Thursday, February 23, 2012


So here we are, the first week of Lent.  A time of penance, fasting, and alms giving.  A time to reflect on the fact that Jesus Christ willingly died to save all of our souls.

I still have a hard time grasping that idea.  I've spent so many years thinking that Christianity was all myths and symbols, but now I've seen the light of truth.  Jesus was a real man, who was put on a cross by real people and died a real  death for all of us and our sins.

This is my first Lent as a true believer in Christ.  At the end of this season, I get to be confirmed and join the Catholic Church as a full member.  I am just so in awe of what the Lenten season is leading up to: Easter…the death and resurrection of our Savior.

I've always known that people give something up for Lent. The people I knew would often give up sweets or coffee, but they would often just replace it with something else (more fruit to get the same sugar rush, replacing coffee with tea, and the like) which to me didn't make much sense.  I barely understood why people gave things up for Lent in the first place, but it seemed really off to me that you could "give X up" yet replace it with Y.

My RCIA class has taught me that for Lent you are suppose to do penance, fast, and give alms.  I'm doing my best to follow the Church's teachings, especially in this season.  The fasting was hard for me, since I'm typically the kind of person who needs to eat something every few hours (I have blood sugar issues) but I managed to do it.  It feels right to do a proper penance in honor of my Lord, who has done so much for me. 

That's the same reason that for my penance for Lent, I plan to go to mass every single day.  I feel it's right to do something that is not easy for me (like giving up chocolate or sweets might be).  You see, with my class and work schedule, I will have to attend the 7am mass at my church because none of the other masses work for me.  Having to get up that early and walk out in the cold to get to church will be a challenge for me (I am so not a morning person) but I will gladly do it in honor of Jesus's death on my behalf.

I look forward to using this season to prepare my soul for my confirmation, the fulfillment of my joining the body of the Lord's Church.  I plan to reflect on my past sins and look forward to my new future in the light of God's eternal love.

What are you doing for Lent?  Do you plan on fasting?  Or will you do some sort of penance?  I would love to hear how you all are preparing for the coming celebration of Christ's death and resurrection.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Wrapped up in Wrath

Disclaimer: I am not a saint.  I don't have 40+ years of life experience being above sin.  This is just the opinion of a 20-something-year-old woman who is on fire for God.  I'm trying every day to beat the sin that has been part of my life for the last several years.  Please feel free to leave some of your own advice to help out your fellow man or woman.

Welcome to the first post about the Seven Deadly Sins! I know, exciting right?  But understanding how to battle the sins that exist in everyday life is one big step in the right direction towards intentionally living a life for God.  So I figured I would dive right in with one of the Seven that has played a big role in my life for the last few years: Anger.

Anger is a monster I've battled under the surface for most of my life.  I don't think people would describe me as an "angry person" but it's definitely there.  If you don't have control of your anger, then your anger controls you.  And for the last 7 years or so, my anger defiantly had control over me.

Everyone has anger, but in both high school and the first part of college I participated in activities that only served to fuel that anger.  I would get mad when my team would not do well at a competition.  I would start fuming when something went wrong regarding the play I was in.  School, chores, friendships, anything that I had no control over or didn't go as I had planned made me angry.  I would rant and rave, feel so pent up that I would just want to scream.  

My freshmen year of college, I ended up taking a medication for a health issue but unfortunately it had a side effect of affecting my moods.  Not only did I become extremely depressed while taking it, but it also made my anger a lot harder to control.  While I never actually became physically violent towards anyone (many who took this same medication did become violent as a side effect), my anger would build up to the point where I felt like I was about to burst.  I'd smack the wall really hard if I lost my headphones. I'd throw things around if something fell and I was cleaning it up.  I periodically lashed out at friends who did not deserve it at all.

Everyone can see these signs of "aggressive anger" (screaming, hitting, breaking things, etc) but for many people I know the danger of anger lies in its passivity.  This is where I feel the real sin comes in.  Sure, you may not throw a tantrum when someone takes a promotion for you, but you start to give that person the cold shoulder and undercut their achievements.  This, my friends, is "passive anger" and it is one of the biggest problems for me personally.  It's so easy to think that just because it doesn't bust out of you in a fit of rage you don't have any anger.  Scroll down on this Wiki article to see just how many behaviors are linked to passive anger.  I know I have done many of these things, not realizing that they were linked to my anger that I was trying to bury and control.

This is not an easy thing to overcome.  Anger is a sin that, especially in America, seems to almost be praised.  (In fact, many of the Seven Deadly Sins have become key components of our culture)  Aggressiveness is a good thing in the corporate world and in certain cities, if you are not an aggressive driver, you will not get to where you need to go.  But anger can be defeated.  

I have lots of things that used to make me really angry.  My boss, my ex, my Latin homework, and countless other everyday things.  I'm still trying to bring out all my angry skeletons from my mental closet, analyzing each one to see why I am so angry in regards to that idea (or person or event or thing or homework assignment…).  Asking myself that simple question and trusting God to help me move past this sinful anger has really helped me.  But sometimes you just need more help, so I recommend talking to a trusted friend or spiritual advisor.  Someone with an outside perspective can help you figure out why you keep holding onto your anger, and help you to figure out how to let go.

Sin is hard enough to combat, but a sin like anger is even more difficult because it is one of the many things that society says is ok.  Our culture fuels these feelings and tells us that they are something that can be good.  Fight these messages, and turn your anger over to God, so that you can be filled with the love and grace of the Lord.

What are some of your ways of dealing with things that make you angry?  Do you find prayer or reading the bible to be helpful? Feel free to share in the comments, I'm sure I'd love to hear your own personal stories and tips.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

The Big Seven

It's corny.  It's overdone.  It's a big task.  "What is this girl talking about?" you're probably wondering.  Well I'm writing this post to tell you I'm going to be starting my first ever series of posts!  I plan on covering the Seven Deadly Sins: defining what they are, how they sneak into everyday life, and ways you can cope with them.

Now I'm obviously not a priest, theologian, or anything of the sort.  I'm just a regular person living life like everyone else.  I'm a sinner, I'm not perfect, and I definitely don't have all the answers.  But lately sins have been weighing on my mind as I approach my first confession as part of the RCIA program.  (You can expect to see a post on RCIA after I've completed it, so that I can pass along the full story)

Sin is part of everyday living, and it is up to us to find a way to reconcile ourselves to God.  Whatever your preferred method of Reconciliation, it is important to seek the Lord's forgiveness when we sin against Him.  I know that I have always been the type of person to feel guilt over many things that I had done wrong in my life, and it is such a relief to me to be able to in some way tell God that I am sorry for what I have done and that I intend to do better.

So for the next seven weeks, I'll be going over the big bad Seven Sins that are part of our everyday lives.  I'll also just hit on sin in general (because we're all human, and human=sinner) and how we can get around it.  Now, everyone is different and not every one of the Seven will apply to your life.  I'm no different, I'm guilty of some of these but less so of others.  But blogs are designed to share information, and I plan on sharing what I know so that I can help you all to help yourselves on your own life journeys.  Because that's what friends do, they help each other.

So stay tuned for the next few weeks.  It's sure to be a wild ride.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Got Trust?

Everybody hurts inside over something or someone.  Life is hard (hence the joke " and nobody gets out alive") and its not to hard to understand why every person has things from their past that still hurt them today.  Past loves gone wrong, past falls that leave you skittish about climbing back up on that metaphorical horse, past failed exams that leave you with a sense of failure.  All of these types of events are part of the trials of life and are designed to test your strength.  But God is there, and He wants to be your strength.

I'm just like you.  I have had things in my life that left me scared for quite some time.  But I'm learning to hand my issues over to the Lord so He can help me through them.

The personal issue that helped teach me that God can be my strength was dealing with many emotional issues from a past relationship.  I had dated a boy in high school who had started out very sweet and kind, but as time passed he began to become emotionally abusive towards me.  He tried to control every aspect of my life, told me all these things that were "wrong" with me and how no one else would be willing to "put up with me" and all of my flaws.  This kind of abuse really messes with your head, and its no wonder that I started to believe him after hearing nothing positive about myself for the better part of two years.  When I realized how unhealthy the relationship had become (with the help of my amazing Mom), I knew that I deserved better that the way he was treating me and chose to move on.  But moving on is easier said than done.

Breaking up with my Ex was of course a good decision, but the whole experience left me scared.  Scared of anyone that tried to have a relationship with me, because I was worried they would trap me and I would end up hurt again.  Any little thing that reminded me of my Ex was banished from my life (music, TV shows, video games, anything and everything) because it made me feel like my Ex was still watching me and controlling my life.  It was emotionally taxing to try and deal with all of the trauma from the relationship, and extremely tiring to try and avoid so many little things in life.  I mostly just suppressed the whole situation and pretended everything was fine.  It worked for a few years, but part of me knew that I couldn't keep it up forever.

But then God brought Peter, my current boyfriend, into my life.  It was as if He wanted to show me that enough time had passed and that He wanted me to be happy again.  Peter was so sweet to me, and slowly convinced me that not all men lash out at their girlfriends with words and beat them down.  Instead, he helped build me up and show me that I was good at things and that I was smarter than I thought.  But soon the little things from my past relationship began to creep up and haunt me, the littlest thing would scare me and make me question everything.  Peter pointed it out to me that my issues stemmed from my Ex, and that perhaps I would need God's help in dealing with them.

So I sat down and prayed.  I prayed, I cried, and I just talked to God.  I prayed for Him to be my strength to help deal with the past hurts that were keeping me from enjoying the present.  And once I could cry no more and I was out of words to say, I just sat and listened.  I listened for what the Lord had to say.  "Why?" was the answer He gave me.  The Lord was telling me to ask myself why I was letting some boy I had dated ruin my time with a man who truly cared about me.  To ask why I was letting my past control my present and future.  With that simple, one word question my soul seemed to lighten.  God was telling me that my past did not need to trap me any longer.  God was all the strength I needed to move on and enjoy the life that He had given me.

Ask yourself this: is there something from your past that is holding you back?  If there is, take time to ask God for the strength to overcome it.  We are His children, and He does not want us to suffer.

+ The Lord will fight for you, and you have only to keep still. Ex 14:14