For every woman who is stuck between two worlds, two cultures, understand that the Catholic Church is universal. There should never be a division between your identities. We accept all, we love all, and we are all one body in Christ.
(I) encourage you to not be so quick to categorize the crosses in your life as just suffering you’ll need to buckle up and deal with. Allow yourself the space in your spiritual imagination to envision how something really hard in your life could actually be a wildly massive gift.
Like you, I was given a skin colour. But, unlike many of my sisters, or if you can relate, like many of my sisters, my skin colour either became a determinant for who I was perceived to be, or my skin colour was not considered valuable enough to even be acknowledged. My skin colour either gave people a right to accept their own preconceived ideas about me or it was just dismissed all together.
Surrender trying to live up to everyone’s expectations of you as a woman, daughter, friend, co-worker, wife, mother and Christian. Ask God what He wants from you, what He expects of you in any given situation and that will be enough.
I want to share a snippet of this journey of overcoming self-doubt and embracing my role as an artist with you. I also want to encourage other women to recognize in themselves their creative capacity, and explore how spiritual and physical motherhood reflect the role of the Creator in the deepest way.
“I just don’t think I’ll ever be happy.” Saying these words out loud to my spiritual director changed my life, and I want to reach out to you with some hope if you’ve ever found yourself in a similar situation.
My eating disorder took hold of my life. I was so drained and numb, like a walking zombie. I was just trying to get by, and I only prayed when I was laying in bed with no energy to move. I had been to a few on-campus counselors while I was in college, who tried to tell me to “just eat” or just believe that my body was a temple of the Holy Spirit. That was the last thing I could believe.
As I stared transfixed at what I instantly understood to be a symbol for the Holy Trinity, I realized that long before I had even been aware of Him, I had unwittingly branded myself as His; I belong to God and He calls me beautiful.
I find myself overwhelmed by the many endeavors I want to pursue, the vastness of improvement that I can still make in so many areas of my life, and the restlessness of my longing in general to find lasting and satisfying happiness in my current walk of life.
It seems that no matter how much we try, loving ourselves and the physical bodies God gave us can be a never ending cycle of good days and bad days. Everywhere we look, we see other women to whom we compare ourselves, always finding something wrong with what we have and something beautiful with what they have. I should know. I was born with one breast.
Last November before my 20th birthday, I planned on killing myself. I felt I was worth nothing and had no purpose. I didn’t know what to do anymore. I felt as if I were a robot. I was working 80 hours a week and sleeping the rest. I was so lost that I dug myself into a deep well of depression.
At a young age, sporting soccer shorts and a mullet, all I cared about was climbing the next tree and wondering when the new issue of LEGO magazine would arrive at my door. I asked for hot wheels for Christmas and role-played as the boy character for all our childhood adventures. I looked around me, saw my friends and sisters and knew I didn’t fit the mold. My (little) heart ached and wondered, “why am I so different?”, “am I good?”
I had just clicked submit when I saw it: “Catohlic.” I felt like someone had slipped an ice cube down my back. I had misspelled the word Catholic on an application to a graduate program. Not just any graduate program, one to study theology.
The story of Jesus raising Jarius’ daughter from the dead is one I come back to again and again. …How often I’ve been in the shoes of these angry, grieving family members, and how often I’ve been this little girl, pronounced dead to the world.
I cannot remember a time before anxiety. When I was young, everything had to be just right, and I always had to be in control. As I grew older, the prevailing worry was homework - had I done it perfectly? What if I’d missed something? And then more diabolical fears crept in - and I do mean diabolical in the truest sense of the word. I spent years wrestling with crushing, exhausting, terrifying guilt in my spiritual life.
The intricate design of the female reproductive system whether healthy or unhealthy evoked a sense of sheer awe and splendor. Ladies, we are fearfully and wonderfully made created in the beautiful image and likeness of God.
We must not forget that we are body and soul, and our bodies are a gift from God that we must not squander. It would be like if a friend gave you a beautiful plant for your birthday but you neglected it and let it wither.
“Catholic women, I must pose an uncomfortable question: Have you ever endured a pain so great that it emptied you of your faith? If your honest answer is yes, you are not alone. In fact, this letter is being written especially with you in mind."
“It was an ordinary moment on a mundane day when I realized that the darkness was back. I’d run into a friend who works at my doctor’s office, and as she checked me out, she asked how I was doing. I wanted to simply say, ‘Fine,’ but I couldn’t keep the tears from filling my eyes….”
“Near the end of the display, I became aware that the fireworks suddenly weren’t quite matching up with the popping sounds. I brushed it off at first, but as the finale came to a close, the popping sounds did not. It was as if everyone in the crowd realized at the same exact moment that the popping noise was, in fact, gunfire.”
"At 16-years-old, I was raped by a boy who decided that he could determine my worth. For two and a half years, I plunged into a deep darkness. ...I was ashamed and I remember wondering how the Lord could possibly love me like this…”
For as long as I can remember, I’ve wanted to be less Asian. Less foreign. Less other. So, I hid. I hid any trace of culture. My senior year of high school, I realized that I hid and ignored my ethnicity so well, that I forgot I was even intentionally hiding it. It became a way of life.