I find myself having a really difficult Advent this year. Life has been very rough for a long time. Even though there are spurts of sunshine, for the most part I feel lost and confused on what God is calling me to do. I really thought that He wanted me to start The Red Door foundation and then every single door on that project closed. I got over a thousand hits on the post that Mark Shea shared on his blog and not many donations. To me that was a sign that maybe it was not time for that project. Or maybe it is time for it, but there is a lot of preparation to do before it can get off the ground. Really that has been the message of this advent, that I am horrible at prepping for anything. I over plan and then don’t follow through with any of those plans. Every Sunday I tell myself that this is the week that I am going to go to daily Mass, pray the Divine Office and start working out. Every week passes and I do none of those things. Every day I tell myself that I am going to sit my ass at my desk and finish writing my book and every day passes and I don’t do it. I have so much to do and I don’t have the self-discipline to do any of it. The world around me is crashing and I’m too lazy, depressed or hopeless to do anything about it. (I am not looking for advice, I have gone to my doctor, been on prozac, go to therapy, do a 12 step program, have had deliverance prayers, gone to retreats, and it still is there.) And when I do feel better, I waste my time doing things that don’t matter. Like argue with strangers on Facebook.
I seem to think that everything is just going to change somehow without my help. That isn’t how life works. It isn’t how relationships work. My relationship with Christ has suffered for the last year so badly. I am so mad at Him for not warning me about how hard this life is when you follow Him. I guess I thought that “pick up your cross and follow me” was just a motto, not that it really meant having to carry a cross this heavy. I didn’t prepare for any of this. I prepared for happily ever after. I had found Jesus, I had married the love of my life, my kids were safe and I lived in a two-story house with a fireplace, the end. I didn’t realize that it wasn’t the end, but the beginning.
What I stepped into was a battle field, it is invisible so when I finally realized what was going on, I was ears deep in spiritual warfare. I was just walking around as if life was great and acting so “high and mighty” as I’ve been told, as I arrogantly proclaimed how my life was so wonderful because I knew all the rules and was following them while other people suffered because they weren’t following them. When the hard times started coming I had the nerve to look at Jesus on the Cross and accuse Him of abandoning me when I was “doing everything right”. No I wasn’t. I was doing it all to impress everyone around me. Maybe even to impress myself. I wrapped myself in every single political cause that I could and made it my life’s mission to be outspoken about them all even if it meant losing close friends, because if they left then I could add that to my persecuted complex while patting myself on the back for being such a good Catholic.
I happily clung to every social issue that I found and every “rule” of religion while avoiding the one thing that every Christian is called to cling to: the Cross. Sure, I would lament about all the suffering that I was going through as the Cross, but it was the one that I was willing to carry, it was on my terms and some of that suffering was due to my own choices.
For years now, I have taken on Christ on my own terms. I have realized that I wanted a genie and not a Lord for a long time now, but I did nothing to really change that. I still don’t make time for daily prayer and only go to daily Mass when shit hits the fan but as soon as everything seems to be ok then I forget all about all the promises I made while on my knees in church. If I am mad then I just completely refuse to even go to Sunday Mass, making up excuse after excuse but mostly because things aren’t going the way I think they should. So utilitarian, so not what I try to make people believe about me. So not willing to submit myself to His Will no matter what it may be or what it will bring. I want to avoid any more heartbreak. Too bad that in trying to avoid it, I have brought it upon myself. I stood in my own way. I am still standing in my own way.
I will have to give up what I envisioned my life to be and prepare my heart, my life, and my will to live whatever life God has for me. To get over myself and turn back to the One who is Hope and Love Himself. I read Pope Francis’ words about spiritual alzheimer’s, forgetting our first encounter with Christ, as I sat in line for confession yesterday. It so happened that my favorite priest was hearing confessions at my parish. It was so fitting because I really needed to confess to someone who knew me and my habitual sins so I didn’t have to explain why “I am so angry at ____” was a mortal sin or why it was such a big deal for me to confess that I had forgotten my first encounter with Jesus. I have. Not only have I forgotten but I’ve deliberately stopped thinking about it because I let the lie that it wasn’t real creep into my heart for months now. In my mind I know it is real, but in my heart there is nothing but mistrust and anger. I have tried everything that I can think of to help except the one thing that I know is the only option: surrender. Even if it means losing my happily ever after. The question is do I want to be with Christ even if it means losing that? It’s not unlike God to ask for a yes without giving the details of what that yes will bring. I have given that yes so many times, but usually with an idea of what I need to make me happy. This time I have no idea. I don’t even know where I’m gonna live a few months from now or how I’m going to get on the radio every day and proclaim the Good News as my dream shatters, but I guess that is the beauty of preparing one’s heart for the birth of Jesus, because in the end I know that His birth isn’t to answer my every wish but to know that no matter what life brings, God is with me.
Father reminded me of the one thing that I know for sure. The Light will always overcome the darkness.