Are We Out of the Woods Yet?

monsterstrees

One quote from Buffy the Vampire the Slayer that resonates with me comes from the Season 5 finale “The Gift”:

The hardest thing in this world is to live in it. Be brave. Live.

Season 6 of Buffy was themed around the idea of life becoming the Big Bad. As angsty and heartwrenching as it sounds, Whedon got it right. Going to extremes feels easy because of the high-risk, high-reward gamble. We all jump at the chance to do the extraordinary. We live for the celebration of special occasions.

But ordinary life? Ordinary Time? The daily grind, especially when faced with an uncertain future? That’s hard. It’s hard to just live from day to day if your life is surrounded by uncertainty or sadness or anxiety. There are times in life where it feels like you’re driving down a highway at night with just the headlights showing the next 200 feet. Or you’re wandering around the woods and the trees look like monsters. Or you feel like there’s nothing but fog and rain and no sunlight at all. How do you find your way out?

“We walk by faith and not by sight.” – 2 Corinthians 5:7

There will be times in your life that God calls us to completely surrender yourselves, your lives, and everything in it to Him. Your faith will be tested. It’s during these times that you need to fully rely on God. It’s not an easy thing to do. I know it’s not for me, given that there are a million things in this life that I don’t know for sure.

What I know for sure is that if I didn’t have my faith in God and if I didn’t trust him,  I would just be an empty shell of the woman I am now. In spite of the darkness, the woods, and the fog, God is always with us, leading us out. But sometimes, as I’ve been learning in Vacation Bible School, he just wants us to hold on. As in hold on to Him. Rely on Him. Fully surrender ourselves to Him.

There are so many songs that talk about walking by faith, but one of my favorites is Audrey Assad’s “Lead Kindly Light,” based on a prayer by John Henry Newman.

I pray that no matter what’s going on in your life today, you are taking that first step in faith, trusting in God, and handing everything over to Him.

His Mercy Is a Ground of Trust

My latest contribution to the Heart of Mary Women’s Fellowship is up!

An excerpt:

f there’s one word that summarizes St. Faustina, it’s “trust.” Keep in mind that private revelations are mostly a “take it or leave it” case and that not many saints receive visions. Many of Faustina’s sisters doubted her visions or belittled her as not being worthy of having them.

Many skeptics would probably see her visions as hallucinations or delusions of grandeur. Faustina had to trust that these visions were really and truly coming from God Himself. Thankfully, she had a good support system. But as today’s verse stated

“The righteous will see and they will fear; but they will laugh at him.” (Psalm 52:8)

 

Read the rest here!

Jesus, I Trust in You! Help My Unbelief!

One of the many devotions I gained in my college years was a love for the Divine Mercy Chaplet. This is also the first year that I finally prayed the Divine Mercy Novena all the way through. (Thank you Pray More Novenas!)

I don’t know if it’s just me or if other cradle Catholics have this problem (or heck, even Christians in general), but I always feel like it’s one thing to believe in the core values and all the doctrines of Catholicism, but it’s another thing to have faith that God is actually a part of our lives in every moment. Many people ask for God’s providence in times of crisis, but often forget to ask for His help in our daily lives. Yes, there are people who pray their Morning Offerings, myself included. But there are a lot of areas I feel a lot of doubt about.

It’s not just about my everyday problems like finding a full-time job or having some semblance of a social life outside of the internet. I also struggle with a lot of loneliness. Although I consider myself to be an introverted person, I still want someone that I can talk to about anything and yet also “be” with without having the need to talk. I also want that same person to watch my favorite shows with me and cry and laugh with me, or at least understand what I’m feeling. I always forget, during those times that I wish for someone, that Jesus is always there to listen. I love Him, I really do, but it’s not the same as having the physical presence of a person, hearing someone’s voice, and sharing moments with a person.

I also struggle with a lot of self-doubt, mostly about said lack of job and love life. Although I still long for companionship, I also have doubts of finding anyone who fits those longings. I struggle with basic conversation sometimes because of my social awkwardness. Sometimes, I don’t see myself as beautiful or even pretty, just average. Again, it just comes from a lot of times in my life when I felt like Eponine, always on my own and never getting the guy.

We all like to make fun of Doubting Thomas, who will never live down his moment of unbelief. But I’m probably right there with him, refusing to believe until I see proof. My intuition and emotions have often been wrong, so I constantly ask God to prove to me that He is listening. Except, I act more like an entitled brat, expecting God to grant my wishes and dreams. I know better than that, and yet I still do it. I’m pretty sure a lot of you can relate.

I’m not saying all this because I feel like whining and complaining about #firstworldproblems. I’m just saying that faith isn’t just about believing in a bunch of doctrines, traditions, and Sacred Scripture. It’s about trust. It’s about putting your trust in your faith. It’s during these times of doubt and loneliness that I turn to God more than ever. This is where the Divine Mercy Chaplet comes in.

If there is any word that I can use to describe Saint Faustina, it would be “Trust.” She trusted in God when it came to her vocation. But that was just the beginning of her story. She trusted in God implicitly when she began receiving visions, in spite of other sisters in her order being dismissive of her. How she lived with such bitchiness, I will never know.

Whenever I pray the Divine Mercy Chaplet, I usually pray it as an intercession for others. But whenever I listen and sing along to the song version (either on EWTN TV or EWTN Radio), I slow down in praying it and really feel the prayer on a different level. I ask God for His mercy and offer up my loneliness. The words “I Trust in You” start to resonate in me. And even though I don’t feel the trust right now, I have a glimmer of it. And sometimes, that’s enough.

Faith and Trust vs Doubt and Discouragement

One of my favorite quotes from CS Lewis is “There are far, far better things ahead than anything we leave behind.” I keep going back to that quote whenever I face a setback.

I know you guys are probably gonna laugh at the idea of a twentysomething having a quarter-life crisis, but the fact is that it happens. I apply for jobs and don’t hear back or I get the interview, but not the job itself. I fall for guys who never give me a chance. I have a million writing ideas but get writer’s block as soon as I see the blank page of a word processor.

I know that God has a better plan for me. It would be nice to know what that plan was, though. I mean, what could be better than having a full-time job, having a car, driving where I want to go, and having a normal relationship? I’m not exactly sure if it’s in God’s plan that I stay at home blogging and only talk to people through the internet.

There are times that God led me to wonderful things that ended up changing my life for the better. The real test is living out that faith and trusting God on a day to day basis. To quote my favorite show “The hardest thing in this world is to live in it.” Believe me when I say that it’s sadly true. It’s hard to live life on a daily basis not knowing what’s gonna happen next, not knowing where life is going to lead you, and faced with a world that is seemingly indifferent. And it’s easy to think that this world is indifferent and to try and create our own meaning or to go the other direction and wallow in angst for the rest of our lives.

But by the grace of God, I am not a nihilist. I think that there is a bigger meaning to life. But I’m not anti-nihilist, either.  The universe is not indifferent to us because God created the universe and he created us. I think that while God has a plan, he always incorporates free will. But there are moral absolutes. I studied way too much Aquinas in my college days and one frustrating thing about reading his works is that I ended up asking more questions. (Which was the point of the Summas, apparently.)

So I don’t have a label for my philosophy, not yet anyway. I’ll always be asking questions and find answers that make me want to know more. And while I don’t like the core value of existentialism, I can say that I can make the most of the time I have now and push forward towards making it better.