Are You Available?

Lately, I feel like there is so much I want to blog about and I don’t even know where to start. My sister recently surprised me and sent me The Magnificat Lenten Companion. I was super excited because it got here just in time for Lent (Fastenzeit in German— “fasting time”—interesting, huh?). It has a reflection on the gospel for each day, a little prayer and a suggested penance. Simple, but a great way to get some extra spiritual reading in and it gives me a little  challenge for each day. I had no idea it was going to be so powerful. Since reading Ash Wednesday’s reflection, I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it and I’d really like to share it. It was written by Father Vincent Nagle F.S.C.B.:

“The young man, an atheist, was asking my advice. He was attracted to a girl living in his student house, but she was with another guy. On the other hand, the girl’s roommate was attracted to him and available, so he started going with her. At a certain point, the girl he truly desired was available, and he was tortured by the impossibility of so obviously dumping the roommate to get the one he really wanted. Tormented, he turned to me, a relative. I said: “I do not think there is a solution. The problem is that you betrayed your heart. You wanted her, but you risked nothing for her, and instead took what was convenient. The adventure of the heart asks for sacrifice, to expose yourself so that you can be available for what really corresponds.” I could have added, were he familiar with the Gospels, “You already have your reward.” A true life means a constant work of freedom. We often have divided hearts, more than one reason for doing what we do. The work of Lent is to rediscover and rededicate our hearts and lives to the true object of our desire, salvation in Jesus Christ, even at the sacrifice of many attractive, easier, and more convenient things. May God help us to embrace the sacrifice of this path of freedom.”

I know that throughout my life I have put up many walls around my heart. When I would get hurt, the fear of being hurt again would sink in and I’d make one of those inner vows that Stasi Eldredge talks about in Captivating: saying, I’ll never (fill in whatever left me open to be hurt) again. It was a defense mechanism, and a pretty good one—if your heart has walls around it, its protected, its fortified—no one can break through. Eventually, your heart itself becomes a big rock; it can’t feel anything, it can’t be broken! But—it also cannot be moved, cannot rejoice, cannot fully love.

God started working on my heart many years ago by asking me to let him break these walls down. Here’s what I thought: “Let go of my protection? Put myself out there to be let down? You must be crazy, God.” I was scared. I had to come to a point in my faith, though, where I knew that I wanted more. I wanted to know Christ like so many others around me knew him. I wanted to understand what it meant to truly know his love and love him in return. I had to learn that “[t]he adventure of the heart asks for sacrifice, to expose yourself so that you can be available for what really corresponds.” I realized in some ways then, and more so now, that if I’m not willing to be vulnerable (and therefore sometimes to be hurt), I’ll never be able to receive what I truly desire—Jesus! He calls me more each day to step out of my fears, and to live in his love; that means tearing down walls and running out to meet him—loving him with such reckless abandon that I’m willing to put everything on the line for him. I pray for the grace and courage to go before God everyday broken and vulnerable—asking for the strength of heart to never settle for what’s easy, and instead to fight for His truth, to suffer for His love, to live and die for Christ.

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