Honesty.

It has taken me weeks months to write this post.

I’ve said from the beginning that I did not intend for this blog to turn into a virtual diary chronicling every mundane detail of my daily life. This is still the case; I value my privacy (hence the pen name), and I don’t really think you guys would find my day-to-day activities all that interesting. (Secretary by day, theology student by night – talk about life on the edge!) However, in my efforts to avoid becoming “too personal,” I’m afraid I haven’t been personal enough… and I think I’ve finally figured out why.

I wanted this blog to be positive and encouraging – “the witness of a vocation joyfully lived.” I wanted to show that discerning a vocation (i.e. falling in love with Christ) can be a beautiful, joy-filled journey – and I can still say wholeheartedly that it’s been that way for me! The problem is, lately I haven’t been feeling very joy-filled. In fact, I haven’t really been feeling “filled” with anything, except maybe bitterness, or confusion, or fear.

I’ve been having a rough go of it for quite a while now, and somewhere along the way I let myself become afraid that if I were honest about how things were going, I’d somehow end up being dishonest by misrepresenting my vocation and making it seem miserable and unappealing.

Thank goodness I have friends who are such beautiful examples of authenticity. (Kolbe, Flannery, Joan, Rita, Harry, Philomena – you guys are irreplaceable!) They have been incredibly kind to me during these difficult moments, and their unconditional acceptance of me, faults and all, has shown me that my fear of “ruining everything” with my honesty is, like most fears, silly and unfounded. Authenticity will always enhance our Christian witness, not detract from it! So, from here on out, I’ll be trying to speak (er, write) from a more authentic place.

It’s been a rough year, guys. These past few months in particular have been really, really hard, and as the date of my consecration (still set for next June) gets closer and closer, greater and greater difficulties have cropped up in just about every area of my life  – prayer, work, health, relationships. I still haven’t quite figured out how much of what’s been going on is on the natural (physical/psychological) level, and how much of it might be spiritual, but I do know that it’s got to be some combination of the two.

On the one hand, I can see that my perfectionistic tendencies, chock-full schedule and poor stress-management skills have been wreaking havoc on my health, leaving me burned-out and more than a little irritable. Fr. Savio has always tried to remind me that “exhaustion is the enemy of the soul,” and of course, he’s right. When you’re completely exhausted, just about any activity – prayer, work, time spent with friends, basically any activity other than sleeping – loses its appeal.

On the other hand, I’m in the last stretch of my formation before I’m consecrated to the Lord in a solemn, holy rite that will make me entirely His forever, and I can’t imagine that the enemy is very happy about that. He’s probably been doing his utmost to orchestrate this latest barrage of temptations as a last-ditch effort to derail my plans and get me to start doubting the Lord’s love for me. (For the record, it hasn’t worked! The wonderful people in my life have continually thwarted his efforts by going out of their way to love me in the midst of my failures and my messiness. If they can be so kind, how much more must the Lord [still] love me?)

I also know that I’ve still got tons of growing left to do before Christ makes me His bride, so it’s certainly possible that God is allowing this dryness/darkness in order to show me just how dependent I am upon Him for… well, everything.

“Nothing is more fatal in the spiritual life than the thought that we can do anything good without our Lord, and our self-love is so subtle, that unconsciously we attribute to ourselves the little good that we do, which spoils everything. Our Lord, out of love, leaves us sometimes to our wicked nature, and then we are frightened in seeing all the evil and the possibilities of evil hidden in us. It is not that we are worse than before, but that our Lord let us see the depths of evil which grace had covered. During these moments, we should act in union with God’s designs, by humbling ourselves profoundly and throwing ourselves into God’s arms.”

– Bl. Columba Marmion

Either way you look at it, it would only make sense for there to be some sort of spiritual element to these trials, underneath whatever’s been happening mentally and (perhaps as a consequence) physically.

I can’t go into much more detail than this – that would take a whole series of posts, and besides, I’m still getting used to this authenticity thing: no more fooling myself into thinking I can be perfect, no more pretending “everything’s fine” when it isn’t, no more trying to “take care of things” myself without asking for help. I’ve talked things over with my spiritual director and a few trusted friends, so there’s no need to worry (in case you’re the anxious type, like me!) about me trying to handle everything on my own. I know I’m in good hands, but I could definitely use some extra prayers.

Till next time, oremus pro invicem*–

Charity

 

* Let us pray for one another.
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7 Comments

Filed under Prayer Requests, Quotes, Reflections

7 responses to “Honesty.

  1. Kolbe

    Thank you for such an authentic post on authenticity! What you propose about the need for authenticity is profound for Our Lord did not come for the well but for the sick and in order to receive the Healing Grace of the Divine Physician we must accept how sick we really are. Moreover, I think the best definition of authenticity for a Catholic Christian is to be the individual that God created you to be, to be as the Divine Author (root of the word authentic) has written you, so to speak, not as He has written another. The difficulty I have found in accepting this is accepting the weaknesses and limits (not referring to sin and concupiscence only) written into my identity which are, therefore, inescapable and compel me to turn outward in desperate hope as soon as they are acknowledged. When a fallen will encounters a Hope which does not disappoint this means danger for it means authentic conversion. The most fundamental conversion is that of humility which seems to me to be nothing short of true humanity.

    To my eyes the saints of our Church live this truth continually for it seems that (perhaps contrary to contemporary notions of holiness) the holier they became the more human (or accepting of the limits of their humanity) they became; in fact, they seem to rejoice in their frail humanity! (Indeed, Our Lady was without sin yet we venerate her profound humility, a humility rooted in her flawless humanity, her spotless frailty.)

    In today’s world this seems foolish yet that is also what the world calls the Cross. Yet, with a God whose boundless Mercy seeks to Father us in this final exodus to our true home is it not the most perfect wisdom to become as a little child? I think this is one reason why we must carry our cross in order to follow the Crucified, namely, that we might become like little children to so wonderful a Father. Perhaps this is one reason why Sacred Scripture excludes most of Our Savior’s childhood years: to show us that carrying the cross and becoming as a little child is of the same movement for Our King is more childlike in His Passion than ever in His earthly Life; He was never more vulnerable than when He walked the Via Dolorosa and came to rest in the crib of the Cross.

    So, I kind of pieced this together as I wrote. What are your thoughts Charity?

    P.S. Your own commitment toward authentic frailty (if I may so call it) inspires me to do the same. Thank you my sister.

    • Oh, that bit about the “crib of the Cross” is BEAUTIFUL. I’m going to need to take some time to mull that over.

      Regarding the saints as examples of authenticity – I’ve already got another post on that topic “incubating” in my mind. I’m learning that the mysterious power behind the compelling witness of the saints is that each of them was able to become the most complete, most unique version of him- or herself simply by walking the road of humility and always, always seeking to do God’s will.

      Once I asked a wise, elderly sister to tell me how to not become so discouraged (as I often seem to do) in my pursuit of holiness. She said: “The secret lies in not wearing yourself out by trying to become another St. Thérèse, or another St. Francis, or another Mother Teresa. The Lord already has His St. Thérèse; He doesn’t need another Thérèse! What He does need is for you to become the saint that only YOU can be.”

  2. “Authenticity will always enhance our Christian witness, not detract from it! So, from here on out, I’ll be trying to speak (er, write) from a more authentic place.” Amen to that!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 🙂 I’m so happy that you came to that conclusion! The Lord has been teaching me the same thing and I am just now starting to share more honestly without thinking that I will make Holy Mother Church look bad if I ‘m not perfect! I will keep you in my prayers and pray a Rosary for you dear Charity!!!

  3. Pingback: A Lesson from King David | By Love Alone

  4. “The problem is, lately I haven’t been feeling very joy-filled. In fact, I haven’t really been feeling “filled” with anything, except maybe bitterness, or confusion, or fear.”

    Just remember that joy isn’t really an emotion or feeling: it’s the effect of charity. It’s not something that is so much as felt as it is a choice that is made and the effect of a way of life that is lived.

    You’re growing. Keep it up.

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