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Ink Slingers

Welcome Back One-piece

(Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)

This summer I am welcoming back the one-piece bathing suit. And you can too! It’s not about hiding stretch marks or feeling more confident than in a two-piece (because I do!). It’s about reclaiming modesty.

I think most of us women can reflect on our coming of age years and realize that we hit a certain point––we didn’t want to be “girls” anymore; we wanted to be “women.” We wanted to grow up already. We wanted to wear makeup, shave our legs, and wear two-piece bathing suits (which are essentially a bra and underwear, right?!). We didn’t want to be “cute” anymore. Without knowing it at the time, we were also rushing to give up our modesty and innocence.

I don’t know about you, but that rush into womanhood (as defined by culture) led me down a path away from God and from who I really wanted to be. The culture taught me that my identity as a woman and my beauty was on the outside. I lost respect for myself and for others and that was revealed in my dress–too tight, too revealing, too short. Turns out, this way of living was not fulfilling, nor life-giving.

I suppose this is a prodigal-daughter-like story because God sent a beautiful holy woman into my life to show me what is was like to be a real woman. You might have heard of her, Mother Mary? I came back from a pilgrimage to one of her shrines and my life was forever changed. I first and foremost learned the truth––my identity and beauty came from being a daughter of God and Christ living in me. This changed everything. I gained respect for myself and for others and within six months, I had a new wardrobe.

Mother Mary taught me that her beauty comes from the fact that she loves God with her whole heart. The more I strive to do the same, the more I recognize things in my life that obstruct my love for Him. She has taught me that we must be pure to enter the Kingdom of God. Modesty guards our purity. Our childlike innocence is what lets us see the angels who gaze on God. Mother Mary is the true and best example of womanhood. From her, we can learn everything God desires of us as women.

So back to the one-piece bathing suit. Having learned what I have in my journey and now as a mother of two girls, I feel the importance of this responsibility to show my daughters what true womanhood is. Yes, the culture is still going to tempt them with the rush into womanhood, with manicures at four years old and two-piece bathing suits at five years old, but we cannot underestimate that they still look up to their mothers!

I’m wearing a one-piece bathing suit for my almost three year old daughter. You might be thinking, “She’s three! She doesn’t notice!” but when we went to the beach this past weekend, do you know the first thing she said when she saw me? “Mommy, we match!” as she pointed to her one-piece suit. I smiled and thought to myself, that’s exactly why I’m wearing it. I never would have thought that wearing a one-piece could ever feel so good!

As my daughters get older and we live strive to live the faith, which is often counter-cultural, I hope they always know that I’m on their side fighting with them. That I’m always striving to be a woman like Mother Mary. That they can look up to me. That we match, even if the rest of the world doesn’t.

Mother most pure, pray for us.

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Ink Slingers Patty Testimonials

Self-Forgiveness

When I was 19 I made the mistake of seeking love from a man I dated in the wrong way and I started down a path of impurity that lasted, on and off, until I was 29 years old. I won’t say that I didn’t know better, I was completely aware of the gravity of the sins I was committing and I was mortified that I allowed my desire to be loved become more important than the salvation of my soul. There truly was no excuse for my taking a long ride down the slippery slope of immorality and I won’t offer one. I will offer this insight though:

I remember hearing James Dobson say that women give sex when looking for love and men give love when looking for sex. That was the mistake I made and how I wished I had been taught that bit of knowledge when I was in my early teens, it would have saved me from SO much heartache and sin.

During the years I lived in sin, there were dozens, if not hundreds of times when my shame would envelope me in a dark and ominous cloud of fear and regret. I would shut my eyes and visualize my soul, blackened, twisted and damaged as a result of my sins. At times I would hang my head and weep with the knowledge that for each mortal sin I had committed, my Lord and Savior had to endure yet another stinging lash of the whip as it ripped off one more piece of skin from His already aching and bleeding body; or perhaps it caused the centurion’s hammer to come pounding down again on the nail in Jesus’ hand, sending waves of pain so excruciating through His arm and body that words alone can not adequately describe the depth of His agony. MY sins caused this. I could not escape from this fact and in the end, it was this knowledge that gave me the strength to finally choose to once again live a life of sanctifying grace and leave sin behind.

My guilt for my former actions haunted me, even after I had gone to confession and began to practice my faith in earnest . I did not volunteer information on the mistakes I had made in my past to others, nor did I hide them when asked. I especially recall the reaction of one Catholic man who wanted to date me, ‘Wow, you were so much worse than me!’ Those words rang through my mind and heart for months afterwards and caused my self-loathing to increase by leaps and bounds.

I could not erase the pages I had written in the book of my life, as much as I desired to, and I wasted precious time repeatedly leafing back through them, berating myself for my weakness, foolishness, gullibility and general lack of appreciation for God’s love. I began to think I would never find peace in my soul due to my past. Perhaps, I thought, this was part of the punishment for my sins-to scald my soul in a bath of remorse at frequent intervals.

I began dating a very intelligent, kind Catholic teacher named Eric about three years after I returned to practicing the faith. Inevitably, after a few weeks, the time for my, ‘this is my past’ monologue arrived. Eyes cast down, face burning, I once again reopened the wound in my soul that my actions had created. When I finished speaking I reluctantly raised my eyes to meet his, completely expecting derision and shock. Instead, kindness and compassion were reflected in the depths of his eyes and he uttered these words.

‘My opinion of you is not based on who you were in the past, but who you are now.’

This may not seem significant to others, but for me, it was as though I had been handed a key to my self-imposed prison of shame. Never had I heard or even thought that I, God, or anyone else could see past the mess I had formerly created in my soul and life. Those words changed all of that. Over the following days and weeks I turned his words over and over again in my heart. I allowed them to open my eyes to the realization that when I had received forgiveness for my sins in confession I was also given the gift of forgiving myself. However, I had hidden this gift away and forgot about it for years, not retrieving and opening it until I heard the words Eric spoke. Eric and I ended up taking different directions in life but he remained my friend and my debt to him can never be paid. He allowed me to see that although I had scuffed, damaged and tarnished my soul for years, I had also spent years repairing that damage, polishing and shining it with the sacraments, prayer, Eucharistic adoration and a life of morality.

I know that there are some out there who have not experienced falling so far from God’s grace and I truly hope you thank Him for the strength and grace He gave you to preserve your souls. I direct this piece at those who have fallen repeatedly, those who have, as I did, fallen into sin, struggled to get up and to confession, only to fall again. I also address this to those who have done something in their past they deeply regret and yet, despite going to confession, they continue to harbor pain and self-loathing over this past indiscretion. I say this to you: It is not who you were, or what you have done in the past I see, but the person you are now, the one who struggles to live a life that brings them closer to God, the valiant soul that attempts to die to self on a daily basis, or the parent who begs the Lord for the strength to model the virtues of a good Catholic parent and give those children the tools to save their souls. THAT is who you are, take your gift of self-forgiveness out, dust it off and open it up. It will enable your soul to soar and bring you that much closer to God.