Even When I Feel Alone

I do not feel God anywhere today. I felt Him on Sunday and when I woke up on Monday I was grateful for my entire life, which I haven’t felt grateful for in a very long time, but today? Nothing.

I went to therapy and Mass today…… and nothing. I feel just blank. I’m not angry, sad or happy. I do feel sleepy, but if I were to place all my bets on there being a God based on how I feel today, I would bet that there isn’t. I know that He exists though. I know because of what He has done for me in the past and for all the times that I have felt Him around me. It’s so bad that I’ve tried to write this post three times and I keep erasing what I have and starting over, because I just don’t know how to word it.

It happens a lot, not “feeling God”. I don’t know if it’s normal, but I would say that for the first two years after my conversion I felt God everywhere. There were a lot of miracles in my life, my wedding day (which was awesome) and the first year of marriage was great. I really felt as if God was spoiling me. And theeen….. what had happened was that I got spoiled rotten and I started to use everything God had given me as an excuse to look down on others. I was very judgmental and not just towards other people, but towards the old me. I worked really hard to not be that person, because she was bad, and this new me was “good“.

That lasted for about a year and then the year from hell began. It started last year right when I thought that everything was about to finally get better. My husband and I had a great weekend that ended with a nice dinner for his birthday on Sunday. The following Monday I woke up to him telling me that our employee had passed away alone at home that weekend and had been found early in the morning. After losing both his parents, two tours overseas as a civilian contractor, losing his grandma and just life ( a lot of crap happened to us) losing Warren was the straw that broke the damn. The last year has been the hardest of my life.(my husband’s too, but that is his story to tell, I can only tell mine.)

I think that what I have learned more than anything this past year is faith. Real, concrete, have it when everything sucks, faith. I get tiny glimpses of God like I did when I first had my conversion and I love the memories of those days, like the walk in Rome and my wedding day, but on the day-to-day…. I do not have that amazing feeling of Grace flowing from my head to my toes. I get tiny zaps of it after some confessions and during Mass a little here and there, but it is always fleeting. I feel like they are tiny breaks that God allows because He knows without them that I will just lay down and give up on life.

It wasn’t until today that I realized all of it is meant to bring me closer to God. I guess that I really thought I wasn’t good enough and that is why God was “hiding” from me for lack of a better way of putting it. The truth is that when I am not so in my feelings, I can actually focus on God and on our relationship. It helps me to  learn how to love God as well as how to love myself, my kids and my husband.

It is really easy to love when life is great. When there is money and I can do whatever I want and go on vacation when I want. I don’t know if that is the case for everyone, but for me, I know that when I had everything I could have asked for, I was very loving. But the minute there is any kind of discomfort for me, then I’m out. I will move on to the next thing that will make me happy. The thing about being Catholic is that only being faithful when I want to be isn’t possible. It’s all or nothing.

Nobody needs a marriage to stay with someone when things are good. That isn’t what marriage is really for on some level. (I know that there are many reasons for marriage, just FYI)  A lot of people think that you marry someone to live happily ever after and that is a problem because nobody has to be told to stay with someone when things are good. What I need is a reason to stay when things aren’t perfect for me, because I am a selfish brat. Same goes for staying with God. Being Catholic keeps me faithful even when I feel nothing, because my faith isn’t based on what I feel at any given moment, but it is rooted in Jesus who is the same no matter what. Jesus, my Lord, my God who loved me so much that He died on a cross to open the gates of Heaven for me by paying the price for each one of my sins. That is Who my faith is rooted in. I know He is real, alive and walking with me every single day, even if I feel alone.

My life with Christ and my life with my husband run parallel to each other and I think that is part of God’s great plan for my life because He knew that I would need to love someone in the flesh to understand how to love Him. He gave me my children to teach me how He loves me, and my husband to teach me how to love Him back.

We are so addicted to our own positive experiences of joy and happiness that if we experienced Christ more joyfully than we do, we would almost inevitably come to love our experience of Christ more than Christ Himself. We would come to worship our experience, that is, ourselves. – Peter Kreeft, Jesus-Shock

Handing Jesus the Loaves

For the last five years, I have read everything Catholic that I can. Mostly I read the Catechism and Papal Documents. Thanks to the Interwebs it is pretty easy to read any number of things written or said by any given Pope at any given time in History. I don’t really know how far back the Vatican website goes, but I have made it through a good chunk of Benedict but St. JP 2 has so much stuff that it’s gonna take longer than 5 years to even put a dent in his collection of writings. I have never finished reading anything by a Pope without walking away with some serious lessons. The Catechism of the Catholic Church is also online for free to be read and that right there was really what had me falling head over heels in love with this Church. It didn’t always feel good to read but I knew in the depth of my soul that everything written in there was true. Truth matters to me more than anything. Up until the day that I cracked open the Catechism I had yet to find anything that resembled objective truth. Not in preaching or in living.

Truth and facts matter to me. I have been lied to so many times in my life and I know that most things in this world are 98% bullshit. Everything involved politics and PR. In most things in life there is what is really happening and then the front built for everyone to see that represents what people should think is happening. From the time that I was little and everyone thought that the man raping and molesting me was a hero for being there for me and my mom to the Catholics in my family who lived one way while kneeling and bowing in Mass when needed.

Living a Catholic life is not for pansies. It is constant examining of your own actions, motives and conscience. There is no other way to live out the Catholic faith honestly. I find that doing that means that I have to go back and apologize a lot, eat crow a lot and look back at things that I thought were right on, only to realize that I was wrong as hell. It is constant conversion. Just when I think that I have it all down something just knocks me off my feet and I’m right back in the confession line to get back on the horse for the 15th millionth time.

Pope Benedict taught me the faith. He is an excellent teacher. He taught me that there is right and wrong, that the Church has the answers to every question I can come up with (if you ask Fr. J, he will be sure to tell you that I can come up with plenty of questions.) and that the Truth isn’t scared of questions, because He can handle them. The Truth does not waver because someone asks hard questions. And there is no question asked in 2014 that hasn’t been asked in the last 2,000. Well, I guess maybe “How do we welcome gays?” may be new, but the Church still is capable of handling it and answering it. I love Pope Benedict. I love St. John Paul II too, but in his own way. Pope Benedict has been my teacher since I started really trying to learn the Truth of what the Catholic Faith teaches. I do not like hearing that any of these three Popes, Benedict, Francis and JP2 somehow are against each other. That is simply not true and as someone who has read them all and has no need for one of them to be the better Pope, I can say that they would probably not be happy to think of anyone trying to use one against the other. And Catholics shouldn’t do that anyway, it’s very utilitarian and all three of these Popes dislike utilitarianism with a passion. To not know that is to not know them at all.

Pope Francis is teaching me how to live the faith that I learned from Pope Benedict in practical ways. I say practical but really, it’s not practical. Practical for me would be to be able to tell everyone I know about the dirty laundry of people who like to hate on me. But I don’t do it for any reason other than Pope Francis is pretty clear on gossip being from the devil himself. Rude. The reason that it is so important to know the Faith is to live it out and to take it to the ends of the Earth. It is what we are all called to do as followers of Christ. Each of us has gifts that God has given us to do that. Each of us also has a different mission that comes with its own way of reaching those God has called us to witness to.

The world has a hunger that only God can satisfy. I know this hunger, it is what led me to the Catholic Church. This is the only place that I found Him. Truly found Him. This is where I was able to ask questions and get answers, sometimes not the answers that I wanted, but answers that changed me. I do believe that I am a better person than I was 5 years ago. I know that I am closer to God, even if I do not always feel like I am.

He has called me to go out and be among the lost. To tell them the great things that He has done for me, meet them where they are and tell them that He loves them more than they think He does. It is my mission. To do that means that I have to know their language. Which is why when I hear a secular song and I think of how it applies to the love of God or to the suffering that goes with not being loved or knowing how to love, I take that and run with it. Do I listen to every song Lil Wayne puts out? No. I know which ones have no value in my mission and which ones do. But to meet people where they are isn’t new. It is radical but even God did it. God Himself came down from Heaven and became man, born of the virgin Mary and dwelt among us. It isn’t just some story, it really happened. It is one of the biggest points of our faith. That the Living God doesn’t wait for us to reach Him, but He comes down to reach us. I know this first hand because not only did Jesus become man, but He came into my life and reached me and drug me out of the life I was living. If He who is God can come into a swingers club and break through to my hard heart, then I can take that and run with it and go where others are not able to go to reach more hardened hearts by telling them that Jesus is alive. And I can use whatever I have to to do that, not because I think so, but because that is what the Church teaches. Not to reinvent the Gospel, but to share it in a way that is new and people can relate to it. That is Church teaching. That is what I am called to do by God. Will I make mistakes? Yes. I make them daily, sometimes hourly, but that is the beauty of it all, none of it depends on me, it all depends on God. I can only hand Him a few loaves and fish to bless them and feed the multitude.

“The Church is an immense force for renewal in the world. This is not, of course, because of her own strength but because of the power of the Gospel in which the Holy Spirit of God breathes, God Creator and Redeemer of the world. The challenges of the present time, the historical and social and, especially, the spiritual challenges, are certainly beyond the human capacity. It sometimes seems to us Pastors of the Church that we are reliving the experience of the Apostles when thousands of needy people followed Jesus and he asked them: what can we do for all these people? They were then aware of their powerlessness. Yet Jesus himself had shown them that with faith in God nothing is impossible and that a few loaves and fish, blessed and shared, could satisfy the hunger of all. However, there was not and there is not hunger solely for material food: there is a deeper hunger that only God can satisfy. Human beings of the third millennium want an authentic, full life; they need truth, profound freedom, love freely given. Even in the deserts of the secularized world, man’s soul thirsts for God, for the living God. It was for this reason that John Paul II wrote: “The mission of Christ the Redeemer, which is entrusted to the Church, is still very far from completion”, and he added: “an overall view of the human race shows that this mission is still only beginning and that we must commit ourselves wholeheartedly to its service” (Encyclical Redemptoris Missio, n. 1). There are regions of the world that are still awaiting a first evangelization; others that have received it, but need a deeper intervention; yet others in which the Gospel put down roots a long time ago, giving rise to a true Christian tradition but in which, in recent centuries with complex dynamics the secularization process has produced a serious crisis of the meaning of the Christian faith and of belonging to the Church.” ~ Pope Emeritus Benedict (Basilica of Saint Paul Outside the Walls. Sunday, 28 June 2010)

17 LANFRANCO MIRACLE OF THE BREAD AND FISH

7 Quick Takes Fall Edition

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1.

I don’t know if I say this in a blog post every fall, but I seriously just lose every bit of energy around the end of October every year. I already have low energy levels as it is, but something about this beautiful mild weather just gets me ready for fuzzy sock, hot chocolate and I stock up on books like a squirrel packs nuts. I don’t know when it happened, but fall is when I just slow down and chill. It really throws a wrench in a lot of plans, but I get some good naps and hopefully this fall my book will get done somewhat. I’m yawning now.

2.

I have become so in love with “my face when” pictures. I keep finding new ones and coming up with clever lines to go with them. But I love ones that are already made, they make my day so much better when it is going down the toilet.

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Bwahahahaha!!! I laugh every time.

3.

This week has just been cray. So much so that I’ve been working on this post for 3 hours… and this is how far I’ve gotten.

4.

I have a really urgent prayer request but I can’t say anything about it at all. God knows though, so just say “I am sending this prayer for that crazy face’s intention” and He will take it.

5.

Today is my husband’s birthday. I love that man. We have been in each other’s lives since I was 4 years old and being his wife never gets old, but he does. Bwahahaha!! Just kidding, he’s not old.

6.

The special intention is for the first Red Door Foundation client. This is a project that is going to take a lot of my time, energy and funds. I really won’t be able to do much else for a while, that is how big it is and why I’m asking for prayers.

7.

I have meant to close up my sex talk posts, and just haven’t gotten around to it. Mostly because I don’t really think there is a whole post there. Basically, I thought that a lot of my marital issues were stemmed from issues with Church teaching on sexuality. But I was wrong. I still hold that some things are not wrong to use in the marriage bed, but I really no longer have a dog in that fight. My issue was not sex, it is that I am codependent and have no clue how to truly love myself or care for myself. I’m not taking those posts down, because I still stand by them, I just don’t want anyone to think that I am advocating for kinky sex. That isn’t the case my point was that some things can be used in the marital bed when a couple is in a good place and knows that there is no chance of them using or objectifying each other. That isn’t easy to do in some circumstances, like mine where I came from the background that I did. Anyway, it is what it is, but I won’t be talking about sex again anytime soon.

For more Quick Takes go see Jennifer at Conversion Diary!!!!

How To Love

It seems like some people think that I’m “ok” with my life in slutville. And that my last blog post was all about me,me,me. Yeah it kind of is, because all I know is my conversion. I can’t speak to others conversions. I do not think that my life was “ok”, if I did there would be no need for repentance, confession or a Redeemer. It didn’t feel good to feel unloved, longing for love, being heart-broken when the next guy used me and left me, anyone who thinks that needs a little heartbreak in their life. It also didn’t feel good to be raped at the age of 5. So that’s kind of rude. But I get that a lot of people like to sit on their high horse and never consider the pain of another and how Christ heals that pain and He does great things to let us know that we are loved, like die on a Cross for us. And give me a wedding dress from Goodwill, a wedding day with fathers I never thought I would have and a husband who loves me more than I deserve. He doesn’t want us to live a life of pain. Suffering has its value, but not because it is painful, but because it teaches us that through it we can come to know that God loves us more than anything and that He can make things new through that suffering.

I once had someone tell me that when Jesus said for us to be perfect as Our Father in Heaven is perfect that He didn’t mean to be the most pious person alive, He meant for us to be whole. That blew my mind because I have lived my entire life broken. I often felt like Humpty Dumpty waiting for all the King’s men to put me back together. When I encountered Christ, I found my King and all of those who love me and support me and challenge me to be better than my former self are His men that are helping put me back together, piece by piece.

I do not know how to blog any other way than to speak of my brokenness, my pain, my redemption and the things the Jesus Himself has done for me. Does it make me feel good when the Creator of the Universe lets me know that I am loved? Umm, yes, it does. And if you don’t feel good when that happens, then you need some serious miracles in your life. Ask God for them, He loves surprising us and making us feel His Love.

The problem in my old life wasn’t that I thought anything that I was doing was ok. At one point I did try to make myself believe that it was ok, but every time that I sat alone in the quiet of the night feeling the giant hole in my heart I knew better. I knew that what I was longing for was not being found in the meaningless sex that I was having. For a split second when a man was buying my drinks and hitting on me telling me that I was beautiful, or telling me how funny I was it saw a glimpse of what it was that I was looking for. But then as soon as they got what they wanted, they were out and I was alone again. Nothing about that moment felt good.

One night one of the toughest men in town, a man who other people feared, bought me 4 dozen roses (or more, I don’t remember exactly) and had them put all over my bar top as a sign of his “wanting” me. I knew this man was not good for me, that he was known for being a playa, but having that kind of show was nice. And I fell for it. A few weeks later I was getting loans to give him money which I ended up finding out was for him to take his baby momma to Six Flags and buy her a tattoo with. I felt so stupid and used and I hated everything about myself at that point. So, no, I don’t think that I was “ok” or that my life was just fine and no seeing a nun sing “Like A Virgin” doesn’t make me feel good about my mistakes. I own them all.  But what it does do is help me realize that I had no clue how to love. I didn’t know how to love myself, God, my kids or anyone else for that matter. I was broken, not “ok” and God’s mercy is putting me back together so that I can be whole. He did not make me broken, He made me whole and this journey, this conversion, is about reconciling myself, who I really am, back to Him so that I can be who HE made me in the first place. What He does for me, what He gives me is better than a thousand roses. For one thing, He gave me my husband and that right there is how He proves that He loves me every day of my life.

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My first instinct is to be mad and hurt that anyone would take my post to mean that I just want to feel good. Because that is complete bullshit. I look at my Lord and Savior hanging on a Cross and know that Love like that isn’t meant to always feel good. What I want is to learn how to love.

 

 

Like a Virgin

Have you seen the video of the singing nun doing a remake of Like a Virgin? No? Ok, well go watch it and then come back. I’ll wait…..

 

 

 

Calah asked people for their opinions on it, so I had to blog about it to answer her.

I get that a lot of people are going to think that is creepy and I would say that if you don’t like it, then keep moving and don’t ever listen to it again. Not everything is made to speak to each one of us. But for me, it spoke to me in a loud way. It’s ok if you don’t like it or don’t get it. Really, it is ok. It’s a nun singing a song, there is no need to die on this hill.

After my life living in slutville, most of which was also lived with the mind of a fundamental protestant voice telling me how impure I was, it was very hard to me to understand that I was still good.  Not in my actions, but in my being. God created me good. Not just to be good. There was no way that I could ever earn or work for His forgiveness. It is a Grace. Confession is about healing, not about earning anything. It is about taking personal responsibility for the things that I am responsible for,  hearing about the things that I am not responsible for and so that the words of forgiveness can  enter my ears and heal my heart.

I had given up on the dream of having a church wedding with a white dress and a veil. I had just assumed that we would have a quiet little wedding in the chapel and that would be that. I had messed up. I was damaged goods. When we sat down to talk to Father about our wedding plans I told him that I had found a wedding dress at Goodwill for $50, but it was white. I had found it way before Stacey had proposed, but it fit perfect, was beautiful and it was FIFTY BUCKS so I bought it. I hid it from Stacey for a long time because I was crazy to even buy it in the first place. Father told me that I could in fact wear it because the white was a symbol of purity and that God in His Mercy had made me pure Himself. I was pretty shocked. I also didn’t believe him at all, but YEY! I would get to wear my dress.

I had made so mistakes in my 33 years of life. I had lost my virginity at 5 technically and then at 14 I had chosen to give my body to a man who should have been put in jail for even thinking of having sex with a 14-year-old child.  I was the furthest from being a virgin on my wedding day. I knew it. I felt it.

When I first looked in the mirror on my wedding day after getting dressed I didn’t see a beautiful bride. I saw a fake. A poser. I was trying to be Catholic but I knew where I had been and what I had done. There was no way that I should be standing there thinking that I was anything other than the same person who had let countless (seriously, I do not know how many) men use me. Maybe they were all assholes, but it still had been my choice, out of stupidity, to give myself to them.

As I stood in the Narthex of my parish to wait for someone to come get me to walk to the chapel I wondered what my life would have been like if I had a dad. It was so quiet in there and I could feel God, but I still wanted a dad to look at me and tell me that I was good in words. I turned around with my veil swinging to one side and there was Noe. He said  “you look beautiful Mija” and had tears in his eyes. He gave me a hug and walked off. It was in that moment that I finally felt like a virgin. Not because of anything sexual at all, but because I felt like I finally understood that it was because of Jesus that I was a new person. A person who could walk down that aisle and put all of those things behind me and give myself fully to my husband.

“Behold, I make all things new” ~ Jesus

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Everything that I had done in the past was over. I was here now, and I was getting married. My uncle and my son walked me down the aisle and gave me away to my husband and Father was there waiting to celebrate our wedding Mass. I was the fatherless girl and here I stood with 3 fathers at my wedding; my uncle, Noe, and Fr. J. God the Father had heard me and had made it a point to let me know that I am good, not because of anything that I have done, but because He made me that way. When I messed up, He was waiting there to help clean me up again by washing me in His Mercy.

So when I saw this video I didn’t have to do mental gymnastics at all. I know exactly what Sister is trying to do. It worked for me. I know how it feels to think that you are too damaged, that all your sins are too much for God to take away and what it feels like to feel cleansed once you realize that there are no sins that are too much for God to forgive.

I also know what it’s like to hear love songs and think of Jesus. Marriage is an icon of the Trinity and sex is an expression of that Love. Not that God is sexual, we know that, but it is one way that we express with our bodies that icon. That is why sex is sacred. If you think that virginity is only talked about in a sexual way, then what do you say about Jesus telling the parable of the virgins and their lamps?

I don’t get why anyone thinks this is creepy, but my guess is that maybe they haven’t made the mistakes that I have or something. But I love it. It makes me cry because I am so grateful that God gave me the Grace to find Him. I don’t know why , why I have the support system that I do and not everyone else does. I’m not any better than them, but I am so so grateful for it.

When I was young I loved this song and longed to be a virgin instead of the slut that I was. I don’t really know why I “get it”. But I do know that it’s beautiful to me. I also tend to have more moments of intense Love for God while listening to secular songs than I do listening to Christian music.

 

I made it through the wilderness
Somehow I made it through
Didn’t know how lost I was
Until I found you

This to the millionth power.