Perhaps we have all felt this way at times and we all long to taste the Resurrection.
Great job, Heather.
I could see it coming from 1000 miles away. The place I could end up if I wasn’t careful. The place so many strong ones have gone before….never to return. When I suddenly found myself questioning the things I thought I was most certain about, honestly, it freaked me out. My daily prayer became, “God, please save me…from myself.”
I’ve been Catholic my whole life, and at 14 had an encounter with God that was so real and deep it forever changed the course of my life. I knew He was real, and out of hundreds of people in the room that night, He saw me, chose me, and came for little old me. Only He knew my story, a shy, broken girl who was paralyzed by fear. He knew how much I needed Him and He rescued me from the dark and brought me into the light.
I’ve been working in lay ministry in the Church for 21 years now and my faith has been a constant. I have seen both tragedies and miracles and when hardships in life came, I was anchored in my trust of the One who could see me and who loved me. So, how did I get here, to the point of questioning almost everything?
I think we all know those voices in our head that are at war against the voice of God and His plan for us. They are like tapes replaying familiar songs full of twisted lies. Things like… “you are never going to be good enough, you will always end up disappointed, you are unloveable, you can’t trust anyone, you are so ugly, you don’t really matter, you will never be safe.” Oh, so familiar.
The problem with the tape is that it sounds so damn true! In moments that you are aching or crying out, the enemy’s whispers lies that are chillingly “true” and the voice of God fades fast. Usually we get so intoxicated with the lie and soon find ourselves a broken mess on the floor, taken out by the enemy again, wondering, “how did I get here???”.
In the midst of this recurring battle, something I’ve realized is that precisely in those moments, when the enemy begins to whisper, I have a choice. I’m back in the garden of Eden with two trees to choose from, life or death. The lies have no power on their own, but if I choose to agree with them, well….then the assault begins.
The enemy always fights dirty and lately he has come on strong, with an unrelenting assault on my heart. The uncanny life events coupled with his violent, persistent lies led me into a place where I was questioning everything from my calling, to being loveable, to wondering if there is even a place for me in my beloved Church. It all seemed so true….and isn’t that the story of humanity? The beloved turning from the Lover to trust the evil one who has no love for her and seeks only to destroy her. I was beginning to agree with the lies and was drowning in doubt. I was losing myself.
I struggled to speak truth to my weary heart. Honestly at times I just couldn’t do it, so like a parent making their child take their medicine, I force fed myself inspiring podcasts, books, and worship music letting them speak the truth over my life that I desperately needed. Over a few months, I prayed, I fumed, I cried, I ranted, I ached, and finally conceded to the fact that I could not do it alone. In my blindness and self reliance, I couldn’t see my desperate need for reinforcements. I have no idea why it still takes me so long to realize my need to reach out to someone who can help.
I called a close priest friend. A dear, trusted priest friend who knows me well and who recalled God’s story over my life, reminded me of truth of who I was and threw down some major spiritual warfare. Finally something broke and my head was lifted out of the choking waves. This well loved psalm came to mind:
He reached down from on high and seized me;
drew me out of the deep waters.
He rescued me from my mighty enemy,
from foes too powerful for me.
They attacked me on my day of distress,
but the Lord was my support.
He set me free in the open;
he rescued me because he loves me.
The breakthrough wasn’t anything earth shattering. But, I could finally breathe again and the screeching static separating God’s voice from my ears lifted. The veil got thin and Christ was suddenly close and whispering for me to come away with Him again.
A few days later on a family trip to Tennessee, I went to the Nashville Dominicans’ motherhouse with my family. Its a beautiful place filled with beautiful, joyful sisters. Within a few minutes of my arrival, my eyes welled up with tears. I could feel it, my nostalgic soul waking. Something sacred was happening, God was coming close again.
That place was so saturated in prayer and peace. The stillness, the smell of stone and incense, the stained glass. I realized how homesick I had been for this. It wasn’t the convent, it was the mysterious passing through the veil from the worldly into the sacred, where the truth, beauty and goodness of God quickly calms the restless heart. I stood breathing it in, remembering how much I have missed the secret place and the aroma of heaven. This is the challenge and the gift, to have this place in my heart that always remains, where the lies have no power and the encounter with God is happening, where His truth is the song over my life. The funny thing is, I could have had it all along, but my choices to agree with the lies and ugly patterns of thought created solitude and separation from the One my heart was so longing to be with. The lies aren’t gone, they are being whispered to me daily, but the difference is that I have clarity to see and agree with the truth instead. It is my choice and I’m choosing to stay close Jesus.
As I’m approaching Holy Week, my prayer for myself and for all of us is that the power of the resurrection would become a deeper reality in all of the dead places in us, the lost ones, the broken ones, the ones filled with lies and that we begin to truly live as children of our faithful and loving Father. Here’s a worship song by one of my favourite worship leaders called “Christ the Rock”. It’sa been a good reminder to me.
Heather lives in Canada with her hunky husband, and raises three beautiful amazing talented children, and a cute pup. She is passionate about ministry, music, family, and good coffee. She loves God, and lives to serve him First. She loves long walks on the beach and has great hair… -joyful mysteries.