For those of you who don’t know, this weekend I had the honor of going to Lisieux, France, to visit the hometown and burial place of St. Therese of the Child Jesus. It was the most beautiful weekend and honestly I think I need to spend more time thinking and reflecting on this amazing saint before I can write about this whole experience and what she has done for me.
What I wanted to share about this weekend was the way that God revealed a hole in my heart that I didn’t even know existed and how – with much resistance on my side and with a lot of help from St. Therese – He was able to glorify that.
I spent most of my weekend alone wandering around Paris, which was amazing because I had complete independence over everything that I did. For those of you who know me know… this is my ideal weekend. I’ve always been an introvert. I highly value my alone time and love any moment I can get, especially since being in Rome does not lend itself to much of it. And yet, with all of this being true, why did I feel so angsty and alone on this trip? I saw all these beautiful Parisian couples, way too much PDA, and even groups of girlfriends that brought out insecurities in my heart that I didn’t understand.
Why was this all coming out now? I didn’t realize until I was back with everyone in Rome, but this weekend was the first extended alone time that I have had essentially since getting to Rome. Back at school or at home I can often go full days once a week where I dedicate to alone time or prayer and reflection and yet here in Rome alone time is all but impossible. This weekend, all I had were my own thoughts to keep me company – and they were angsty ones.
How much time do you spend in silence? How often when you are doing homework or cleaning your room that you throw on Netflix or Spotify to fill the space. Silence is a scary thing to sit in sometimes. So many thoughts come rushing to my head and to be honest I don’t like them all. They show fears and insecurities and sometimes even sinful thoughts so it’s easy to feel like silence is the problem and we just can’t allow ourselves to sit in it. But that is the exact opposite of what God wants.
God jumped on this opportunity of silence this weekend. He brought it all out within my heart. The loneliness, my desire to be seen and liked, and so much more. He brought it out and made me process through it all while wandering the streets of Paris and at first it freaked me the heck out. There were so many things I thought I was over or that I was ‘too holy’ to struggle with at this point in my faith but Jesus shined a light on it all. He showed me the gap in my heart that I had been trying to fill with a dream relationship, clothing, and even friendships.
I hated feeling so helpless to fix anything but then yesterdays gospel reading came to mind, “with men it is impossible but not with God; for all things are possible with God” (Mk 10:27). This passage forced me to take a step back and realize that my faith isn’t falling apart because of my sinful nature. No, actually the exact opposite. God is doing the unraveling because He is working to create something more beautiful than I could ever imagine. It was in this moment of prayer that I realized – yes I did have a gap in my heart, a gap that grows bigger with every sin, but God does not intend to fill that gap but it is through this hole in my heart that His glory and mercy will shine through.
In all my research of St. Therese one thing that blew my mind was the way that she viewed suffering. I couldn’t understand how a woman who was my age could welcome suffering so readily. St. Therese once said, “Do not imagine that love can be found without suffering, for we carry with us our human nature; and yet, what a source of merit it is!” Do not imagine that love can be found without suffering… wow that’s a hard truth to comprehend and yet this weekend I think I got a very small taste of it. Our humanness and woundedness is not something to be ashamed of. We all have sins that we habitually fall into, we all of insecurities and fears that feel impossible to overcome. But to stop there and enter into a pity party is when the devil wins. God wants us to look at the impossible nature of our woundedness and realize that it may be impossible for us to overcome but nothing is impossible for Him. And more than that – it is through this suffering that God shows His healing power and mercy. We fear suffering so so much in our world today and try to avoid it at any cost and yet we, I, have lost sight of how it is through suffering that God works the most within our hearts. Its through suffering that we grow in virtue and fortitude in our relationship with Christ.
It is through this suffering that God shows His healing power and mercy.
Whatever you are going through right now I’m begging you – Do not drown it out with social media or Netflix or even by spending a lot of time with people. Sit in silence and don’t leave it until the scary stuff has passed and you start seeing God’s glory shining through. It’s hard to start and can be terrifying in the moment, feeling like it won’t ever end. But, don’t stop at the pity party. Don’t let the devil win. Push through, even if it takes a while, and wait to see God’s glory and healing shine through.