Categories
Abortion Alyssa Azul Ink Slingers Respect Life

The Plan after Unplanned

The Plan after Unplanned

*Spoiler alert* 

Unplanned was screened in just over 24 cinemas across Canada, and done so despite strong protests against it. In my city, the movie was only shown in two theatres and for less than a week, so you’d better bet I was rushing to go see it. Before I get into the thick of it, one positive outcome was that the movie ended up selling out across the country. Not just because of the amount of pro-lifers wanting to see it, but  because of those who were on the fence, or pro-choice altogether. There were loads of mixed reviews after the movie aired, some quite offensive, but I think that the most powerful thing to come out of that film was the conversation it started.

I was no stranger to the Planned Parenthood controversy before entering the theater. I used to listen to Lila Rose podcasts, of her research and undercover investigations in the clinic. I was also familiar with Abby Johnson’s story: a former clinic director turned impassioned advocate for life and anti-abortion. I thought I would be prepared for this movie. 

The film opened up immediately with a scene of a young girl at about 13 weeks pregnant undergoing an ultrasound-guided abortion. It was the first time that Abby would witness firsthand, what a fighting life looked and felt like (as she was holding the probe).

It was a shockingly graphic scene, and I don’t think there was one woman in the theatre that wasn’t clutching her stomach, or feeling uncomfortable. It felt like somewhat of a physiological response to something deeply unnatural and inhumane.

As overwhelmingly emotional as the movie was, I think it’s so important for women of my generation today be aware and adept at speaking about these issues. What’s more, we as Catholics should learn how to have a conversation about protecting the sanctity of human life without drawing on religious arguments right away. This doesn’t mean we hide the truth, but we have to find a way to open up the ears of our brothers and sisters who are non-believers. We know there are valid non-religious arguments for the existence of human life at conception, but are we equipped to use them? When we have conversations with our coworkers, friends, and family outside of our religious circles, we need to learn how to converse with them and find the moment. I call the moment the tiny door that opens up and allows you to ask a question that crosses into personal territory without raising any sort of debate. People tend to let their guards down when they feel they are being heard. 

I recently found a moment at work. My female coworker and I were casually talking about life goals and ambitions. As she was of a certain age and professional status, my curiosity compelled me to push a tiny bit into that personal territory, with respect of course. 

I asked her, “What are your thoughts on having children?”

I was genuinely curious. I wanted to know what women today truly thought. It stunned me how tough it was, how we often try to censor ourselves when it comes to talking about kids, motherhood, and family. I braced myself for a guarded response, but she instead started talking about why she wouldn’t have kids until she was fully ready. Our conversation spun into one about why people have kids while in unstable relationships, or because of pressures from friends and family, and even pressures from the marriage itself. What I realized was that we actually cared about the same thing: children being raised in a stable home.

We didn’t agree on everything, but I got to see some of the underlying issues as to why men and women divert from the God-designed family structure, and see some of those “where we went wrong” points in society. I never made any comments about what I believed in, I just asked questions. We don’t have these conversations enough, especially with other women. I think some of us are too busy judging each other’s lifestyles that we forget about our common ground.

This connects me to a moment that inspired me from Unplanned. It was the perseverance of Marilisa, the young woman that worked for 40 days for Life on the other side of the fence, praying for and speaking to the girls about to go in to the clinic for appointments. The most ‘scandalous’ thing about her behaviour to me was the relationship she formed with Abby Johnson over the years that Abby ran the clinic. Both women were fully aware that they were on opposite sides of the issue, but both continued to do their work for their causes in front of each others’ eyes, with an unfailing grit and determination . They spoke to each other cordially, and sometimes even crossed lines into personal territory. The scene that intrigued me was when Abby was getting into her car with balloons and such after celebrating her baby shower at the clinic, and Marilisa saw this. Instead of asking pointed or loaded questions, she congratulated her. She spoke to Abby with a gentle, genuine demeanor, as she was also carrying a child herself. I thought it was a powerful moment between the two women, and it’s as if Marilisa saw who Abby Johnson truly was in that moment –  not only two people, but two souls. It was a moment that fueled Marlilisa’s prayers, that Abby would one day wake up and see the truth. It was the respect and love that Marilisa treated Abby with over the years that led to the ultimate action of Abby running into her arms when she finally realized the lie that she had been living, and selling.

It’s a question we all have as pro-lifers: How can we have a meaningful impact on the other side of the fence? I think that genuine love must drive our words and actions. When we speak with people about the value of life, our bodies, motherhood and abortion, we must attempt to listen and empathize before expressing judgement. I am of the belief that small, meaningful conversations can change the game as much as large movements, protests and political sanctions can.

It’s hard to see the scale of the impact that our words have, but changing just one woman’s life is a win in itself. Teaching a girl or woman to love her body is a win. Celebrating children in all families, whether broken, blended, or nuclear is a huge win. Supporting women post-abortion is a win. Sharing information on the biology of sex, hormones, and childbirth is a win. There is so much information about the human body that kids don’t learn in schools anymore…the internet has become a new teacher with lessons that range from real to dangerously ‘fake’. You just never know when your small win can influence something as big as convincing a woman that the fetus inside of her is truly alive.

In my reflection of the film, I recall David’s awe and humiliation in Psalm 139,

If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me,”

even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, 

for darkness is as light to you.

For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.

I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful,

 I know that full well.

My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. 

When I was woven together in the depths of the earth,

your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were 

written in your book before one of them came to be.

Psalm 139, 11-16

I pray that one day every man and woman recognizes how intentionally and intricately designed their bodies are. I pray for the day that every woman sees how precious her body is, and the part it plays in God’s beautiful love story with us. I pray that my sisters all over the world continue to draw strength and grace from our Immaculate Mother in times of confusion and turmoil.  I pray that children are loved completely and without condition, just as Jesus loved. Lastly I pray for the unborn babies. They are loved and not forgotten.

Categories
Celeste Ink Slingers Series Unyoked: Healing after Divorce

Where Does My Help Come From?

Unyoked - Healing after Divorce

Welcome to the next installment of UNYOKED: HEALING AFTER DIVORCE. This series will answer some questions and address some common issues that divorcees face while still trying to live out the Faith. We will share some personal experiences, some stories from other divorcees, explore what the Church teaches, the process of annulment, and try to answer some of your questions as they come up.

As Catholics we are called to live out our vocations faithfully focused on Christ and trusting the Church to lead us. As we know, the vocation of marriage does not always end in “happily ever after,” but sometimes in divorce. Though stories of broken lives are as unique as the people who experience this heartbreak, one thing is still true: these individuals are still called to holiness. And we, as the body of Christ, are to embrace and pray for our fellow brothers and sisters in their joys and trials, which may include divorce.

If you happen to be a faithfully practicing Catholic, and are also a divorcee, you may experience a certain awkwardness while still attempting to be actively involved in the Church. Articles that speak of how to faithfully practice the faith in a deeper way with your spouse may tug at your heart strings, while you think to yourself, “I really wanted that for us”, or “I always thought that our life would be like that.” Seminars on how “you and your spouse can be good examples of a faith filled marriage” may sting a little bit, but you’ll still try to incorporate those ideas as best you can all while still single-parenting. Perhaps amidst the brokenness, your ex isn’t in agreement in raising your children in the Faith, and so you struggle to instill in your children the Truth knowing they will receive information contrary to that over the weekend with the other parent. The scenarios can be many, but the weight behind them is the same. You don’t fit the projected ideal anymore. A perspective shift is needed both within yourself, and respectfully from others.


There is a trend that I’ve watched come to light in my journey through life after separation divorce, and in speaking with other woman who are going through this experience. Life seems  unfair for women after separation and divorce. The facts speak to this truth. 

Woman are still largely the main caretakers for children. That means that if they are working, they are generally making less money so that they can be available to their children needs. If a woman has stayed home to care for her children through the marriage, she likely has less work-place experience. Her focus has been on the raising and caring for home and family. In many cases a woman may have been isolated from family due to following her husbands career, wherever that may have taken their family. Many women end up hundreds or thousands of miles from their family and support system to be a support to their husband and his career. So when separation or divorce happens it can be devastating, not only emotionally but financially as well. If you have been out of the workforce for 5, 10, or more years, businesses are not likely to look favorably upon your very short work history. “Homemaker” is not generally a career that the workforce looks at with admiration. 

So what happens to these women and children?

Many times a woman is ejected from her home. Because of her inability to financially care for her children, the other spouse will be awarded custody. Even if a woman is lucky enough to keep custody of her children it still comes with enormous struggle. If a woman is near her family she will seek refuge and help from their support, but if family is too far away she often only has two options. Some woman work two or more jobs in minimum wage positions to stay close to the children. Other woman may end up in shelters, on government assistance, looking for any way to support herself/family and struggling to feel dignity. 

In my own experience, I struggled between those options. With having been cut off completely financially, I had no option but to seek out government assistance. But not before going to the church and every where I could think of for help, before I gave in to walking myself into the government assistance office. Help from the church was almost non-existent. I was given phone numbers by church secretaries of places that might be able to help. None of those panned out. I was offered a spot in a shelter for me and my 4 children, but I could not imagine living in that environment with special needs children. I was blessed with an amazing friend who crowd-sourced food and supplies for me and my children while I tried to figure out how to pay bills and put gas in the van. We stayed with extended family and friends. Somehow God worked it all out. 

But I still needed to take care of things financially. I couldn’t work with special needs children needing me 24/7. So I knew I had only one option at this point. Government assistance does not come with out requirements, though. My youngest was under 3 years old (1 yr old at the time) and still nursing full-time, with a Down syndrome diagnosis, so I was allowed to put off seeking a job like they usually require to continue on aide. Woman who aren’t in my position are not as lucky to be able to stay with their children if they still have custody. If you are on government aide you are required to seek out employment for so many hours a week or your aide will be cut off. This brings up the child-care issue. Who will care for your children and how will you afford it? One more issue to worry about. You are also required to present all your financial information, to include any property you own (houses, average, cars, etc). If you are co-owner with you’re spouse you have the struggle of explaining why you don’t have access to these things. You can be required to pay back the aide as well. It was stressful to say the least. And it felt violating having to answer questions about a spouse which now felt like a stranger. I needed some stability for my little family, so I handed over all my information so that I could take care of things. 

Slowly, over the last 5 years, things started to come together and it has gotten a little easier. A home, work opportunities, the resources my children needed, and stability finally came. But it wasn’t all without struggle and so much support from generous friends and even strangers. 

Like so many woman whose testimonies I have heard, I cried out to God. “How is this fair? WE were abandoned and everything is on me. How will I do this all by myself? Why is he allowed to live life with no responsibility or accountability?” God never spoke words of comfort into my ears, but miracles abounded! I took comfort in the miracles. I knew that He was watching out for my children’s needs. God’s promise of never abandoning me was evident in how we were cared for despite what was going on with my exhusband. And over time I realized that all that I felt was unfair, and all that I knew was truly unfair, was to help me to grow and become the woman that God wanted for me to be. And so I am able, now, to say that I am grateful for all the experiences despite how painful they were. 

But it still leaves me a little bit angry for women at large. Where are supports and resources within our church when a woman is abandoned under such circumstances. My help did not come from within my church, but from outside. I’m not the only Catholic woman who feels this way. Many women who are experiencing similar circumstances struggle with feeling welcome when they cannot find the simplest of help from those who should be helping when tragedy arises. Perhaps it is time for us to step up to the plate, go outside our comfort zones and make opportunity available to those who are struggling through the tragedy of divorce. 

There are so many small things that could be done to help a woman in need. Have a nonperishable food supply available in a closet when a mother calls for help. We could supply a list of food pantries  and soup kitchens. A list of local shelters could be supplied. Perhaps that are a couple of families with extra room-space available in case of emergencies to displaced families. A supply of diapers, in various sizes. Perhaps keep a voucher to the local Catholic thrift store for clothing for a displaced family. Grocery gift cards are another idea. Offer child care for a few hours so that she can go to an interview, take a shower, or go to Confession. Even placing a pamphlet in the rectory or church office with local resources could be helpful. The simplest thing of all, though, would be to say, “What do you need? What can I help you with?” 

Please stay tuned for my next article which will address the unfair (and different) treatment of men in divorce as well.


RESOURCES

FOR THE ANNULMENT PROCESS

Your local parish office/Tribunal office, and/or your parish priest

HOW TO UNDERSTAND & PETITION FOR YOUR DECREE OF NULLITY: A LITTLE BOOK WITH BIG HELP

HEALING AFTER DIVORCE: HOPE FOR CATHOLICS 

MENDING THE HEART: A CATHOLIC ANNULMENT COMPANION

ST. RAYMOND NONNATUS FOUNDATION

BOOKS

DIVORCED. CATHOLIC. NOW WHAT?: NAVIGATING LIFE AFTER DIVORCE 

PRAYERS FOR DIVORCED CATHOLICS 

CATHOLIC PRAYERBOOK FOR THE SEPARATED AND DIVORCED

SEEKING AN ANNULMENT WITH THE HELP OF YOUR CATHOLIC FAITH

WEBSITES

CATHOLICS DIVORCE

DVD PROGRAM

SURVIVING DIVORCE

 

Where Does My Help Come From?

Categories
Celeste Ink Slingers Series Unyoked: Healing after Divorce

UNYOKED: Where is your Spouse?

Unyoked - Healing after Divorce

Welcome to the first installment of UNYOKED: Healing after Divorce. This series will answer some questions and address some common issues that divorcees face while still trying to live out the Faith. We will share some personal experiences, some stories from other divorcees, explore what the Church teaches, the process of annulment, and try to answer some of your questions as they come up.

As Catholics we are called to live out our vocations faithfully focused on Christ and trusting the Church to lead us. As we know, the vocation of marriage does not always end in “happily ever after,” but sometimes in divorce. Though stories of broken lives are as unique as the people who experience this heartbreak, one thing is still true: these individuals are still called to holiness. And we, as the body of Christ, are to embrace and pray for our fellow brothers and sisters in their joys and trials, which may include divorce.

If you happen to be a faithfully practicing Catholic, and are also a divorcee, you may experience a certain awkwardness while still attempting to be actively involved in the Church. Articles that speak of how to faithfully practice the faith in a deeper way with your spouse may tug at your heart strings, while you think to yourself, “I really wanted that for us”, or “I always thought that our life would be like that.” Seminars on how “you and your spouse can be good examples of a faith filled marriage” may sting a little bit, but you’ll still try to incorporate those ideas as best you can all while still single-parenting. Perhaps amidst the brokenness, your ex isn’t in agreement in raising your children in the Faith, and so you struggle to instill in your children the Truth knowing they will receive information contrary to that over the weekend with the other parent. The scenarios can be many, but the weight behind them is the same. You don’t fit the projected ideal anymore. A perspective shift is needed both within yourself, and respectfully from others.


Take, O Lord, and receive my entire liberty, my memory, my understanding and my whole will. All that I am and all that I possess, Thou hast given me: I surrender it all to Thee to be disposed of according to Thy will. Give me only Thy love and Thy grace; with these I will be rich enough and will desire nothing more. Amen.

It will happen to every divorcee in a different way, but the question will still happen. When you’ve been married, and then you get divorced, unless you’ve made a public service announcement someone is bound to feel the need to ask where your ex is. Maybe they haven’t seen you in a while, or they noticed your spouse gone and wonder about work taking them away. Call it morbid curiosity, natural curiosity, gossipy curiosity. As uncomfortable as it may make the recipient of the question, I’ve come to the conclusion that it is a natural question to ask. So let’s take a look at this question and it’s complexities for the divorcee.

Taken at face-value this is a rather innocent question. You don’t see someone, or haven’t seen someone in a very long time and so you wonder where they are. One time, my now ex husband saw an old acquaintance at church and asked how her husband was doing. Her face dropped and she explained that he had passed away suddenly the previous winter. Awkward. And tragic. Life is filled with these moments. It is a different case losing a spouse to death than losing a spouse to divorce. The caveat in the case of divorce is that it’s never easy, never peaceful, and is never really over especially if you have children. The pain of your loss may continue for years or decades. With death, you have a grief that morphs over time into something that you learn to live with and accept as part of the circle of life. In the case of divorce, there may have been unimaginable things taking place behind closed doors, and divorce often times exacerbates these issues. Someone who is attending Mass on a regular basis is obviously trying to live the faith, and this question is heart wrenching. They are suffering a different kind of grief. One that is on-going and changes with the changing circumstances, perhaps with an ex living in sin after having abandoned the faith or other perhaps hurtful behavior. How we thought we would be living out the faith as a family unit has changed dramatically. Consider that a person may be suffering a different type of grief as their spouse abandoned them with their children, and so they actually can’t tell you where their ex may be. Hence their solo attendance at Mass. Perhaps drugs were involved. Maybe the ex is living with the “other woman”, and that’s too embarrassing to admit so they grapple for what to say. It doesn’t matter what the circumstance is, it is a difficult question to answer, to admit to out loud.

The easiest and more straight forward answer is best for the divorcee. “I am divorced.” But that isn’t to say that even saying that simple phrase is not gut wrenching as well. Not only may the circumstances of the divorce be painful, but for someone still trying to live the faith it is almost as if we are admitting to defeat. A spouse can file divorce for almost any reason, or no reason (irreconcilable differences), often times taking the other party by surprise and leaving them devastated. And the surprise isn’t because a spouse is ignorant to the fact that there were problems within the marriage, but rather it comes from feeling betrayed that the other person felt that there is no hope in making it better or in seeking out more help. Perhaps even a little betrayal that God didn’t intervene or listen to the prayers of our heart. Then… It feels like you are being judged, by what is supposed to be a community of loving supportive faith-filled people, as having given in to the easy push of society telling us that “if it is hard you can just say you’re done trying”. The word “divorce” alone carries a stigma within the community of faithful. It is still so incredibly prevalent for many people within the church community, and of a certain age (think pre-70’s era), to automatically assume you didn’t put in enough time or effort trying to make your marriage work. This isn’t to imply that you should not ask this question. It is a natural question to ask. It is in how we respond to the answer that we can make a person feel welcomed to God’s Mercy, or made to feel that they will be labeled by their circumstances.

Here is where compassion comes into play. We can’t know what was taking place in someone else’s marriage that ultimately made it end in divorce, and really it’s not our business to ask. But what is our business is to be compassionate to them as a person worthy of dignity. Scripture tells us to pray for our brothers and sisters in Christ, for their needs. (One of the gifts of the Holy Spirit is Kindness!) It is one thing to correct someone in their ways if it is blatant and disrespectful. If someone that you encounter at church has revealed to you that they are divorced they are likely seeking an annulment, and/or at the very least healing. Or, perhaps the circumstances of the divorce (maybe it is dragging out due to high-conflict divorce proceedings) may leave this person feeling broken and unable to seek an annulment at this time. But I can guarantee that if they are showing up to church on a consistent basis, and for all intent and purpose living the faith, they are seeking God’s Mercy and compassion over their situation.

For the divorcee, in time this question and how to answer it will become more clear to you. “I’m divorced.” Simple and to the point. If you end up being close friends with the person who asks, time will help you to decide if revealing the circumstances is necessarily something you want to do. Don’t feel you need to reveal the circumstances of your divorce. This is where you have the power to say, “I’m really not comfortable discussing this right now. But please keep me in your prayers.” Don’t feel bad about it.

For the person asking, “Where is your spouse?”, remember that this is a sensitive and very highly emotional question. Respond with kindness. Offering a simple, “Oh I’m so sorry,” as a response is perfect. If no other information is offered about the situation, reign in your curiosity and pray for them and their situation.


RESOURCES

BOOKS

Healing after Divorce: Hope for Catholics 

Divorced. Catholic. Now What?: Navigating Life After Divorce 

Prayers for Divorced Catholics 

How to Understand & Petition for Your Decree of Nullity: A Little Book with Big Help

Catholic Prayerbook for the Separated and Divorced

Seeking an Annulment With the Help of Your Catholic Faith

WEBSITES

Catholics Divorce

DVD PROGRAM

Surviving Divorce

WhereIsYourSpouse

Categories
Celeste Domestic Church Ink Slingers Marriage Matrimony Prayer Sacraments Series Single life Unyoked: Healing after Divorce Vocations

Unyoked: Healing after Divorce – A 2019 Catholic Sistas Series

Unyoked - Healing after Divorce

 

As Catholics we are called to live out our vocations faithfully focused on Christ and trusting the Church to lead us. As we know, the vocation of marriage does not always end in “happily ever after,” but sometimes in divorce. Though stories of broken lives are as unique as the people who experience this heartbreak, one thing is still true: these individuals are still called to holiness. And we, as the body of Christ, are to embrace and pray for our fellow brothers and sisters in their joys and trials, which may include divorce.

Despite the high divorce rate that has become more common in the last 50+ years, rarely do we publicly hear of Catholics still faithfully practicing their faith following divorce. In fact, it is more likely that you will hear about so-and-so having left the Church altogether. The reasons can vary. This is where we as a community are called to be compassionate towards those who left the Church, and also towards those who are carrying the heavy burdens that come post-divorce and have stayed faithful to the Catholic faith.

If you happen to be a faithfully practicing Catholic, and are also a divorcee, you may experience a certain awkwardness while still attempting to be actively involved in the Church. Articles that speak of how to faithfully practice the faith in a deeper way with your spouse may tug at your heart strings, while you think to yourself, “I really wanted that for us”, or “I always thought that our life would be like that.” Seminars on how “you and your spouse can be good examples of a faith filled marriage” may sting a little bit, but you’ll still try to incorporate those ideas as best you can all while still single-parenting. Perhaps amidst the brokenness, your ex isn’t in agreement in raising your children in the Faith, and so you struggle to instill in your children the Truth knowing they will receive information contrary to that over the weekend with the other parent. The scenarios can be many, but the weight behind them is the same. You don’t fit the projected ideal anymore. A perspective shift is needed both within yourself, and respectfully from others.

These issues, and more, are so common among the often silent divorcee’s that are still trying to be faithful despite broken and less-than-perfect circumstances. As I mentioned earlier, this is where the community of faithful are called to be compassionate so as to help and not hinder these individuals call to holiness. Divorce adds a complexity to these individuals faith journey, a complexity that is hard for those on the outside to easily cast judgement on. No one can know the intricacies of someone else’s marriage or divorce, and no one can know for certain how these things affect someone after-the-fact unless they share their testimony.

Join me for this new series for-and-about faith and life after divorce. We will answer some questions and address some common issues that divorcees face while still trying to live out the Faith. We will share some personal experiences, some stories from other divorcees, explore what the Church teaches, the process of annulment, and try to answer some of your questions as they come up.

And if this is you, I encourage you to persevere. Jesus offers you peace, strength and grace in the Sacraments.

 

Included in this Unyoked Series you’ll be able to read about these subjects and more:

Where is your spouse?
Parenting Post Divorce
Dating Post Divorce— Yay or Nay?
The Sacraments After Divorce— Yes, you can!
Attending Mass as a Divorcee
Spirituality—Focusing on God’s will for your life and vocation.
How to Answer: Do You Need Anything?
Saints to Inspire the Single Parent
Sex and Morality for the Broken Family
Post-Divorce Shame
The Annulment Process

 

Categories
Alyssa Azul Domestic Church Ink Slingers Spiritual Growth

Don’t Come In Yet, It’s A Mess!

Photo by Gades Photography on Unsplash

Have you ever had that moment of panic when someone shows up at your door unexpectedly? You invite the guest in- while your eyes and hands move quickly to remove any personal or slightly embarrassing items that may be commented on. You catch the dirty laundry basket in the corner, waiting for the perfect moment to slide it away secretly. You remember the dishes you were meant to clean…two hours ago. What if your guest is someone you you’re rather close to? You can be sure that a parent will always have something to say inside your unfiltered home.

As a young adult who still lives at home, I admit I recoil at the thought of my mom going through my personal stuff. My mother is not afraid to waltz into my room and start picking things up and digging through my closet. You want to put on the appearance that you’ve got everything handled, when in reality you’ve fallen, and are struggling to stay on top of responsibilities.

I’m willing to bet that this is how it feels when God rushes into our messy lives. We’re so used to maintaining our version of an “organized chaos” that we are on guard when someone tries to dip their hands into our business. We hold on tightly to our personal belongings (materials, comforts, sins), negotiating with God to keep some things, and nudging him away from touching others. But like a parent, God rushes in with great love, on His timing, and with the intention to rid the space of things that we don’t need. Things that will cause bigger problems if left untouched. Times passes and that “spring cleaning” reminder has crawled into the winter season, still unchecked. We tell God to help us with our messes, but we still want it cleaned our way. “Lord, throw these things out for me, but let me keep this.” Or “Lord, I’m not ready to give this away yet.” The Lord wants more than our full attention–He wants our surrender and our willingness to give up the mess so that he can do the rest.

I’ll admit, it doesn’t feel all that great when you have someone rummaging through your things without warning. Especially if they are things that you avoided. Sometimes God brings things from the past that you buried long ago. And sisters, it hurts to see those things, it really does. But these things are a part of His process. So your life will feel disturbed, shaken and complicated. But you can trust that it’s a sign God is rummaging through your room. He’s finding the hurts and the joys that you hoarded for years, and he’s taking you back through those journeys.  He’s throwing out the things you thought you couldn’t live without, and dusting off the things you took for granted. He’s looking under your bed for your biggest fears and He’s shining a light on them so that you can finally sleep at night. He’s polishing your windows so that you can see the world clearly again.

I realized how humiliating and purifying it is at the same time. A verse from Corinthians comes to mind:
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me (2 Corinthians 12:9).

Sanctification takes a bit of shaking and shattering. We can’t expect the Lord to come into our lives and rebuild a home if we’re still holding on to the broken parts. To our comforts and our worldly desires. True sacrifice is when we surrender the things we value the most.

So next time you hear a knock on your door, perhaps it’s not house, but Heaven-keeping.