The next few Sundays looked the same. Each week I was presented with an opportunity to tell them more about my faith but each week, I responded with a one-word answer. After a month of this happening, my siblings caught on. They noticed that instead of cramming for a test on Sunday night, I was at church. They called me anything from “church freak” to “soon-to-be-nun.”
I turned around, and drove back to my house, wiping my eyes so I wouldn’t freak my mom out too much. But as I got out, it wasn’t Mom, or even Josh to meet me outside first. It was my Dad. And I had told myself I wasn’t going to cry anymore, but the concerned look on his face made me start to sob again and I sputtered, “I didn’t forget anything, I just missed you guys.”
To make matters worse I began struggling with even more anxieties, anxieties about: past worries, college decisions, the future, and even my faith. I wrestled with these anxieties for a while and though I have certainly been able to manage them better, this is something that I still struggle with today.
Often I wonder why did this happen? I felt fine in the beginning of the school year. I’ve had worries like this in the past, but nothing that has trapped me as much as these anxieties did. After praying and reflecting on this question a great deal, I strongly believe that this was Jesus telling me to wake up.
If you’re anything like me, then you’ve thought you could only be beautiful if you looked like someone else. You’ve looked in the mirror and thought “why would anyone love or even want to be friends with me?” You’ve believed that there’s a certain way you’re supposed to look, and that since you don’t look that way, no one could possibly think you’re beautiful.
We NEED to give Him the shame. We need to give Him the relationships that we totally messed up in. We need to give Him the part of us that feels empty, that doubts. We need to give Him the guilt we carry on our backs. We need to give him the dumb things we’ve said that continue to haunt us. He wants it, He wants all of us… He wants you.
When I was in 5th grade, Beth gave me a packet of Catholic magazines that she had when she was a teenager. I responded oh-so-enthusiastically by shoving them in my closet and forgetting about them. Though I believed in God, I had rarely applied that belief to my daily tasks.
I had no idea what to say when I was first called “Jesus Freak.” So I ended up saying, “Wow, okay.” I shrunk because I didn’t think anyone would ever call me that, at least not to my face. And then I went home and cried. I didn’t know how to respond. I took it terribly.
Of course I am excited for the future, but most importantly, I am striving to be fully invested in the present moment at all times. I believe that the Lord puts a call, gifts, and desires into each of our hearts… and the world needs it! The world needs YOU… and me, and everyone.
Like accomplishments, boys only filled me temporarily. After another meaningless fling with a younger boy ended, I ended up breaking down in front of a sorority sister I barely knew. I told her everything: the boys, the partying, my poor judgment as well as the impossible mountain of insecurity that I could never fully conquer.
Let me set up a common scenario in my life. I sit down to pray to God, whether it is before or during Mass, during Adoration, or just in my spare time. I find myself starting really strong and then my mind wanders. I coo over the cute baby five pews behind me. I plan out what work I am going to be doing later that night. I wonder what on earth was I thinking when I answered that question in class. I try to figure out what I’m going to wear tomorrow.
Let’s just say I get distracted easily.
I don’t think I’ll ever understand the pro-choice perspective. I don’t say this because I am closed-minded. I have tried to grasp it, I promise. But the thing is, I was nearly aborted. And if the pro-choicers are right, then I had no value. I should have been aborted. If the pro-choicers are right, I would be dead.
And considering how things have gone so far in my 17 years of not being dead, I’d have to say life’s a pretty cool thing.
What makes us, the ordinary high schoolers, heroes is what we do every day, even when nobody is watching. So you think it would be easier to be brave if you didn’t have to do it in front of those guys who already think you’re weird? Well, get over it. Yes, it would be easier to do great things if we could fly, or if we had other superpowers. But that’s never going to happen, so we have to make do with what have.
“Spirit, lead me where my trust is without borders”?
That border for me starts wherever people are left out, ostracized, lonely, and vulnerable. The people who most need love are not always the ones with the flashing neon signs that say “OPPORTUNITY TO LOVE GOD HERE!!!” Oftentimes, it’s the quiet orphan on the fringe of the crowd, waiting to be recognized and loved for the child of Christ that he or she is.
For a long time, it wasn’t unusual for me to stand in the mirror and tear myself apart. I would also tear myself apart when I inevitably sinned. I am the kind of person that always wants to be perfect and I’m not. Neither are you. I make mistakes, and when I do, I’m my own greatest critic. This separated me from God more quickly than any other thing in my life. I didn’t feel like God could love a sinner like me.
As I got older, I think it was around 6th grade, when I started really anticipating Valentine’s Day. Why? Maybe because it was the first time I had a huge crush on a guy. I still remember the feeling, the butterflies in my stomach when I saw him… Of course this boy didn’t know I existed… (surprise, surprise). But I would close my eyes and imagine that he was my valentine and I was his. Gross I know, right? Anyway, needless to say I didn’t receive any Valentine’s that year from any boys, except the ones from my daddy and little brothers.
Every year I found myself somewhat disappointed in my Valentine’s Day. I’ve never had a boyfriend or any guy in a position to be my Valentine. But I guess I always thought well maybe this Valentine’s Day will be different. Maybe i’ll have a secret admirer, or a boyfriend (yeah right), etc…