Allowing yourself to be loved after loving

In November I helped lead a retreat that really changed my life. I gave my testimony, lead a small group, and found Jesus all over again. I loved more than I ever have in my life, and leading the girls on retreat was one of the best experiences in my life. I put my entire heart into planning and leading this weekend.

And then it ended.

Don’t get me wrong, my desire and need to love others continued, it continued intensely. But, I was unable to allow myself to be loved, by God or others.

The relationships I had made on the weekend were incredible, founded on vulnerability, openness, and a desire for relationship with Christ. But many of these friendships were with girls who I had led, who I was supposed to lead to Christ. After that weekend, vulnerability and openness about my hurts, pain and struggles was nonexistent with these beautiful women I considered sisters.

In my testimony, I talked about my depression. It’s a taboo topic for me in some ways, I hate admitting my mental illness, and often I feel like once I admit my flaws and allow my loved ones to see me at my worst, they’ll be afraid and run.

What if the people I trust run away from me? 

It’s a common fear, being afraid of our own flaws and what will happen when others see them. Fear is the reason we keep these flaws in the dark.

In the Gospel of John, Jesus says: “I am the Light of the world; he who follows Me will not walk in the darkness, but will have the Light of life.” – John 8:12. We are not meant to live in darkness, no matter how scary, awful, and just plain dark our lives get. We are the people of light and love. Let there be light.

At Jesus’ most vulnerable, the night of His death, he was alone. The man He told to build His Church denied even knowing Him. One of His best friends put a price on his life. What was it? Twenty pieces of silver for a friend? Throughout His mission, people followed him all over, He had twelve steady apostles who all said “Aw, bro, yeah, we’ll do anything for ya!” When He was carrying His cross, a complete stranger was the one who helped out. Not one of the people who declared Him Lord, not the blind man who was now able to see, but a random man picked from the crowd. Besides His Mother (God love her), complete strangers were the one who carried His cross, wiped His face, wept for Him.

At the foot of the cross was John, a young boy, Mary Magdalene, who may or may not have been freed from demons (no one really knows, but she’s still a boss), and His mother.

How could this be? Jesus is God. He didn’t have to be so alone. When picking His disciples, He could have chosen people who would’ve stuck by Him, but He chose these sinful, flawed people, knowing full well the abandonment that was to follow.

Please, I beg you, don’t let fear ruin your chances of loveAllow people to see your wounds and scars. There is no deeper love than the love of one who sees them, and sees beauty and strength. You deserve that love, whether in a friendship or romantic relationship. Allow yourself and your scars to be loved. 

You are worthy of love. Real, true, heart racing, lay down my life for love. Seek friendships and relationships that encourage this love.

“We love, because He first loved us.” – 1 John 4:19

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Instaloved

I love Instagram. I love making my pictures look pretty, and square, and using filters on pictures that need no filter. I love seeming hipster and artistic. I love sharing my life with my followers, most of which are my beloved family and friends.. But most of all, I love getting likes.

I love seeing those little hearts pop up at the bottom of my page, and once I post something, I wait at least five minutes to see who’s going to like it first, and make sure it’s a steady stream of likes. I love that people notice what I post and take the time to double tap. I know which of my posts has the most likes, and figured out what type of pictures will get the attention I so crave. I want to beat my “record of most likes on a picture”. When I’m with a friend and they’re on Instagram, I’m so offended if they don’t like my picture. Why?

We live in a world where declarations of love, or even friendship, are rare, practically non-existent. For me, a like on my Instagram photo is a declaration of appreciation, of love. But in the long run, it’s not really love. Love takes action, and two taps isn’t action.

If you love someone, don’t just like their photo. I mean, sure, go ahead if you want, but tell them, to their face, about how much they mean to you. What if Jesus simply said, “Yeah, I love you” but did nothing about it? We’d literally never be saved. Fun fact. One act of love can literally save humanity. And love is reduced to tapping your thumb twice on Jackie’s black and white selfie captioned with a tear-jerking, inspirational quote?

Love and friendship are more than liking statuses or pictures, or even commenting. It’s telling them why you love them, those little quirks and personality traits that people don’t notice.

Humanity deserves a crucifixion type love, not an Instagram love.

Reach out. Love. Really love. Love like Jesus.

Modest, Not Hottest but oh-so Beautiful

Bekah strikes again!

Classy catholic

image Being modest is hard. Speaking as  a Nineteen year old Catholic woman who loves fashion, I will tell you first hand that modesty is not easy. You know why? Because skin is in. The media is saturated in images of girls in crop tops and barely there pants. Less and less is being left to the imagination and my generation is being coerced into accepting this sick image of what womanhood and beauty are. Even the term modesty is becoming sexualized. I have heard the phrase “modest is hottest” more times than I can count. It is supposed to be an encouragement to girls to dress modestly because it is “hotter”.

Is this the message that we really want to portray? Should women dress modestly because it will make them “hot”? Well I say no way, Jose. Being hot is not a compliment. Food can be hot, Arizona in the summertime can…

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Beauty in the breakups

A fantastic blog post by one of my closest friends and dear sister in Christ!!!

Classy catholic

image

Every time I hear the word “breakup”, images of Ben and Jerrys, sappy movies, and a large supply of tissues come to my mind. Because, let’s face it, breakups are hard and ice cream is delicious…. That being said, I think that it is time to start looking at breakups in a bit of a different light. Sure, sobbing, crying, and blowing your nose into your friends sleeve are all okay… unless your friend isn’t okay with you blowing your nose into their sleeve.

BUT  I think that a lot of people overlook the beauty that lies in this brokenness. A bible verse that I have been meditating on a lot lately is psalm 34:18 which says plain and simply “God is close to the brokenhearted.” It does not say that he immediately fixes all of their problems and takes away every feeling of hurt or betrayal; it says…

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Not hating our enemies is hard.

So, I’m sure you’re at least vaguely aware of the massacre that’s happening in Syria. ISIS. Killing innocent Christians. Fear that something like this could move to America. Fear that it already has.

I saw something on Facebook: a plead for God to end the lives of those who were ending the lives of the Christians in their communities. I was concerned by this. By praying for the death of someone, doesn’t that sink us to our enemies’ level? If we’re at the level of praying for someone’s death, the hatred we must be harboring in our hearts must be immense.

Part of me wants someone, anyone, to do something that will stop the slaughter in Syria, but I, we, need to remember that by dying for us, Christ called us to a high standard of love and mercy. When he was hung up on the cross, Christ did not die only for the good Catholics and Christians who say grace before meals and worship every Sunday. He did not die for and love everyone except ISIS.

He died that death for ISIS, too.

Are they doing wrong? Well… duh. Killing is wrong, no matter what someone has done, because life is a gift that God should be in control of. But that doesn’t give us the right to assume that we are better than people and that they are too far gone for redemption and hopeless.

Look at St. Paul. ISIS is basically doing the same thing that St Paul did thousands of years ago: killing followers of Christ in the name of God the Father.

If we ever doubt the ability of those we dislike, our enemies, to have a change of heart, just remember: St Paul’s actions prior to being knocked off his horse were uncannily similar to those of ISIS.

Searching for Augustine

Last week, it was the feast of St. Monica. During the day, a family friend posted the link to this video on Facebook. I thought it was nice and everything, and went on with my day.

That night, I went to daily mass on campus, and the chaplain preached about Saint Monica and how her persevering prayer was responsible for the conversion of her son, Augustine.

Sound familiar? It did to me. Especially since I had recently decided to give up praying for a special intention, because nothing seemed to be happening.

In our lives, we all have “Augustines”, people we pray for, but who don’t seem to change, or who God doesn’t seem to answer any prayers about. I know I have. And I know I’ve almost given up on them. Thank God that Monica, because of her maternal love, didn’t give up on Augustine!

We are all called to be like Saint Monica, to pray and trust, even when God seems to be too busy doing something else. Find your Augustine, and pray like a Monica. God prevails.

 

Patron Saint of the Fall Semester

Saint Damien of Molokai, pray for us!

Using Jennifer Fulweiler’s Saint Generator (Like I did for my patron of the year) I prayed about a saint to claim as my patron for my current semester. I will ask for their intercession in my studies and in social life, as well as my spiritual life. I will also pray a novena to them, and learn more about them.

For the semester, my patron saint is Saint Damien of Molokai. I can’t wait to get to know him better and to ask for his intercession.

“My greatest pleasure is to serve the Lord in his poor children rejected by other people.”

 

I think we need to have a chat about suicide.

As you know, the other day, beloved comedian, actor, friend, father and husband Robin Williams lost his battle with depression. When I heard the news, I was devastated.

My heart ached for his family, friends, everyone who he loved, and everyone who loved him.

But mostly, my heart ached for him and the pain I know he felt.

Maybe that’s why Matt Walsh’s article caused me so much anguish.

This semester, I found myself in a pretty bad depression. I felt alone, like no one cared, and I was hours away from any of my family or friends at home. One sleepless night, I found myself contemplating how easy it would be for me to simply roll off my lofted bed and end the pain I was feeling and the pain I was sure I was causing others.

Thank God that I never went any farther than that, and a breakdown after daily mass and discussion with the chaplain of my school forced me to reach out to others. But, this isn’t the first time I’ve felt like ending my life was the only option, and other times, I had a plan, and attempted to commit suicide.

I have been at the brink of life and death. I have found myself grasping for relief and peace from my suffering. I have seen the light come in the form of ending my life.

So when someone says something about how, by commiting suicide, you are showing “The willingness to saddle your family with the pain and misery and anger that will now plague them for the rest of their lives”, I’m bound to disagree. Vocally.

Were we there when Robin Williams sadly ended his own life? No. no one was, not even the all mighty Matt Walsh. Maybe when he chose to end his life, he thought he was relieving his family, and in a way setting them free of various burdens that he could have felt were put on them. Maybe he realized the wrong too late. Maybe as he died, he regretted it and cried out in sorrow.

We don’t know, and it’s wrong to assume that anyone who committed suicide suicide understood what his family would have to endure after his actions.

In memory of Robin Williams, reach out to people. Love them, show them that they and life are beautiful.

Holy Archangel Raphael, appointed by God to guide, protect and heal, I entrust to you all people who at this moment are contemplating suicide. You guided young Tobias on his journey and protected him from the spirit of death which sought to destroy his life. I ask you to protect all people from the road that leads to physical and spiritual death, especially those in most danger of despair and suicide. Just as you led Tobias by the hand, lead them away from the sadness of addiction to peace and joy. O holy Raphael, whose name means, “God has healed”, bring them the Lord’s healing. Lord God, hear the prayer I make together with your faithful servant Raphael. Amen.

 

He Gives and Takes Away.

In less than ten years, my parish has had five pastors. Yesterday, our fourth officially stepped down as pastor and moved to another parish where he will be an assistant.

Each pastor who has been at my church has touched my life and helped me see Jesus in ways I had never seen Him before. Especially Father Murphy.

Father Murphy was installed as pastor when I was sixteen or seventeen. It was around the time I was hospitalized for the last time for self harm, and began attending public school after being homeschooled for my entire life. I was confused about my faith, and Father Murphy made me sure again. In the confessional, at the pulpit, when he prayed so devoutly before mass in the pews, just… everywhere.

Although I am heartbroken to be losing his holy man of God, I feel so blessed that God allowed Father Murphy to play such a big part in my life. I feel comfort in knowing that now, another door will open for Father Murphy, and he will help someone else find God who needs it as much as I did four years ago.

Our Lady of Knock, pray for us.

Our Lady of Peace, pray for us.

Me, Father Murphy, my sister Sarah, and Momma Mary. 🙂

Can ya’ll do me a solid?

Hi friends!

 

My article was published on Yahoo Voices! It was originally written as my final paper for my Theology paper for my Lay Ministry class, and I loved it so much, I decided to submit it for publication. They must have thought it was pretty swell, too, because they published it right here! If you could do me a favor and go check it out, that would mean the world to me! Thank you!