Alone is Enough

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A few weeks ago, I was having a dilemma (a tiny dilemma, but a dilemma nonetheless). You see, this semester my friend Joe decided to start a Dead Poets Society here at Notre Dame. Every Monday night at 11:30 pm, a group of us meets outside in the woods and everyone brings a poem to read. Honestly, it’s incredibly exhilarating to stand outside under the stars, listen to the poems other people have chosen and enjoy a break from homework. But it is always so difficult for me to pick a poem because there are so many good ones out there!

I don’t remember how it ended up crossing my mind, but the poem I ended up choosing is a very prayerful poem (or I think it might actually be a poetic prayer). It was written by Teresa of Avila, who was a nun living in the 1500’s, and I included the original Spanish below because that’s where you can really hear the poetic nature of it. It goes like this:

Nada te turbe,
nada te espante,
todo se pasa,
Dios no se muda.
La paciencia
todo lo alcanza.
Quien a Dios tiene,
nada le falta.
Solo Dios basta.

Let nothing disturb you,
let nothing frighten you,
everything passes,
God never changes.
Patience
obtains all things.
Whoever has God
lacks nothing.
God alone is enough.

Wow. Every time I read those words, it resounds with me so deeply because it is so simple and true! The entire prayer is very beautiful, but especially the final line: God alone is enough.

I don’t know about you, but those words challenge me a lot! I can probably think of a few hundred things that I think I couldn’t possibly be happy living without (or at least, would be really, really hard for me to let go of): tea (maybe for you it’s coffee), or my soft pillow, or fuzzy socks, or Snapchat, or listening to music. There are more serious things too: good grades, going to a great college, getting a good job in the future... the list goes on and on. Maybe for you, there are some other things that you think you really need: becoming friends with people who are really popular, getting a lead role in the school play, excelling at playing a sport, etc. And guess what? All of these things are good! It is good to have a wonderfully perfect pillow, and it’s good to listen to music, and it’s good to get into your dream college, and it’s good to make new friends. But the dangerous thing is when we think we can’t be happy if we don’t have one of these things. What if one of these things, especially one of the bigger things, doesn’t happen, or doesn’t work out? Where does that leave us?

This is why, as scary and challenging as it might be, to really believe that God alone is enough. When you really think about how God alone is enough, it is incredibly freeing! You don’t have to be the smartest or prettiest or most talented, and if something you want doesn’t work out, then you still have everything because you have Him!

So how do we live this out? It’s really easy to say, ‘Yes! God alone really is enough!’, but it is much harder to reflect that in the way we live. Thankfully, right now we are in the season of Lent, and this is what Lent is all about! It is about letting go of everything that we rely on if it isn’t God. This is why we give up even things that are good (like chocolate or movies or, for me, bell peppers), because we want something even better, and that is to be closer to God Himself. And so I want to encourage all of you Revolutionaries, whatever you have decided to do for Lent, to keep on fighting and stay strong to make it happen, because our goal is to grow closer to the One who loves us, and that is worth sacrificing everything for.

No Greater Love Than This

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What is love? Why is love so important? What kind of love do we want?

First and foremost, love is the innermost part of us. It’s our deepest longing and most beautiful desire. God has given us as humans and as His children the absolutely  wonderful ability to love. What a tremendous gift!

However, I find myself searching for love. Although I know I already have it and that God has his arms wide open to me, I search for love where I can’t find it. I search for love in the places of darkness where I think I want an object replacing Jesus. As the saying goes, “putting something else in the Jesus-sized hole” of our hearts. Sometimes I am absolutely sure that those distractions and idols are best for me. But that is only because sin and the devil do a really good job of masking those distractions to look like things I need. My sin is what actually turns my heart away from the life-giving water of Jesus Christ.

When listening to Christian speaker Christa Smith, she talked about how our lives are a bus. We have to take care of the bus and only let certain things occupy the seats. She says, “We’ve been allowing things to ride around and take a seat. But, ladies, you only have so many seats on your bus. So, what you want in your seats are joy, peace, hope, authority, the fruits of the Spirit. And anything that contradicts God’s promise or blessings over your life- you have the authority every single day to say, ‘get off my bus’.”

What Christa says very powerful. The love of Christ is always right there and we want to be able to see it, so we must remove the things that are blocking us from the view and outstretched hands of Jesus Christ.

Luckily, we are entering into a time of Lent where we have the privilege to have many women and Catholics all over the world supporting us in our endeavors. So, now is the time. We must acknowledge those things on our bus and receive the Lord’s grace. No better time than the present to pursue that Life-Giving Love! There is nothing greater than His love.

Yesterday when I was listening to my pastor give a homily at Mass, he mentioned that God’s love is SUFFICIENT for us. He said that Lent should be a love affair- a deep love affair that changes our hearts and leaves us never the same again! It is a time to rediscover the truths we already knew but had put on the back burner. Like the truth of the REAL and deep power of love, not the half-hearted or weak love that is not sufficient for us. It’s not the love of society, celebrities, magazines, social media… not the “love” of the world.

Sadly, we most often invest in that search for love in the world’s standards and in the world’s ideas. Crazily enough, the world has many definitions for love. The world believes that love is “finding your happiness,” “doing what makes you happy,” “helping others feel loved.” Maybe we have even heard, “feeling beautiful,”  or “feeling” this way or that determines if you are loved.  The incredible thing is, if any one of us were to fully know the power of the life-giving and mind-blowing love of Christ for just a second, we would be blown to smithereens. Why? Firstly, we only know a little of the Lord’s love because we don’t accept it. Secondly, because his love is too great and too powerful for us to comprehend.

If that isn’t exciting, I’m not sure what is!  Now, how do we move forward? How can we keep this love on our hearts and minds, so as to never be distracted? Well, it’s clearly not possible or even close to possible without the Lord. Mother Teresa, a phenomenal example of love, puts it beautifully:

“We have a great deal of worth in the eyes of God. I never tire of saying over and over again that God loves us. It is a wonderful thing that God Himself loves me tenderly. That is why we should have courage, joy, and the conviction that nothing can separate us from the love of Christ.”

Mother Teresa, in all her service and in all her work, knew that the Lord loved her tenderly. Maybe you can’t help the sick and dying today, but I figure, if she can see Him in that pain, and can believe in His love, you and I can too. His love is sufficient, adequate, more than enough, and everything we need! It’s hard to imagine, but, there is no greater love. Love itself (God) is doing what He does best and will never fail. He is loving us!

In closing, I invoke you to search for this love wholeheartedly and where you know you can find it. Don’t waste your time on the world’s lies.

I find much peace in this verse and I have decided that when I feel alone, or forgotten, or I can’t “feel” the Lord’s love at that moment, this will be my prayer. I invite you to say it with me.

“Why should I fear? For I am being pursued only by your goodness and unfailing love.”  Psalm 23:6