I am having a very bad day. I am having a bad week. I have had a few bad years. Today is one of those days when I doubt everything that I believe and hate what I do know. A lot of people hide these kind of bad days because there seems to be this idea that if you are Catholic and do all the right things, you won’t have these kinds of days. That every Sunday you will wake up and go to Mass with a smile on your face and know that God loves you. Maybe that is how some people’s lives go, but mine has never had a happy shine to it. There have been happy days and there have been moments when I have felt the love of God so intensely that I felt like my heart was going to explode. But there are also days like today that are just bad.
I see so many people online coming up with all these secret ninja plans on how to get people to come into the Church. Do we post banners with intriguing messages? Do we create apps? Do we do radio? Do we build new buildings for more activities? Do we pass out flyers for donuts after Mass? I have been Catholic for six years and I’ve sat in so many meetings where the topic is “How do we get people to come to Mass” or “How do we get people to be disciples?” and today it hit me, the easiest thing that we can do to get people to understand our faith is to live it and share it. Not share the Bible verses and the teachings only, but share our lives; good days and bad days.
What people want these days is truth. They want to be heard and to have someone say to them “I know what you are going through, I go through it, even with Jesus, I go through it.” Because when we make it seem like our life with Christ is all sunshine and lollipops people know it’s bullshit. And when we talk about trusting Jesus in our suffering, they also know that is bullshit. Maybe I’m the only Catholic who yells at God when I suffer, but I do. I hate hearing “offer it up” or “trust in Jesus” when I am at the end of my rope. If it was that damned easy, I would not be cursing the day that I was born Job style. Suffering is not easy. Losing everything for His sake is not easy. Jesus didn’t think so either, hellllooo Gesemethe. Jesus asked for the cup of suffering to pass Him. He did God’s will anyway, but He did ask. Asking is perfectly legit. So is hating every step of the way to Calvary. Anyone who thinks He did is crazy because He didn’t. And neither do I.
So what do I do on bad days? I read. I ask for prayers, not advice, prayers. I ask for friends to send their angel to help mine fight for me. I ask my angel to drag me to confession and I try not to feed my anger. That means ignoring a lot of things on the internet. I write and I listen to Seether and Audrey Assad. And I pray. I don’t pray fancy prayers. Most of my prayers on bad days are simple like “Jesus, help me” or “Please God, don’t let me go to Hell” or just me shaking my fist in the air. This is when all of my experience with hangovers comes in handy because for some weird reason a bad day of spiritual warfare is a lot like a hangover. You just ride it out.
When people wonder why I don’t get a “real job” this is what comes to mind. I don’t really know how to call in when these attacks happen. It’s not depression (I have suffered from depression, so I know what that is like) and it’s not a hangover, it’s spiritual attack. I would go on some kind of list if I called in and said “I can’t come to work today, the devil is kicking my ass”. In fact, I’m probably on that list for some of you now that I typed it out and admitted it. But that is what it is. The devil is real. His hate for us is real. His hate for those of us who share what God has done for us is real. His attacks are real and they suck so bad that I have to fight the urge to walk away from this life of following Jesus. Instead, I go searching my heart and soul for all the little cracks that let him in in the first place while praying for the Grace of God to help me close them.
Those cracks are usually gossip, anger and envy. And they are more like gaping holes than cracks if I’m being honest. Ok, so it’s more like a whole wall is missing to my house. All three of these sins have such a grip on my soul that I am amazed that I even have the will to follow Jesus. A few weeks ago I found myself in the middle of a total gossip session that fueled my anger and then had me in such a state of envy of how other people had speaking gigs, money and weren’t in the mess financially that I’m in. The whole thing ended so badly that I am still a little confused about what happened. Here I am, having a bad day with this giant fallen down wall that left my soul open to this attack by the evil one and I’m too tired to rebuild it.
I don’t share this for pity, for advice or for attention. I share this because there is someone who knows what I’m feeling today and needs to know that they aren’t alone. If it is you, then you are not alone. I am with you and I will pray for you and you pray for me and we will ride it out.