intimacy

i have written about this in pieces in other places, but i needed to put it in one place.

you always hear people talking about avoiding intimacy and the problems with intimacy. and i have heard it, alot. but i never thought that i dealt with any of that, because i wasn’t dating anyone or married. so that excludes me. LOL. that is actually the definition of an intimacy problem.

but as i have been spending this time preparing for what it would mean and be to be married, i came to the place where i realized that i was going to need to look at intimacy. and figure out how to relate that to God.

so as i looked at God, and intimacy, i could see a pretty clear connection between Jesus and intimacy. He became human. walked the earth. is in the Eucharist. wants to be my friend. got it. not great at it, but at least i can understand it. even though i was still keeping Him at arms distance.

the Holy Spirit, yeah i get that one. we spend most of our time together. i totally understand how He wants to be near and close.

the Father. nope. i never saw the Father wanting to be close. i always saw Him sitting back on His throne, overseeing it all. as if He gave Jesus and the Holy Spirit as a consolation for not wanting to be close with us Himself. (again i say LOL)

so in this last year, i have been spending time with the Father heart of God. and learning about His original design and desire to be close, to be intimate with us. which takes us back to the garden. the way He has always hoped and planned for us to live, with no space in between. looking back and meditating on the way His heart must have broke when He saw the choice they made. and how He instantly set in motion a plan to restore us.

it is all about intimacy!!!!!!

He sent Jesus to bring us home. not even to bring us to a new place, but to bring us home. the place we were always supposed to be. He couldn’t stay away from us. He did every single thing He could to stay as near to us as possible. as near as we would let Him.

in every season, in every trial, in every prayer, i am learning to look for His closeness. His presence. that He paid the highest price to give us. the intertwined, connected dependency He invites me into. where i can’t find where i end and where He begins.

it is crazy how there is so much resistance to intimacy. how scary it can feel. what if people see me. all of me. and that could change everything.

well let me tell you, it does change everything. and it is the best change ever. because news flash, He already did see everything. He has seen it all. and in our worst, most shameful, disgusting, darkest choices and moments, He said

I choose her

and He paid the ticket to have us. He put His money where His mouth was. and it is in those most hurtful places that He wants to move in closer, and heal the wounds.

intimacy with the Father, Son and Holy Spirit is literally life changing. there is nothing like it. and nothing can compare.

 

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rest: okay, maybe i am closer to figuring it out

every time i think i have this rest thing figured out, i am quickly reminded, i have not.

last sunday i was at mass, and i was praying before, telling God that this was the week it was gonna happen. this was the week it would shift, something would break. this is the week i would get a job, i was going to to email everyone i could think of the next day. and you know it is always a good idea when you tell God the plan.

so shortly after that, the Gospel was as followed:

“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”  Matthew 11:28-30

and He said,

“mmmm, nope. you aren’t released from this season yet. you need more rest”

upset, but feeling very covered, i went back to the drawing board. ready to embrace rest this week.

well bethel has been doing their worship school, and you can stream their worship set and keynotes in the morning. so monday i started watching….

un.done.

i was so moved in worship, and was reminded of what it means to make that connection to the Father’s heart. and to praise in the waiting. and to trust Him and choose Him. and the delight He takes in the process. and i was worshiping, i was reminded of His heart for me. which is the place where we really find rest. it was so good, and so much more of what i needed. He is a good Father.

so after that, i watched some of the other past videos that were online, and several Steffany Gretzinger videos. and i was really encouraged by the stories she shared. first of all, she had a very similar season to what i am walking through right now. and that was encouraging. but she was talking about the process, and about the learning. and as i could hear someone else talk about it, i could see so much more clearly how that “down” season was a breeding ground for training and learning and growing and developing. how she would not be able to walk in the fullness of what she has now, without that season. and that was powerful. it helped alot of things click together for me.

this is the promise. this is the season. this is the unexpected. this is where i am supposed to be. this isn’t an in between. there are no in betweens for God, He is always working in everything. He isn’t linear, He hasn’t subscribed to the “american dream” and He isn’t measuring me up to it. He is thrilled with where we are. He died for us to be where we are. this is a season of rest, but more importantly, this is the season He called me into. and i will joyfully be here the whole time. He hasn’t placed more value on the next season. there are important lessons and precious encounters to be had right here, right now.

this seems obvious. but it really flipped me upside down. i am “waiting” for a job, sure. but i am not. i am actively involved in what God is doing in my life, today. this is growing the friendship and the history between us. and i am so thankful for it, because this is actually the answer to so many prayers. even though it doesn’t look like what i expected. it is everything i needed, and more.

the garden

i am actually really surprised that i have not written about this yet. i guess i wanted to keep it a secret. stupid satan. he is always trying to trick us into isolating. anyway. the garden. oh the garden. lets start from the beginning..not that beginning…the beginning of my garden story.

in 2015, in the Catholic Charities food pantry, i was working to stock the pantry and i heard God say “i want you to start a recovery home for young girls” and i said okay!

and then i went to summer camp, and during the Gospel one day, we talked about Mary Magdalene, and how she thought resurrected Jesus was the gardener when she saw Him. and He said,

“I want you to call it The Garden”

and i knew exactly what He meant. so okay, i’ll call it the garden. so after that, i took an interest and liking to things having to do with gardens, because one day i would own one. but i never really told many people about it. i think i felt if i told people, they would steal my idea. classic satan tried to scare me out of talking about my dream by making me fear competition. so this was like my secret promise from the Lord.

and then at the beginning of the year, Kari Jobe released her new album and it was called The Garden. and she talked about the gardens that are talked about in the Bible. and it was a wonderful album. and i love Kari Jobe. and i felt this cool connection to her because we both had these projects about the garden. it also really prompted me to dig back into the scriptures about gardens in the Bible. and i started learning more about the intimacy of God. i was learning about the Father’s original desire for intimacy with us. the Father’s gentle and sweet heart. i was loving it!

so i shared the album with all my friends, and told everyone about it. and everyone loved it. and started talking about the garden. and the garden of eden. and all the sudden, i was not happy about it.

i felt jealous. and protective. and territorial. that was my garden! that was my special place. they needed to stay out of it. and even worse, what if they wanted to call their place the garden now that i had introduced them to this. and just like that, fear, competition, jealousy, pride and inadequacy invaded my garden. i was not happy about it at all. i was standing next to Jesus in my garden, but thinking He was just the gardener. and then He spoke up.

and He reminded me that just because other people liked the garden didn’t take away from my garden with Him. it also didn’t make it any less powerful. and if anything, this was what was so exciting about the garden to me, inviting other people into it. and i did that. that was the whole point!

inviting people into the Father’s original design for intimacy and communion and great love. but what i had originally intended for other people, He used to heal my heart. He met me in the garden, and stayed with me as i figured it all out. His garden is such a place of security, a place were striving is not allowed. a place were mercy flows and streams of living water run throughout. it was always His plan to have us in the Garden.

identity

i would say that this last year/ten months i have learned a lot about identifying.

identifying mental illnesses, coping skills, theories, techniques, friends, foes, words, feelings, thoughts, prayers, spirits. the list goes on and one. but i would say the most important thing i have learned to identify is myself. cheesy, i know. but true.

this year, i have had to learn about myself to learn how to be a good clinician. i have had to learn my own beliefs, values, thoughts, triggers, strengths & weaknesses. and all of those things feel external. even though they exist within me, they feel like something i can quantify and count. but this year and this process pushed me to go further. it pushed me to integrate those external qualities and find a place for them inside myself. to identify myself with those things as a part of who i am, not a hat i can take on and off.

if you ask me what my strengths are, 10/10 i would say “hard-working” first. i have always identified myself as hard-working. what a good quality to have. i have always worked so hard at everything put in front of me. it is one of the things i am most proud of about myself.

but hard working isn’t a real thing.

i mean it is. it is a great quality to have. and work towards. see-there is that word again, work. but hard-working doesn’t translate. because when you’re hard working, you get all the work. from everywhere. from peers, from family, from friends, from supervisors, but mostly, from yourself. there is never a break. because you’re always hustling. always running to the next thing. if there isn’t something happening right now in front of you, then you have to find something to throw yourself into. because that’s who you are. you are hard-working.

and that is how i measured my value. by my output. by how much work i could take in and how much i could produce. notorious for working more than one job at a time. working more than 60-80 hours in a week. taking 18 hours of course work and being involved in 10 organizations. as soon as one thing ended, i had the next thing lined up. because that’s how you produce and show your worth, what you bring to the table.

when i told my counselor this she said “it’s almost like you’re running from yourself. from the truth of who you are.”

which is a very counselor thing to say, and seems like it would be #3 on the list of generic responses to tell your clients. right below #2 “Mmmm, that makes a lot of sense”  and #1 “You’re safe here. ”  but i let it go in one ear and out the other. because i definitely have some bad habits, but work wasn’t one of them. work is what made me worthy. it gave me identity and purpose.

but graduate school really turned that idea on it’s head. because there is no way, let me repeat, no way you can finish this program on your own. you just can’t do it. you have to have support, and supernatural help. seriously. as the program got harder, i realized i actually could not do this work, and was going to need some help. so i leaned in. and He helped me. there were so many nights at 3am, crying because i knew i couldn’t finish the 12 page paper due at 8am, because i was only on page 5. but leaning into Him, i surprisingly found 7 more pages to write. and presentations that i had no idea how to even put together, but after a few days, they were done. and sessions and conversations that i didn’t know how to respond to or how to start, that happened. there was trauma that i couldn’t imagine, and grace to hold that space. it was incredible to watch Him work through me, because i really had nothing to give.

at first, i thought He was doing all of this because i was a hard worker, and had committed and obeyed and now He would do these favors for me. but as i got to know Him more, and see the magnitude of what He was doing-the healing He was bringing, and the knockout papers He was writing-i began to understand it differently.

He was helping me based on my identity. but not the one i thought i had. not because i was a hard worker. but because,

i was His daughter.

what dad doesn’t want to help his daughter with her homework? what dad doesn’t what to go out of his way to make sure his girl isn’t alone? what dad doesn’t want to be able to stay up late with her as she works on her latest project and presentation?

and how sweet is that. His help wasn’t something i earned. there was nothing i could do to earn His help. it wasn’t contingent on getting an A or the highest participation rate. it was freely given. all i had to do was ask. literally ask, and rest. and watch my Dad ace the work. every time.

it was a sweet lesson to let Him replace my identity, as a hard worker, with His as His daughter.

now, in this new season, He has called me to rest. to not work in the traditional sense. but to spend time with Him. remembering. reconnecting. healing. processing. it is really hard because my tendency is to want to work. to jump into a job. i cannot tell you how many times i have been tempted to look for a small part time job here. even while i wait. but i hear Him say over and over,

“will you not take the rest I have provided for you?”

He is asking me to really seal in this new identity thing. He is asking me learn more about myself and about Him, without the false identity of a hard-worker. breaking levels of pride and thoughts of “what will other’s think or see?” it is not easy. it is actually a daily struggle to keep my eyes on Him. but His grace is sufficient. and His peace is sweeter than honey. and His presence makes us whole. 

part eight.two: preparation update

what a perfect title for the season i walked into.

yes. yes. yes. and yes.

the past few months have been every bit of preparation.

i have been learning so much. i have been learning about who i am. i have been learning about my fears. i have been learning to take them to the Father. and to ask Him to point them out when i can’t figure them out myself. i have been learning that i can’t expect what i am not willing to give. i have been learning how to cook. how to maintain a tiny little apartment. i have been learning how to be steadfast in prayer. i have been learning to fight for what i want. i have been learning to pursue health. i have been learning the importance of looking presentable, not for compliments, but for self-respect. i have been learning what it means to have a real routine. i have been learning (major learning still) how to wake up in the morning. i have been learning to accept the realities of who i am, my personality and my likes and dislikes. for instance, i hate taking out the trash, i hate doing dishes, i hate unloading/cleaning my car, i love organizing drawers, i love to paint, i love writing emails, i only wear like three of my fifty pairs of shoes, i hate to make others wait on me, i am pretty flexible with others and their timing, i am not a morning person.

i have been stretched and pulled. it has been really hard. but really good. i have experienced so much providence and grace in the last few months, it’s been crazy. i have been broken to be remade (still in process). i have seen new wounds. i have seen huge areas for growth. one of the biggest things i wanted this summer, and into this fall was a

one of the biggest things i wanted this summer, and into this fall was a husband. lols. this fall i have been seeing and understanding why it is important that i don’t right now. i have been able to follow God’s will without restraint. i have been able to go where He has led. i know that is still possible with a spouse, but it has been easier for me without one. i have so much growing up to do. i just wanted someone to come in and clean me up. that is not how it works. i have to do that cleaning with the Father. and that is a painstaking process. one of the verses i received at the beginning of this season was isaiah 54.

I am about to rebuild you wth stones of turquoise, lay your foundation with sapphires, construct your towers with rubies and your gates with jewels. 

54:11-12

i love that it says about. He is preparing. i am preparing. i feel something big brewing. i feel like i am on the edge of newness and excitement. i am leaning into the preparation and rebuilding.

 

part eight: preparing

this summer i really struggled with the desire to be married. although i know i don’t want to be married right this moment, by heart is longing to be in relationship with someone and love them completely. this summer, a dear friend spoke a truth that has continued to echo in my life. as i was sharing this tough season of waiting, she responded:

“i think you are moving from a season of waiting, to a season of preparation”

#truth. and all of heaven said AAMMEENN. but really. it was almost like from that moment, God said game on. let’s prepare. and that is what i have been doing. and this is a very interesting concept. preparing. i am not making a vision board, or a secret Pinterest wedding board, or a venue binder. i am preparing my hear for the sacrament of marriage. i am preparing my heart to be a wife. it might not be as fun as it sounds.

this season of preparation is painful. it is stretching. the Father is teaching me about love, service, dying to self, faithfulness and above all, Himself. He is pointing out areas of debris that need to be cleaned up before anyone else moves in. He is watering the desire to be married, and is reassuring me that He is working. He keeps showing me snippets of goodness and how much He knows my heart and knows what I need/want. even more than I know.

i am learning how to love God fully. without fear. without reservation. without hesitation. i am learning how to stand up for what i believe in & pursue health. i am learning how to be a wife from the Author of marriage.

sometimes i catch myself thinking “well, i won’t feel this way when i am married” or “one day i’ll get to be happy, when i am married.” FLAG ON THE PLAY. the Father has been pointing out how much of an idol i make marriage. how much i look to that for fulfillment-AND I AM NOT EVEN MARRIED. oops. i think of marriage as the destination. not a gift.

i had this realization the other day. if the goal of marriage is to bring God glory, lead my spouse to holiness and love as Christ loves the church, well then I am in luck. because none of those things have to wait ’til marriage. i can bring God glory, lead others to holiness and love as Christ loves the church single, dating, engaged, married, widowed or other. my vocation does not have to wait for “the day” it becomes active. it is already active and i get to live it today.

this season is not easy. it is definitely a time of calling out. ouch. but His promises are worth it. He is teaching me how to be more like Him. what more could i ask for.

personal relationship.

today I heard a sad story.

Today in one of my classes I heard a classmate talk about how her family converted from “Catholicism to Christian.” First of all, when she said that, my stomach dropped. I felt sick. Catholics are Christian!!! I wanted to stand up and scream. But I let her continue her presentation. Second, she shared the reason her family left the church. She said her mom (1) felt the church couldn’t answer her questions about the Bible and (2) wanted more of a personal relationship with Christ. She shared that her mom did not like feeling like she couldn’t go straight to God, that she needed to go to the priest.

I literally wanted to throw up.

This story made me so sad. Like even typing this my stomach literally hurts and my heart is sad. Then she said through her research she found that this was a common reason people left the Catholic Church. Again, my heart fell. It made me sad because I knew how true and all too real this story was for so many Catholics around the world. And it made me sad that she and her family had been hurt by the church. So as I was thinking about her reasons, I had to agree that her points were valid. It is so easy to feel like there are not answers for things in the Bible. Also, I don’t know the priest she talked with, I don’t know what that experience was like for her. Maybe he didn’t have the answers, maybe their parish wasn’t sure. I don’t know what hurts lie in that conversation.

But the personal relationship part; I can relate there. That is a really valid point and a tough one, too. It can be so hard sometimes to break past the rituals and traditions of Catholicism and into the personal relationship part. Geez. It is so easy to come to church on Sunday, go through the motions of Mass, punch your spiritual time card and head to lunch Luby’s. And as I was thinking about how valid and true her point is, I realized God has such a bigger plan for us. His love is so much bigger than lunch at Luby’s. He gave us the Eucharist.

The Eucharist is the definition of a personal relationship with Christ.

People often ask if we’re saved, if Jesus lives in our hearts. But I can take it a step further. Not only does Jesus live in my heart, but He physically enters my body every time I receive the Eucharist. Me and Jesus are that close. I do not know a deeper intimacy. I do not know a more personal relationship. Christ makes Himself available to us in such a beautiful and personal way. Through this sacrifice, He invites us to come closer. To grow deeper. To get more personal. Through the Eucharist, we have a gateway to know His heart better. We have access to everything He offers us.

I can understand how it is easy to take the Eucharistic Liturgy for granted. I’ve done it. Several times. Honestly, probably several hundred times. Not gonna lie. I can understand how easy it is to miss this. But we have to wake up. We have to take advantage of this opportunity for a personal relationship with Christ. And it is my job, as a Catholic with a personal relationship with Christ, to show others the love I have for Christ and them. And to keep praying. Praying for those people hurt by the church I love so much. And those people who have yet to experience a personal relationship with Jesus. And that have yet to access the fullness of love and grace in the Eucharist.