I See The Light!

A light bulb

Image via Wikipedia

This morning my Mom called me downstairs to help her change one of the bulbs in the ceiling light in the kitchen.  I got downstairs and thought she was crazy… it didn’t look to me like any of the bulbs were burned out.  I still thought it was bright in there.  But Mom insisted, and sure enough, two out of the four bulbs weren’t shining as they should be.  Of course when we changed the bulbs, everything was as bright again, and it seemed silly to think that the way I saw it before could ever be bright enough.

And it got me thinking about how many times we kind of allow our sinfulness to groom us into a skewed vision of God.  For example, I struggle a lot with being jealous of what others have that I do not have.  This jealousy often leads me to feeling like I am not good enough to have what I want, and even sometimes like God is this mean little kid who likes to torture me by putting people in my life who have everything I want.  It also affects my relationships, because when I think that I don’t deserve that happiness, I don’t remain open to receive the love that relationship could bring, which makes the relationship one-sided and rather superficial.  I get so used to thinking like this that I let it become normal.  My vision of God changed into this guy who loved me kind of, but was also mad at me for screwing up and has been busy punishing me by making me miserable.  I had to earn back my love from God, and since I realized that I can never be perfect enough to deserve God’s love… I admit to letting my relationship with him dwindle to less than what it was. So now I’m kind of living on half my bulbs being burnt.

Maybe its time to go change those bulbs.  Maybe its time I got myself to confession again for the first time in at least three years.  Life does not need to be this dim.  It could be so much brighter and better.

The brighter truth is that I don’t need to earn God’s love.  I don’t deserve God’s love, according to my human understanding. But I have God’s love no matter what.  After all..

What will separate us from the love of Christ? Will anguish, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or the sword?As it is written: “For your sake we are being slain all the day; we are looked upon as sheep to be slaughtered.”No, in all these things we conquer overwhelmingly through him who loved us.For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor present things, nor future things, nor powers,nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.  –Romans 8:35-39

And that, friends, is a pretty bright truth.

Are you living your life with your light under the bushel basket, or are you letting it shine for the world to see?

Advertisements

These Pretzels Are Makin Me Thirsty!

Jesus and the Samaritan woman. A miniature fro...

Image via Wikipedia

This weekends readings were all about being thirsty.

First we meet Moses and the Jews in the desert and they are gettin super cranky.  They have been wandering around the desert FOREVER and are about to start throwing things at Moses if he doesn’t get them some water fast. They were hot and tired and ticked off and lost, and no one was listening to their cries. In the Gospel, we see Jesus and the Samaritan woman at the well, fetching a pail of water.  Jesus offers her living water which will satisfy her thirst for the rest of her life. If you noticed in the first reading, God told Moses to strike the rock and the living water will flow from it… oh-so-similarly to how the soldier pierced Jesus in the side after He died.  Jesus is the rock. And Jesus is also the living water. And anyone who takes part in this living water will never thirst again.  And the second reading from Romans affirms this by reminding us that by our own standards, it is hard to die for an unworthy person, and yet Christ died for us, even when we shouldn’t have deserved it, because He loves us.  We have to accept this gift of salvation from the God who loved us so much, he died for us while we were still sinners.  Would you die for Joe Schmo off the street?

Jesus satisfies our thirst.

So what are you thirsting for?  What is this thirst?

I think we are very thirsty people.  I don’t think there is much that actually satisfies us.  We keep trying to crowd our lives up with having fancy ‘stuff,’ but we miss the real meaning and purpose to life.  We miss the point that we are beloved children of God, and that God loves us and wants us to shine and be happy and fulfilled.  We think we are going to be happy by having a fancy car and nice house and enough money to “live comfortably.”  We go to college to get degrees to get jobs that pay well, even if we don’t really like what we are doing.  We marry because we don’t want to be alone.  We diet and tan and work out excessively because we want to be beautiful.  We are so restless and unsatisfied because we keep taking in all this stuff that doesn’t quite quench our thirst.

So what are you thirsting for?  What would really satisfy your thirst?

How different would your life be if you believed in your heart that God loves you, even though you screw up a lot?

I know if I really believed in my heart that God loves me, if I really gave in to that living water, my life would not be the same.  I would probably trust God’s plan a lot more.  I would jump in to life guns blazing.  I would tell Mr. Handsome that I thought he was gorgeous and know that even if it didn’t work out this time, it doesn’t mean it will never happen.  I would apply for jobs outside of my state of residence and trust that if God put that desire there for that field of work, God will provide me with the tools necessary to get it done. I will be enough.  I would stop being so hard on myself and I would just forgive myself for the times I am not the person I want to be.  I would be so much happier.  I would feel beautiful, loved, and taken care of.  And I wouldn’t be able to help but share that same love with others.

What are you thirsting for?

God Sightings!

Icon of the Transfiguration by Theophanes the ...

Image via Wikipedia

I have not posted anything in a couple days, and for that, I apologize.  In my defense, my dad messed up the internet and I have not been able to get on the computer that is hard-wired to the internet because it is in my parent’s room and they go to bed while the sun is still up.

So here are some “God Sightings” that I’ve had these past couples days:

1) Mom and I went downtown on Wednesday because she had jury duty and I wanted a vacation from my house/give her moral support.  On the way back to the train station, we stopped by a church to say hi to Jesus for a little bit.  About five minutes in (and some random whispered side-conversations later), I noticed the monstrance, and suddenly it clicked that we were literally in the presence of Jesus, and I suddenly felt all nervous and stuff because I found myself in the presence of Christ in the Eucharist and had been making all that noise with Mom.  It made me think, though, about all those times I don’t realize how THERE God IS.  God sometimes likes to hide right in front of my face, in plain sight.  Sometimes I’m just the one whose eyes aren’t open all the way.  Intriguing indeed.

2) Earlier in the day, one of my best friends was telling me a story about a vision she had in Alabama. Of course I believed that she saw it, but also believed she was a little whackadoodle in the noggin, because well, God has never spoken to me in such a crazy amazing way, and if it hasn’t happened to me, then it isn’t possible, of course.  Later in the evening I went to my young adult group at my church and we talked about the transfiguration of the Lord (where Jesus took Peter, James, and John up the mountain and got really glowy and God said “This is my son! Right here! Do you see him?? Do you need a brick to fall on your heads??”).  We were talking about why it is that God chose to reveal Jesus as his Son in such a magnificent way to only 3 people… why not to everybody?  Or why did Jesus insist on keeping it a secret?  And then I thought about the story that my BFF told me, and how I thought she was crazy.  If Peter, James, or John came up to me and said, “Jesus started to glow like he had some bad skin condition and we were really worried at first until we heard a voice from Heaven and saw Moses and Elijah, all of whom said it was okay, it just meant that Jesus is the Messiah,” I would probably say the same thing I said to my friend… that I believed she saw it, but also that she was crazy.  So perhaps Jesus will reveal himself in the way we will understand the best… whether its via the quiet peace in our hearts or a brick falling on our heads.

3) Last night I received a very disheartening email from my JVC rep saying that none of my potential placements were a match for me.  I felt my heart break, my eyes broke and tears kept leaking out, and I felt those familiar feelings of a hopeless future start to seep in again.  But then, clear as crystal, I heard in my heart the verse that gave me the strength to survive college.  For I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord.  Plans for your welfare, not for your woe. Plans for a future full of hope.  (Jeremiah 29:11).  Those three placements I interviewed for obviously sucked for me.  There’s somewhere better. Or God is a sick, sick man. I’m hoping for the former.

4) I got this amazing massage today.  I literally feel like a brand new woman.  If you do not believe heaven is a place on earth, then you have clearly not received a professional massage.

There are my ‘God sightings.’  Hopefully it’ll appease you until the next time I am able to post… whenever that will be. 

And hopefully you will be able to find God hiding in plain sight this week, too. 🙂

Nice ash. ;o)

Ashes imposed on the forehead of a Christian o...

Image via Wikipedia

Today is a great day because I was able to go around and tell everyone how nice their ash was. 🙂

I was kind of disappointed with the outcome of my ash, because I will never forget the epic ash I got a couple years ago from a friend in college who made it take up my entire forehead… but then I looked a little closer and noticed that it kind of looks like a heart, and that’s cute, right? Right.

Anyway.  Today I am thankful for kids. Kids are awesome. For example, the kids behind me at Mass today kept saying very loudly how bad they needed to pee.  The kids on my bus kept telling me how awful the sub bus driver was yesterday and how much they missed me.  One of my girls actually gave me a hug and told me to never ever ever leave her ever again.

Kids know exactly how to just be themselves and to love completely.  Or sort of completely.  At least when they are younger.  Older kids maybe not so much. But little kids? They can’t help it.

Anyway. Kids. Today I am thankful for kids.

Mardi Gras… womp womp.

The Resurrection from Grünewald's Isenheim Alt...

Image via Wikipedia

So, whatcha doin for Lent?

That’s been a pretty standard question I’ve been asking many of my Catholic friends in the past couple days.  Whatcha doin for Lent? Because ready or not kids, it’s that time of year again… the time when the deadness of winter disappears and spring breathes new life into the northern hemisphere, and we Catholics acknowledge this paschal mystery in our 40 day journey toward the death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ.

I have a lot of things that I do not like about being Catholic, but one thing I do like is the 40-day Spiritual Olympics we call Lent.  It’s glorious.  It makes Easter more about the fact that Jesus saved our sorry behinds that one fateful day 1978 years ago (right? Am I embarrassing myself with my poor math skills?), and less about that fluffy bunny that bounces around and gives us chocolate and/or money (seriously. where did we get the Easter bunny from, anyway?).  Lent forces us to step outside of ourselves and figure out what is really important… like forgiving those who have hurt us (yikes), forgiving ourselves for hurting others (yikes yikes), and finding hope in all the shit we find ourselves knee-deep in.  I would hate to not be Catholic during this time… because we Catholics got it goin ON.  We are so hardcore.  We give up chocolate/coffee/TV/etc like a BOSS.  We torture ourselves for 40 days for the LORD.  And then, on that 41st day, we celebrate. We know what it’s like to lose something and then get it back.  Just like the disciples obviously felt when they lost Jesus and then found Him again.  We tapped into that like a maple tree.

Our 40-day Spiritual Olympics is obviously more than just suffering.  We fast in order to grow closer to God, we pray, and we give alms.  We live the paschal mystery every day in preparation for the actual death and resurrection of Christ.  We live, we die, we rise again.  We pray, we fast, we give back.  It’s beauteous.

So what are you doing for Lent?

What am I doing for Lent?  At the risk of sounding like I am broadcasting my Lenten promise for the soul purpose of getting everyone to think I’m this overly-pious weirdo, I am going to tell you because I am probably going to need someone to hold me accountable.

First, I am giving up listening to music in the car.  The only reason I will listen to music in the car is if I am not the driver… because well, that’s fair.  But I realize that between driving a bus and driving to and from the bus garage, I spend a lot of time driving around with the radio cranked, and that time could be used to grow closer to God. So. Silence it is.

Secondly, I am going to add a new blog post every day.  Writing has always been something thats made me feel connected to God, and I should do more of it.  At the very least, I want to post something I am thankful for every day.  The more the better.  But every day. I am horrible at these “every day” projects.   But now that I have said it… hopefully I won’t make myself feel like an idiot because I don’t post. So. Every day you can expect something from me. Even if it’s just a sentence.  A beautifully well-written sentence, of course.

Thirdly, I picked up an Operation Rice Bowl at church to start putting my spare change in to feed the starving children in Africa, or wherever the heck it’s going to go to.  That’s all I have to say for that. Pretty self explanatory.

 

Cool. So those are my Lenten promises… all out there for the internet world to read.  See ya tomorrow!

Who Do You Think I Am!?

Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, the Euchar...

Image via Wikipedia

I was freaking out all day today about the confirmation class I had to teach tonight.  Last week didn’t go so well in the slightest.  I was really nervous, my voice and hands kept shaking, my face kept burning, and my mouth was so dry tumbleweeds were spilling out of it.  The kids in my class did *not* want to be there, and they did *not* want to talk about whatever we were supposed to talk about.  They looked at me like I had a second head, and I had a hard time not letting my awkward high school self shine through.  Seriously.  It was a hot mess.  So today I felt so much stress and so many nerves about my class.  I reviewed my lesson plan over and over again (even between the lines and in the margins).  I created a “Confirmation Class Contract” laying down my rules and expectations for my kids to sign.  I brought in my blue brain-shaped stress ball to use as a “talking stick” so we wouldn’t have everyone talking over each other again.  I wrote notes on sticky notes and stuck them on more pieces of paper.  Before Mass, I went in to adoration for a couple minutes and freaked out.

What if they don’t like me?  What if they think this is stupid? What if I can’t get through to any of them? What if I misrepresent You?  What if I get too nervous to speak again? What if I spent all four years studying theology in college to be a youth minister, only to realize that I am completely terrible at it?  What if I missed my calling?  What if??

It wasn’t a very pretty scene and I’m glad that only me and Jesus were in the adoration chapel at the time.  But then, in the silence of the chapel, staring into Jesus’s gigantic Host-y eye, He gave me a good metaphorical whack across the face.  He said, “Sara, do you seriously think I’d throw you to the wolves like that?  Do you really think that there is no reason you were put with that particular class?  Who do you think I am!?”

Duh.

First of all… it’s not about me.  Who cares if I look cool. What the heck.  That doesn’t even matter. All I have to do is be myself… because myself is who is teaching that particular group of freshmen.  There is going to be one or two or twelve of those students who are going to be affected because of me being the person God created me to be. Secondly…  I shine God’s love.  That’s what matters.  God takes care of the rest.  Even if they all look at me like they think I’m crazier than wearing flip-flops outside in a Minnesota winter… so what.  God is taking care of whats going on in their hearts.

Duh, Sara.  How liberating.  The responsibility doesn’t entirely lie on my shoulders.  I am just supposed to reflect God’s love in a way my freshmen can understand.  I am supposed to travel with them on their spiritual journeys.  God will use me however God will see fit.  And God placed me in that particular class for a particular reason, dang nabbit.  The ONLY way I can screw it up is if I go in there and say, “Hey. How about we toss those Bibles for a minute and smoke something illegal instead.”  Otherwise, seriously… it’s foolproof.  God’s got it.

It was a great feeling.  And tonight’s class went SO much better.  We got into a lot of great conversation about God’s plans for us, and we learned a lot about what the Bible has to say about leadership.  And we created a heartfelt covenant prayer that actually shows some beautiful thoughts about our roles as Catholic-Christians.

And maybe… just maybe… those kids left my class today changed just a tiny little bit.  Maybe… just maybe… that mustard seed has been planted.  Maybe!