Clinging to the Cross

Clinging to the Cross

Once upon a time in the future, I’ll be a more organized writer person and know exactly when things I’ve written will post on other sites ahead of time. Apparently, today is not that day.

Some time last year, I looked ahead to today’s Gospel and wrote a devotion for CatholicMom.com about perseverance in clinging to Jesus and the Cross. As is often the case (I blame the Holy Spirit), the words I wrote in the past hit me right between the eyes in the present.

>>Please clickhereto read my brief reflection.<<

If there’s anything the roller coaster of 2017 has taught me, it’s that, if everything else in my life was completely stripped away, Jesus would remain. He is constant. He would never forsake nor abandons me. He simply beckons.


The only “sales-y” message I genuinely look forward to receiving is my daily email from the EWTN religious catalogue. Sure, they have some beautiful religious articles and books (aka Heather’s kryptonite), but they always include a quote from my favorite Saint-in-waiting, Mother Angelica. Here’s today’s gem:

“God is simple. He doesn’t have multiple ends. He doesn’t say, “If I do this, she’s going to do that,” and “If I do that, she’ll be humble.” No. Those are all merely effects. God has one thing in mind: To make you run to Him in all your needs.”

That’s what I’m talking about, friends. Let’s run to Him with our needs, tired and weary as we may be. He wants to hear from us!

God bless y’all!

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On privacy and pain: when you don’t know what to write

On privacy and pain: when you don’t know what to write

woman sunsetThey say, “Write what you know.”

But … what if what you know is too painful, too difficult, too private to write about?

Maybe they’d say that I should write it all down in a personal journal rather than in a public forum. And maybe they’d be right. Just keep expressing, keep trying, keep moving forward.

That’s not my story, though. When life got too difficult, too painful, too messy, I wouldn’t write anything. Not a darn thing. Well, maybe one or two things, but nothing that required me to dig in and peel back the fragile layers of my life and possibly bleed all over the poor soul who happened upon my words.

I admit: I’ve been holding out on you.

It’s sometimes a confusing tightrope to walk, this life of imperfect faith and so-called public platform. I strive to be “real” and “authentic” and “genuine,” with as little difference between how I am behind closed doors and when they’re open. But I also am a flawed human being, tied by sacrament and faith and birth to other flawed human beings. Respect for my dignity and theirs (and yours) means that, sometimes, I write around the things that are breaking my heart rather than fliging the thin veil aside for everyone to see.

The last thing I want this space to be is one where, in my brokenness, I damage relationships and possibly my heart and maybe even your heart as well. I have always, always intended this to be a place of encouragement and redemption.

And so I wait. I wait for it to stop being so painful and difficult. I wait for the sunshine to appear, burning off the months and months of frozen cold and dreary damp in my soul.

I wait for the redeeming wounds of the resurrected Christ to bind and heal my own tender wounds.

Because if there is one thing I can write with any semblance of authority and certainty today, it is that God is not finished with me yet. I know that He is guiding this healing, this transforming, this becoming.

I believe that my story–where Jesus Christ alone is glorified through every detail of my wild and blessed life–is being written, even if I can’t yet see the words.

photo credit: Alex Jones via unsplash 

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Made in my own image

Made in my own image

Call it a mid-life crisis; call it a wake-up call.

Call it whatever you’d like, but I’ve been doing some pretty serious self-reflection and soul searching lately, and it’s been rather … unsettling.

An Incident occurred a week or so ago and caused me to weep, cry out to God, and reflect. And ponder and argue and wrestle. And cry some more. Far from the run-of-the-mill navel-gazing to which I occasionally fall prey, this situation – in light of many other situations – stopped me in my tracks.

It’s been during this time that I realized something that I’ve likely known for a while but was only able to articulate two days ago:

I have not been living as though I am made in the image and likeness of God. I have not been living according to His holy and perfect will. 

Rather, I have been living in the image and likeness of my own ill-conceived creation – of who I think I should be – and especially of who I think others want or need me to be. I have been living mostly according to my own excruciatingly imperfect will.

And it has hurt me.

Quite a bit.

I have over committed and under delivered. I have fallen behind and not followed through. I have engaged with others without engaging first with God. I have created a mirage of perfect availability through my social media interactions, yet allowed flesh-and-blood relationships to falter.

In short, I have been living in a prison of my own design, a false reality where so many more things than necessary rely upon me and my superhuman goodnesss and my superhuman wholeness and my superhuman abilities … all of which don’t truly exist anywhere except in the bent recesses of my wounded mind.

Even more disturbingly, I realized that I have forgotten to sit, to submit, and to surrender to Him Who calls me to be made free and holy and whole.

I realized that I have been trying to save myself. 

Without even fully understanding what I was doing, I put myself in the place of the One Who holds my life in His hands. I have put my own idea of who He wants me to be ahead of who He actually created me to be.

It’s pride, plain and simple, and it’s not without consequence. It’s a rare sort of ugly, friends, to live out of the unwitting belief that you’re in charge – that it’s up to you – that your way will save you.

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I had the honor of writing the reflection at Blessed is She today, and I focused on the paradoxes of the faith – in giving we receive, in serving we lead, in dying we live – but events over the past weeks allow me to see the readings in a different light.

In today’s Gospel, James and John ask Jesus to give them something to which they have no rightful claim. Jesus responds to them: “You don’t know what you are asking.” And they insist that, indeed, they can take it – whatever “it” is. I can visualize their zealous, righteous indignation now: “We can do it, Lord. Whatever. BRING IT ON.” They press Jesus with their own agenda, their own plans, asking Him to accept them. And because He loves them, He allows these two with whom He’s journeyed to choose their own free will over His perfect version.

I’ve done that, too.

I’ve chosen my will over His. My vision over His. My desires over His. Like a petulant preschooler, I have insisted on eating a lollipop when what I really need is bread. I have thrown a fit in favor or endless hours of screen time when what I really need is to read a good book or write a good story. I have asked for a party with lots and lots of people when what I really needed was silence. With Him.

At its heart, this isn’t about me being too busy or too ambitious or too enthusiastic or too anything, really. It’s also not about me being undisciplined, unintentional, or unwieldy, although those things are definitely symptoms of a larger issue.

The truth is this: I can no longer survive by going my own way anymore – the way I think or the way others think. My way hurts. It hurts me, and it hurts others. And it has to stop.

May I have the courage and the strength to pray and believe and live:

Lord Jesus, not my will but Thine be done. Now and forever. Amen.

God bless y’all.

 heather

 

 

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31 Days of Unexpected Joy: Sacrifice (Day 30)

31 Days of Unexpected Joy: Sacrifice (Day 30)

You’ve heard it before:

No pain, no gain.

And maybe you’ve come across this:

No trial, no triumph.

Here’s the one I’ve come to understand a little bit better this past month:

No sacrifice, no joy.

Now, it’s one thing to sacrifice something and experience pride because of it – and there’s nothing wrong with a healthy sense of pride over a job well done.

The joy I’m talking about, however, comes from an interior knowledge that you’re uniting the discomfort of your present circumstance with the Ultimate Suffering of Christ on the Cross.

This month, our church encouraged its parishioners to offer up extra prayers and sacrifices in honor of Respect Life month. Multiple crosses made from construction paper sat on a table in the narthex awaiting someone’s written description of their offering. Once complete, the crosses were affixed to a larger cross at the front of the church, making a beautiful collage of prayer to support the dignity of life.

Here’s mine:

Respect Life Cross

I think there’s gotta be a rule about one’s sacrifice losing efficacy should one constantly grumble about it. Same with talking about one’s sacrifice with anyone who will listen. After all, “God loves a cheerful giver (2 Corinthians 9:7).”

So I tried really hard not to do those things.

But dang.

It’s honestly mind boggling that, even thirty days in to the month, I am still jonesing for soda or juice or milk or iced coffee. Mmmm. Coooffffeee.

The good news is, as best I understand it, that I’ve had way more opportunities to offer up my minor inconvenience and suffering (small ‘s’) for human life. And, hopefully, rather than being too proud of sticking to my promise, I’m taking it in stride, experiencing a deep sense of joy that comes from knowing that, even in my small way, I’ve entered in to the mystery of Christ’s redemptive suffering on the cross.

(And I’d be lying if I didn’t add that I’m excited about coffee on Sunday. C’moooon November 1st! Amen.)

Until tomorrow, may God bless y’all in His loving kindness.

heather

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