Authentic Love: Intangible and Freely Given

I don’t know if it’s just me, but one downside about growing up cradle Catholic is that I have this tendency of taking God’s love for granted. Sometimes, when I feel particularly melancholy, I feel as though God’s love is obligatorily given. He created me, sure, but he also created mosquitoes, roaches, and Michael Bay. He’s God. He loves me and everybody.

But my mother reminds me that God cares as much for the individual just as much as he loves everything he created. You don’t send your only son to be tortured and killed because you have to save humanity. It’s hard for me to believe that God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit truly love me, just as an individual and not as just a part of a larger species.

It’s a lot harder for me to remember the blessings in my life when I get into this melancholic state. I’m constantly haunted by my past and fear the future. My present state isn’t so great at the moment, either, because I feel like God is so far from me.

Even though I’m a person who tends to trust her intuition and feelings, there’s still a part of me that wants something tangible. I need proof of God’s love on a constant basis, as if the sacrifice on the Cross and saving me wasn’t enough. It takes a lot of prayer and some songs for me to remember that God holding me even now.

It’s during times like this that I turn to the saints and remember that they shared these same problems. And in spite of my melancholy trying to take over me, I fight against it and try to remember the blessings God gave me. There’s no point thinking of the tragedies that might have been when I’m starting a whole new chapter of my life.

As often as I envy converts, I still feel blessed that I was born and raised in the Catholic faith. I had the privilege of having great nuns as teachers (alongside a good number of lay women). I read The Imitation of Christ during my years in public school and attended a Bible study group that kept my faith afloat even when I felt so lost. God was always working in my life, even when I didn’t feel like He was there, keeping me from going too far. Eventually, I was led to a wonderful Catholic university that helped me to grow in my faith.

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Whenever I think about the stuff that happened after I graduated college, I’m reminded of this song from Laura Story:

In spite of the fact that I developed anxiety, experienced betrayal when I least expected it, and felt like I was stuck in a hole that I couldn’t get out of, God was there to save me.

I don’t have any tangible proof of God’s love, just a lot of memories.

I remember the white smoke that came out, the first little sign that things would be okay. The world gained a new pope while I gained a new hope. I graduated from college. I went to retreats and an Audrey Assad concert. I started teaching Catechism. I started volunteering at retreats as a staff member. I learned the power of intercessory prayer.

Eventually, God took me places I couldn’t even imagine. Sure, I haven’t moved anywhere, but I gained more friends and eventually went to a convention for the first time since my early college years. I eventually gave a talk at a retreat. And now, I’m doing what I wanted: getting paid to write. It’s not exactly writing the Great American Novel and being JK Rowling levels of wealthy, but you gotta start somewhere.

God’s love may not be tangible, but it’s there and it’s a gift that is given with all the love a benevolent Creator can have. It’s not an obligation. It’s a state of grace.

 

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