Learning How to Be Myself - A Letter from Christine
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I am writing to you who feel, or have ever felt, unworthy, unloved, misunderstood, alone, or adrift.
At nineteen I was already burnt out on life. I was burnt out on guys, friends, family, school, and myself. Growing up I was a quirky girl, a bookworm, and a dreamer. I rarely felt understood even by my own family. I was lonely and insecure. I became more and more resentful of the limitations and obstacles in my life over time. I was often angry and nearly always frustrated.
Growing up in a thriving music and entertainment city, immorality and vices surrounded me. As a teenager, I slid easily into that darkness and my brokenness became a magnet for users and abusers. I am not proud of the life I lived during that time. But my decisions and the things that happened to me are a significant part of who I am. God works all things together for our good even today. Nothing was or is wasted.
It was at this time that I quite miraculously made several pilgrimages to a Marian shrine with my mom. In that place, I found my heart, my life, my perspective completely transformed. Through Our Lady, I found my way back into the heart of the Church, into the Sacraments. So at nineteen I spent four months living in Bosnia serving the Church and caring for pilgrims from around the world. I met my first friends in Faith there. Through their influence, I discovered what it means to truly love one another in Christ and be companions on the road to holiness. That was 27 years ago.
One of the most important influences for me in these 27 years has been Pope Saint John Paul II. His words, manner, and heart for the young inspired (and still inspires) me greatly. When he addressed the young Church he did so with the confidence that we, I, could be everything God was calling me to be. And he gave me, for the first time in my life, the tools to become that kind of woman.
JPII’s approach toward the young enabled me to see that I could strive toward holiness and understanding of the Church’s teachings without losing myself. I could be me with all my quirks, gifts, challenges, and passions. I didn’t need to be a cookie-cutter of someone else’s vision of what a young Catholic woman should be like. I could just be “Christine”.
Following my conversion, my dreams were transformed. I still loved reading, writing, music, theater, and so on. But I now viewed them through the lens of Faith. Through God’s grace, I discovered a passion for evangelization and formation. I love ministering to others and creating events where ministry can happen.
In 27 years I have been a chastity speaker, youth minister, journalist, event planner, marriage ministry coordinator, youth leadership trainer, catechist, pro-life activist, theology student, Counter-Reformation aficionado, devotee of the saints, a homeschooling mom and now a “traditional” school mom, and a wife to my very best friend. My faith has never once held me back but has always, always, always been the thing that has given me wings. There is freedom, joy, beauty, and fulfillment in this wild life lived in the heart of the Church. And there is dignity. I am more myself and more aware of the blessedness of life than ever before. The Lord has surrounded me with beautiful, unique, unrepeatable women who make up my tribe of soul sisters to be with me on this journey. What a blessing that my own daughter is one of them!
Thanks be to God that you and I are sisters and pilgrims on this journey toward Heaven! I thank God for you, for what He is doing in you, and I pray that you will always love Him and love His Church - for in this is peace.
In Jesus & Mary, Christine
Get to know Christine
Tell us a little bit about yourself!
I am passionate about living a life of genuine apostolate and communion with the Church. Saint John Paul II encouraged us to live the Faith vibrantly in every walk of life: in the marketplace, the classroom, the home, the arts, in sports. This is what motivates me. It is what I think of when I pray, "Thy kingdom come." Imagine culture transformed by the Truth and people living in the authentic freedom of the Gospel. Just to be clear: I am a gritty gal. I've been known to swear. I like whiskey. But this desire to fully live in the Church is what inspires me to get out of bed every day; to continue ministering to teens; and to help create events where life-transforming ministry can happen. And above all else, it is what I desire for my own children. Thanks be to God He is working this out in them too. Even with the often dark and broken moments of my past, the Lord in His goodness has allowed me to participate in His work again and again. It is one of the most extraordinary graces of my life.
What do the first two hours of your day look like?
On an ideal day I get up an hour before everyone else. I make coffee, pray, then shower before helping get myself and five other people out the door to work and/or four different schools in four different clean uniforms. We gather right before setting out to say a morning offering and head out the door.
On a “normal” day one or more of my kids wakes me up (no matter how early the alarm is set) and I hit the ground running. “I can’t find my…” “Mom, did you fill out my form?” “Where’s my socks?” “Have you eaten breakfast?” “Mom, I forgot to tell you that I have such and such after school?” “Can you put money in my meal account?” “No. Birthday cake isn’t breakfast.” “Son, when was the last time you had a shower?” Once bodies are dressed and lunches made we’re out the door and morning prayers (and sometimes apologies) are offered during car lines. I’ve learned to pray and talk to God pretty much anywhere. Think “Tevye” from Fiddler on the Roof. Jesus is with me no matter where I go. Thank God!
Describe your favorite part of your current occupation.
My favorite part of my current occupation is the people I work with. I work at an Benedictine Abbey and seminary so I am surrounded by a truly marvelous community made up of monks, clergy, seminarians, religious, and laity.
Describe one fear or personal challenge that keeps you up at night.
I don’t have the worry gene so thankfully I don’t lose a lot of sleep. But, if I am fretting about anything it is usually about my kids. Are they happy? Are these blue days just growing pains or a bigger problem? Are we forming them well? Am I screwing them up?
Tell us about the first time you experienced a strong sense of belonging in the Catholic Church.
The first time I felt a deep connection or solidarity with the Church was in Medjugorje. How can you not feel awed and inspired by thousands of people from around the world seeking a deeper relationship with Jesus and His Mother all at the same time and in the same place?
Tell us about a woman you look up to.
There are MANY women that have touched my life and many saints to whom I have a devotion. But Saint Margaret Clitherow is my favorite saint. Along with Our Lady, I spend a lot of time talking to her (and about her). She was brave, resilient, determined, kind, audacious, generous, and embodies what I think of when I consider someone being “magnanimous”. During the Reformation in England Saint Margaret organized secret masses even if she couldn’t attend herself. And she suffered a terrible death rather than asking her friends, servants, and loved ones to face the difficulty of testifying against her and becoming complicit in her martyrdom. She’s awesome!
Favorite character ever. Go!
Elizabeth Bennet from Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice