Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Unity and Eating Dirt

After youth group last night, I spent a while praying with a couple of friends, new and old.

As we prayed, I found myself impressed again by this new crowd. The Spirit is allowed to move freely, and it makes a tangible difference in the way the ministry runs.

Just as I pondered that, someone in the darkened meeting room said softly, "I pray for unity here, and that we all work together to seek the presence of the Holy Spirit and the will of God in us."

Zing. Once again, we were of one mind.

I say this cautiously, but will stand by it: these guys are doing what Newman is failing to do. That hurts to write, and I pray that the changes many of us hope for will come next year. The underclassmen deserve it.

But, I digress.

My friend Jesse from Newman introduced me to this new group, and he and I spent a while chatting. Something he said innocently struck a chord with me, especially in light of my recent "growing pains."

He said, "The first thing Jesus did when He received the Cross was fall down and drop it."

It's true, of course. I've read the Gospels; I've seen that passage many times before. But to hear him put it to me like that was something else.

It's okay to struggle. It's okay to fall. It's okay to feel so overwhelmed by the weight of our burdens that we just collapse.

The trick is to get up and keep going. We can't get to Heaven eating dirt. ;)

Monday, March 21, 2011

Just a Reminder

"Beloved, bear your share of hardship for the Gospel..."

It was one of those Masses where all I could do, hidden safely up in the choir loft, was throw my hands up in a silent gesture of exasperation: You have got to be kidding me.

Shortly after that, I went to my knees and cried.

When I first came to Christ in 2006, I wasn't prepared for the onslaught of difficulty my new faith would bring. People around me who were Christians were so happy -- they had joy and peace, they said. And He could give that to me, too, if only I would ask for it.

What they never did tell me was that "in this world you will have trouble." I missed that part. I wasn't ready to drop my past, and when I did, the backlash was ugly not only within me, but in the reactions of those around me.

I had bitten off more than I could chew, and opted to put on a smile ... after all, we had to be examples at all times. We were witnesses.

You can probably guess what happened next: I fell on my butt. It took a couple years and some much-needed formation once I came back to the Church, but I'm so much more well-adjusted to the ebb and flow of faith.

Of course, I still have my moments. Sometimes, it feels like I can't live up to who I'm called to be. There are seasons where I grow so weary that I just...quit.

Then I read the second half of Paul's message to Timothy:

"Bear your share of hardship for the Gospel with the strength that comes from God."

God can overcome anything.

"In the world you will have trouble, but take heart, for I have overcome the world."

And God can -- will -- see me through even the worst of trials. Sometimes, all I need is a reminder.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Still, small and hidden...

There isn't much left of winter now. As long as it's still relevant, I want to post this video from the beautiful and talented Audrey Assad (who, I'm sure you know by now, I never shut up about). I'm going to see her in three weeks!!!

This song has always spoken to me, in the sense that I am always looking for neon signs along my faith journey. Predictably, I usually only find them when I learn to rein myself in a bit, take a breath and humbly listen for His voice.


Wednesday, March 9, 2011

A Very Acceptable Time

Courage is not the absence of fear, but the mastery of it.

I have a feeling that this Lent is going to be eventful for me. Eventful, and very productive. I'd love it if I emerged at Easter 47 days from now a bit less tied down by the roller coaster of my worries.

For starters, I'm going to get eight hours of sleep a night, no excuses. I think that a healthier sleep cycle will make everything else a whole lot easier.

My friend Megan and I are going to embark on some kind of Biblical journey together, too. She's mentioned something about a devotion to the shoulder wound of Christ, the wound that was formed as he carried the cross and all of our burdens.

It seems like it's just what I need.

I sit here now with a grilled cheese and a smudge on my head, a walking and talking "I'm Catholic!" sign. Last year, it was scary. This year, it was pretty fun.

There's never been a better time for change -- the second reading even said so. Rather than blanching this year, I'm embracing this opportunity. I'm not going to squander it.

For now, it's time for some much-needed food.

Monday, March 7, 2011


Lent is coming.

Lent is coming with all of its somber, relentless reminders that if we're going to walk this road, if we're really going to follow Christ, we've got to go to Calvary and die.

I don't like that. I've never liked that, and I'm not about to start. This woman's no masochist.

So, I pull up my big girl pants and do what the Gospel asks of me -- pick up the cross and follow. And now and again it gets way too heavy for me, and I drop it or fall on my face. Most of the time, it's both.

And then I run as far and as fast as I can, telling myself that I just need to get away from the burden of it for a little while until I can clear my head and get my courage back. If there's one thing I've needed in the last five years, it's courage. When I lose it, I crash. What you see instead is a pretty little brave face, but I've only been really good at faking it onstage. ;)

Okay, enough with the metaphors. I ran myself into the ground for the millionth time last week, after a month solid of ignoring it. Vice gets my mind off the fact that life is hard. It also gets me into a mess. That was fun in the confessional.

It's dealt with now and behind me. Redemption is still fresh in my soul. But...the cross is still sitting there, and I know it's time to get moving.

Yet all I can do is stand there and look at it. That's too bad, because in 24 hours I'll be "rending my heart" and starting the long journey to Easter.

Maybe somewhere along the way, I'll find my courage again.