to the woman who struggles with the pain of others -- anya

 

Dear Lord,

Sometimes I hate how emotional You have made me. I often times have such strong empathetic connections to people, people who I haven’t ever met, that I find my heart constantly torn.

A few months ago, You placed me in an Uber one afternoon for a grocery store run. You had the driver take a route through a neighborhood I had never been through before. You had me pass a house surrounded by cops and ambulances. You had me find out that a young man at my school had taken his life right there that day. And it destroyed me.

God, I couldn’t imagine why I had to see and hear of such a terrible thing. And it was even more upsetting that it made me feel the way it did. I cried on my floor for the boy, for his family, for his mom. I thought of how he felt, of how his mom would feel. And I cried and cried. Lord, I didn’t even know him, but you broke my heart for him. I don’t understand why.

As I felt this pain so deeply I felt called to reach out to my patron saint. As I scanned the endless Saint Therese quotes on google I came across one that helped me start to make sense of all this pain. Saint Therese once said, “It is good to serve God in darkness and trial! We have only this life to live by faith.” As I wiped the tears on my cheeks I realized that You are calling me to live my life by faith and through faith, which means finding You in the midst of pain.

God, you are asking me to say yes to feeling the pain of others and being their warrior and protector in prayer and intercession when there is nothing else left. It is only by this pain that I can truly carry out what You request of me: to live my life with pure faith and trust in You that everything happens for a reason.

I am still realizing that You made me with this heart so I could feel this much pain and feel called to action. I think You made my heart hurt so much so I would pray for his soul and his family everyday since then. You made my heart hurt so I would pay more attention to those around me. You made my heart hurt so that You would help me see the pain You have for people like this boy.

God, thank you for making me feel emotions ten times as strong as it seems everyone else does. Thank you for teaching me that pain can be an opportunity to help others, whether it be through prayer or physically engaging with others. Lord, I am saying yes to this heartache and pain and because You are asking me to live out my faith and help protect and intercede for your children who are hurting and alone. You are asking me to pray for hope and love to be brought into this deep pain.

Thank you for surrounding me with people who remind me that my empathy is my gift. And thank you for making my empathy stretch further than pain, but also to joy, as it makes life so much sweeter. I love you with my whole heart, and I can’t imagine not having the heart that I do, no matter what pain it causes.

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to the woman who is distracted

Lord.

I don’t know where I’ve been. I don’t know why You aren’t at the top of my list everyday. I don’t know why praying feels like going to the gym. I just don’t want to make the effort anymore. I’m holding on to this imaginary thought that You will win my heart over even when I know my arms are closed.

I know is that my back is turned. My priorities are: my wedding, my classes, my job, my life after college, my friends and the list goes on. My heart breaks at the realization that You are far behind everything else in my life.

I remember when it was easy. I remember feeling off when I didn’t pray. I remember when I prayed twice a day just because I had so much to say or so much to hear.

I don’t feel far, I just feel distracted.

I feel like making time for You means less time for me and I’m selfish.

I know some of the most important things in this world are to give money and time. I literally give You neither at this point.

I’m so sorry. I’m so sorry for becoming the friend who won’t make time for You. I am that friend.

It’s not that I don’t miss You, I just feel so busy.

How do I start again? How do I begin to fall deep into prayer again. Where does the gift of discipline come in? What do I take time away from to see You more?

I once heard a story about Mother Teresa and how the nuns in her convent felt they did not have enough time to finish the work they were doing each day. They asked her to cut their prayer time a bit shorter so they could give themselves to the sick and poor a little more. After hearing their request, she then changed their schedule from praying one hour a day to two hours a day. The nuns were confused and didn’t understand why she made this decision, but Mother Theresa explains that putting prayer first will open up your day up to the Lord. He will supply all the time you need.

Lord,

You believe in me more than anyone ever could. With Your grace I will fight to follow. Business is an illusion because you make time for the things that matter. You matter.

Steal my heart again.

I love you

Dear Lord,

There is something so addicting about pleasing people.

I do it. Everyday. I strive to, at least.

I enjoy pleasing people because then they are pleased with me. Lord, I care so much about what they think. I put these emotional restraints on myself thinking they will lift me up and set me free. That even if I am not happy, others are and so it’s okay.

And I know there is merit in listening to what others say and taking into account their opinion, but in a world so vain, where all that seems to matter is what people think and say about you, Lord I really don’t know how to escape this completely.

Sometimes I have a good balance, where I can draw a line and make my own choices without a second thought to how others think of it. I know the choice is right for me and makes me happy, and so I make it. Any choice I have made like that has only brought me more fulfillment in who You created me to be, and so I keep making them the best I can. But then I also have those imbalances, like the one I am in now.

The imbalance of allowing the opinions of others overshadow the opinion I hold myself. I’m talking about those the big life moves, the ones You put on my heart. The starting a family, the changing of towns, the going back to school, or even deciding to take a break from it. And I know I am not the only one. Lord I pray for the women who are fighting this too.

I pray for the grace of listening to your heart. Choosing what you want to choose in the big battles and the small ones, like stepping deeper into the faith and wearing that veil, choosing the other job even if it doesn’t make as much money, taking a break from school because you are feeling called to something else, going on a date with that person because you really want to. I know there is grace in listening to your heart… and it feels so stollen sometimes.

These voices that say I shouldn’t, that tell me to wait or think about it more, that put doubts into my head… they hold weight. More than I want. And most of them come from people that really care, and so I do my best to take them from that place. But when is right to turn from their opinions and take hold of mine?

And it may have taken a break down (or two) but I am ready to draw that line, Lord. I know You wouldn’t be putting these changes on my heart if it wasn’t meant to happen. You are not a sneaky Father. These changes are on my heart because they are good things. And I don’t believe they will take away any happiness or limit me in some way, not if they were sent by You. I know that is just not how You work. If it should happen, if that risk should come through as a victory, it will be because You willed it so.

So I am here in front of You, asking for the strength to trust in You more than the doubts.

I don’t want to please these other people, not really, it’s at least not what I want when I sit here in front of You. I want to please You. Which seems like a silly thought in itself when You have said over and over, “Here is my daughter, with whom I am well pleased.”

There is no earning your adoration. There is no fighting for your approval. Those are battles of this world. Not battles in my relationship with You.

Lord I pray for the strength to stand firm in the desires I know You have placed on my heart. To pull me away from living solely as a people pleaser and entering deeper into the joy You so badly want me to have. To trust that your plan is not scary or binding. Because I know You desire nothing less than wholly fulfilling for your daughter.

——————————————

Sister, if there has been a desire on your heart to do something you have received negative feedback on, I pray for your discernment in that choice to come from you and not the assumptions others have of you. Take that job. Say hi to that boy in your class. Apply for that program. Start saving for that trip. Hold fast to that Advent habit you want to have this season. Pray for those big things you think would be miracles to happen, because we are called to have great faith.

He doesn’t put anything on your heart by mistake. And the best part is, He is a perfect gentleman who will walk with you through it all.

Dear God,

It’s you and me, that’s how it has always been, that’s how I always thought it would be. Even during those years when I was blind to your love, you still pursued me. You gave me, your princess, a splendid castle when I did not deserve even a shack. You filled my life with hope and purpose, you gave me riches in my soul, and you showed me my worth. My worth, how am I worth all the jewels in the world, how did I deserve this magnificent castle? I gaped in awe at the golden throne you made for me. I don’t deserve this, don’t deserve you. The stained glass windows reach from floor to ceiling and the light dances off of the jewels in the throne room as one would imagine the gates of heaven do.

I walked the halls of my castle and found decorative, arching hallways that led to my memories, the good and the bad. I giggled with nostalgia down some, but others weren’t so enjoyable. I didn’t go down those hallways for quite some time. I would stand frozen, unable to even fathom reliving those moments. I argued with you, I rejected your help, I scorned your beautiful creation because I was too afraid to let my pride fall. But you shone your light on those halls too dark for me to wander down, took my hand and walked through those awful memories with me, and gave me the peace to accept those things I cannot change. I watched my memories dance like murals on the walls as I meandered my past and I witnessed how truly beautiful your plan for my life has been, through the good and bad, and it’s only just begun. What other hallways are there for me to travel down? What other memories will paint these walls? Will they sing with love? Cry out in pain? There are so many wings still being built, and so many areas still under construction.

Father, your love is meant to be shared, I know, and this castle should be open for the world to see. Your gifts are in such abundance I should want to share them with my loved ones. If I let them in they will be able to see the splendor of your glory, but they will also see those hallways Father, they will see those parts of me I could barely look at myself. I don’t desire to share any of that with them. I’m too scared. Instead, I want to build a moat with a bridge, throw in some alligators, and then even add on an antechamber. I’ll slow them down from entering my castle at all costs. Maybe I’ll even deadbolt the doors to those dreadful wings, I don’t want them to see everything, but I guess a glimpse of the good parts won’t hurt.

But you created us for community. And you created my heart to commit itself to another’s for the entirety of my life here on earth. Father, I can’t keep those hallways a secret for an entire lifetime. A man will want to pry, he will desire to know what makes me, me. He will claim to love me and say those past mistakes and those hidden demons don’t matter. But Father, what if he doesn’t shine light on them like you did? What if he laughs at them? What if he sees them and runs in fear? What if he can’t bear to even look at them? What if he doesn’t love me anymore once he sees the parts of me that were broken, that are still broken? What if those areas under construction aren’t good enough for him? Will he see the beauty in my struggles, just as you do?

Father, I have locked people out of my castle so many times in the past, but I know one day you will bring someone special to my door steps, maybe you have already. One who won’t knock until I am ready to open the door for him, he will wait patiently like a gentleman. The last time I considered opening those doors for another man I quickly shut out the idea, panicked, locked up all of the doors and threw on the security system. But the one you will bring me will be different, I know, because you will trust him, trust him to care for my heart the way you do. But Father, will I open the doors for him? Will I have that courage? I don’t know what will happen when I do Father, will he be here forever? Will his memories start to run with mine along the hallway walls? Will he help with the construction on the hallways that still need work? Will I let you build him a throne right next to mine?

It’s always been you and me, Father, you and me. And at some point you will want to welcome another person in our castle. Am I ready? You created me to be tough, and I am proud of the strong woman you have helped me become, but out of everything in this world, this scares me the most. I begin to panic when I simply think about how vulnerable I will be if I open those doors.. Pathetic, that’s how I feel. I am scared no man can love me the way you do, that no man can shine light on those dark hallways the way you do, that no man will make me feel worthy of this castle. Father, grant me the courage to open those front doors. Give me the steadfast steps to someday lead him down those dark hallways. Help me open up to another person’s love, to a man’s love. My life has been a beautiful love story between you and me, but there’s a man out there ready to love me as you do. If you ask me to ready my heart, I will trust you.

giulia-bertelli-94235

 

“Comparison is the thief of joy”

 

Lord, I’ve heard this over and over again by my youth ministers, friends, spiritual directors, priests and family. I get it. It isn’t wise to the soul or to my life to compare myself to other people. But God, sometimes I can’t help it. I constantly pick at what I do not have and what my friends do have. I have this obsession to run a measuring stick over others in a desire to feel superior because I hate feeling inferior. Instead, my sloth leads me to being upset at you and at the world for what I do not have. I ask myself questions like, why can my friends pay for college so easily and graduate while I struggle to pay for some classes?  Why does it seem like all of my good friends are in happy, long-term relationships and I can’t keep one for the life of me? Why do I keep comparing myself to every girl I encounter in an effort to be “prettier” or “better”? I constantly want to have the cooler personality or be the funny girl that everyone wants to be friends with. Why do my other friends seem stronger, wiser or holier than I? And God, why is it that everyone around me seems to have their life together, have well put together families and a luxurious lifestyle?

 

The more I think about it, the more divided my heart becomes. Lord I know that even as I write this, it makes me feel resentful. I recognize that the evil one does the most to make me feel like I have to compete with others in order to be more successful, talented or better. I struggle to love myself so I fascinate and envy over the lives of others. I give in to the lies and rest in my insecurity rather than your affirmation of me. Lord, I become restless picking at everything that doesn’t seem right with me and I tear myself and others down.

 

But God, I desire to be free of these lies that have led me to become a slave of insecurity and doubt. My self esteem tumbles because I base it off of what I can do, what I have and my own power, rather than the Potter who created me beautifully. The lives of others are passing before my eyes and I’ve spent excruciating hours observing theirs with jealousy and not looking at how wonderfully you’re working in mine. Not only does it cease my joy, but it ceases my celebration of the accomplishments and lives of others. It is selfish of me and I realize that I’ve made it more about me and what I do or don’t have and less about who You are to me and how You’ve always loved me.

 

Lord, allow me to step back away from my resentment, to reject the lie that I am not important or cared for by you. In Psalm 18:30 you remind me that I am fearfully and wonderfully made. You press deeper into my heart and shout that I am unrepeatable. That this season in my life is right where I need to be because while I see the smaller picture, you know the bigger plan. The moment that I begin to covet what isn’t mine Lord, turn my face to you. May I be reminded of your constant love for me.That this heart of comparison that brings forth division be made new. I want a heart that rejoices in the life and accomplishments of others. A heart that is grateful for the talents and gifts that others have to teach me and bring into my life. A heart that trusts that I have everything I need right here, right now in your love. A heart that comes out of myself and personal interest to love my neighbor. A heart that praises You for everything and chooses joy.

 

You have molded my life and everything in it. Before me there is love, relationship, joy, peace and praise and all I have to do is choose it for myself. When this heart of jealousy or anger creeps in, may I be humbled in this awareness and turn to You to order my desires and emotions. May I choose to compliment rather than to compare. You delight specifically in who I am and if I stopped for just a second to gaze at You and less at myself, I would know this. While comparison comes to steal, slaughter and destroy, You come to bring me life and life in abundance. Give me the grace to get over myself and to dive into You. My God, help me celebrate this life You have given me and to be grateful for the season that I am currently in. Turn me away from division and towards relationship with You and with others, but most importantly towards the celebration of the woman that You are creating me to be. It is all from You Lord, and by You that I can choose to love myself right where I am and in the gifts that You have given me. You rejoice at the very thought of me and have crafted me uniquely. This is worth celebrating, and with You, I can overcome and fight this battle that wounds my heart.

 

With all of You, I can love all of me.

 

With all of You,  I am reminded of all of me.

 

With all of You, I am molded into all of me.

 

With all of You, grace can enter into all of me.

 

With all of You, there is peace in all of me.

 

With all of You, I am secure in all of me.

 

With all of You, I can love all of me.


Lord,

I love you but it’s hard.

I know that seems like a silly thing to say because your love for me is so great and You spared your only Son. But it’s hard.

It’s hard feeling like the only girl in college who hasn’t been to a party. It’s hard being the only girl who’s never dated.

You have shown me it is worth it every time in the past. Every time I have felt down about missing out on what society promises me in parties and the hook up culture… You have promised me things a thousand times better.

You remind me of how important pure love is. That I am striving for the treasures of heaven, not the treasures of Earth.

You remind me that I am a soldier of Christ and that part of my battle is standing my ground.

Every time I feel my heart being pulled by the calls of temptation, You pull my heart harder. Thank you.

Thank you for holding me.

Thank you for reminding me through the scriptures that I am worthy, and that my suffering is valuable. 

Thank you for giving me fellow brothers and sisters in Christ that support me in my faith and uplift me when I am down. 

Thank you for placing in my heart the assurance that I am made for more and that my worth and value comes from You, not from social scenes.

Dear Lord, loving You is hard and even though saying no to late-night parties and society’s standards is hard, the thought of separating myself from You is much worse.

I pray that You will keep my eyes fixed on Your cross and my heart in your hands. Help me to reject the false promises of the world and continue to fight for your true Kingdom.

God I know how hard it can be to love You and to do what You ask of me, I know that the world tries to pull me away from You everyday. I pray that You will help me to always see that You are holding tightly onto me and that all I have to do is hold tightly back. Because no matter how hard the world pulls me, I know You will always pull me harder towards You, should I only ask. 

To The Woman Hiding In The Upper Room 

Lord, being honest seems so heavy. Am I allowed to say my prayer is dry, mass is boring, and being nice is exhausting? My joy only comes in waves. Walking with You is more like dragging my feet next to You. It’s not that I forgot You are always with me and providing me blessings in my life, it’s that I have fallen into the illusion of loneliness. I know You’re not absent; I just feel You so distant. 

Personally in my prayer during this time I feel like I have nothing to complain about, but I know this is not where my heart should sit. This spot of complacency is almost worse than desolation. 

In desolation, I feel like You’re missing in my life, so I’m constantly seeking to find You again and pursuing Your heart in so many ways. I beg for the Holy Spirit and desire Your love. 

But when I am in this place of distance, I don’t find myself searching for peace because I know You’re somewhere “around.” The Holy Spirit is in front of me, but not in me it seems.

My heart yearns to yearn You, Jesus. What am I missing? What am I doing wrong? How can I pray better? How can I love stronger? How can I desire to desire You again?

Does that even make sense? Hear me Father.

“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind” Matthew 22:37

…….

The best I have dragging my feet with the Lord. And He quickly quiets my concerns of distance. What I have is enough. If feeling distant with God is all I have and I continue to give Him all I have, even when it is small, He will delight in my small, small love. 

Sister, God is never distant, only I am.

He hears my prayers and sees my soul at this very moment. My strength comes from consistency and not from emotion.

The Lord is working, sister, He is here.

And I as wait in the upper room for my Savior to come, doubt fills my mind. But that does nothing for my truth. I know Jesus is coming. I don’t have to wait for my next “big Jesus moment” when I have right now with Him. I have His love in His word. I have His promises in my life. I have His heart in my own.

I am not afraid to be in this place, but I promise you I will not stay here. Seeking Jesus only leaves me further in the Father’s arms.

God has gifted us with the sacraments. He has given us Himself in a physical intimate place. Like in confession, we hear and physically receive His forgiveness and mercy. And the Eucharist, when we taste the love of our Savior. We get to adore our God to the depth of our core.

Thirty minutes in adoration might seem heavy and silent, but the effect of His presence will show when you find yourself giving more of your patience out to your coworker.

Daily mass might seem time consuming, but you will see the effect of His communion when you feel the desire in your heart to call your mom just to say hi.

Confession might seem nerve-racking, but you will see the effect of His love when your best friend needs advice on the sin they can’t seem to push off.

He is not distant, He is with you eyelash to eyelash.
…….

O come Emmanuel, remind us of your presence.

To The Woman Casting Her Net Into The Sea 


Dear Lord, I am exhausted.

Following You is hard. Trusting that You have a plan for me, especially right now, is hard. You tell me there is greatness planned for me, and I believe You. But we are not there yet, I do not see the greatness You have planned for my life right now, and I have to keep working, growing and learning. I am exhausted.

Last week I was reflecting on Luke 5:1-11 and I just couldn’t wrap my mind around the trust the fishermen had in You.

Did you know how the fishermen on the boat felt? They had been working all night tossing their nets into the sea, trying to provide an income for themselves and their families and they couldn’t. They would throw their nets out and pull the wet, heavy net back in for no reward, for disappointment. Then again they would throw it out just to pull back in an empty net.

Again and again, they would do this.

This is how I feel Lord.

I feel like a fisherman that can’t catch any fish.
I have casted my net into the sea so many times and still have not caught any fish.

“There is plenty of fish in the sea” is what comes to mind as I write You this letter, but that isn’t what I am talking about. What I mean by fish isn’t a relationship with a man, although I am completely aware of the burden that the single life and loneliness has.

I’m talking about anything that could bear fruit. I have worked so hard to find a job that I love, a friendship that is fruitful, a happy family life. I cast out my net for these seemingly good aspirations but I feel like I fall short time and time again.

You have given me a job and the tools I have aren’t working. My net is dirty, my hands are blistered, and my eyes are so heavy I can barely keep them open.

 Just like the fishermen.

And then there You are, saying, “Put out into deep water, and let down the nets for a catch.”

No… you don’t understand – I’m tired. Physically I can’t do it. I can’t lift the net over the side of the boat into the sea again, and even if I did, and I did catch fish… I can’t pull it back into the boat, my energy is spent.

“Put out into deep water, and let down the nets for a catch.”

Simon answered, “Master, we’ve worked hard all night and haven’t caught anything. But because you say so, I will let down the nets.”

What trust.

“When they had done so, they caught such a large number of fish that their nets began to break. So they signaled their partners in the other boat to come and help them, and they came and filled both boats so full that they began to sink.”

Lord, I want my boat to sink! I want to drown in Your graces! I want to have to call my friends over because I can’t hold Your goodness.

More importantly, just like the fishermen after they caught all the fish they could ever need, I want to abandon my boat on the shore and follow You.

Help me have the strength to toss my net into the sea.

Help me fight the exhaustion.

Help me hear you when you tell me to cast my net into the deep.

Help me find friends that can pull in Your graces.

Remind me that I keep tossing my net into the sea because You have asked me to.
 
Because You have asked me to.
  
St. Simon, Pray for us.

To The Woman Who Wants To See A Change 


Wow.

This is the only word capable of describing the shock and chaos and ultimate heartbreak happening around me. I’m talking about this world. I’m talking about the world we live in.

Lord, how did we get here? Is this Your wrath? Because I would like to believe that You love us more than that. Is it Your warning? Is it a sign?

It seems like the delivery is clear, but the message? What is your message?

I wake up in the morning and as I sift through my Facebook feed I see violence, hate, unrest, and indifference. Sure, I can blame this on social media. I can say “well, bad things have always happened but now we have more access to them” or “the news just blows things out of proportion,” but this wouldn’t be the truth and in this jumbled backwards world, we need a little bit of truth.

The truth is that there is a lack of love in this world; and I’m not just talking about a love between a boyfriend and girlfriend. 

I’m not talking about the love you give when you say “I love you” on the phone or the “praying for you” profile picture on Facebook. 

I’m talking about the dying-to-self, your-needs over-mine, sacrificing, hard, forgiving type of love.

I see what happens every day in my neighborhood. I drive past the homeless veteran because I have places to go to and I don’t have any cash on me. I think about the hurricanes and the victims but I slowly forget because I don’t want to be sad. I see marginalized groups fighting for basic human rights but you guessed it, I am comfortable in my life and don’t need to go the extra mile.

Wow.

This is the only word capable of describing the shock and chaos and ultimate heartbreak happening in my own heart.

So Lord, how do I start loving? How do I start giving that extraordinary love that we read in Your words?

•••••••••••

It starts here, in this chapel, in this space, with You and me. 

It starts with understanding that You alone can fix this hurt and destruction. 

It starts with recognizing the pain and suffering and instead of blowing it off, sitting in it; walking in the shoes of another sister.

It starts with a prayer.

Send me. Lord, help me recognize the heart that You formed in me. Use it for Your Will. Where I am hard, make me soft. Where I am weak, make me strong. Where I am fearful, take my hand and show me the way. I am not ready but I am willing. I will sit in Your chapel or walk down the streets loving all the same but I beg of You, give me the courage to do so. Help me love in the way You created me for. Take what I am and make it beautiful for Your Kingdom.

This is just the beginning. We can choose love today. We can donate our time and money and resources. We can make time to say a rosary. We can call our delegates and demand for change. We can be the most powerful and influential generation if we remember one thing; the world needs more love. The dying-to-self, your-needs over-mine, sacrificing, hard, forgiving type of love.


Picture by @elissavoss