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Charla

I am mad at God.

I am mad at God.mad

Am I even allowed to be mad at God? Doesn’t that seem quite heretical? I love Him, with every fiber of my being, but I am so frustrated with things in this world and saddened by numerous situations.  It is hard to know what emotion I am trying to deal with, but right now, I think it is anger.

Jeremiah was mad at God and apparently it was important enough to include in Scripture.

“You duped me, O LORD, and I let myself be duped;
you were too strong for me, and you triumphed.
All the day I am an object of laughter;
everyone mocks me.

Whenever I speak, I must cry out,
violence and outrage is my message;
the word of the LORD has brought me
derision and reproach all the day.

I say to myself, I will not mention him,
I will speak in his name no more.
But then it becomes like fire burning in my heart,
imprisoned in my bones;
I grow weary holding it in, I cannot endure it” (Jeremiah 20:7-9).

I know it is unfair to put it all on God, especially because of all He has done for us, but when He has the power to soften hearts and fix it all, He doesn’t, and I become downtrodden and disheartened.  For several years, I watched my grandmother suffer greatly physically, then my mother suffer, in most ways, selflessly caring for her, and now my mother suffers emotionally because of the greed and pride of her siblings. It is not fair, God!  I don’t get it.

angerI am angry because a place I love is marred by a leader who is unfair and petty and proud.  Nothing can be done about it.  God has the power to change these people and conditions, but He doesn’t.  We pray and pray and nothing gets better.

Why couldn’t I have my last baby and hold him and raise him and love him?

And where are my glasses?!

My immaturity takes hold of me and I succumb to shallowness and impatience. My pride overcomes me and I want to hold someone accountable for this darkness in the world. I find myself holding God accountable.

 

Then…

 

I take a step back and remember:

HE LOVES US. 

WE HAVE FREE WILL.

NOT IN OUR TIME, BUT IN GOD’S TIME.

I feel humbled.

How else do I describe my feeling of selfishness and irreverence, but by feeling humbled? Turning to Scripture yet again, yields results:

“Refrain from anger; abandon wrath; do not be provoked; it brings only harm.

Those who do evil will be cut off, but those who wait for the LORD will inherit the earth” (Psalms 37:8-9).

“The ill-tempered stir up strife, but the patient settle disputes” (Proverbs 15:18 ).

“The ill-tempered stir up strife,and the hotheaded cause many sins” (Proverbs 29:22).

 
“In contrast, the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. Now those who belong to Christ [Jesus] have crucified their flesh with its passions and desires. If we live in the Spirit, let us also follow the Spirit” (Galatians 5:22-25).

My small mind cannot comprehend God’s greater plan most of the time.  I suppose this is where Faith comes in.  

“He said to them, ‘Because of your little faith. Amen, I say to you, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you’” (Matthew 17:20).

This is not a question of bad things happening in our midst, or of the difficulties of the world; it is all about our Faith, MY Faith, that I seem to be so lacking. Jeremiah could not stay mad, because he was longing for God so greatly.  He had to seek Him and find Him. I have to continue to seek Him and find Him as well.god

I still can’t find my glasses.

What ways do you find you are able to cope with the disparaging events of the world?

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Alessandra Confession Ink Slingers Parenting Sacraments Testimonials You Did It To Me

You Did it to Me: Forgive All Injuries

Welcome to the series “YOU DID IT TO ME” where we will be discussing the Spiritual and Corporal Works of Mercy. This will be a twice a month series from March to September 2015. We hope you enjoy!

11200601_10206780705976508_134343866477417407_nTo Forgive All Injuries is the Third Spiritual Work of Mercy. Forgiveness.  Forgiveness is not easy, it is something that has to be authentic, come from the heart, and we have to make up our minds about it.  It is something that allows us to move on and it offers us freedom from past transgressions.  It is fair to say that all Christians should be forgiving people, though we know from time and experience, this is not always the case. Why should forgiveness be a “Christian thing?,” simple enough that through Our Lord’s three short years of Ministry, He practiced forgiveness time and time again.  Even at His last moments, He begged God the Father to forgive us, “for they do not know what they are doing.” (Luke 23:34)

Forgiveness has many faces, it is not a simple task.  Though it really can be.  There could be forgiveness that you do but that is not reciprocated from the other person who erred you, they might be stuck in thinking they were right and not offer the same charity back towards you.  Many times the weak human soul just gets upset at this and goes back into being upset and then truly does not forgive the other person.  But it must be clear that forgiveness does require the two people to talk calmly and offer each other those words, “I forgive you.”  When my children hurt each other either through words or hands, they are required to apologize for their transgressions and ask at the end, “do you accept my apology?” In other words, “do you forgive me.” It is important, as parents that we teach our children from very young to realize that we need to cool down, talk things through and then ask for forgiveness.  Accepting that apology is always the hardest point, we are hurt, upset, and do not even feel like talking to the person.  Time heals this at times, in other times it just causes a bigger wedge between two people.

As Catholics, as Christians, we are required to follow in the footsteps of Our Lord Jesus Christ and forgive all those who injure us.  I know, I know….this is not an easy task but we know that being Catholic is not an easy task but it is task worth doing.  The main point of a Catholic’s life should always be to strive to be in a state of grace, a heart who is heavy with anger, pride, or revenge cannot have a soul that is clear of sin.  So forgiveness not only helps relationships, helps others, but also helps your own soul.  How many times in our lives have we forgiven someone but that person never asked for forgiveness?  Many.

In my life this has been more of a frequent pattern than not.  The stepfather who abused me as a child is one prime example, you can read my testimony about this in this article entitled, “Broken Childhood, Healed by Christ.”  He never asked for forgiveness from me.  I never saw him again after telling the courts what he had done to me, he fled the country.  But my anger built up against him was not good for MY soul.  Did he hurt me? OF COURSE!  More than he will ever know, deep seeded scars that will remain with me forever. Scars that attached themselves to me and affect my marriage, my children, my interaction with other adults and my children around them, it left me in constant fear, and doubt about others.  But I came to a crossroad in my life where I realized that I was going about upset and angry about what had happened to me as a child.  It was not my fault though at times I blamed myself, so why did I continue to carry this anger with me? Until the point that I realized that this anger and resentment was holding me back from being a happy person, a Christian person, I was not FREE.  My forgiving a man who hurt me so bad was something I needed to do for my soul, my salvation.  This was the moment when I realized also, that God was with me the whole time this was happening, He had not abandoned me.  God sent the right people in my life at different moments to help my healing process from this horrible situation this sick man put me through. So, if God allowed me to heal, if He wanted me to move on with life and be free, how could I continue to store up hate for someone, anyone?  It was time. Since that moment that I nailed my cross to Our Lord’s, the healing process began.  Many hours in the Confessional and many hours with a therapist brought me out of the slavery of a being a victim of child abuse to being a free Christian woman!  It was liberating!  Forgiving him did not excuse his behavior, not at all.  Forgiveness prevented his horrid behavior from further destroying my heart. Forgiveness made me stronger.

Many times saying, “forgive all injuries” is a difficult request, I know, Our Lord knew this too. He does not expect us to walk this path to forgiveness alone.  He wants to lead us by the hand and help us learn how to forgive all injuries as He did.  Forgiveness requires charity, it requires mercy, it also requires justice.  When Our Lord said, “forgive your enemies” He was asking us something so difficult that alone we cannot do it, it is not even possible!  Only with His help, His words, His counsel, His Church, His Sacraments, can we do this.  Only through our staying in a state of grace, receiving the sacraments and staying close to them can we really life FREE Christian lives.  Pride, anger, and vengeance are sins that hold back our souls, they enslave us and keep us from that beautiful grace which will allow us an inch closer to Heaven. As Alexander Pope once said, “To err is human; to forgive is divine.”

Do you have anyone that has hurt you that you need to forgive? Make a list, write a letter, pick up the phone, and start that healing process. You have the power to take away someone’s happiness by holding on to anger.  That person is you!

forgive

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Ink Slingers Shiela

Pray Globally, Act Locally

My father's photo op with Immaculee

Last week, I had the opportunity to meet Immaculee Ilbagiza. She was speaking at my Alma Mater, Old Dominion University. I attended the lecture with my father and my sister. We arrived early, as good groupies do, and we found that we were ushered into a reception area. There we discovered rockfish with risotto and sundried tomatoes, a glass of chardonnay, and some sweet treats. We found a nice spot to nosh and chat and I gazed across the room and there she was! The three of us lit up. We immediately recognized our sister in Christ. She was busy exchanging pleasantries with members of the board of directors at the University as we made our way towards her. Our anxious presence caused her company to depart and offer us some face time with Immaculee. I confessed right off the bat that we were groupies. She put down her glass of wine, her shoulders dropped and her eyes lit up and she gave me a very warm embrace and she generously indulged us in a photo op. No words of great meaning were exchanged. We just knew that we were with our sister for a moment.

Sharing a moment with my sister in Christ

One of the many blessings of being the member of a faith family is that when you meet someone who shares your faith, all racial, geographical, and demographic differences melt away.

If you don’t know her story, read it. There is not a heart that she cannot touch. Her story is one of faith and forgiveness in the face of death. She is a survivor of the Rwandan genocide that ended the lives of nearly her entire family and one million others in the span of three months. In that three month period, she was hidden in a 3’x4’ bathroom with six other women and a seven-year-old child. There she found herself plotting a revenge on her family’s killers. The anger ate away at her. All she had when she entered her confinement was the clothing on her back and the rosary her father had given her when she last saw him. She prayed and found that only during prayer did the anger subside. And, in the most desperate moment of hiding, she faced profound doubt about the very existence of God. But, instead she found a profound faith. She prayed to God to protect her in this moment, and she vowed to never listen to those gnawing thoughts of doubt and anger again. The subsequent events of her survival are nothing short of miraculous.

When I read her story and when I hear about the atrocities that have happened in Rwanda and in other countries in Africa like Sudan and Darfur and Uganda, I feel overwhelmed. I feel guilt. What can I do? What is God asking of us who are so fortunate? Many of us will write a check and hope that some good will come of it. Recently, many people contributed to the controversial KONY2012 campaign. But, there must be more we can do.

Immaculee book signing

As we were standing in line for the book signing, I elbowed my sister and said, “So, when are we going to Rwanda?” She gave me that look that big sisters give to their idiotic little sisters. But, I feel an urgency to hop on a plane and set up a school or volunteer at an orphanage. When I listened to Immaculee recount her harrowing story of survival, I asked myself, “what is God asking of me?” Why am I so drawn to Immaculee and her message?

Her message is simple and my sister knew that. Love your neighbor and forgive others as you would like to be forgiven. And don’t just love your mother and cute babies. Love your enemy. Forgive those who have committed crimes against humanity. Forgive the man who killed your mother? Yes. It is a simple but radical message and it is a very familiar message. That is because her message is Christ’s message and Immaculee is the first one to admit that.

We are simply called to love. I don’t have to book a flight to Africa to do that, ergo the “look” from my sister. That is not my station in life right now. Maybe someday, I will be able to do some missionary work. But, right now, my sister and I are moms. And we are not “just” moms as the world would lead us to believe. Rather, we are in a place of great importance. We have the power to teach love that will be spread geometrically outward to humanity and will be multiplied by my five and her six children. My parents can boast of spreading the love through their five children and their twenty-two grandchildren. And this is something to boast about. My father lost his entire family before he was thirty. His father died suddenly when my father was a teenager. His only sister was killed as the result of a drunk driving car accident when she was just twenty. His mother died just before I was born. It wasn’t genocide that took his family, but, rather, untimely sickness and tragedy. This, we will all face. What my father and Immaculee share is a faith that perseveres through tragedy and loss. And, he has passed that faith onto my five siblings and our children.

The five of us

We can change the world, one smile, one kind act, one loving family at a time. So, I will pray globally for those that are suffering and I will act locally to spread God’s message of love beginning by creating a loving, peaceful home.

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Amy M. Faith Formation Ink Slingers Motherhood Vocations

Spiritual Do-Over

He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness.” I will rather boast most gladly of my weaknesses, in order that the power of Christ may dwell with me. 2 Corinthians 12:9

What a day!  It started off “normal” – the usual rush of seven people eating breakfast and four making lunch.  Then it all exploded.  Right before it was time to leave for school, of course.  One daughter had put together the snacks and had picked the “wrong” Goldfish.  Serious meltdown.  I am not proud to say I did not handle it well.  The end result?  My son trying to read the daily readings over the crying and carrying on (the girls and me – ugh).  We got everyone calmed down and off to school, late.

I got home in an awful funk.  God has blessed us with five wonderful children on earth.  I believe one of my primary jobs as a parent is to lead them to Him, to help guide them to know and grow in God’s love, and I believe that the main way to do that is by my actions – and my reactions.  My reactions were screaming anything but God’s love this morning.  I felt like such a failure, like there was no way God had actually intended ME to raise these children.  I’m so far from perfect.  I mess up too much.  Through my ranting (at myself), I started to realize God isn’t feeding me these thoughts.  He loves me too much to ever stop loving me.  Then the Bible verse came to mind, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness.” (2 Corinthians 12:9)

He had my attention.  So I began to pray for a “do-over.”  Obviously, I couldn’t go get my children from school, but I could pray for them, that God would be close to them throughout their days.  I could pray that my husband’s day at work would be productive and positive.  I could focus on my devotions and prayer life as my day continued.  As I did, I began to feel a peace invade my soul, the joy of the Lord and knowing Him come back.

I’d like to say this peace continued throughout the day.  On and off, focusing on the small parts, it has.  Of course, we’ve had the after-school homework, chores, and activity craziness.  But as I started to feel the frustration of too much to do bubbling to the surface, I said a quick prayer, stopped typing, packed up the whole bunch and headed to the park to play for a while (hey, how many times can you do THAT in the Midwest in the winter???).  It worked!  As I was bouncing on the springy thing with my four girls, I realized that there was a do-over for the day.  It started by admitting that I am weak in the Lord and need His grace in each and every moment of my day.  It continued by asking for God’s forgiveness for my reactions this morning and asking for my children’s forgiveness.  Now, this evening as we sit down for dinner, we will ask the Lord again for His grace and guidance as we discuss as a family how to make mornings go more smoothly.  I will truly take the verse the Lord put into my heart and live it – all of it.  I am not able to bring these children to Him on my own.  He is here with us each and every step of the way.  All we need to do is recognize His presence in these moments – even the crazy ones!  Praise the Lord!

Thank You, Lord, for being with us each and every moment of each and every day.  Please help us to realize that when You feel far away, it is not You who has moved but us. Thank You for giving us unlimited spiritual do-overs as long as we continue to admit our failings and ask again for Your forgiveness and grace.   Help us to pull closer to You so that Your power may be made perfect in our weakness.  I ask this through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen