Preparing for Emmanuel

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.



10 thoughts on “Preparing for Emmanuel

  1. Heh, don’t feel too bad that you like to “waste time” by arguing “with strangers on Facebook.” I’ve spent countless hours doing the same on forums and websites. I think many of us have, and still do. I don’t do that as much these days, though, since I don’t feel God wants me doing this at this point in time of my life. However, those hours I spent “evangelizing” for the faith, I actually never considered them a “waste of time”, nor do I regret having done so since I’ve always done so in charity for the person whom I’m debating with (since they generally have a lot of misconceptions about the Catholic faith), and for the others that may stumble upon our conversation in which it could be that little something that could plant a tiny seed into someone’s heart, that could manifest itself into something greater later on in a person’s life.

    And yep, I get u when u say that following Christ and picking up one’s cross does not equal a happily ever after ending! Happily ever afters only happen in the movies! 😛
    But seriously, like you, and everyone else, I struggle with a lot of things, too, and sometimes wonder how I haven’t gone out of my mind yet! I feel like I have every reason to. Through it all, though, I am beyond thankful to the Lord for having been so patient with me through all the years I lived for myself and for the world, a world which I thought I was supposed to be happy, since I had almost everything I wanted, and yet I had nothing, and was so depressed since I felt so unfulfilled and unsatisfied, which led to depression, suicidal thoughts (like wishing I wouldn’t wake up in the morning), etc..

    Honestly, I can’t even imagine being alive this day, and typing this message here, had I not truly found and encountered our beloved Lord, who literally saved me from myself, and continues to do so even though I don’t deserve it. Just think of it this way, Leticia, where would you be this day, had u not found Christ? For myself, I’d imagine my body would be in a grave, and my soul possibly still in purgatory for having lived the way I used to live. I am just thankful to be alive, and so incredibly thankful and grateful to have found my reason for living; each day now, is like a day that I live for the Lord, and a day to try to grow closer to the Lord. I have learned from experience and from others more wiser than myself in the spiritual life, that one cannot do this without daily prayer. Even when we don’t “feel” like it, we really do have to take the time out of our busy lives and have alone time with Jesus, even if it’s for only 15-20 minutes. There is no other way. As I’m sure u know, He is like an overflowing cistern whom we need to go to, to fill us with His life, His love and His grace, for we will surely run on empty without going to Him. He is the one that will truly make the impossible, possible for you and me. And even if one feels those 15-20 minutes were unprofitable, because one couldn’t concentrate/meditate as much as one may have wanted, God will surely be pleased with their efforts and bestow graces upon that person. St. Therese of Lisieux used to always fall asleep during her meditations, and yet she became one of the greatest Saints on Earth!

    Anyway, please take care of yourself, and I hope u have a merriest of Merry Christmases and a very blessed and grace-filled New Year! 🙂


  2. Wow! So that’s what happened to my twin sister when we were separated at birth.

    Leticia, dear… are not alone in this struggle. What you wrote so eloquently here is the reality that more of us face than are willing to so publicly confess.

    Merry Christmas to you and your family!

    Your brother in Christ,



  3. There’s this thing I do when I am really struggling, it might help you too. When my head knows something like, “I want to be with Christ even if it means I might lose everything,” but my whole self is resisting whatever it seems like it takes to accomplish that goal, then I pray, “God help me to WANT to do your will. I don’t want to do it right now. Please bring me to a place in my life where I want to do it.” Because even when I believe and know is the right thing to do, all the emotions and circumstances around me can be saying, no no no, that’s impossible, that’s too hard, you’ll be unhappy. We are all imperfect. We love God with our own broken hearts, each of us shattered and patched and barely keeping it together in his and her own way.

    And you know, your Red Door, it might just be that the lesson you are learning is that these things take time, even when we are burning on fire with love to do the right thing. That is a “life’s work” kind of job you are taking on. So maybe now you are preparing the soil and planting the seeds, and slowly it will grow. It’s very hard to start an apostolate like that while having your attention divided by daily duty of being a mom and wife and running another business. Give it time.

    God bless you & enjoy all the masses!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I’m right there with you, Leticia. I have a list by my desk of things that I *know* will snap me out of a funk, spiritual or emotional, if I just do them. Not really elaborate or difficult things, either–just things like “Be by yourself to pray for 10 minutes” or “make something by hand” or “surrender your time and play a game with your kids” or “clean your desk or car” or “write a letter or blog post” or “Do a 5 minute set of high-intensity exercises” or “lie down for 20 minutes” or “spend 10 minutes doing some spiritual reading” or “listen to that daily meditation podcast you download every day…”

    Such simple things, and so effective, but somehow hard to bring myself to because when I’m in the ditch all I want is low-effort distraction–not focus. Not to be brought back to reality/God.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I completely identify with the struggle of so many plans, so little followthrough. It can be so overwhelming, even the little things, that I throw my hands up and just say screw it. Ugh. I hate that. As for your struggle with surrender – might I suggest a book that really opened my eyes to Mary’s Fiat? It put that whole “surrender” thing in a tangible light for me. It is called “Mary of Nazareth” by Federico Suarez. After I read it, I printed a picture of the angel Gabriel appearing to Mary and I hung it above my workspace. On a daily, sometimes hourly, basis it reminds me of her quiet surrender to whatever God had planned for her. Praying for you, mama. Know that you are not alone inthe trenches, love!


  6. I relate to your still-unmet hopes that external assets or organization will massage internal turmoil into harmony. And it never works! Probably to keep our egos in check. We’re all a miracle in progress. My favorite cliche from the rooms is that you can either save your face or your ass, but not both. Only when we’re in ass-saving mode does behavior tend to change, unfortunately. Be kind to yourself (Sorry! Advice! But more just commiserating and trite sayings… 🙂 ) Totally pray for willingness, that’s a great start to any real surrender, right? PS on a superficial note, your blog’s new font is ahhhmazing.


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