October

I have always loved October. I can guarantee you my naive affection for it was rooted in it being my birthday month. But wow.. It’s everything. It’s the Harvest Moons that frequent the sky. The unbearably sweet smell of the cold on skin. Necessary light jackets and scarves but the warmth of sunshine. Homecoming football games. Halloween.

I love them all.

And then there’s the Holiness of October. The month of the Holy Rosary. Breast Cancer Awareness. Feast Days of monumental saints like Therese, Francis of Assisi, Teresa of Avila, Pope John Paul II. Underneath the exterior of the aforementioned worldly pleasures October, there is so much prayer. Souls on fire for our God, our Saints, our loved ones.

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I am so happy I live in a world where there are Octobers.

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Shoulda Coulda Woulda

Expectation is the root of all heartache.

Do we even know who, if anyone, said that? Most attribute it to William Shakespeare, which obviously makes it automatically profound, but it was probably Marilyn Monroe. Or Bob Marley. Any one of those insightful sonofaguns. Either way, I think it’s in the top 10 most cliche pieces of advice I’ve ever received. And while it resonates in a really doom way, I don’t think that expectation is what leads us to disappointment. Rather, I don’t think disappointment is a direct product of expecting. Because that’s not what we’re doing when we get our hopes up; Expecting is an anxiety driven need to predict. Hoping for something is not expecting.

I think that often times, hope and wishing is the romantic in us that says “It should be like this. This is how it’s supposed to be.” But something I’ve learned (without question the hard way) is that supposed to be isn’t real. There is no such thing. The only consistency that we found ‘supposed to be’ on is what we’ve assumed to be the most ideal. What works for us in the moment. But nothing is ever certain, and life rarely plays out the way we thought it would. Half of the time, we’ve never even experienced the supposed to be’s that our hearts desire. So how do we know? We can’t. And that’s where disappointment burns hot.

In all of this “revelation”, my solution is not to bury the flames with realism and neglect of our romantic human nature. Instead, I put my faith in God’s will. It is no less romantic to trust that an incredible fate is constantly being determined by something so much greater. His will is the only supposed to beAnd in that leap of faith, disappointment is far more likely smothered.

“I know I am, because I said I am.”

Each day I have grown closer to God, I think about what I can do to glorify Him. I think about each action and how it aligns with who I am. And yes, that includes how I dress. Questions riled up in me. I know what I want to portray. I know that I want to emanate class and dress respectfully, but fashion is what it is. Do I need to dress down to fulfill some fictional good Christian status quo? Why should I? I prayed over such a simple question. I needed help. I sought spiritual guidance, because somehow along the way of knowing and being, I still felt like maybe I was not good enough. Like so many women, afraid I was not good enough, not desirable, to another. The most important another there is.
The answer I received was as simple as the question. Modesty, while about glorifying God, is also about me. It is about what reminds me of the beauty I carry. It isn’t about the clothes themselves, but why I choose to wear them. Yes, there will always be a part of me, like any woman, that wants to be attractive to the opposite sex. But knowing that I do not wake up in the morning and select the favorite outfit I love for anyone but me is not only empowering, but exactly what I believe God intends for us to be able to do. To see beauty from the inside out. Beauty in confidence and self-worth and respect. So no, I do not and will not dress down. My modesty rests in my intention to love God and to love myself as He made me.

Loathing

Pray: A four letter word so loaded that the sound of it makes you feel. Maybe that’s just me. I feel everything too much and too often. Lately, when I tell myself to pray, I become overwhelmed with all of the things I want to pray for; All the the things I should pray for. The list seems too great. There are too many bases to cover.

When someone asks me to pray for them, the good Christian inside of me says “Absolutely.” whole-heartedly. As silly as it sounds, I like to believe that a certain amount of vulnerability is required when asking someone who devoutly prays to pray for you. So why wouldn’t I? But then, I tell myself to take a small portion of my day to actually say these prayers, and I can’t.

Lately, I have been too lax in my faith. And when I pray, I don’t know where to begin. I have never felt so far away. My head tries to rank these pleas to God in order of importance and I can’t determine it. I’m at a loss for what’s right to ask for. Is it my place to even pray for these things?

The assumed absence of God is a slippery slope. Sure, he actually never leaves, but we are asked accept that He has a plan for us. Certain pains are meant to be felt. It will all make sense some day. But in this absent, floating anguish, I think to myself “What’s the point?” in praying for anything if God has already decided? And I allow myself to fall away. I’m faithful, but I am tired.

I have always told myself that God merely appreciates the sentiment. I could exist along like most Catholics, periodically attending Mass, believing whole-y in the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, maybe attending Confession or even taking time out of my day to pray. Most people exist this way, and they make their way to heaven eventually too (However long the process takes) But if you really know the “rules” of Catholicism and you don’t obey them, doesn’t it make it worse? Yes. Knowingly sinning, as opposed to ignorantly doing so, is without question worse.

So here I am, knowing these things about myself. Falling into slumps of mediocre Catholicism, and I can’t stand myself. Instead, I remain stuck in this guilt ridden, self-loathing hole, unable to escape. And the worst part of all is that I am completely aware that it is happening.

I do not deserve answered prayers.

“Lord grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”

A good Christian believes that suffering is beautiful. In the same way that Christ carried the cross, we have our own to bear. And Christ died for us, and that’s probably one of the most beautiful things to exist. 

I’m sitting here after two months of a dark cloud hovering over, inching closer and closer, I am now right beneath it, waiting for the rain. Actually, I anticipate a down pour. The countless scenarios play through my head, and the majority are immensely painful. So now I’m faced with a decision: Fight or flight.

Is it more graceful to accept that this is something I can not handle? To bow out before the going gets the toughest? Or is it better to “martyr it out”, and suffer through it. Which is stronger? 

The human in me says accept your weakness and know your limits. Spare yourself the agony. But the Christian in me says that no matter what happens, it is what God intends for me to see, to experience, to enjoy, and to overcome. At the end of the day, there is no better test of this faith that I take so much pride and care in, than to follow that Christian direction. In this case, to suffer.

You can’t see a…

You can’t see anything properly while your eyes are blurred with tears. You can’t, in most things, get what you want if you want it too desperately: anyway, you can’t get the best out of it. ‘Now! Let’s have a real good talk’ reduces everyone to silence. ‘I must get a good sleep tonight’ ushers in hours of wakefulness. Delicious drinks are wasted on a really ravenous thirst. Is it similarly the very intensity of longing that draws the iron curtain, that makes us feel we are staring into a vacuum when we think about our dead? ‘Them as asks’ (at any rate ‘as asks too importunately’) don’t get. Perhaps can’t.
And so, perhaps, with God. I have gradually been coming to feel that the door is no longer shut and bolted. Was it my own frantic need that slammed it in my face? The time when there is nothing at all in your soul except a cry for help may be just the time when God can’t give it: you are like the drowning man who can’t be helped because he clutches and grabs. Perhaps your own reiterated cries deafen you to the voice you hoped to hear.

C.S. Lewis, A Grief Observed

 

Songs About Rain

When I was a little girl, I remember sitting in bed with my aunt completely terrified of the huge storm that was completely shaking our lake cabin. Tears streaming down my face, she held me tight and told me how silly it was to be scared. “Do you know what a thunderstorm really is?” she asked me. I shook my head. “A thunderstorm is just God going bowling, and every time lightning flashes he gets a strike!” Just like that, my six year old worries were eased.

Although I know now that God isn’t exactly bowling up there, I like to think that God is even more present during a storm. That a storm is His way of acknowledging the world’s loves, devastations, pains, and strengths. Watching a storm, I feel all of those things as if they’re being painted on a canvas right in front of my eyes; The energy tangible. And maybe I’m the only one, but why else do people write songs about rain?