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, judgmental 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.

 

 

 

 

faithful friends

My husband and I love the Book of Sirach in the Sacred Scripture so much that we call Sirach “our man Sirach”! Recently, I felt led by the Holy Spirit to meditate upon this verse from Sirach– which was my favorite Bible verse in my middle school days:

“Faithful friends are a sturdy shelter;
whoever finds one finds a treasure.

Faithful friends are beyond price,
no amount can balance their worth.

Faithful friends are life-saving medicine;
those who fear God will find them.

Those who fear the Lord enjoy stable friendship,
for as they are, so will their neighbors be”

–Sirach 6:14-17

Fast forward to now, when I’ve lived the length of that middle school life-span two times over, and I still value friendship as a gift of infinite worth.

Friends shape you and they help you to become the “best version of yourself” (a la Matthew Kelly).  As Christians, we are made to sharpen one another like “iron sharpens iron” (Proverbs 27:17). So often, spiritual growth is not solitary, but together, in fellowship. In my life, this means that spiritual growth occurs largely with my spouse or friends and alongside friends old and new. Deeper than that, we are made by God to be shelters to one another, in good times and in bad (Sirach 6:14).

As friends, we are called to sharpen one another into saints– and so often, this means being figurative “homes” to our friends: to hold their hearts, to value their lives and their dignity, to remind them of their worth, and vice versa. To “tell them like it is” (whether they like it or not) and to just hold them and to be gentle with them (if that need that). 

Friendship, in essence, is a shared sacred space, a shared duty, to honor and to love the other with their best interest at heart.

So may we journey together. May we run in this life side by side, towards our singular destination: Heaven.

I found the secret!! yes, I did!

By God (literally), I think I have found it!

The secret to my faith as a daughter, both a “princess” and a “handmaiden,” of Our LORD.

The secret to my life as a pilgrim on this earth. (I have a restless soul, always wandering, even when standing still.)

The secret to my love, for my boyfriend, for my family, for my friends, for strangers, for my LORD.

And what is that secret?

To always remember this key: less of me, more of JESUS… and more of any other person before me made in His Image and Likeness!

And less, less… less of me.

John 3:30 reads: “He [Jesus Christ] must increase, but I must decrease.”

We’ve all heard it before, but just to reiterate: J-esus, o-thers, y-ourself… in that order… now that’s real “joy” for the journey. 🙂

ImageIf I am truly to become a saint one day, yes, I must let “God be the author” of my life.

Yet I must also remember that my life is a love story with JESUS. And, as per the image above, my love story with my LORD and my God will not start with “once upon a time” and end with “happily ever after” without  adversity in the great big middle!

Yet in adversity, with Jesus as our hope, we have Joy personified…

Less of ourselves, more of Him. 😉

my crew: the God Squad

Image


“The Communion of Saints” (c) John Nava/The Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels

“But strive first for the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” Matthew 6:33

You become who you are around.

I was blessed to make friends filled with the light of Christ in middle school (and beyond). I saw a genuine goodness in my friends; they were different from my friends who just seemed like they wanted to be “popular.” I saw my new friends… living for a meaning and a purpose outside of the realm of self.

Moreover, even at such a young age, many of my friends lived as young disciples of Christ. I wanted that joy and peace in my heart, too! I soon saw that it stemmed from selflessness, not selfishness.

Fast forward two and a half decades later, and I’d like to say that my “crew” now consists of six of my (many) cousins, ages 18 to 27. I suppose we are the cousins closest in age and that’s why we kind of formed our own group. Anyway… just a confession… I like to think of this “crew” as “the God Squad.”

I honestly would like to say that none of my cousin’s or my parents “forced” religion onto us (my own dad: agnostic); but I do think we were all lead to God by God in various ways. Yes, our parents helped us to be lead to Him (and so did our Rosary-praying Lola grandma!) by taking us to church, praying with us, showing us a good example of faithfulness, etc.

But really, all I can do is smile huge and think about how God planned this all from the very beginning– how God planned each and every one of us’s personal journeys to Him on our own timetable! It just so happens that now, at least today, we all seem to be journeying into life together…. united in Him.

Back then, we bonded over Big Foot Pizza and rollerblades. Who would have known our deepest bond… would turn into Christ?

My cousins in this “God squad” all feel like my best friends, even if we don’t always keep up with each other on a daily basis.

I really believe that you become who you are around. I am so blessed to be surrounded by my “crew”– this “God squad.” They don’t even know that this is what I call them in my mind (and have been for a couple years now).

My cousins are Kingdom seekers. Just like Matthew 6:33 says, they seek first God’s Kingdom. Then they try to build. And they believe that God will provide so long as they first seek Him. I’ve seen my cousin crew members do  amazing things in their lives so far. My cousins inspire me to pick up my cross, too– and to live for God and for others in His name.

Moreover, my cousins also teach me that Faith and grace cannot be earned. It can be prayed for. But it is freely given by God; Faith and grace are our gifts from Him. I have merely seen my cousins say “yes” to receiving and to using those gifts. And I pray moment by moment that I can do the same.

Who are you around most of the time? Make sure you surround yourself with people who have virtues you would like to emulate. Chances are you’ll likely rub off on one another, in both the good and the not-so-admirable.