Saturday, June 13, 2015

Unapologetic Love

While I’m in Mexico, a friend of mine has been giving me little challenges to do on the weekend.  This weekend one of them was to get caught in the rain (it rains hard for a short period of time most days).  My friend said, let the rain soak you completely, and know that’s how much God loves you.  Beautiful right? 

Well last night I went to the supermarket to get a few things, and when I came out it was raining... I thought, ‘perfect, I’ll get one of these challenges out of the way!’ I flipped my hood down and started walking, getting soaked.  The problem was though that my hands were full.  I will walk miles this weekend with nothing in my hands, and I’ll be willing to bet that it won’t rain.  God is unapologetically loving.

His love is tough, refreshing, frustrating… during my walk I dropped my stuff three times, there was a crazy amount of deathly traffic whizzing by and it was dark, and yet right then, in that way, He said I love you. 

My whole life, all our lives really, are a journey to know the one who loves us most in hopes we can love Him forever.  It’s not easy… and in another sense it’s the easiest thing in the world.

Let me explain.  The Lord wants our hearts to stretch, and sometimes he lets us in on the plan and other times He just loves radically without even a warning.  The last two weeks have been that for me.  I spent a few months with my spiritual director planning how I was going to handle this summer in Mexico and the ways I thought He was going to love me into growth.  I planned on being alone a lot, struggling with a loneliness that would drive me to Him. I planned on hearing all about my friends’ summer events and being jealous of them, and longing to go home.  I planned on my prayer staying about the same in the day to day.  But no.  God had plans to love me in other ways, and with an even greater ferocity. 

I’m never alone here. I live in a dorm with other seminarians and so it’s been impossible to be alone, let alone lonely.  Amidst that the Lord has been loving me in the sense the Church is a family.  Living in this family is hard sometimes because it’s radical… but it’s His will.  He pushes me without a second thought of maybe I’m not too keen on carrying it… That’s how He loves. He knows best.  As far as hearing about my friends’ plans, and longing to be there, they’ve been too busy to talk to me about them.  I think this is harder, but it’s how He wants to love me.  In my down time I’m finding myself conversing with the big man Himself, not about crazy big things… just about my heart, His heart, the people I love.  Why? Because He’s placed a desire for intimacy in my heart that only He can fill.  He’s unapologetically driving me to Himself, and it’s a difficult ride, but in my core when I get up in the morning I know He is with me.  Prayer here is no longer a checklist of things to get done in a busy day of class, but conversation I couldn’t live without.  The rosary isn’t a long repetitive prayer, but a way I can walk with my friends to the Lord in His mysteries. 

Life is heavy.  A lot of times we have no idea what the Lord is doing.  It’s frustrating, a little scary, and sometimes the fear makes us want to close off to Him and His will.  We want His will to be crystal clear, and we want it to make sense with our plans.  But His creating love doesn’t make sense, the cross doesn’t make sense, His giving us His Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity doesn’t make sense.  He wants more for us than we want for ourselves.  It’s hard to be humble and receptive. 

I also said this unapologetic love is the easiest thing in the world though.  How?  God is always loving us.  That fact is never a surprise.  Nothing in the world is truer than that fact… and when we accept that truth in our hearts, the yes to love in its many forms, even if it’s inconvenient, is simple.  I don’t know how He’s loving you right now, because it’s specifically for you, but let us pray for each other.  Let us pray that we may have the courage to allow our lives to reflect the line from scripture, “Speak Lord, for your servant is listening.”

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

All.

Isolate and conquer…simple plan. Works against me every single time.  It’s easy to remove yourself from the lives of those you care about and usually we do that when we don’t feel like we are good enough or that no one will understand or care.  It’s true, our loved ones might not completely understand but the human heart longs to understand.  Those who know you greatly desire a deeper familiarity with your heart.  Do not be afraid.  His mercy is endless and flows through the hands of those who love us if we are open to it.  But I want to talk about another way that I’m broken down by isolation… it’s an even smaller degree of division.  It’s in the fact I divide myself.

Some days I wake up feeling like P Diddy… Everything goes my way: the water in the shower was hot, there was bacon at breakfast, class was cancelled… insert whatever things get you jacked about a day.  On those days I praise the Lord for my talents and gifts too.  God is so good.  I trust Him.  I’ve got it all figured out.  I even know what He wants from me in the long term.  I can see that I’m worthy.

What about a bad day: Had to get up early, rushed my shower, was late to class, cafeteria served liver… insert whatever ruins a day.  On those days despair rushes like water through a busted dam.  I have no gifts.  I don’t even know God anymore… why would he let me be so lonely?...I am so lost as to what I’m supposed to do.  I’m not good at anything anyway.  I’m not worthy of love.
My question in prayer lately is why is my heart so extreme in different situations?  For a while I chalked it up to stress and outside stimulation but it’s so consistently inconsistent there has to be a reason. 

I realized it’s because I’m afraid to let Him have all of me. I want to give Him only the parts I can see at any given time… but He wants all of me all the time, and the same is true of you.  I have a great fear of giving Him free reign in my heart, especially the parts I don't understand.

Because I have a fear of letting Him into the parts of me that I don't understand, the Lord has been showing me how to break my bad habits of having partial sight about myself; I want to talk a little about what the Lord has been placing in my heart. 

If you didn’t know I’m in Mexico and I will be until Mid-July.  It’s humbling to wake up and know that you are going to have to rely on others. I’m not running the show so to speak.  It makes sense though why He has placed me here now.  He wants me to have the patience, humility, love, and consistency to look upon myself with truth.  He wants me to see that I have gifts and talents that He’s asking me to use in a special way… but also He wants me to see that I’m broken.  I have a lot of faults and weaknesses that need correcting and sometimes He wants me to be alone with Him.  He moved me out of my cozy safe zone and in the silence and moments of confusion I’m learning to praise God for my existence as a whole. I don’t want to dwell on how good I am, nor how broken I am… no I want to dwell on the fact that I am… and I am with Him. 

That’s the example of the virgin martyrs.  They didn’t need crazy mystical experiences to find joy in the Lord, nor to recognize their smallness.  They just chose. Today is the day the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it.  They didn’t one day draw near to God dwelling on their 'good parts' and the next day dwell on their 'bad parts'.  They were joyful, sacrificial, aware of how beloved they were, and aware of their many faults and longed to improve.  They died for love of Him, because they offered themselves totally in faith to the Lord even though giving Him free reign to dig and challenge daily is scary.  He loves us every day because He made us.  Let us strive together to know ourselves and act as though we know how loved we are.  May the mercy of our Lord flow from His side and penetrate our very being.