I’m weak, limited and wounded–and maybe that’s okay!

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Ever since I wrote that blog from two weeks ago, this concept has really been on my heart. We are limited, weak, and broken.

But. Maybe that’s okay.

Okay, its not “a good thing”, but maybe, just maybe, God can and does use our weaknesses. Maybe He can redeem them?

Ironically, today’s second reading at Mass has something kind of crazy to say.

“Not many of you were wise by human standards,
not many were powerful,
not many were of noble birth.
Rather, God chose the foolish of the world to shame the wise,
and God chose the weak of the world to shame the strong,
and God chose the lowly and despised of the world,
those who count for nothing,
to reduce to nothing those who are something,
so that no human being might boast before God.”

How often have I told God that I can’t do something? I’m too young, I’m not like her, I’m not good enough.

And I am weak, limited,  and wounded.

For example–I’m impatient! Why is my computer so slow? clickclickclickclick*

I’m secretly stubborn, I mean, I’m adaptive, but I’m going to try and fix this excel spreadsheet problem by repeating the same incorrect steps over and over again for a bit, because I’m stubborn and I don’t even know it.

Even practically speaking, I’m limited. I’m just one person. I can’t answer the phone and the doorbell at the same time. I coordinate volunteers, but I can’t control if someone is going to get sick or just not show up. I can’t bi-locate or control minds. Waa!

And its a common problem we all face. Maybe you can’t articulate the Good News of the Gospel to your class or friend. Or maybe you’ve been wounded with a past of partners who used you like an object or cheated on you.

How do we respond? Well, my prayer is often a lot like Paul’s. At one point, Paul says that he asked the Lord three times to heal him of a persistent problem he’d been having. Does God take it away? No. God responds, “My grace is sufficient for you. My power is made perfect in weakness.”

Um what? You know what I imagine Paul saying back? “Um. Dude. Why do you have to make my life so hard?” (What’s “dude” in Hebrew?)

And, again, its not a good thing that Paul is weak, limited, and wounded. But! God comes to redeem it and make it something better than it was before.

I mean, what is the Incarnation, anyway? Jesus doesn’t come to “redo” humanity. Instead, He takes on our humanity. He suffers and dies but rises, again, in a gloried body.

But, here’s something kind of crazy about that. Did Christ rise from the dead with a completely new body? No. In fact, Thomas puts his fingers in Christ’s wounds. Christ’s body is glorified—but he keeps his wounds. Why? Because, Jesus wants to encounter us in our wounds. He wants to tell us, “Hey, be not afraid. I’ve been there. I haven’t come to judge you, or even change what makes you, you. I’ve come to redeem and glorify what makes you, you.”

Okay. That’s cool. But why does God use the weak? Why am I still weak, limited, and wounded?

Well, first off, my issues make me incredibly aware of my need for God. God uses those who are poor in the sight of the world because those are the people that come to Him for help. People who are “rich” or “intelligent in the eyes of the world” never turn to God, because they don’t realize they need Him.

Here’s the thing. None of us our good enough and we’re all struggling with weakness. Its just that those who are poor in the eyes of the world are more likely to see that.

If I were perfect, a complement about my last blog would have made me boast, “Look at what I did God!”. Instead, I realized that it wasn’t me who did anything. God worked through me. Therefore, I had the opportunity to turn to God for help, thank Him, and encounter Him in a deeper way.

Likewise, a catechist and friend of mine expresses frustration with her kids not paying attention. One week, she felt like she made a breakthrough with a parent. She realized it wasn’t anything she did—it was the Lord. If she had not recognized her weakness, she would have never gloried God in that moment of the breakthrough.

Our weaknesses allow us to turn to God in our need, see God work through us, make us grateful, and bring us closer to Him. Fundamentally, that is kind of the point, right?

Not only that, but our weaknesses can actually show God’s glory to the world. Peter was a impulsive fisherman who denied His best friend, Jesus, three times. Paul persecuted Christians. Moses had some serious speech issues. But, Peter became Pope, Paul is one of the most important authors of Scripture, and Moses set Israel free from Egypt.

Because, “where sin abounds, grace abounds all the more”. Our weaknesses give God the chance to show His power through us. Look at the Church! The history of the Catholic Church is full of 2000 years of weak and sinful people, but it still stands today.

My only obstacle to letting God show his glory through me is to limit His power by saying He can’t work through my issues. But that’s crazy–God is God and I am not that powerful.

So your too broken or wounded? Christ comes to redeem our brokenness. Its easier to help someone who doesn’t feel like their good enough if you’ve also, at times, struggled with not feeling good enough. Its easier for a mother who seeks mercy after an abortion to seek consolation in another woman who’s been there, too. Its easier to fight depression and loneliness when your with someone who has had that same struggle.

Again, after the resurrection, Jesus keeps His wounds. Not because His wounds are a good thing, but because He’s showing us how He redeems our wounds. He tells us,”Be not afraid. I’ve been there.”

Sometimes, I get really excited about something God might be calling me too. But then I pull back in fear. I want to tell God that I can’t do it. I’m too weak, too limited, too wounded.”What if I fail?” “What if they don’t even like me?” “You know God, if you made me like this person, that’s be great, yeah.”

But, these are really just excuses. It just shows I don’t trust that God’s grace is sufficient for me.

We’re weak, limited, and wounded and that’s okay. Because, Christ comes to work through our limits and weaknesses. Because, Christ comes to redeem our wounds.

We only have to let Him.

Lord, make me a rainmaker! Or; God wants a person, not just a doer

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And I’m back at the coffee shop. There’s an Italian woman across the cafe, and at a table next to her, a woman sits and reads her child a story. I’m eating a delicious cheddar biscuit, while wondering why the people who pour my coffee have no concept of what room for cream means.

I love this place :).

So here’s the thing. As Christians, we are called to bear fruit. The Gospel is full of parables about servants who get punished for not multiplying their inheritance, or for being fruitless trees. Its a little terrifying, to be honest.

I remember being really frustrated with God when I was applying for jobs. I tried to get involved in ministry, but nothing came of it. I kept begging the Lord, “Lord! I want to do your work! What the beep?”

And even after I got that job, the frustration didn’t stop. You want to talk about planting seeds and bearing fruit? Its my job to plant seeds and bear fruit. But its easy to get frustrated when those 8th graders just keep misbehaving, or when I have to watch the eyes of parents glaze over in a baptism class.

But you don’t have to work in ministry to have this issue. We all want to be great and do great things. John Paul II, after all, tells us we were made for greatness, right? We want our family and friends to know Christ. Or maybe we just want to be super great at our jobs or school.

And who can blame us? From our first years in school, we are being graded and evaluated. We have to get the best grades to get into the best schools. We have to be the best athlete to win the sports ball game match (that was a joke :)). We have to have the best resume and the greatest accomplishments to get the best job.

But, here’s the thing. God wants a certain kind of person, not a certain kind of doer.

My job is the plant seeds. But I want it to rain. I want these stupid seeds to grow because I want to prove to God and to myself that I’m good enough. I want to be a rainmaker. But we’re not rainmakers. We’re farmers.

Jesus Christ tells us to seek first the Kingdom of God and the rest will come to us. St. Catherine says “Be who you are and you will set the world on fire”.

What does God want from you and me? He wants our hearts. He doesn’t call us to make the seeds grow.  because we are not rain makers.

First and foremost, God just wants to be our Father. The Lord wants us to recognize ourselves as His children.  Our value isn’t in how many things we accomplish. Our value is simply in the fact that we are  children of the Lord. Its not something we earn—its written in our very soul. It just sort of “is”.

And when we see ourselves as we truly our and let God live in our hearts, we become His instruments. That’s the final goal. Our purpose is not to “do” this and that thing. Our purpose is to be an instrument of the Lord.

And, if I am an instrument of the Lord, who am I to say how God uses me? Even if I touch one soul, that soul is just as important as so and so who touches a million. It’s Christ the Good Shepard, who leaves the 99 for the 1 lost sheep, right?

The Little Flower, St. Theresa, had this very simple outlook. “Do small things with great love”. I don’t know about you, but that seems like a bit of a cop out. So, what are you saying? It sounds like an excuse to be lazy, passive or stagnant.

But, then I think, that’s not at all what she is saying. God’s first law is to love. Love, when loving rightly, is never passive or lazy. Love is always active. Love just gives, it seeks the good of the other without calculation. Love just gives.

I’m always struck by the story of the sower who plants seeds on the path, rocky ground, and good soil. The sower is just walking around, throwing his seeds all willy nilly! He throws seeds with reckless abandon. He doesn’t stop and ask if they will grow, or if he’ll be successful.

Why? Because that’s what an instrument of God does. He doesn’t stop to calculate his value because he knows his value as a son of God. He does the will of the Lord by doing the task that God has called him to do in the moment, and trusts God, the Rain Maker, to do the rest..

So, what does God really call us to “do”? God wants us to love Him, to be His instrument, and then love God in “the other”.

God wants a certain kind of person. He wants you.

The Loneliness Monster: or what I’ve learned from a year in the desert

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So, let me set the stage for you.

Its 2017. My favorite thing in graduate school was writing. I loved defending St. Anselm’s theory of atonement, and recounting the development of this or that doctrine.

I write a new blog about once a year. And I do like it. I just forget about it. But, with a new year, maybe I got a small inspiration from the Lord to take it up again. Maybe God can use my stubborn, silly self, to help someone. Don’t worry. I’m not about to explain the five marks of a Catholic school. Unless you really want me to.

So, here I am, in a coffee shop with my 7 year old laptop with a space bar I have to POUND to space, my coffee, and my breakfast sandwich. Blogging.

Oh yeah, ya’ll. I’m just that cool.

Exactly one year ago from Dec. 31st, I moved to a strange, foreign, new land called “Indianapolis”. The Lord called me to a new place,  kind of like a a desert,–away from family and friends. The call did not come in the form of a voice, or an image. It came in the form of a job offer. When God closes 20 doors on you, you go through the only one He opens.

I think I’ve learned one very important thing this year,

Before I go on, let me just make clear. I have a great job, with the best co-workers, and the best volunteers. I have been blessed to have some very close and holy friendships, here. But I’m pretty sure anyone who has ever lived knows about loneliness.

Its this feeling in your soul when your at a party and you feel alone in crowded room. Its that feeling you get when your alone, on facebook. on a Friday night and you see those photos from that event no one invited you to. Its that feeling you get after you break up with that guy or girl and its like a piece of yourself is missing.

And then it comes. I call it “the invisible loneliness monster”. I mean, if loneliness is a monster, it’d be invisible, right? It whispers in our ear,“What am I doing here?” “Does anyone even care?” “Why can’t I be here or there?” etc.

Okay. Maybe this is all a bit emo. But, bare with me 🙂

But here’s the thing. Even if we had all the best things, relationships, the perfect significant other,we’d still feel this emptiness. People leave, die, disappoint us, screw up.

Its almost as if we have this giant hole in our heart that no earthly thing can fill. And maybe thats the point.

Our destiny is communion with the Lord. And our hearts were not made for earthly things but for heavenly things. As cliche as it sounds, we actually really do have a God-sized hole in our hearts that only God can fill.

What have I learned from one year out in the desert?

I think one of the reasons God has called me here is to encounter Him in a more real way. The loneliness monster is that tug on my heart from God that says, “Hey! Only I can fulfill you”.

The Lord wants to spend time with you. He not only loves you, He actually likes you. He’s literally interested in every little thing about you. From your coffee habits to that weird thing you do with your hands when you explain things.

Maybe the next time we are lonely, we should stop and pray. Imagine Jesus as He sees you. Spend time in Adoration. For myself, every day, every hour, I need to stop and rediscover my identity in Christ. “Okay God. Who am I? And who am I to you?” Lets see ourselves as the Lord sees us. As his creation, uniquely, beautifully, and wonderfully made.

Of course, the emptiness and loneliness won’t completely go away. And that’s okay. Because our hearts are made for Heaven.

And yeah, we are still going to feel left out, and guys and girls are going to break up with us, or people are just going to  be downright inhospitable. But, when we find our identity in Christ, it doesn’t hurt so much. We’re all in our own little worlds. We’ve lost the art of hospitality and making friends. Acknowledge the pain, feel it, and fight inhospitably with hospitality.

Hey! I’m tangenting. “The Forgotten art of Hospitality” and “Feeling the Feels”? Future blog posts?