Wednesday, November 18, 2015

A Catholic Girl Walks into a Bar

A Catholic girl walks into a bar… Oh wait this is not a joke, it’s my life… Recently I walked into a bar and found the man of my dreams. Kidding, but he was pretty ‘McSteamy’ in essence. All evening we chatted and became familiar in a new friendship blossoming. I remember thinking how fun he was during our conversation considering we had a good bantering act in play, and how I would love to get to know him more. As the night was winding down, He invited me to sleep with him, which was flattering. I was tempted and thought about it for a second, but overall it was a buzz kill because I do take my faith seriously and fully embrace the Church teachings about sexuality so I declined the offer and went home alone.

Yet, I loved being desired by him- I just didn’t want him in the same way.

Teaching chastity has had funny affect on transforming my thoughts. Anytime a man is speaking to me, I am mentally doing a check (like a reflex) to see how Theology of the Body oriented our conversation is. The teachings have just weaved their way into my own thoughts and whole life. I do not enjoy being desired by a man when I can tell it is a very disordered desire towards their own selfish gain. Fortunately, it is very easy for me to spot these types of men so I can at least attempt to avoid temptation. I am not perfect, just experienced enough to know my weaknesses and not afraid to admit my screw ups.  

This would not be a blog of mine if I didn’t quote Saint Pope John Paul II at least once, he teaches the following about love in Theology of the Body:

Love as attraction: recognizing the good of another person; seeing the inner and outer beauty of another person.

Love as desire: wanting a good for yourself; desiring the goodness and happiness.

Love as goodwill: willing (or desiring) the good of another person.

These are all needed in a relationship but, ordered towards God.    

I’ve been reflecting on all of this constantly, as of late. To clarify, no, I was not just swimming around in my own fantasy of lustful thoughts about ‘McSteamy.’ But (as humbly as I can say this) a man’s interest is not foreign to me. Especially this year it seems to be raining men as potential suitors, from the guys who offer a one night stand to the gentlemen who are ready to be married tomorrow and treat me like a princess. If any of ‘said men’ are reading this, I do honestly thank you for your time and what I have learned from you.

 The world is starving for beauty, especially for ALL women to be confident in how authentically beautiful they are. I know my beauty and worth as a woman, and I am not afraid to allow the world to encounter the Lord through me, even if they don’t always see me as anything beyond physically attractive. One of the greatest powers a woman has is just simply ‘being’ and allowing others to take refuge in her. ‘Being’ woman is an art woman can spend our whole life unveiling and thereabout I have become enticing to men. But, I have been wondering why it is that I cannot muster up a hint of romantic affection in response to the men who have been pursuing me.

Something must be wrong with me.

On one fine Tuesday afternoon, I figured it out.

[Scene: in daily Mass. The readings have been proclaimed and all present are awaiting the reception of our Lord in the Eucharist.]

As I sit, or really kneel, in anticipation the tension is building in my heart. My prayer to the Lord bubbles up in my mind, “Beloved, I just want you. I long for you. I crave your intimacy in the restlessness of my soul.”  All of a sudden, in the depth of the sweet silence before receiving him, it made sense. I should want to be with and desire my earthly spouse in the same way, but not to same degree of intensity because even Scripture says only Christ will fulfill all our longings.

Desiring to be with my future spouse is a good thing. If I am not feeling it with a gentleman who asks to be mine, it is also a good and important thing to let him go. How nice would it be if I dated a man for a period of time, then after I tried it for awhile tell them I was never into the relationship but I just wanted to wait and see if my heart would come around? So as nicely as I can muster, I try to explain why the man should move along in life.

Waiting with full peace and joy in the arms of my Beloved, for the one he is preparing for me, is the greatest thing, ever. I am at a place in my life where I can recognize the vocational call to marriage, but I am not hurried to get there. I love my life, the way it is going, and the mystery in the adventure I have yet to explore! My heart is overflowing with a comforting, soothing love from and for the Lord. I am confident he is working on my own heart for the man I will marry. In that knowledge, as my gaze is locked on my Beloved, much of my heart does not want to be disturbed by a man trying to fit into it romantically.  


This does not mean I want to wait forever. I now understand the desire I should have towards a man in relation to my desire for the Eucharist. It makes me excited to anticipate that one day I will be so ‘over the moon’ about a man’s pursuit, which in a way will mirror my constant longing to receive the Lord in the Mass. Honestly, I have no idea how that love will take shape in my life, but that is what I enjoy most about this splendid adventure. I don’t have to worry or stay up all night wishing for prince charming to show up. God knows what is best for me, and I trust him with my heart. I am free to just be in the Lord and live in the truth of his glory each day, each hour, each moment. For he says this:

 “I want you to see in the flesh a picture of your relationship with me.
And to enjoy materially and concretely the everlasting union
Of beauty, perfection and love that I offer you with Myself.
Know that I love you utterly.
For I am God.
Believe it and be satisfied.” - From St Anthony of Padua

I am the Lord’s and he is mine. When the time is right I will meet, then later share a beautiful, crazy, sanctifying marriage with another… To bear the cutest little fruit in kiddos, of course. Till then, I continue to be with my Comforter in the breaking of the bread.

Who would have thought all of that could come from walking into a bar?

Monday, August 24, 2015

Tinder .... The Mystery Ingredient

I am not married so this could be a train wreck. Here goes nothing…


Saint Pope John Paul II is one of my favorite homies! He has inspired me in more ways than one to understand more about sharing the truth, authentic love, chastity, and sex. How could that be the case? A celibate man, who was by all accounts of the world, out of touch with anything relating to marriage… False. He was a genius and had many insightful things to say about the way of intimacy.

I want to bring up a quality that I feel like often gets overlooked, or misunderstood, in terms of relationships: tenderness. Does anyone know how to specifically define that word?
The best I could come up with was the scene from Tangled of Rapunzel’s mom brushing out all of her flowing, long, golden locks. Meaning: tenderness is simply when someone is gentle with another person.That’s it. I, myself, did not even know how limiting that definition is.

Saint Pope John Paul II says, “Tenderness is found in the tendency to make one’s own feelings and mental states of another person.” So, in relationships that are based on love, it is an unsurprising adjustment to move from the self to focus on the other, feeling closely involved with the inner life of the beloved.

The action of tenderness naturally seeks outward expression. In marriage, your spouse essentially becomes a part of you so much that they are another “I” as you are united together in the bond. So you want to communicate this sense of closeness… “I feel the need to let the other “I” know that I take on his/her feelings and his/her state of mind to heart, to make this other human being feel that I am sharing it all, that I am feeling what they feel." Hence we persons show our affection by holding hands, a kiss, drawing someone into our arms etc.
Even with the lens of just how beautiful dating and marriage can be, the devil is at play trying to distort the way the world views both. We all can recognize the ways our culture has fallen into use of the other, even mutual use. I don’t need to go into specifics, yet we need to see the effects of expressing this tenderness too soon.  If tenderness is premature in a relationship, it can stop authentic love from growing.

Once I dated a man in which we thought we had a good friendship foundation, only to escalate quickly towards the physical expressions of tenderness. This actually hurt us more than anything because it became the center of the relationship. Our relationship fizzled out fast and today we no longer talk at all.  We created the illusion of love, a love which in reality does not exist. Our relationship crumbled by the roadblocks we ourselves put up. Often young people think the way I thought, that this physical expression of tenderness will lead to authentic love. It is a clever trap set.

If we are to grant a man or woman the ‘right to tenderness’ (to show or receive it) we must also demand a greater sense of responsibility. AKA marriage, not casual sex in or out of dating relationships. In truth, expressions of tenderness should always be accompanied by an even greater sense of responsibility for the other person.

Circling back around to marriage, tenderness should involve a participation in emotion and commitment to love. This is what brings the couple to feel the closeness of communication. Saint Pope John Paul II expands on his earlier definition of tenderness here saying, “It is the ability to feel with and for the other person.” It creates a feeling of not being alone, a feeling that his/her life is equally the content of another very dear person’s life. 

My stepdad and mom, Richie and Marge, are a great example of this in my life. For the most part, they do everything together, even grocery shopping is done as a team. It is so adorable I have to fight the urge to vomit. In the midst of the challenges and joys of their marriage, I can clearly see the tenderness they express towards one another. Sometimes things are tense, as with any marriage. I can tell when my mom is hurt by something, so too does Richie feel the pain. On the same token, when a joyous occasion burst forth in our lives they both act like IT. IS. THE. BEST. THING. EVER. They are always leading the family as a team. I think the tenderness they cultivate in authentically loving the other is wonderful glue.  

Curious how this show of love, through tenderness, specifically affects women?

Women not only expect this type of tenderness from their husbands, but they actually have a special right to it in marriage. Husbands must enter deeply into the emotional lives of their wives for 3 reasons:

1.      Honestly, a woman’s emotional level is deeper than a man’s so they simply have a greater need for tenderness. It is also helpful to note that men may never understand this need fully, similar to how women may not get why men ‘always think about sex.’ It is not that women need their man to fix everything magically, we know you aren't superman. We just would like you to listen.

2.      Woman naturally gives herself to man. In a sense, a woman feels the transition from single life to married life in an acute way. She might notice or feel the break from her family to enter married life in a deeper way, especially if she has a close-knit family. While there is excitement in a new life with her husband, she might feel the loss of leaving all she has ever known in her family’s way of life to create a new life with her man.

  3.      Women have to go through more in life. Ya know… the important, difficult stuff like pregnancy, childbirth, and possibly leaving a job. Some women feel very alone in these experiences so have a special need for tenderness from their husbands as they go through them.

Men have a unique challenge to be tender with their beloved. You are not doing marriage right if all you do is financially provide for your family, or fix up the house. Men are called to enter deeply into the emotional lives of their wives. You must begin to feel with and for her.

Don’t forget about the art of tenderness between the two of you.
                          As Jesus said, “Love one another as I have loved you.”    

Monday, August 17, 2015

Sexting: Don't Sho Yo 'Nae Nae'

I love Elite Daily’s site and often read up on the voice of “Generation Y.” I, recently, ran across an article filled with questionable info about sexting. In the article they discuss 6 ways sexting can keep your long- term relationship strong. Apparently a major 88% of people have engaged in sexting at least once, but I am not shocked by this. To me, this means a whopping 88% of people have scars from love gone wrong. They are desperate to be accepted, they don’t know the depth of their worth, and they are infinitely loved by the Beloved. 

Honestly, this might be TMI, and mom if you are reading this then just skip down a few paragraphs… I bought into the lie of sexting in the past and am not proud of it, and it took me some time to figure out why it is wrong. I have never been the person to just lie down and take ‘no’ for an answer, so when someone said I can’t sext, I reacted by thinking they don’t know what they are talking about. No one explained the reasons behind how sexting is contrary to the dignity of the human person.  

Sexting is an attractive activity, same as any sin. What I didn’t realize was by engaging in sexting I was pulling someone further away from God. Sexting gives evidence to a lack of self- control for both people involved, and I was forgetting the infinite worth of another, then ultimately letting go of my own dignity in the process. Sounds romantic right?!

Let me explain why the author’s 6 reasons to sext are, in fact, not good.

1.      Sharing secrets builds trust.

They say: “Trusting your guy with the most private things you like to do, in private and with your privates, will strengthen your bond.”

Saint Pope John Paul II talks about the feminine genius saying, “Women are called to become masters of their own mystery.” Women are not called to reveal everything right off the bat, but to unveil themselves to their husband in marriage. This includes a natural physical and emotional progression through a dating relationship on into marriage. Meaning saving sex for marriage requires the purity of our mind and words as well.  

Good communication is key for a marriage to work well. Your physical, emotional, and spiritual trains must all be in a line at the same speed, so to speak. Trusting your guy with these fantasies or desires outside of marriage puts your emotional connection ahead of your physical and spiritual connection. If you do trust him by sharing your desires, the article makes a good point of the risk you face of them sharing these images or sexts with their friends or the public. Do you really want to take that chance with the precious gift of your own sexuality? Sharing these things does not strengthen your bond in a healthy way, but a co-dependent way. As in you need to take take take from the other, instead of recognizing the self-gift that you are worth waiting to discover by that future spouse one day.

 In marriage, you will need to discuss your sexual needs and desires, but not by way of objectifying the person through sexting. The discussion should be done in a loving open conversation about how to best [in a pure way, ordered toward God’s plan] pleasure your spouse through the sexual act. This is a good and normal thing to do periodically in marriage.   

2.      Sexy thoughts build tension (the good kind).

This is true. Yet, in the context of attempting to wait to have sex till marriage and/or living out the married vocation, building this tension outside of immediate foreplay can be a very dangerous thing. When we constantly think sexy thoughts, this means we are constantly building up lustful thoughts. We become enslaved to that desire of sexual pleasure to be met, all the time.  Human persons are not made for slavery, but for true freedom, which comes from self-control obtained by not objectifying another.

Personally, I know saving sex for marriage is difficult, and I have fallen to temptation a few times. Each time, sexy thoughts have helped in my demise. Thinking about sexual things did not build tension in a good way, but in a way that caused an animalistic reaction, a loss of morals to the bad side of passion.

Sometimes we can’t help a sexual thought coming into our brain, and that is normal. The best thing to do is to allow them to be a passing thought, not dwelling in the fantasy or desire. I mentally give the person or sexual feeling back to God, and strive to think of how they are a child of God worthy of a pure love, even in my mind.

3.      Men are fragile and weak.

False. Basically this section is stating that men need women to sext them to gain confidence in the relationship and that the woman is being satisfied sexually. If a man needs this verbal affirmation of sexting from the woman that they are dating or are married to, they have not fully grasped what true authentic manhood is all about, and you should not waste your time on them. They have reduced you solely to what you can do to pleasure them in the relationship, not focusing on how best to love you. Sexting is selfish in nature.

Sex and sexting should not be the meter of confidence in a relationship as successful. Your confidence in the person you are dating or married to should come from how they treat you, how they treat others in their life, and are they going after the Lord’s heart by growing in holiness and virtue.

True men, comfortable in their own masculinity, will not degrade a woman they are interested in perusing or are married to- to a mere moment of bodily pleasure. They know the power of masculinity and use it for the good. They should have a standard of their own in regards to purity and hold their relationships to it.    
4.      Dopamine is addictive.

They said, “While sending a naughty text to someone, you might experience a rush of excitement that can actually improve your chances of bonding! The brain doesn’t differentiate between love and excitement at first, and that confusion can be incredibly sexy.”

Dopamine is the pleasure chemical and yes two people will be more bonded if they sext about their desires, whether in marriage or outside of it … and YES it is confusing. This confusion between the feelings and true authentic love is not a sexy thing, just a stressful thing. We cannot base our love on these feelings from dopamine. Love is more than the feelings; it is about doing what is best for someone.

I think sexting can be addictive. It is one of those things that when you start, it can be difficult to stop. When we rely too much on the feelings, then they fade, what will be left outside of the physical aspect of the relationship? I don’t want to train someone to use me in that way and neither should you.

5.      Fun is king.

Everyone wants to have fun in life, living it to the fullest. Why does society seem to think that being pure has to make you boring, or that the only way to have fun is to be sexual with someone? In case no one told you, you can have fun in a relationship and not be sexual. Remaining pure in your relationships is challenging sure, but that doesn't mean you are automatically boring. It simply allows for more creativity in how you date. Also, chastity gives way for a great foundation of friendship to be formed for when the feelings come and go.

6.      Sexting prevents cheating!

REALLY? When you are far away from the BF/GF and you are building that tension, then you see someone else sexually attractive while away, what do you think might happen? That tension will want release and if someone else offers, it would be tricky to say no. Sexting can lead to cheating.  

With that being said, I don’t think it is wise to build that tension through sexting and not be able to act on it. Reasons for that are hopefully clear, in terms of outside of marriage, but even in marriage it is not the best scenario. This sexual tension naturally comes about through foreplay so expressing the desire in a sext without immediately being able to act on it can just leave us with lustful thoughts about our spouse aka sin.

Sexting holds us back from trying to live a life following Christ. I know how appealing it can be, but I also know the joy and freedom that comes from purity of thoughts and words. Trust in the plan that God has for you, that you are loved and worth the pure abundant love of another.   

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Paradise Lost?

              In Theology of the Body, a teaching of Pope Saint John Paul II, we look to the Garden of Eden to show us truths about the human person.  Often, when talking about the Garden of Eden, we talk about how great it was, with all of the innocence and peace, and how all of that is lost forever because of sin. This was how I understood the story of the Garden of Eden for a long time, that we had one chance for paradise and we blew it. We would always be controlled by sin which meant that I would always be stuck in a whirlpool of sin and unhappiness. It is true that mankind was expelled from the Garden because of sin and, through our disobedience, we broke our relationship with God.  This would be a really awful story, if this were the end.  It’s not. Christ came into the world and died on the cross to redeem us.
            Redemption in Christ offers us something better than the Garden. Here, I would like to differentiate between restoration and redemption. Restoration would be to go back to the original state of being in the Garden. Redemption involves a saving transformation. God has made it new. God is all-knowing. He knew we were going to sin when He created us with freedom and so made a plan to give us something better than the Garden.
This is not just about living in a heavenly paradise. It’s also about our daily life. He gave us Christ who instituted the sacraments.  The grace that we receive in the sacraments gives us the power to live out the call of the Kingdom of God. “What is the Kingdom of God?” you ask.   Jesus gives us the answer to this question in the Gospel of Luke. "The coming of the kingdom of God cannot be observed, and no one will announce, 'Look, here it is,' or, 'There it is.' For behold, the kingdom of God is among you" (Lk. 17:20b-21). Every day, we have the opportunity to live out innocence and peace through grace. We can choose love instead of use, generosity instead of greed, and humility instead of pride. It is when we choose goodness that we make the Kingdom of God present in the world. At times, this seems insurmountable.  You do not have to look far to see the pain and hurt caused by sin, but by grace, we are set free from sin. Slowly but surely, God changes our hearts to love Him better. He has changed me. I once thought that the battle against sin was hopeless and that even trying to overcome sin was pointless. I felt helpless. God would not let me keep believing this lie and showed me that He had given me the power, through the sacraments, to choose freedom instead of sin. Here’s the thing about grace, it’s stronger than sin.

This relates back to Theology of the Body because in our relationships, we can feel like we will never be able to love the other person as we should. Sometimes, chastity seems too difficult to master but we have to remember it is grace that enables us to love our significant other.  There’s a story of several bishops in the early Christian Church, who saw a prostitute passing by. All but one bishop turned away as she walked by so that they would not lust after her. The one bishop looked at the woman intently with love. As a result of the love that this bishop showed her, the prostitute turned her life around and became a saint, St. Pelagia. The difference between the two responses, both noble, is that God ultimately wants us to be able to look at everyone the way that Adam looked at Eve in the Garden. The freedom that the one bishop had is offered to all of us. When we have this freedom, it translates into our relationships. In freedom, we can truly love. This is the essence of the Garden of Eden: freedom and love. These are not lost to us at all but through Christ, available to us right now. Let’s not forget this truth.
Guest blogger: Camilla MacKenzie

Friday, June 12, 2015

The Lies of Love

In 7th grade I dated a guy for 1 day and then we broke up. Why? He was not performing the bells and whistles of proving his love to me. I was not “feeling” him, therefore, I ended it. BOOM!  No mercy here. I had this idea of how I wanted my man to express the grandeur of love to me through our dating relationship and I would not settle for anything less.   

When teaching in class, we define love for the students as, doing what is best for the other person. You would be amazed by how many of them think that love, to be true, must have feelings. Those warm and fuzzy feeling are simply infatuation but they are neither good nor bad. These infatuating feelings can sometimes lead to love.

I can assure you, it is possible to be infatuated with someone and not do what is loving for them. Think about celebrities… I am one of the world’s newest Swifty fans. I LOVE HER 1989 ALBUM! If I saw Taylor Swift out walking down the street you bet I would express my infatuation for her talent. But it would not be very loving, if I tackled her causing her to get hurt. The loving thing to do would be to shake her hand and say thank you, right? We have all heard those stories of celebrity fan sightings and restraining orders happening as a result of them going overboard. So, yes it is possible to be infatuated with another person and not do what is loving for them.

Can you authentically love another person and not be infatuated with them? It might be surprising to hear, but yes this is possible as well. If anyone has ever been irritated with their parents or annoyed with their siblings then they can recognize this truth. My brother and sister are 8 years younger than me. Yep, I am a third-wheel to their twin bond for life. Haha. They are my favorite people and I love them very much (I do what is best for them). When we were living under the same roof, I would get home from school and walk into my room to witness my sister trying on all of my clothing and my brother eating all of my snacks. You better believe I kicked them out of my room so fast. I did not have warm and fuzzy feelings for them. It wasn’t like I walked into my room and saw them destroying my life and said, “Oh brother of mine, thank you for eating all of my snacks.” RIGHT? No one does that, we are human and sometimes we get upset. Therefore, you can see how we can love another person without being infatuated with them.

Infatuation comes in waves throughout a relationship. It is not always going to be present. We cannot base our love on the feelings. Love is a choice and it involves and action. We choose to do what is best in our relationships.

This leads me to my original dilemma. I grew up for a large part of my life thinking that love HAD to have these feelings, but I was wrong. It has taken me a few years to change my mind-set on love because our society drills into our brains that love is about the feelings. I mean we see it on every TV show, in movies, throughout the books we read, and even in our daily conversations. The scene is always the guy and the girl in a place that somehow it is perpetually raining. The guy has made some silly mistake and now he is begging for her love saying, “Tell me Susie, do you really love me, do you have feelings for me?”  Now can you begin to understand how our over sexualized culture is affecting our thoughts by confusing authentic love for infatuation? But, honestly, most of those scenes are just referring to infatuation.

As I have grown up past 7th grade, my thoughts on love and what kind of man I would like to marry have shifted. I no longer want to be with the man who I have those infatuated feelings for, who will complete me. I want to be with the man who inspires me, challenges me to be better, and the man who will truly love me by doing what is best for me. I read an article recently on the dating problems of our generation today, which you can check out here. It struck me in more ways than one but I want to share a few thoughts.

 True marriage and relationships are ok if they have elements of infatuation but the goal would be to date and marry someone who has a patient openness to loving a flawed human being.  In this kind of openness to love, we allow ourselves the freedom that infatuation-based relationships do not. This is the freedom to be ourselves, and to not worry if ‘who we naturally are’ will be a deal breaker.  Even though our society basically pukes infatuation everywhere, that is not what will bring about a deep lasting marriage. Marriage is going to be tough. It is not about personal gratification, but about growth and goodness between the two of you.   

The author shares a story about a couple’s choice to get married and it might surprise you.

“They gazed into one another’s eyes as they told me their love story, and it struck me how incredibly simple it all was. They had dated for a long time before they broke up—unsure of each other’s imperfections and afraid to commit to someone who wasn’t the right match—and then finally got back together again. But they didn’t get back together because they came to a resolution regarding one another’s flaws or because the stars were finally aligned. They got back together and ultimately decided to marry because they didn’t know anyone else they would rather struggle though marriage with—and they both wanted marriage.”

 This is now my goal in my relationships, especially the ones that are romantic. I would like to love someone, who I can fully recognize how they are a flawed human being. At the same time not let that thwart our affection. Our own weaknesses can build up the relationship to make it stronger. So that, in the end, we still strive as a team to do what is best for each other in leading the other to heaven.

Do you love those in your life authentically or are you simply letting infatuation be the base of your relationships?  

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Heartbreak Warfare

“You are not the one.”

My boyfriend held me in his arms, looked deep into my eyes and said that to me. WHAT? This was the beginning of THE END for us. Unfortunately, we did not have a clean break up. It was filled with a lot of tears and the spiral of emotions that accompany a broken heart.  We intentionally wounded one another and ended all communication. We both ended up losing a friend.

We need help when the emotional aftermath of post break-up overtakes our lives. I want to share with you The Break-Up Guide, which was derived by my househould sisters. We have come up with some ways to help cope with the initial post break-up stage.  This consists of the 3 day period right after someone has broken your heart. This also applies if you are the one who has done the heart-breaking.

 (We will look at this from a female perspective.)

During these 3 days you are allowed to wallow in the pain from your broken heart, the dream of the life you envisioned getting ripped from you, and the storm cloud that continually looms above.

These days may include ugly tears, chocolate and junk food, remembering all the cutsie Facebook/Instagram photos, obsessively analyzing all of your old texts to see where exactly things went wrong, not showering for days because you don’t care enough to function, and avoiding the real world because you do not want to see your ex anytime soon (or ever again.)

On the 4th post break-up day you must begin to get your life in order:
 a.       Shower.
 b.      Don’t stay in your pj’s all day- Get dressed in the morning, it will make you feel a little better. 
c.       Apply make-up, looking great will help you feel great.
d.      Stop posting melancholy Coldplay song lyrics onto social media. (We all know who you are talking about and that you are hurting from him.)
e.       Clean up your room/apartment because you know you have an overflow of tissues and crummy pizza boxes by the trash can.
f.        Don’t obsess and stalk him on social media.
g.       Go to class/work.
h.      Resume your normal favorite activities.
i.        Don’t resort to self- destructive behavior such as excess drinking, smoking, drugs, picking up men for a one-night stand, or self- harm. 
j.        Communicate with others who have been wondering why you dropped off the face of the earth.
k.      Delete your ex’s old texting conversations so that you no longer live in the past dream that is not going to come true. 
l.        Possibly delete your ex’s number entirely to help with him not being a part of your life anymore.
m.    Spend time in prayer surrendering your pain to God and allowing Him to comfort you.
n.      Remember who you are. You are an independent person who doesn’t need another person to know they are valued and worthy of true love.

Here are some additional thoughts to keep in mind during this time:

1.      Having good girlfriends to support you helps. Vent to the person(s) who you know well, love, and trust to just be a good listener. It is ok to be selfish with your time right now, as your heart is healing. Try to avoid spending time with people who might drain you and bring you down instead of building you up. At this time you are going through your whole relationship ‘play by play’ so you will repeat the story multiple times. Even if you don’t realize it now, you will ‘word vomit’ a lot and will most likely be very annoying, so pick your friend who will listen wisely.

2.     Recognize that everyone goes through this stage of the raw post break-up differently. Ever heard that song about how “the heart does not break even?” It is true.  So be patient if you know someone who is in this stage and simply be there for them.

3.      While the hard and fast rule is 3 days… you may adjust the number of wallowing days according to the length of the relationship. For example: 1 month dating you only require 1 day for wallowing. Or 2 years dating, it is ok to take a week or so to be consumed with the sadness. The important thing is to just give yourself a cut off day when you will get out of bed, dry your tears, and begin to move on with your life.

4.      Just because you have gone through this process does not mean you will never think of your ex again, but it is a good idea to get to a place of thanksgiving for what you have learned when he crosses your mind. This way you do not dwell on him, just move on in your thoughts. 

These are the things I have adopted in my life when it comes to break-ups; they have been very effective! It may seem difficult to put these suggestions into practice. However, sometimes when we don’t take extra steps for our hearts to heal in the aftermath of a break-up we could end up creating a larger wound. I know every break-up has its unique wounds, but trust the Lord to guide you in healing your heart fully in His time.

Happy healing!

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Too Scandalous for Hollywood

You could categorize me as: the girl with Dad wounds. This has affected a lot more of my life then I usually care to express. I've never been very emotional; there wasn't time for that when I was a kid. I had to be the strong one, the adult at a very young age. I needed to take care of my siblings when our mom was gone for work and dad decided to let addiction lead him down a destructive path.

Place of prayer and Adoration
Portiuncula Replica at
 Franciscan University of Steubenville 
When I was a freshman in college my parents were finalizing the long awaited divorce and one night I received some heartbreaking news. I felt like no one would understand. I didn't know what to do. After my tears ducts stopped leaking I literally ran (in my pj’s) to the chapel for prayer and Adoration. I broke, in the soothing presence of the Lord.

One moment I was eye to eye with the Monstrance, the next I was resting in the peace of the Spirit with Jesus. I was looking around, no longer in the chapel, but on a sandy beach. The Lord gives us the desires of our hearts, and I was just beginning to realize this truth, for I love the beach. I’m basically a sunshine child.

As I looked around this beach scene I was startled by beauty. The fall seasonal, crisp, salty wind (my favorite season) was blowing the waves in to crest perfectly, and the greenest grass I had ever seen blew just so. I still had no idea why Jesus wanted to show me this place, so I looked for some sign of a lesson I could learn or take comfort in.

After a moment of seeking, I saw a man and rushed towards him because my heart knew him before I could fully make out who he was, my Beloved, Jesus. Overwhelmingly, joy burst through my soul, by being in the physical presence of the Lord. He just held me in his arms for what felt like forever. We walked along and explored the beach, as the waves sang a lullaby of peace, putting to rest all my worries, helping me to trust in the Lord who was leading me.

I shared my experience with a priest friend of mine because, yes, I know, this seemed crazy. I promise you it is real, so stay with me. He just smiled and said, “Ah! You two have a place.” What a delight it was to go to my place with Jesus and talk. Not every prayer time would lead me to rest in the Spirit and go to this place, but sometimes I was given the gift of being with him there.

Fast forward a few months… I went on a retreat to grow in becoming the Beloved’s through a deeper understanding of womanhood. Sitting in Adoration, my place with Jesus kept coming to mind. I had to figure out why. As we walked beyond the beach to an archway that seemed to have no end, outlined by dozens of trees, I asked Jesus. On one look I could tell these trees had been there for a very long time. They had a shade of soft, blush pink leaves that covered the whole sky forming a tunnel of beauty like I had never seen. My favorite color is pink.

As I starred in awe at these trees, Jesus got down on one knee, took my hand into his own, and looked right at me. He said, “Chloe, I love you. I am yours and you are mine… Will you let me be enough for you?” This was his proposal to me as my Beloved, of course I said yes! Then we danced. I stink at dancing, yet love to be a part of the intimacy of a dance; somehow Jesus was the perfect teacher.

In the midst of dancing he whispered, “Chloe, this place, our place- the fall air, the beach with the peaceful waves, the wonderful aged pink leaf trees- where you can always find my presence, is the beauty of your soul. I cried as I realized how the Lord really knows my heart better than I know myself and how he took the time to romance me exactly how I needed to be healed of past wounds.

If it is true that our hearts and soul are made for God, then we starve for beauty.
I heard in a homily once that we are not defined by our own wounds but by the wounds of Christ. This stuck with me as a lot of times in my past, out of anger; I let my wounds define me, but no longer. Just to remind myself of this I even sign my letters/emails with “In His Wounds, Chloe.” I am the Lord’s and I will remain hidden, taking comfort in his wounds rather being crushed by the weight of my own. He makes me whole, new, and beautiful. The things that have broken my heart are actually the ways God shows my unique beauty.

We are all made in His image and likeness, yet our own sin twists and distorts our view of ourselves and others making it difficult to see one another truly in the light of Christ.  But this is something we so deeply need to recall in the presence of each human person.

Know that God is revealing himself more and more to you through your daily lives and how wonderfully perfect he is guiding you to discover yourself anew. You are, right now, just as he desires you to be. Hold onto the truth that he has not created a flaw in you, he never leaves you.

People ask me all the time about why I work in the ministry field. My experience lit a fire in me to help others notice just how lovely the Lord sees them. Honestly, I am so drawn to the beauty of the broken souls, through sin, we are all broken souls. At the same time I stand in awe of the healing hand of the Lord in our lives. I love the broken, in that I strive to see Jesus in each of you, and to respond in kind. If I can share and show the loving mercy of God to one person I encounter on this earth; that is when I am doing his will. We all have to keep a stubborn, tenacious faith in the mercy of God; which if we let ourselves, we often see through others around us.

Our calling as authentic men and women is to be beautiful from our souls, reflect the Lord, so that others may know him.

P.S. A common question I have received upon telling this particular story of my faith journey is: are you going to enter the religious life? No, I have discerned, with the Lord, that I am called to the vocation of marriage!