Sometimes when a variety of discouraging things are happening at once in my life, I simultaneously make happy thoughts a priority yet also lose them or perhaps more accurately lose how happy they make me. I noticed recently that I was doing that with my faith.
For awhile, I just neglected things. I noticed within myself that I was not reading my devotionals, watching YouTube videos, or reading sacred texts like I have in the past. I had a lot of very pressing priorities and my notice just turned into a shame quietly running in the background of my heart. Now and then I would try to read a little something but it just ended up discouraging me because it would remind me of a circumstance when my faith was used to try to manipulate me into doing something against good moral judgment and other related circumstances. I figured if I couldn’t have my happy thought without all the baggage, then forget it for now. I thought I was doing the best that I could but I also felt guilty for putting my faith off like that.
Finally, a profoundly sad series of events happened to me and I just missed my faith so much the baggage disappeared when I drove by a church just before it was time for Mass. I turned into the parking lot and figured I will see what happens. Inside, I was overcome with the beauty of the space and by all of the happy memories of the encouraging moments I have experienced there.
I sit down and this beautiful woman who is like the most incredible personification of grace ever approaches me. I have witnessed a multitude of kind acts by her to others and admire her a great deal, but I generally see her in passing more than I have a friendship with her. She sits next to me and asks me why I have not been to Mass in so long. She seems to be coming from a good place, but I feel like a lecture is coming and inside there is a glimmer of defensiveness preparing to protect me from impending excessive shame for missing yet another mark in my life.
I also highly esteem her so if she convicts me of something terrible I will take it to heart harder than usual. While in a sense she does go on to lecture me by suggesting an improvement I could make, there is a complete lack of shame to her presentation and spirit towards me. She shares with me that when I don’t come to Mass, I am trying to do everything myself instead of coming to Jesus and following His lead. At first I feel like even when my faith is not at its best I always look to Jesus in some manner but then I just drop that and embrace appreciation for her viewpoint and kindness. Whether I have sinned at letting Jesus lead me recently or have done it really well, in this moment her encouragement is informing my perspective and helping me to make good decisions. I am more intentionally trusting Jesus and trusting that I am not alone because He is with me. Even when I can’t figure out where God is or what He is doing, He supports me and is supporting good things to happen for me.
When you can’t figure out how to solve a problem and your attempts to solve it just keep hitting a wall, sometimes there comes a point where there was value just that you noticed the problem and took it to heart. Then you are prepared when a circumstance comes along that gives you an encouragement or an answer that you could have never given to yourself. You’ve got this!
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