Radical Trust in Jesus

There are some things that we as Catholics don’t really talk about, two of these things are spiritual warfare and God asking us to do crazy things in faith. I’ve learned a few things about each of them so I thought I would share some of what I’ve learned and you can share with me what you have learned too!

Spiritual warfare: The devil is real. He hates us and that hate is real. He will never stop trying to get us to lose sight of God so that we can end up in hell. He will use everything and anything that he can. It all starts the same way though, tempting us to doubt the goodness of God. If I’m honest, I’ll tell you that I just told God “and you don’t help, because you make life so damned hard”, because that is how I feel at the moment. Everything that I try to do is met with issues. Nothing has worked out in our favor for a very long time. Even when something does seem to be finally going the right way and we have a moment of relief, then something else goes wrong. It’s been a constant struggle for the last few years. People do not understand that. They offer cliches or advice because as humans we all think that if something bad happens to us that we brought it upon ourselves or that it’s all “for a reason”. No, not always. Sometimes, like in the case of Job, shit just happens for no reason and not because we deserve it but because the devil hates us and it just happens. Not that some of what has happened in my life aren’t consequences of my choices, there is room for personal responsibility and also for “shit just happens”. These struggles can make us stronger as long as we hold on to Christ, but that doesn’t change the fact that there is are times when there is nothing we can do to fix it, we didn’t cause it and we just have to get through it like walking through a fire. Why does God allow it? I don’t know. I have been asking Him just that all week, but this is where faith kicks in. And faith is a Grace. Grace is an unmerited favor, we do nothing to earn it or deserve it, we can only open ourselves up to it. :My advice: when facing spiritual warfare that the time to open yourself up to God’s Grace. That’s really the only option to get through it. Read the writings of the Saints to see how they opened themselves up to Grace. They are the best examples to follow when the devil is acting a fool in your life.

God asking you to do crazy things: Let me break my life down for you just to give you an idea of what I’m talking about. I blog/write, I have a radio show on a start up internet radio station, I help with RCIA at my parish and I am going to school for a Bachelor’s in Philosophy. None of these projects pays, they all take up a lot of my time and then what is left of me and my time goes to care for my husband and children. So, I am going in the financial hole every single moment that I do not go and look for a “real job”. A lot of people (most people) do not get that. People have said to me that I should just stop all of this and get a job, then everything would be fine. Believe me, I tried that. God has made it clear that that is not what He is asking of me. I don’t know how to convince anyone else of that, all I know is what I know and I know for a fact that every time I discern all of this, His reply is “Just keep going”. I apply for jobs and don’t get them. I got a job waiting tables and it was horrible and my feet almost fell off. At this point, I would love nothing more than to go sit in an office and just get a paycheck but something that I heard someone say sticks with me: the greatest sin is to not use the gifts God gave you to glorify Him. And that is exactly what I would be doing if I went and worked a job that everyone else seems to think is what I should be doing. People can should on me all they want, but my only goal in this life is to do the Will of God, not the will of people who think they somehow know what God’s will for my life is. It is hard enough for me to figure out His will for MY life, I would never try to figure it out for someone else’s life. My Advice: If God is asking you to do something crazy like spend all your time doing things that don’t pay and put radical trust in Him that He will care of you (not because you’re lazy but because you have discerned that is His will for you, which includes going to a Spiritual Director to help with that discernment) then just keep on keepin’ on. Listen to their advice, run it by God in prayer, thank them for their thoughts and then do what God wants you to do without worrying about how you didn’t do what so and so said to do. Also, don’t tell everyone your business. Have a team of about 3 people who you know will get it and who will build you up. Confide in them and nobody else. Conforming to God’s will is bat shit crazy, and most people are not going to get it. Keep a journal and stay close to the Sacraments. Get a spiritual director and go to confession regularly. And be prepared to suffer. Oh…. and buy lots of wine.

These are just a few of my thoughts as someone who has learned the hard way . We talk about them vaguely but don’t really spell it out and I have had a very hard time lately because I had no clue how to deal with it. I am not asking for advice and I’m not telling you that you have to take mine. If it works for you, great, if not then that’s cool too. The most important thing though, don’t do crazy things without running it by a confessor and/or spiritual director, maybe even a therapist. You need people who can objectively keep you grounded because when I say “crazy”, I mean countercultural, not something that can land you in prison or hell. When God is calling you to these things, it usually involves a lot of healing of yourself and your wounds. When I say “usually”, I really mean “always”.

The Kingdom of God

I am very lucky to have one of the best evangelists in the world be my RCIA director. If you think that I’m kidding, you can go check out his videos and see for yourself (they are the links on the left beginning with God’s Love) , the man is the real deal. Noe is not just an employee of the Church, but he is a living testament to what a life lived for the love of Jesus looks like. Anytime that I think of walking away from this Church, I don’t because I know that Jesus is real because I encountered Him. That encounter would never have happened if I had not looked at Noe and known that he knew Jesus in a very personal way. Noe had something that I wanted, a relationship with Jesus. I had wanted that since the very first time that I answered an altar call at the age of 8. For whatever reason, I never seemed to be able to figure out how to have a personal relationship with Jesus. I would actually answer “no” when people at the Baptist Church would ask me if I had a personal relationship with Jesus. I stopped doing that when it clicked that the look of shock on their face was somehow a disapproval of my honest answer. That’s when I began just answering the way that I was “should” answer.

Children are so honest. They have no filter because they have no sense of saying what people expect them to say. We were all like that at some point and then we started picking up on cues that told us that being honest wasn’t ok. That we needed to say things that people expected us to say for their sake and we started splitting off from our true selves. One of my favorite cliches is “to thine own self be true” because that is what we all really want to do but we don’t want to disappoint anyone or stand out so we conform and say what it is that we “should” say. Then it keeps going to what we “should” do and how we “should” act in certain situations and then we start “shoulding” other’s behaviors. Before you know it we are all shoulding on ourselves and others. If you know what I’m talking about, you know just how much this damages relationships and authenticity.

This also happens on a huge scale when it comes to the Church and the spreading of the Good News. I often fall into the temptation of thinking others “should” do X and then God would bless them. I think that if people would make the right choices and be responsible they wouldn’t end up in a homeless shelter. When I see someone asking for money, I automatically assume that they must have some addiction and that is why they are homeless. I think to myself about how I would never end up like that because I don’t make those choices, I have better friends and family or even worse that because I have God, HE would never let that happen to me. All of those thoughts are really me saying that I am better than those homeless people. That I am somehow above that happening to me because of something that I deserve and they don’t. That is arrogance.

I am about three months away from being homeless. We are going to have to sell our house, we have bad credit, criminal records and a bankruptcy which means that we probably won’t be able to rent anywhere. I have family that can take in the kids and then my husband and I will have to figure out where to go so that we can start from scratch. It will be rock bottom. The rock bottom that I didn’t think would come because I am better than those people. Talk about a lesson in humility and abandonment to God’s mercy.

After a week of hating God for letting this happen to me, I dragged myself to confession and confessed it all. My arrogance, my gossip, my sloth, my anger and my doubt that God loved me and would take care of me. I asked my angel to please get me up to go to Mass this morning since I haven’t received the Eucharist in 2 weeks because I was mad at God. As usual, my angel was all over it and I made it to Mass this morning. The homily was about evangelizing and how sometimes Jesus goes away and we are left freaking out about it because we have this tendency to want to stay with Him always and not go out and do what He has called us to do, which is evangelize the world with our life. That is so true, I don’t just want a relationship with Jesus, I want to crawl into the Tabernacle and live there. Away from the pain of the world, away from the rejection of others, away from the crazy that is the human condition and away from all the suffering. I just want to avoid the cross and live with Jesus. But there is no life with Jesus without a cross. It’s impossible.

After Mass I sat and read the meditation in the Magnificat. The writer said that what blocks most evangelization isn’t the poverty but the wealth of those who are called to evangelize. We are supposed to “preach the Gospel- the Good News of the Kingdom of God and not that of a better world.” (Madeline Delbrel). She also said that in order to be able to evangelize we must become poor. That doesn’t mean to become homeless, but to become dependent on God in all things. (and sometimes that might mean losing everything including our house) If we are Christians, then we must be willing to lose everything. That’s where I am now after a week of being mad at God, I have come to accept that I might lose everything and that’s ok. God will still take care of me right where I am and no matter where that is, I will be where I am supposed to be. The goal of this life isn’t to make this world better, it is to get to where we belong, which is The Kingdom of God. Knowing that opens me up to an authentic relationship with Jesus, which I can honestly say that I have now.

On the Bad Days

I am having a very bad day. I am having a bad week. I have had a few bad years. Today is one of those days when I doubt everything that I believe and hate what I do know. A lot of people hide these kind of bad days because there seems to be this idea that if you are Catholic and do all the right things, you won’t have these kinds of days. That every Sunday you will wake up and go to Mass with a smile on your face and know that God loves you. Maybe that is how some people’s lives go, but mine has never had a happy shine to it. There have been happy days and there have been moments when I have felt the love of God so intensely that I felt like my heart was going to explode. But there are also days like today that are just bad.

I see so many people online coming up with all these secret ninja plans on how to get people to come into the Church. Do we post banners with intriguing messages? Do we create apps? Do we do radio? Do we build new buildings for more activities? Do we pass out flyers for donuts after Mass? I have been Catholic for six years and I’ve sat in so many meetings where the topic is “How do we get people to come to Mass” or “How do we get people to be disciples?” and today it hit me, the easiest thing that we can do to get people to understand our faith is to live it and share it. Not share the Bible verses and the teachings only, but share our lives; good days and bad days.

What people want these days is truth. They want to be heard and to have someone say to them “I know what you are going through, I go through it, even with Jesus, I go through it.” Because when we make it seem like our life with Christ is all sunshine and lollipops people know it’s bullshit. And when we talk about trusting Jesus in our suffering, they also know that is bullshit. Maybe I’m the only Catholic who yells at God when I suffer, but I do. I hate hearing “offer it up” or “trust in Jesus” when I am at the end of my rope. If it was that damned easy,  I would not be cursing the day that I was born Job style. Suffering is not easy. Losing everything for His sake is not easy. Jesus didn’t think so either, hellllooo Gesemethe. Jesus asked for the cup of suffering to pass Him. He did God’s will anyway, but He did ask. Asking is perfectly legit. So is hating every step of the way to Calvary. Anyone who thinks He did is crazy because He didn’t. And neither do I.

So what do I do on bad days? I read. I ask for prayers, not advice, prayers. I ask for friends to send their angel to help mine fight for me. I ask my angel to drag me to confession and I try not to feed my anger. That means ignoring a lot of things on the internet. I write and I listen to Seether and Audrey Assad. And I pray. I don’t pray fancy prayers. Most of my prayers on bad days are simple like “Jesus, help me” or “Please God, don’t let me go to Hell” or just me shaking my fist in the air. This is when all of my experience with hangovers comes in handy because for some weird reason a bad day of spiritual warfare is a lot like a hangover. You just ride it out.

When people wonder why I don’t get a “real job” this is what comes to mind. I don’t really know how to call in when these attacks happen. It’s not depression (I have suffered from depression, so I know what that is like) and it’s not a hangover, it’s spiritual attack. I would go on some kind of list if I called in and said “I can’t come to work today, the devil is kicking my ass”. In fact, I’m probably on that list for some of you now that I typed it out and admitted it. But that is what it is. The devil is real. His hate for us is real. His hate for those of us who share what God has done for us is real. His attacks are real and they suck so bad that I have to fight the urge to walk away from this life of following Jesus. Instead, I go searching my heart and soul for all the little cracks that let him in in the first place while praying for the Grace of God to help me close them.

Those cracks are usually gossip, anger and envy. And they are more like gaping holes than cracks if I’m being honest. Ok, so it’s more like a whole wall is missing to my house. All three of these sins have such a grip on my soul that I am amazed that I even have the will to follow Jesus. A few weeks ago I found myself in the middle of a total gossip session that fueled my anger and then had me in such a state of envy of how other people had speaking gigs, money and weren’t in the mess financially that I’m in. The whole thing ended so badly that I am still a little confused about what happened. Here I am, having a bad day with this giant fallen down wall that left my soul open to this attack by the evil one and I’m too tired to rebuild it.

I don’t share this for pity, for advice or for attention. I share this because there is someone who knows what I’m feeling today and needs to know that they aren’t alone. If it is you, then you are not alone. I am with you and I will pray for you and you pray for me and we will ride it out.