on feeling silenced

I never thought my voice would fade.
The vigor, the passion.
I let someone
silence me.

Slowly.
You’re too this-
Can’t you see
that?
Insert judgement
(here.)

I’m tired of
Withdrawing
Denying.

Letting go of who
I am.

So here,
here I am, world.
Here I am, yet again.

Hello!

(c) rosannanoelle

Being a disciple of Christ can be one of the loneliest feelings. Simply put, you feel quite ostracized by society. Particularly in this day and age, and in meeting so many wonderful people, mentioning that you’re Christian feels almost taboo. It’s not that I don’t connect with non-Christians; it’s just that I feel that it’s a large part of my life that seems like a turn-off to many that I meet. So I either consciously or unconsciously keep my faith at bay, even when the Holy Spirit feels like it’s burning within me. Don’t wanna char anyone!

Religion is seen as archaic, and , well, the opiate of the masses.

(I suppose this is what lead me to meet my spouse on a faith-based dating website– ha, ha! Well, that and Divine Providence.)

But in all seriousness, it felt nearly impossible to find a guy my age practicing his faith with equal fervor. At least for who I am as a person, it was so important to share that deepest part of me with the love of my life.

It’s hard to feel deeply lonely among your peers and most especially among your own family at times. The latter can really grate at your soul, and pierce you, because your family is who you love the most.

I used to so fervently blog on my site “Catholic Twenty Something.” However, as the years passed, I noticed my vigor for writing about my faith taper down– sadly, almost to a trickle.

And after years of introspection and prayer, it finally dawned on me what had actually happened.

I succumbed to bullying.

I let a few angry, judgemental voices of individuals near and dear to me really erode my heart.

Perhaps they did not know they were hurting me so. But in so many instances, it truly felt like they knew, and they simply wanted to have their word with me. By the grace of God, and truly not my own strength or willpower, I have forgiven them and moved on.

For NO matter the faith walk of those that I love, I love them because they are who they are– not because they do nor do not support my faith walk. Loving someone just because they make you feel a certain way or approve of all of the things you do and say– well, that’s probably a utilitarian relationship, at best. I want to love like Christ loved. And he especially loves those who hate him.

But it’s true that those who you love the most can hurt you the most.

And their words can break you.

And my heart, well, it sank, and sank, and sank listening to such voices. Deeper and deeper into an abyss, into the darkness.

Yet my eyes were always pointed to the light.

It just felt as if I had let my voice… drown. Under those who are so much more confident than I am, so much more approved by everyone else I know.

But this post is not meant to be a sob story!!!

Being a disciple of Christ is, for the most part, a life of JOY, at least in my own journey. And in this bullying, I found the deepest peace I had ever met, in the pierced heart of Christ Himself. 

In these last few years of feeling like my zeal to evangelize was dampened, God actually did something amazing: He stirred that thirst for Him even more vigorously within, in a contemplative, meditative way. And He brought truth to my situation: that the pain from this kind of bullying was stopping me from being the beautiful person that He made me to be. That His love and approval is worth gold, and that the love and approval of the world is rubbish.

During these years, God has never ceased to send people to walk alongside me in my faith walk, with open ears and open hearts. I have so many strengthened relationships, and a much stronger marriage, because of this internal struggle.

And step by step, in many ways– and this blog being one of them!– I hope that I can reclaim my voice that began to fade a few years ago.

Have you ever been in such a situation? I encourage you to take it to contemplation, meditation, and prayer.

No voice deserves to be silenced.

 

 

 

 

a letter to my dear toddler son

Dear Dominic,

I love you so much. You have no idea! You are such an amazing little man. You are full of compassion. You are so tender and sweet. You abound with curiosity. You want and you yearn to be independent, useful, and industrious– at the mere age of two! I cannot believe how much you have grown physically and mentally and SOUL-fully in the last 28 months. You have a BIG personality all your own in that little body, and you express it in the biggest ways!

I am ever grateful how your presence in my life, and your Dada’s and my life and marriage, has helped to make us less self-centered and selfish– more others-focused and selfless– and best yet, so full of WONDER and AWE. At YOU, at GOD and His goodness, at the world at large.

Your pure and innocent heart has helped my heart beat more passionately and fiercely again. I’m sure Dada would say the same.

We love you so much, Dom. We are always so proud of who you are. We love you. You are our gift.

Love,
Mama =)

awaken wonder: new wine into fresh wineskins

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Tabula rasa. Clean slate.

I’ve spent the past weeks pondering whether I should maintain posts from my Catholic Twenty-Something on this new blog, Awaken Wonder. I added to them slowly and often spontaneously throughout grad school, a long distance relationship, the beginning of my married and family life, and the establishment of my career in counseling. During that time, I was knocked off my feet to see that I had visitors from all over the world, with over 24k views. And what an honor to have readership. Knowing I had even one reader was such an honor! I am truly humbled.

Recently, I’ve felt like something is amiss, however. My old posts no longer sound like my current voice. My intention for writing has also slowly changed. Glancing through the timeline of my blog, it seems that I went from lots of theological musings to simply reflecting upon my most ordinary happenings, and how they moved me and touched my personal spiritual life and faith journey. With much thought and prayer, I’ve decided that I want to change the tone of my blog yet again, and to give it a new name to signify this change.

So with vigor and excitement, I have decided to move on from Catholic Twenty-Something and to begin anew with Awaken Wonder.

As Christ once said:

People do not put new wine into old wineskins. Otherwise the skins burst, the wine spills out, and the skins are ruined. Rather, they pour new wine into fresh wineskins, and both are preserved.

A new name, a new beginning.  My hope is to pour new wine into new wineskins with Awaken Wonder. Well, metaphorically.

I’d like to start afresh with a more broad approach for this blog. I’ll write about things that awaken wonder within me, with the hope that I might be able to touch just one soul out there. That beging said, I will still incorporate my faith into my posts; I mean, how could I not, whether directly or indirectly?! Impossible. Catholicism is so core to my being, and it still colors my whole world. So while I will not always blog about faith directly anymore, everything I write about will still be from eyes of faith—my own unique set, that is.

I am not quite sure how this new blog will look. I am not sure how it will be formatted. I do know, however, that it will be challenging and exhilarating with this new focus of “wonder” in mind.

I’ll likely doing my usual blogging about “every day curiosities and musings,” yes. I also might also be putting up a poem or short story on occasion… or reflecting on a song, movie, or other work of art… or writing a book review… or sharing about some new experience or place travelled.

If you have read this far, I am honored that you have. May we walk on this journey of awakening wonder, together!

Pax et bonum,

Rosanna

in silent adoration

Today, my mommy self simply needed a BREAK. My body knew it. My heart knew it. My soul knew it.

After making sure my splitting from home would be responsible (note: emphasis on the verb “making”; I was more aggressive than passive, LOL!)– I was off in my (ultra suburban) mini-SUV!

Before I left, my husband suggested, “Maybe you should get frozen yogurt.”

“Ehhh,” I replied. “I’m SO full!”

But I hopped in my car, anyway. Off, off, off and away.

And not going to lie– I considered a shopping trip. A little retail therapy. But I knew that was not what I needed. 

“Where do I go… where am I going?” I asked myself.

“Jesus– Blessed Sacrament Chapel!” I quickly concluded. Truly my guardian angel whispering the wisest destination suggestion into my ear.

So I sat before my LORD Jesus, present in the Holy Eucharist in our nearby Catholic church’s 24/7 Adoration Chapel.

Rest. Respite. A time to be LOVED by my LORD. To know that I am loved.

And I felt so much peace. I was so hungry, and Jesus was there. He fed me. I was so thirsty, and Jesus was there. He gave me water. Living water. Himself. All I could hum when I left was Matt Maher’s rendition of “Come to the Water”!

It’s based on the first few verses of Isaaiah 55:

 AN INVITATION TO GRACE

All you who are thirsty,
come to the water!
You who have no money,
come, buy grain and eat;
Come, buy grain without money,
wine and milk without cost!

Why spend your money for what is not bread;
your wages for what does not satisfy?
Only listen to me, and you shall eat well,
you shall delight in rich fare.

Pay attention and come to me;
listen, that you may have life.
I will make with you an everlasting covenant,
the steadfast loyalty promised to David.

Eucharistic Adoration… I highly recommend it. It is impossible to take your life and your loved ones for granted when you feel so loved by Jesus Himself, truly present before you!

You will be swept by His beauty. You will be moved to wonder about what He has given you in this life. You will praise Him. You will thank Him. You will be filled with joy, and know that it is complete in Christ alone. But don’t take my credit for that train of thought.

Just so happens that I also saw this GEM of a tweet today (just below)! Definitely a quote that will serve as a weapon in my spiritual arsenal on my conquest for JOY. Because joy, my friends, is what we are made for!

@FOCUScatholic:

We need beauty because it leads us to wonder. We need wonder because it leads to praise. Praise leads to gratitude. Gratitude leads to joy.

I wanna hold your hand

On our half-hour car ride back home from Sunday Mass, our little boy got a little fussy… a little whiny… a little inconsolable.

“Mama… Mama… Mama…,” it all started.

Apparently, being buckled into a restraint is the worst feeling for a two-year-old. Especially after a long, napless (God forbid!) day.

“Maaaa-maaaaa?” Long pause. “Maaa-maaaaa?” Long pause. “Maaaa-maaaa?” Long pause.

I responded every time with a calm repetition of his name, hoping that my tone signaled to him: “I know, I know. Yes, I pity you, my little baby. I know something’s wrong.”

Apparently, that didn’t work for my two-year-old.

The sheer desperation quickly avalanched.

“Maaaaa…. maaaaa. Maaaaaa…. maaaaa.” His normally joy-filled voice turned into the bleating of a helpless little lamb.

My husband asked him to ‘use his words.’

I asked him how he felt.

And in the back of my  mind, this: C’mon! He barely talks. He has no idea what we’re even asking! We have no idea why he’s so miserable!

So I tried to validate how I thought he felt then console him accordingly.

Nope, didn’t work.

And then it dawned on me: Mama, you have no idea. Mama, just hold his hand.

So I did it. I held his little hand.

pexels-photo-27118

I turned halfway around from my shotgun seat and twisted my body into the most awkwardly contorted position. I dangled my hand above his car seat handlebar and grabbed one of those little hands. And I squeezed and stroked that tiny little hand lovingly whilst it laid in mine. 

Then the cutest thing happened. My son squeezed back with his five tiny little fingers. I felt tension, and then release, not just physical, but spiritual.

And a smile spread across my son’s little face– smack dab between his two little cheeks. 

My son calmed. His mama was holding his hand. I was there. I cared how he was feeling, even though I didn’t understand. 

He was not silent for long, unfortunately. (Toddlers will get ya like that!)

Soon, he went right back to bleating “mama” while holding my hand the whole car ride home. But there was less desperation in his voice. And there seemed to be less agony in his little body (and his already big, big soul at age two).

I continued to hold his hand anyway. I wanted to show him my unwavering love. Even when he was (innocently and unintentionally) being mighty annoying.

This all made me reflect upon Christ’s presence in my life, and my spiritual mother Mary’s presence in my life. Christ and my Mama Mary: always willing to hold my hand, especially when I am afraid. They so ardently want my desperation and agony to turn to calm. They so deeply desire that I cast my anxiety aside and rest in them, especially in my sufferings.

So many days and sleepless nights, I just lack that childlike faith to hold out my hand! While even an earthly toddler knows the benefits of holding his mother’s hand, I sometimes lack the logic of a grown adult to do the same to my Lord and to my spiritual mother. Yet they are always there, wanting me to take their hand, to squeeze their hand back: in times of fear and anxiety, in times of sorrow, in times of confidence and calm, in times of joy, in the painstakingly ordinaries and the very banalities of life! Always.

O ye of little faith! Won’t you just hold my hand?

I hope we all live lives of wonder, but I hope that the one thing that we will never wonder is how truly loved by God (and his Mama) we are. None of us are orphans. All of us are wanted. If not by earthly people then by God and Mama Mary above. That unconditional love is truly a wondrous marvel in and of itself.