Categories
Ink Slingers Martina

How Social Media Helped my Pregnancy Announcement

How Social Media Helped my Pregnancy Announcement

On Easter Sunday, I casually announced on the blog social media account that I was pregnant with #8. After three consecutive losses, it would have seemed perfectly acceptable for our family to hesitate and wait to announce this pregnancy. After #6 was born in 2012, we would experience our first loss in November 2014, followed by another loss in January 2015, and again in January 2016 – all early losses, none past 6 weeks.

How Social Media Helped my Pregnancy Announcement

WHAT SHAPED MY DESIRE TO SHARE

I had heard a reflection by a dear friend years before that really stuck with me. She had her own loss further into pregnancy – if I recall correctly, I think she was somewhere close to 20 weeks. She went on to have carry two more children to term and what she said to me was this (roughly paraphrased) – she and her husband would continue to share the good news of a pregnancy for a few reasons, two of which were it was a celebration of life and, whatever the outcome, the prayers were always appreciated and needed.

Wow.

She told me this five or more years before we would experience that first loss. The initial excitement of discovering I was pregnant never seemed to be a deterrent even through those losses. If anything, my friend’s words would ring through my head, a constant reminder and balm to the soul that life can and does go on. And the loss of one (or many children) does not need to color the desire to celebrate new life or the desire to ask for prayers.

And there you have it.

HOW AN INTROVERT SHARES DEEP HURTS

I won’t lie. That first loss was like a sucker punch. We had six children, I had no serious complications from pregnancy (carpel tunnel syndrome, pre-eclampsia symptoms, sciatica, car birth from a history of a rapid labor), and no reason to think that pregnancy #7 would result in anything other than another June bug baby addition to our family. I think oftentimes, we associate being introverted as being completely closed off or not open to sharing those deep hurts. The reality is that it has more to do with other people sharing our hurts. Blogging had become a source of cathartic healing and, in doing so, I was able to heal on my own terms, by writing from my own point of view. Giving careful consideration to my husband’s feelings on the matter, I always made it a priority to run my posts by him in case I misstated something or forgot a detail he’d remembered.

We do make a pretty great team, afterall.

Introverts simply need to tell their own business on their own terms. And when we do, hold on – cuz we have a LOT to say about something that’s near and dear to our hearts.

SOCIAL MEDIA AND SUBSEQUENT PREGNANCY ANNOUNCEMENTS

It’s a little odd, having managed and written for Catholic Sistas for almost eight years now. As an introvert, it’s been interesting running into people who seemingly know about my life who I’ve never met. That took some getting used to. Over time, I came to realize that the platform goes far beyond any personal discomfort I might bristle at initially when someone relates to something I willingly and publicly wrote about. Ok, turnabout’s fair play. I get it. ?

Though I didn’t always manage to publicly announce each pregnancy that resulted in a miscarriage on the blog account, I didn’t shy away from sharing on my private platforms (IG, FB). I felt convicted that the right direction was always to seek in sharing this new life – no matter how long he or she was with us, and asking for prayers was never a fruitless endeavor. It just felt like the right thing to do.

Being open to life, through the good and the heartbreak, has a place in living that authentic life and I didn’t want to whitewash negative experiences without really journeying down that road. 

Having a serious heart for those who experienced miscarriages and infant loss, it shaped the blog’s approach and I wanted women to share in those experiences. Even as a brand new blog, I just knew that was a taboo topic I wanted to expose and bring those heartrending experiences to the forefront. 

So, imagine how much more I appreciated those stories when we began our series of consecutive losses. It shaped how I grieved as a person, how my husband and I grieved as a couple, and it even shaped how we parented our grieving children – who then were 18, 13, 9, 6, 4, and 2 years old. It shaped how we talked about our lost babies and siblings. We named them. We buried them. We made them a part of our everyday family by making them real. They were and still are in our daily prayers. We call on them everyday to pray for us. And after a very hard journey, I was finally able to give all that hurt and grief over to God the Father, Who knew better than I ever would what to do. He always knew those lost littles would never see this world. And I had to place my trust firmly in His hands that He knew exactly what He was doing. My focus was on finding that healing…and I did.

We were never owed any children to begin with. And once I let that go, the real healing began. The grief was still there, but there was a sense of peace resting in the knowledge that God had it all under control. Surrender. That’s all I needed to do.

MY WITNESS MIGHT HELP SOMEONE ELSE

When I began to blog about our losses, I wrote not because sharing itself was cathartic, though that was good. I wrote because I knew someone out there reading needed to read what I was sharing. Knowing you aren’t alone can be such an immense source of healing. And even though we have different circumstances and ways we grieve and come to terms with the loss, just the knowing…that’s so so valuable. 

PREGNANCY ANNOUNCEMENTS AND INTROVERTS

I would be remiss if I didn’t at least enumerate a few serious points to consider if you or a loved one are an introvert and also pregnant. These are just a few etiquette practices to put into place to help keep that stress down for us introverts.

  1. Sharing publicly. If we (introverts) haven’t shared the pregnancy publicly, it’s with good reason. This includes posting photos that are dead give aways or flat out posting an update on Facebook. Etiquette suggests that you wait until the pregnant woman/couple have announced or you can just ask directly. Maybe they don’t care at all.
  2. If you don’t have something nice to say… we all know how the saying goes, but for those of you who really need to read that, too, it goes…don’t say anything at all. And it’s with good reason. Exercising polite manners should extend to what we share online. If you wouldn’t say it to someone’s face, then don’t type it. In fact, even if you would say it to someone’s face, that’s still rude. If you make a comment about overpopulating the world, that’s not cool. Just hit the “like” button or “heart” that photo and move on. We don’t need to say all the things we think. It’s not worth torching a friendship over. And even worse if you’re a family member. Just don’t be rude and awkward.
  3. Share news with family first. We learned this lesson some number of kids ago when we casually announced on Facebook. We later found out that family members were disheartened that we didn’t share with them. Fair enough. Though we didn’t mean anything malicious by it, we did learn a lesson. Even now that our kids are older, there is still a pecking order of sharing that we’ve developed in our home: person who is pregnant (duh), spouse, children and extended family, and then close friends and/or social media announcement.

I’ve learned over the years that sharing has been a huge blessing in our family and through my pregnancies. Letting virtual strangers (fans, readers) into our lives is part of the life of being a blogger, but letting you know of the potential serious need for prayers after a series of losses has helped put this pregnancy into perspective.

I’ve been pregnant on/off since 1995. That needs to count towards helping others through their pregnancies and losses. And so, introvert (and serious homebody) that I am, I am more than happy to share these experiences with others in the hope that you, too, won’t feel alone.

In closing, I ask again for more prayers as we head into the 20 week anatomy scan at 9:15 a.m. CST. So far, all has looked good and we have had two separate indications as to the sex of the baby. I do anticipate sharing the baby’s sex on social media and if you’ve followed me even sporadically, you know I don’t miss any opportunity to laugh in the hilarious birth pattern we’ve had so far – girl, boy, girl, boy, girl, boy, girl…and what will this little one be? Tune in to our IG or FB account to find out. God bless, y’all.

 

Categories
Apologetics Current Events Ink Slingers Victoria K

Social Media is Ruining Social Justice: Here’s Why

Note:  OK, OK, the title of this post was unnecessarily incendiary.  I love social media, you probably got to this post via social media.  Social media could never single-handedly ruin social justice.  What’s happened is I noticed a trend with social justice topics on social media, and I wanted to point it out and talk about what we, with a full understanding of Catholic Social Justice, can do about it.

Social Media is Ruining Social Justice Here’s Why

Already Out of Mind

Take a minute to switch tabs back to your social media feed.  How many articles are there about the children separated from their families at the border?  I hope to goodness it’s not none.  But I wouldn’t be surprised.  After all, it’s been a few weeks since the headlines broke.

You know, a few weeks.  Basically an eternity. 

Definitely enough time for the well-being of children to pass from our attention.

It sounds harsh.   But the reality is harsh.  To be completely transparent, I’m guilty too.  Things slip in and out of my notice – largely based on what’s in my social media feed. 

And that isn’t enough.

This doesn’t just apply to the children at the border.  If our commitment to social justice is SOLELY based on our social media scrolling, if our activism is SOLELY reactionary, we are never. going. to. change. ANYTHING. 

Don’t get me wrong, I was amazed by the initiatives to provide aid for these children and to work towards social justice.  But we must build off of their efforts to build lasting change. 

Everyday Social Justice

You may ask…is lasting change even possible?  I would argue yes.  But it’s going to take a mindset shift.

See, I think that social justice is more achievable that we actually give it credit for.   We’ve just been conditioned to look at it completely the wrong way.   In the social media age, social justice is primarily reactionary, rather than an everyday practice.

Here’s what reactionary social justice looks like: I see a headline: Children that are sleeping on the concrete underneath a blanket of tin foil.  And I go “I can’t fix that!”  Because I can’t.  It’s just the truth.

To contrast, here’s what everyday social justice looks like: I get to know the immigrants in my community (I work at a majority Hispanic school).  Within these relationships, I listen to their stories.  Their experiences make me more aware of the political and cultural issues that impact their lives.

Then, I give of my available time and resources.  There’s a first grader struggling to overcome the language barrier, and I advocate for him.  There’s a community fundraiser to get Christmas gifts for children with parents across the border, and I participate.

And for some of you, that exact path is feasible (if so, totally let me know because I’m curious as to your approach!)

For others, it may be a different community that you have the opportunity and skills to help (and still let me know because that’s awesome and inspiring).  The point is, we take small steps towards justice.

 

Everyday Social Justice is Catholic Social Justice

We must commit to everyday social justice.   Because that’s Catholic Social Justice.  Catholic Social Teaching is not based upon simply reacting and jumping on the bandwagon.   It’s about incorporating the call of Christ into our day to day lives.

You’re probably familiar with the corporal works of mercy.  If not, check them out here.

These aren’t every now and then ideals.  These are Christ’s command to us as Christians. 

Maybe it’s giving food and supplies to children at the border.  Maybe it to bagging up extra baby clothes and donating them to a crisis pregnancy center.  Maybe it’s serving a meal at a homeless shelter.  Maybe it’s investing in the community to ensure safety and security of our kids.  Maybe it’s writing a letter to someone in prison.

Whatever it is — Christ expects commitment.

 

“I’m too busy.”

OK, fair enough.  You’re busy.  We’re all busy.  I’ll be the first to advocate for balance and self-care.

Yet I really feel like we need to pick through our priories.  Do you really want to look at Jesus and tell Him you were too busy to help the children at the border who were not properly dressed, eating uncooked frozen meals?

Really?

For me, this ends up being more of a perspective thing than an actual “I’m too busy” thing.  I can’t do the big things so I end up doing nothing at all.

To counter this, here’s my idea for an “I’m too busy” approach to Catholic Social Justice:

  • Every day: Pray for social justice.
  • Every week: Read an article about a current social justice issue. I would totally recommend posting it on social media and sharing your thoughts.
  • Every month: Donate (within your means) to some social justice cause. This can be money or things: A food donation to a pantry, a clothing donation to a homeless shelter, a diaper donation to a crisis pregnancy shelter.  Extra points for committing to one cause or organization with which you can form a lasting relationship.
  • Every 4-6 months: Complete some larger service project.

You may be able to do more, maybe you have to do a little less.   Start small if you have to – but start.  Christ will take what you give and make it grow – He’s amazing like that.

 

Where are the Catholics?

Your small commitment is so essential.  Because we need to be working.  Every day.  We need to anticipate headlines.  We need to fight for what’s right even before it’s a “hot button” issue.

So that, when someone asks: “Where are the Catholics when…?”

The response should be:

“We’re already here.

And we’d love it if you joined us.”

Categories
Antonia Goddard Faith Formation Ink Slingers

Raising Role Models

Raising Role Models

Once upon a time, I lived in Sicily, teaching English to Mafia children.

(Okay, they weren’t really Mafia children. They were students. But this was Sicily.)

I always used to begin with the same question, no matter how basic or advanced their English was.

“Who’s your role model?”

I like that question. For the advanced speakers, they get a chance to test their vocabulary making a strong argument about someone they admired and why. For beginners or children, they get to understand how to make a question in English, how to construct a basic answer, and we usually spend a lot of time talking about their families.

“Kim Kardashian,” one of my students replied confidently.

My heart sank a little, but I’m always prepared to take a debate. “Why?”

She frowned, working out her next sentence carefully. “She is just… so beautiful.”

I was disappointed, but I wasn’t surprised. Again and again I see and hear from young girls that their idols and inspirations are so chosen because they are attractive. Attractive women are successful women. Beauty draws the eye, beauty sells, beauty wins sponsorship deals and television shows. Beautiful women can have whatever they want, they get digital likes and sponsorship deals and money and cars and clothes and money and makeup and money and money…

“That wasn’t really what I was thinking,” I ventured, “I was thinking more someone you admire for what they’ve done. Maybe they’ve worked really hard to overcome difficult situations, or achieved something great. Maybe they’re staying positive in adverse circumstances. Doesn’t have to be someone famous, it could be a member of your family. Do you know anyone like that?”

She screwed up her face to think. “Kendall?”

I sighed.

But how can we blame them? Our Instagram screens are flashing constantly with gorgeous women, their designer clothes oozing money so transparently they may as well have dollar signs in their eyes. Some actually do. Their mothers, sisters, and teachers actively encourage the girls to aspire to these role models, encouraging them to look Insta-perfect every time they left the house, praising loudly their most attractive friends.

In fairness, I think they honestly believed they were helping. Many of these women grew up desperately poor in a country ravaged by the effects of the Second World War. Economic prospects were exceptionally limited, and there was little money left over for luxuries like lipstick or pretty dresses. As a result, many women were often encouraged to associate wealth, luxuries, and physical beauty as a marker or achievement.

So the lie is fed to their children, piece by piece, a grotesque fairy tale. That if they work hard enough anything is possible. That they too can look like her, dress like her, have her clothes and her money and her life – because if she can do it, so can you. The pain, when these dreams are not realised, is real. The fairytale is shattered.

And by encouraging their daughters to pursue these dreams they are glorifying envy, greed, pride, lust, and want. They are chasing easy, material luxuries at the expense of kindness, compassion, generosity, and love. It breaks my heart to see young girls coveting the ugliness of fame, with no-one to tell them that their own beauty doesn’t lie in their ebony curls or their blue eyes or their form-fitting dress but in the sweetness of their souls. In the way that they can make their little sister laugh or care for their grandparents or help their friends through difficult times.

All women are born with one natural female role model: their mother. A loving mother will teach them about all the other amazing heroines throughout history: Mary, the saints, great leaders and writers and thinkers. She will teach her girls to love God more than their dresses, to love their friends more than lipstick, and that the life Instagram paints for them is a lie. She will teach them that their worth does not lie in their income nor the cost of their clothes but the goodness of their character.

Most importantly, she will teach her daughters to be role models for others, not because of their outer attractiveness but the true beauty of their souls. That is how to be a role model, not just for our own daughters, but to Catholic women around the world.

 

Categories
Current Events Ink Slingers Maurisa

A Faithful Catholic’s Guide to Social Media Interactions

 

A Faithful Catholic's Guide to Social Media Interactions

Were you as distressed as I was over the anger and vitriol created by the story regarding the high school aged boys from Covington High School and their clash with two groups of minority protestors after the March for Life? Honestly, I was ashamed to see such mud slinging and name calling coming from several prominent Catholic circles on social media. Have we become a culture of knee-jerk reactionaries? What has happened to civility, compassion, and restraint?

I’m going to get a bit preachy here, so please bear with me, but I think it might be good to re-evaluate our own behavior on social media. We need to ask ourselves how we might best represent our faith and how we might best respond to volatile online exchanges in a Christ-like manner.  WWJD, y’all?

1.THINK—A few years ago this was a popular anagram making the rounds as a way of teaching our children civility.

T—TRUE.  Is what I’m posting true? Am I being 100% truthful? 

H—HELPFUL. Will what I’m posting be helpful to say? Will it help clarify a concept or a misunderstanding?

I—INSPIRING. Is what I’m posting meant to inspire positive feelings and/or actions?

N—NECESSARY. Is what I’m posting necessary? In other words, first check your pride. Does it need to be shared? It very well may be necessary as a spiritual work of mercy in which we are called to instruct the ignorant or admonish the sinner.

K—KIND. Are my words kind? Is what I’m posting as charitable as possible?

This anagram is great for adults as well as kids. I know I’m going to try and use it more often in my day to day exchanges.

2.Pray before you post or comment on something on social media that could be remotely controversial or provocative.  This is a faithful Catholic’s version of taking a deep breath and counting to ten. Taking a step back, praying and reflecting on your words may keep you from hurting someone. We should never be a stumbling block for someone else. After praying, do you still feel the need to say something? I bet our answer to this question might be “no” fairly frequently.

3.Verify, verify, verify before you post or repost a story. If the Covington debacle taught us anything it is there is so much more to the story than what we see at first glance.  That is not to say that having more of the story will change your perception or opinion, but it is generally best to have all the facts before making a judgement.

4. As our mothers’ used to say, “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.” Name calling, insults, or threats are never acceptable for any Catholic.  This was something I saw in the Covington aftermath which really prompted this piece for Catholic Sistas.

“Slander is a kind of murder, for we have three lives—the spiritual life, which consists of the grace of God, the corporal life, which is in the soul, and the civil life, which consists of our reputations. Sin destroys the first, death the second, and slander the third; but the slanderer is guilty of a triple murder with his tongue. He destroys his own soul and that of his hearer by spiritual homicide, and deprives the object of his slander of civil existance.”

-Saint Francis de Sales from An Introduction to the Devout Life-

5. Avoid getting into a back and forth argument. I’ve yet to see anyone’s opinion change in this type of exchange.

6. If you feel called to correct do it gently and privately.  As mentioned above, this may be something you need to do as a spiritual work of mercy. It will go over much better in a personal and private exchange. As mentioned above, be sure to pray and ask for guidance and wisdom before acting.

7. If you feel riled up by another’s post just keep scrolling.  I made this a rule a long time ago.  Like many of us, I have friends who do not share the same beliefs, political ideology, etc. as I do.  I find that if I come across something a friend has posted that I do not agree with it is much healthier for me to ignore it and just keep scrolling.  I have gotten into the back and forth with folks in the past and in the end it just created anxiety in me and kept me from doing the things I should be doing, such as caring for my family. I’ve also found unfollowing or even unfriending someone is better for my spiritual and mental well-being than becoming overwrought by their opposing views.

8. If you don’t like something someone has commented on one of your posts don’t get into a back and forth. There is absolutely nothing wrong with deleting their comment and moving on. Once again, if you feel you need to address the comment, do so prayerfully, charitably, and privately. 

9. If you feel overwhelmed with anger, anxiety because of social media it may be time to walk away from it altogether.  This can be anything from a temporary fast from social media or a complete break. Don’t keep engaging in an activity that robs you of peace or joy.

“When we feel ourselves stirred with passion, we must imitate the Apostles amidst the raging storm and tempest, and call upon God to help us, then He will bid our angry passions to be still and great shall be our peace.”

-Saint Francis de Sales from An Introduction to the Devout Life-

The internet, social media, and the instant gratification of this world are fraught with challenges to our spiritual and mental well-being. Let us remain vigilant in extending charity to everyone we come in contact with, whether in person or on-line. We might be the only experience of the Light of Christ they may have on any given day. What an important and beautiful responsibility.

 

 

Categories
Confession Ink Slingers Kasey Spiritual Growth

Something Beautiful

I have a love/hate relationship with social media.

I have given up on most platforms.

Twitter seems like a savage wasteland to me.

People don’t really care about “linking up” with you on LinkedIn if you have had the same job title for almost ten years, never check your messages, and have no idea how to congratulate someone on their “work anniversary.”

If I am going to streak- it’s not going to be on Snapchat and do people even use Tumblr anymore?

However, I am an avid Instagram and Facebook user.

I love catching everyday, unposed pictures of my kids doing school work and silly obstacle courses through our house. I want them to be able to look back and fondly remember all the small cracks of our life that made it interesting and funny. I also love watching my friend’s children grow up- even those who live very far away.

But what social media has offered me in terms of connection and friendship has often been balanced out, if not sometimes completely tipped over, by negative feelings that are often centered around envy, regret, narcissism, and rejection.

Sometimes the feelings are simple to sort out.

Should I really be a part of this mom’s group or is it an occasion of sin because it leads me to gossip and exclude others?

Those questions, once asked clearly, are often pretty easy to answer.

But sometimes the feelings are more complicated.

Recently, I found myself in a hole.

It was the type of hole I fall into on sleepless 3am nights- endlessly scrolling through the social media account of an ex-best friend.

I know, it sounds really dramatic.

(No, I didn’t leave any snake emojis.)

In truth, I have come to accept that our falling out was the result of mutual poor choices and growth in separate directions. However, the loss of this friend felt like a marital divorce and it has taken a very long time for the pain to plateau into something manageable.

At the height of this friendship, I would have called this person my soul friend. We were this scary life force that moved in separate but highly coordinated patterns- calling out of the blue because the air suddenly began to crackle.

I told her everything.

Everything.

And for an introvert with bookish tendencies- this is a big deal.

But, for both complicated and uncomplicated reasons, it ended.

It had to.

And I understand that now.

But here I was in the dead of night passing through highly curated pictures and this awful ugly feeling started to well up inside me. As I reached closer and closer towards the years of our friendship, I realized how carefully I had been cropped out of this person’s life.

Any photos of us together were gone.

Any reference to holidays that we used to spend together were negatively vague.

Things we used to enjoy together were now being enjoyed with others.

Friends we used to share are now sharing glasses of wine with a woman who wanted to make sure than any reference to our relationship was wiped from existence.

I was angry all over again.

I felt justified to hate her all over again.

And, if I let myself admit it, deep down inside, in my loneliest of places, I was just so uncontrollably sad.

And for the first time in a long time, I allowed myself to go into the shower, turn on the water, and weep. And it was freeing to just allow myself to be frustrated; to not have anyone in the room telling me that I should “just get over it” or list off all the reasons that this particular person was terrible. I didn’t have other voices deciding whether or not my “grieving process” was healthy.

The truth?

I’m glad my heart is still soft.

I loved this person.

And sometimes, when a song comes on the radio that reminds me of a concert, or a birthday, or a funny car dancing moment, I want to know that my heart is still tender. It lets me know that I am not completely closed off to other relational possibilities.

That being said, the hardest part is knowing that I keep my heart insanely guarded- even from people that have more than proven themselves worthy of my friendship and vulnerability.

Fellow Catholic Nerd Friends

I mean, nothing can bond you to another mother quite like a phone conversation in which someone walks you through taking your infant’s rectal temperature, am I right?

I have found that any anger I hold onto grows hot in my hands and makes it impossible to reach out to others.

To heal.

I needed to forgive this person.

Again.

When I thought all this was settled.

In these moments, I try to lean into scripture but I often feel like I am wading through murky waters. For example, up until the moment of the resurrection, Biblical forgiveness and punishment always seems pretty straightforward.

God asks for you to repent, you say you’re sorry or… the whole world might be flooded.

Hey Pharaoh- let those people go…

…or the angel of death might come knocking at your door.

Even as children we are given this ultimatum- say sorry for hitting your brother in the face or you have to sit in time out.

There’s a transaction. Someone has to be sorry and change or there is a punishment- natural or otherwise.

And then the Cross comes and the transaction changes- God is on both sides of the proverbial table.

God with the human mother who can speak on behalf of creation and God who is supernatural and can act as judge.

I have struggled with how to apply this concept to perennial pain- especially when I feel justified and the recipient could care less about my internal war with how to come to peace with them.

My biggest stride in this intellectual quandary has been coming to terms with the fact that Jesus walked the road of Calvary for me and for the person I am trying to forgive. In a sense, we are on the same side of the transaction.

I am not the judge and jury.

My job is to repent and to learn.

My job is to fairly recognize and identify my own pain and shortcomings.

My job is to grow in holiness.

My job is to trust that God knows what is fair.

God can set up the consequences.

Secondly, I have been told that time heals all wounds and hopefully, at the end of the end, that will be true.

But one look at the Sacred Heart of Jesus tells me that, even now, His heart is encased in a vine of thorns. My choice to recycle my forgiveness- to give it even when it isn’t asked of me, removes a thorn from that entrapment.  

That is love.

That makes all of this worth it.

The last time I felt this way I floundered for a few weeks. I moped. I allowed my kids to watch too much TV while I meandered around cups of coffee and half-finished chores. My husband finally sent me to Mass by myself. I complained (mostly because I had to put on outside clothes) but he pushed my butt out the door and said, “Well, at least you can enjoy the silence.”

And then he locked me out because he can be dramatically right sometimes. (Don’t tell him I said that!)

As I sat in Mass I fumbled around an examination of conscious. I hadn’t been to confession in a couple of months. I finally made it in where I blew my nose into an entire box of Kleenex. After a few minutes of ugly crying, my confessor gently reminded me that feeling bad about the loss of a friendship was not, in fact, a mortal sin. I thanked him for his saintly patience, he allowed me a moment to pull myself together, and then I huddled in the back pew licking my wounds for the rest of Mass.

I took the long way back from church, cruising down Lake Shore Drive, looking at the city lights on the left and the lake on the right. Slowly, the realization dawned on me that the church never abandons us in times of trial. Standing right in front of me, in that confessional, was a path.

I can stand in line for the confession.

I can recognize that I have pain that needs healing.

I can confess my sins.

I can be honest with myself and with trusted others about my anger, resentment, and sadness. I can be honest about the ways in which I have contributed to the situation through action or inaction. I can forgive myself for those transgressions. I do not have to be okay all the time.

I can receive advice from my priests

I can receive advice from confidants who have my best interests at heart.

I can submit to the process of the reformation of my heart.

I can also submit to the process of rebuilding new relationships that lean on the wisdom of past mistakes.

I can accept God’s forgiveness.

I can remember that God can forgive both of our shortcomings. I can choose to view this person as someone who is loved by God and who has given me cause to reach for the higher fruits of virtue.

I can pray and do penance for both of us.

I can ask to be a friend of God’s and, in return, He will shape me into something beautiful