Day 100- The Mile I stopped to wash your feet

“Do not wait for leaders; do it alone, person to person.”

St. Teresa of Calcutta

It is a concept that Mother Teresa touted but was little understood by the masses.  Person to person interaction. The act of one. 

Although the culture lifts up Mother Teresa as a demi-god, her heart is often misunderstood. Her lessons are deeper and more profound then simply serving the poor and the dying.

Her heart was for the dignity of the human person. The right to die with love. And the understanding that we are all poor and dying, each of us in our way.

As a young Jewish girl, Mother Teresa’s impact on my life was profound and I invested in her philosophy of servitude and deep love. In her acts of kindness and humility, I found the God of love, and unconsciously my soul opened up when it contemplated service to others.

As a sexual abuse survivor living in the 1990’s, there were no outlets of help. My cries became muted and I had to move on. My body was dead but my soul was not, in fact it was the only thing that was keeping me alive…

It is important to note that our deepest purpose comes from our deepest pain. In God’s economy, he uses it all, every last bit of it. In understanding Mother Teresa’s profound love in service, I found a way to express my pain in a tangible and healthy way, pouring myself out like a libation for others. The more I gave, the more I healed, and I soon found myself at the feet of the least and lost of our society.

How was I able to serve them? That’s easy.

I was one of them.

The difference for me from death to life was the understanding that self-loathing is different than humility. Hating one’s self is contradictory to the very essence of who God is, as I learned later on as a Christian. That we are made in the image and likeness of our Heavenly Father, and God cannot hate himself. 

Therefore, humility was an entirely new concept to me. That I did not have to hate myself to love God. No, quite the opposite was true! I had to love myself in order to love Him and serve Him. It was only after this great epiphany that I was able to heal.

I served whoever I could and made it my life. I started when I was sixteen and never stopped. The ability to begin the healing process without a single word spoken was powerful and set the stage for the plans that God had for my life. It seemed that there was no triumph or tribulation that I couldn’t endure- until I couldn’t.

You see service without the consciousness of God is simply that- service. It is self-reliant and many times full of pride- indulging ourselves in our “good works” to show the world. Service becomes a resume and an ego builder, and not an act of humility before the divine master, even for those of us that have committed our lives to public service.

And so through my transformation of being in Christ, my healing through recovery, and my service back to my sisters who were also victims of sexual abuse, I learned how to wash the feet of my Master.

We often think of this scene with Jesus, the washing of the feet, as us having to go out and wash the feet of the “poor” in the secular sense. If in fact you look at the sentence again, Jesus admonishes his followers to wash “one another’s feet.” In other words, each disciple should wash the feet of the other disciple. He is saying in fact to you, who do you consider your equal? Wash that person’s feet.

That is humility.

This will look different for everyone. As you examine this verse again and think of your colleagues or those you identify most with, the thought of serving those people may be more difficult for you than to go out and feed the homeless. This is exactly what Jesus is talking about. The kind of service that nobody sees. The kind that you wouldn’t tell anyone about.

We are supposed to serve those people that God has brought into our lives, even if some of those people are in our lives temporarily. It could be people you work with, family members, ministries you are involved with, or friends.

If it is easy, you are probably not serving the right group of people, try again. 

“For if you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them.” Luke 6:32

The Hate You Give

I don’t know anything about the movie, just its title. I’ve passed over it several times when debating over which movie would serve as a Friday night escape. But the title of the movie did something to me. It was bold and unapologetic. It was angry and accusatory. I felt convicted in some strange and unatoned for way. Could I be guilty of a sin I didn’t commit?

Today, I meditated on the story of Herod and John the Baptist and read an excellent meditation on it. And that meditation scared me as it spoke of “the power of anger in its most extreme form.” And I reflected on my passions, my hate and any resentment or anger that was “inspiring” my heart or motivation.

Sin creeps so steadily into your soul. Like a silencer. Like a slow dose of poison, unnoticed. The hate you give. In your words, your actions, your rants and apologetics. In the way you deal with people. In the selfish advice you give them. In the missing of moments, in the accusations against our Lord. In the chains we put Him in. In the blasphemies we speak against Him.

It is us. We are the crowd that shouts, “Crucify Him.”

The hate you give

I cried for my soul. For the hurt that I’ve held onto. I have forgiven so many. The perpetrators of my abuse, friends, acquaintances and so many more. There is nobody in my mind’s eye that I hadn’t forgiven. I scanned my mind at a rapid pace, but my heart was beating and swelling and filled with conviction.

The hate you give. (Holy Spirit whispers)

And the sin was there clear as day. I had forgiven but I had harbored. I had done what Jesus had asked me to do but I had resented. I had followed the Word but I had not absorbed the word into my soul. And my actions, my words, my motivations had fallen so short of what the Lord expects from me.

And He was crying from the crucifix, Forgive them all.

Look at me. My eyes, my body, covered in blood and sweat and the wounds of a million lashes. My soul dying from rejection. My heart crushed by those I called my own.

But His heart, His heart swelling with an unfathomable love. And not hate, not hate but an immense love. An impossible love for you and for me. Blood, tears, sweat, dirt, rejection, hate, the hate, and the love coming back from Him. Lord my rejection is killing me. My soul is slowly dying. I don’t want to hold onto it any longer.

Betrayal is cruel and deep. It burns the soul. The person I loved the most. The person that left me. The forgiveness that I gave. The rejection that I received. The bitterness and resentment and anger that followed. The grief that consumed my soul. The why God why. The meditation on Judas. The crying. The repairing of the heart. And all the while God is watching…Take it all my beloved daughter. Grieve it. I love her too. I love her, too.

And there it was, deep and wide. My sin on display. I didn’t want God to love her.

The hate you give

A reading from the holy Gospel according to Matthew 14:1-12

Herod the tetrarch heard of the reputation of Jesus
and said to his servants, “This man is John the Baptist.
He has been raised from the dead;
that is why mighty powers are at work in him.”

Now Herod had arrested John, bound him, and put him in prison
on account of Herodias, the wife of his brother Philip,
for John had said to him,
“It is not lawful for you to have her.”
Although he wanted to kill him, he feared the people,
for they regarded him as a prophet.
But at a birthday celebration for Herod,
the daughter of Herodias performed a dance before the guests
and delighted Herod so much
that he swore to give her whatever she might ask for.
Prompted by her mother, she said,
“Give me here on a platter the head of John the Baptist.”
The king was distressed, 
but because of his oaths and the guests who were present,
he ordered that it be given, and he had John beheaded in the prison.
His head was brought in on a platter and given to the girl,
who took it to her mother.
His disciples came and took away the corpse
and buried him; and they went and told Jesus.

She said Yes

In the 4th installment of “The Wild Goose” Series by Father Dave Pivonka, I was awestruck at the simplicity and complexity of the message all at the same time- Mary’s Fiat. 

Let it be done to me according to thy word

God’s Will is the center of the universe in our lives. But as I have ebbed and flowed and felt the current of the world and its many waves, I have longed for eternal peace. 

At the tender age of three, I began experiencing communion with God. His light, His love and His gentleness. And I’d like to tell you a beautiful story about how that billowed into a cloud of divine exquisiteness, but it did not. Or maybe it did.

My sexual abuse began at the tender age of 4 or 5. So God’s Presence at three became a great force in my life that protected me. I never doubted that God loved me. In fact, I truly believed that I was created to suffer and die for God. It wasn’t until Jesus entered my life that I learned that there was someone else that already did that for me.

In group, we talked about those ways that God became present to us even amidst the abuse. Many women recounted stories of horror that included such beautiful light. God was present in so many ways during these times, and I see now looking back that it was a gift from God that I never doubted Him, His Presence or His love for me, even amidst the suffering. I was not one who left Him. He was always such a beautiful part of me. And even my grandmother, God rest her soul, was sent as the embodiment of the unconditional love that I needed. And the thought that I had in the back of my head that weaved in like a thread was this- Why would God create me to be so intelligent, so loving, so creative only to kill me?  There was this sense I had within me, this war I had with my conscience that He wanted me alive. Yet I thought there was more glory in my death, and of course this was a thought from the evil one.

I am 41 years old and still alive.

Father Pivonka said that on his tombstone, he wanted one thing said about him. 

FATHER DAVE PIVONKA,

HE SAID YES

HE SAID YES

I had to take a breath. 

This is acceptance of the Divine Will. Of the things God allows and those He does not. Of the people and places and things He surrounds us with, and those He takes away. Of the acceptance of it all. Of the fiat.

God’s Holy Will is a reaction. It is not forward movement by us, but by Him. It is  responding to His call, a step closer to His sacred heart. It is an emptying of ourselves over and over and over again.

I think about my tombstone often, and have for many years. But these days, I do not think about it in the context of morbidity, but of light. That I know for certain that I was not destined to die, but to live- in His Will and in His divine light. 

Father, 

Help me to embrace those three Holy words

SHE SAID YES

Watch the Series, The Wild Goose here

 

Submit to the Plan of God

Do not be conquered by evil but conquer evil with good, Romans 12:21

Solitude, silence, scripture– this is how God speaks to us… how we fight against the devil. And while nobody likes talking about the devil, it must be done. Because evil cannot be combated by pretending it doesn’t exist. Evil, as the scripture, says can only be combated with good.

But what and who is good? Well, there is only one who is good. But it is often hard to imitate our good Jesus, our suffering Jesus as we wade our way across the scorching earth. As I picked up my crucifix today and held it tight while praying my rosary, I saw it for what it was- I saw Jesus resting His tired head on me. And my breath withdrew from inside of me.

It was a tender moment that I thought nobody else would ever see. But sometimes those moments are the very ones that you have to share with others. Because letting people into those holy moments is precisely what God wants, as He experiences intimacy with us.

And I thought, what if I gave away all my prayers to God? All my intentions? Prayed only as He instructs me to pray? This is a movement of soul towards Him with a rush of great joy!

I yield my soul to you Lord!

And the rosary became a ladder towards God, let it all happen organically; let it come in, put in what God asks. Every bead closer to God, to sacred ground, to the freedom of my soul.

Jesus did not fight back. The forward movement He attained was walked through good and bad, accepting everything as from the Father. These are invitations from heaven, this is surrender.

Without Jesus the world is dark. He rests His head in my hand because He wants me to know that He is suffering for the world, He wants me to take notice, He wants me to know that I have been created for a higher purpose, that I am not just taking up space…

And as I got down on my knees in thanksgiving and adoration, I noticed the Alpha and God’s words to me, This is just the beginning. 

Better is one day in His house than a thousand elsewhere

Time does not exist for the King of glory…

The Eucharist is the whole picture, most of which we cannot see. But even in seeing a small slice, I am humbled to my knees. For all the life I’ve lived and bad I’ve done is all the more God loves me and chooses me for things greater than myself.

The deep ridges of my hands were all imprinted by the Master, and He drew every one into the cells of my skin.

He has not forgotten you either…

See, upon the palms of my hands I have engraved you… (Isaiah 49:16)

 

 

 

 

Free Fall

Writing is falling. It is exposing. It is trusting God word by word and line by line to say what needs to be said, what He wants to be said.

I have started and destroyed three prior blogs. Such is the journey of a poor human soul who is afraid and distrustful of God. God never asked me to delete them, only to change them, to lean into that change. They would have been nice to look back at and see that leg of my journey. But many saints before me have destroyed their first works- so I consider myself part of a band of rebels, of disobedients who have turned their backs on God.

This morning He asked me to sit down in front of the keyboard and just type. No forethought or plan, just the words He wants. This is hard. In my quest for control, it is hard to let go, hard to let him take over my fingers on keys. But I can feel Him gently lean over me and help me type.

I can feel Him helping me to simply let go…

It is only in trust that God’s Divine Will is revealed and entrusted to us. And although my Plan A never came to fruition, it was never His. Such a hard and cruel lesson. How many still sit up at night pondering what could be when it never was….

God’s Divine Will is free flow, it is where you are, it is a taking over of mind, body and soul, it is words we do not now understand. Sometimes I sit in rooms full of important people and wonder how I got there. Why I push so hard for this world to change and conform to God’s truth. Why I am able to offer love when it hurts the most. 

It is supernatural, it is overwhelming to think that God created me with a distinct purpose. To know Him, to love Him and to serve Him. And my Master like a hidden lover calls to me in  moments that I sink deep and pulls me out of the mire.

I sometimes think I am crazy to chase the divine carrot on a stick. But I step and step over chasms, and crying children and war because I love Him and I can’t let Him go. I walk blind and cannot stop myself from calling out to my lover, Master where are you?

Sometimes He cries back with great and palpable love and sometimes I feel I am drowning with hands up and no rescue. This is the lesson of blind obedience and trust. This is the lesson of unconditional love.

I have given up everything for Him- friends, family, jobs. I am where He wants me in every moment. I fail Him miserably and make Him proud sometimes within the same moment. He loves me either way. I keep my mind and heart focused on the end and my lover’s words- Well done my good and faithful servant.

I am living my best life even through tears and writhing. There is no life or breath outside of Him. The world is an afterthought, though He teaches me how to live in it. He is close even when I am far.

So if you are questioning where He wants you, don’t. Give your soul away to Him. Arms wide and open and accepting.