Lisa Slobodzian: Senior Psychology Major and Campus Minister at the Catholic University of America
I met Lisa last year when she was ministering to freshman and she became a source of light in my life. I was immediately drawn to her huge smile and soft eyes and incredibly welcoming heart. She is just so loveable and more than that she is so good at loving. She got me through roommate troubles, panic attacks, struggles in my faith, and so much more. And the best part is… this year she is my student minister.
I’ve been wanting to feature her for a while and I couldn’t think of a better person to start this school year’s Friday Features than her. She has been so real and vulnerable with me and it has allowed so many good and fruitful conversations to stem from that and I am so grateful for that.Being a campus minister has totally transformed her. It has stretched her to her limits and lead her deeper into her faith, and in doing so, has allowed her to embrace her humanness and live knowing that she is good enough. “Campus ministry has forced me to be less perfectionistic. In recognizing that I can’t do it all and I’m never going to be able to do it all but the things that I can do are enough and will always be enough.”
Last year I suffered from what many would call a ‘Savoir complex.’ I didn’t realize it but I wanted to save everyone and convert the whole school by myself and it was only when sitting down to talk to her that she called it out in me. I remember so distinctly she said, “Lizzy, look at your hands… do you have the stigmata? You are not Jesus Lizzy, you are not meant to be a savior. Let Jesus do that.” Wow, did that wake me up. I think it can be something we all fall victim to, this desire to save the world, and yet Lisa recognizes that we don’t have to save the world… It’s already been saved and we are just here to help out with the little battles. She recognized her humanness and has helped so many women do the same. She struggles with the same fear that just about every female struggles with today, the fear of not being good enough, of not having enough to give, and has worked hard every day to overcome that. “Sometimes this fear can put me in a paralyzed state where I question, ‘If I can’t give what’s perfect, what’s the best, then why give it all.’ So, that’s been a huge thing in my faith life is to give anyway and recognize that it will always be enough.” And that is the truth, what we have, who we are, is enough and will always be enough and to recognize that to speak out that truth, and live in the freedom of that fear is what we as women are called to do.
Her femininity has been so beautiful to witness, and not only that but to see how it has changed and grown since knowing her. I’ve seen her both as a single woman and as a woman in a relationship and it has been so inspiring to see how, no matter what her relationship status is, she has remained the same and her complete and total love of God has too. “In a relationship, you need that inner knowledge that you are good and enough on your own. I used to hate that statement, ‘You need to love yourself before you love anybody else’ but being in a relationship I have found it is so true because you are always going to seek that from another person if you don’t know that for yourself.” More important than anything else, “You need to recognize your goodness before you can give it to anybody else.”I think the best thing to hear is that Lisa went through the same high school phases that the rest of us went through, “I definitely went through fazes in high school where I didn’t dress modestly. In my junior year of high school to freshman year of college, I started spending more time in prayer with God and it was in that prayer that I realized that my body is His and that dressing immodestly doesn’t reflect who I really was.” I think what was even more powerful was how she explained how dressing modestly was protecting herself, “If I wear something that is more immodest or ‘revealing’ it’s almost as if I’m revealing parts of my soul. When I wear something that is more reserved it’s like I’m protecting that inner part of me that is meant only for God.” I think so often we are told to protect ourselves and then never told why but this was such a good explanation for me. My soul is something that belongs to God and it is my job to protect it.
When asking Lisa for any final words to say to all of you reading this she simply said, “Women, be gentle with yourself. We are easily our hardest critics. If you wouldn’t say what you’re thinking to someone else, then don’t say that to yourself. Be compassionate to yourself as you would to another human being.” As women, we were created to receive love and in return give life. Allow that to happen, accept the love you are given, and live as women of God.