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Ink Slingers Mary Beth

Love, Despite

Despite. Initially, I thought it was a negative word that implied a struggle, a difficulty, a challenge to overcome. But after stewing on it and wondering how God wants me to apply it in my life, I found despite to be a positive, faith-filled word. A turning-point, change-of-perspective word.

Love, Despite

I am a word nerd. Always have been. Growing up, I knew how to read before I started school. I wrote funny poems about and for my second-grade friends. And I often stayed in at recess just so I could get a jump on my new spelling words. When I first discovered the existence of a thesaurus, my nerdy word world was rocked! My Creator made me this way, so I choose to run with it. And because he made me this way I have learned that whenever he wants my attention, he likes to send a word for me to ponder. The ponder word can bubble up during my prayer journaling time, while I’m reading a book, while I’m saying the rosary or even while I’m spacing out in the car or the shower. I know the word when I see it and hear it because it usually compels me to pause. The word crackles my brain circuits for the tiniest moment and makes my heart sit up and take notice. I love this special way God and I have of communicating. It always draws me nearer to him. It teaches me something that’s relevant to the particular season of spiritual growth I happen to be in.

despite stands out

The most recent word that has been surfacing on a regular basis in my life is despite. Initially, I thought it was a negative word that implied a struggle, a difficulty, a challenge to overcome. But after stewing on it and wondering how God wants me to apply it in my life, I found it to be a positive, faith-filled word. A turning-point, change-of-perspective word. A word that I need to integrate into my daily life to keep me motivated and help me to become a stronger disciple of Jesus.

One example? Jesus commands us to Love One Another. That wouldn’t be so difficult if we weren’t humans, am I right? As EWTN’s Mother Angelica once said, “If it wasn’t for people, we could all be holy!” We humans have faults and quirks and annoying personality traits that make us tough to love. Ask my husband, who has to bite his tongue every time I bring home another lost cat or dog, forget to put gas in the vehicle or launch into one of my infamous pouting jags after a disagreement. I know I can be tough to love! But that’s where the word despite comes in. We have to love, despite. Jesus did not say to us, “Don’t worry—you only need to love those who are easy to love.” He said to love one another (everyone–even our enemies!) and that means to love one another despite. Despite the character flaws, despite the behaviors, despite the anger or frustration we may feel. By adding the word “despite” to the command, I can acknowledge that it’s not going to be a cake walk to do this loving thing, but I need to do it anyway.

There’s also Follow Me, despite. Again, Jesus does not promise an easy path by obeying this command. There’s a cross we need to take up with this one, after all. But for me, hearing that word in my ears reminds me that when the going gets tough, I need to keep going! Whether the road is uphill, or rocky or fogged in on all sides so I have no clue where it is leading. I need to Follow Him, despite the obstacles.

And then there’s Be Not Afraid, despite. Despite the fact that the financial strain is overwhelming or a child’s situation is desperate or the diagnosis is terminal. This is a tall order, Sistas. It’s fraught with doubt, discouragement, and fear. But if and when we can Be Not Afraid despite the circumstances of our situation, we learn to trust Jesus more. And when we trust Jesus more, we can Be Not Afraid even more, despite. See how that works?

And here’s more great news: our Good Shepherd also freely gives us patience, persistence, hope, joy, grace, mercy, strength and peace, despite. Despite the fact that we are ungrateful, grumbling, complaining little sheep; despite the fact that we don’t deserve it and can’t earn it. And despite the fact that we are sinners. He loves us with an all-encompassing, never-ending love, despite everything we do to push him away or ignore him or offend him! He pours out gifts to us, in abundance, despite.

Cool, huh? It’s a perfectly formed Divine strategy. So go forth today, sweet Sista, and know you can love and be loved. Have peace in your heart and be not afraid, despite!

By Mary Beth Weisenburger

Mary Beth is a 50-something magazine editor, a family humor columnist and an author, but her favorite form of writing is prayer journaling. Praying with a pen every morning for years
dramatically strengthened her spiritual life, even drawing her back home to the fullness of the Catholic Church after several decades away! She recently published a book with Beacon
Publishing/Dynamic Catholic titled, “Praying with a Pen—the Girlfriends’ Guide to Stress-Free Prayer Journaling.” Married for 30+ years to her witty and wonderful husband, she's a mom to two adult children: one a seminarian studying in Rome and the other a happily married school social worker who promoted Mary Beth to grandma status in March of 2018. Mary Beth is a member of her church choir, loves to sing at big Catholic weddings and has recently begun facilitating Catholic book studies and retreats for women. With a background in corporate communications and marketing and a Master’s degree in Business and Organizational Leadership, she has spoken to over 100 groups on the topics of leadership, family humor, writing and prayer journaling. Mary Beth has a borderline unhealthy attachment to her little dog, Sammy and, when the mood strikes her, she blogs about prayer journaling (and Sammy) at www.prayingwithapen.com.

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