Surrendering My Expectations for Life and Motherhood

I am coming to realize that being surrendered doesn’t have to mean accepting every possible tragedy in advance. Being surrendered doesn’t have to mean having a nonchalant attitude towards the things you love and care about. I don’t need to stake my identity in my ability to surrender “correctly.” Surrender can simply mean loosening my grip on expectation. Surrender can mean practicing gratitude in the moment.

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Meeting Mercy Along the Camino

Sisters, sometimes I forget that in order to experience the mercy of God, I have to experience some weakness. I fear weakness, and my first instinct when it comes my way is usually to protest: “God, why did you let this happen to me?” (In this case, it was, “God, why did you let me get sick?”) It’s a frustrating question, but I’ve learned that the only answer that ever really satisfies me is this: in my struggle, He shows up. He’s still there. In my weakest moments, in the moments when I experience most intensely the fallen-ness and hardships of life, He works all the more to shower me with His mercy, turning all the trials in my life into grace and beauty.

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Finding the Love of God in the Loss of my Mother

Sisters, through tremendous sorrow, my eyes were opened to the greatest and most selfless true love, shown on the cross of Jesus Christ. My Jesus, who as He was dying was thinking not of Himself, but of others. Of us. Of you. Of me. My Jesus, who loves everyone no matter how blind to Him. I saw that selfless love reflected in my mom, who in her agony kept thinking of others. My mom, who, as she lay dying, was thinking of me

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Choosing Life in the Face of Mental Illness

I still felt clueless about successfully coping with anxiety but I was steadily on the road to recovery. I was still depressed and still suicidal but, as I held my nephew, I realized the many successes of choosing life again and again that had brought me to this moment of meeting him. So I whispered a soft “Thank you” to him because deep down I knew I wanted to live for God and I’d been searching for a meaningful way of doing so.

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Learning to Receive Love, Not Earn it

Our Lord took this hardened heart of mine, this heart that had kept people and Him at a safe arm’s length away, and softened and molded it into a new creation. Day by day, the Lord helped me recognize and receive love. At first in the smallest of things: a friend doing my dishes after a dinner party I hosted, a coworker buying lunch for me, a stranger leaving an encouraging note on my desk.

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Discerning My Career and Letting Go of the Need for Validation

Some days after the conversation with Sr. Hope, though, sitting before Jesus in the Adoration chapel and still mulling over the job offer, I asked a different question: “Lord, what would bring You joy? How do You want me to serve?”

He didn’t answer by saying ,”You’ll bring me joy when you have a Ph.D.”; or, “You’ll delight me when you become a professor.” Instead, He whispered, ever so gently, “You bring me joy when you use the gifts I have given you, right here and now. You delight me already.”

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Uniting the Pain of Endometriosis to the Cross of Christ

In the past, I thought suffering was something to be avoided at all costs. Now I know that when suffering comes, I can offer it as a gift to God on behalf of my brothers and sisters in Christ. While it might not take the pain away, I trust that God uses my humble gift to add seeds of grace and light and peace to a world that desperately needs it. We all suffer in some way, whether it is physically, emotionally, or a combination of both. Sister, I want you to know that God can make your pain beautiful if you let Him.

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What I've Learned from Becoming a Stay-at-Home Mom

Savoring these moments with my children doesn’t mean letting those goals go. It has meant that they take on a different character. The beauty of this is that, although the dreams I had for myself were big and exciting, they were still somehow less than what God is doing with my heart. What he is doing with me now is more wild and untamed than the conventional way I could have imagined my life unfolding. Is this strange to say about a life of domesticity?

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Working Motherhood and the Story God is Writing for Me

But what I do know is that each day of juggle and wonder and struggle and worry is stretching me to the shape of God’s intentions. His plan for me is so much greater than any “ideal” story I tell myself in my head or compare against someone else’s. And though I’m currently struggling with “balancing it all” as a working, Catholic mother, I know in the end my story is pushing me toward my ultimate salvation.

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I Am a Christian Because of Others

The consoling knowledge of the “communion of saints” continues to support me on my journey of grief. It is wonderful to know that those that we love need not be dismissed as “dead and gone.” There is the wonderful Reality that life goes on, beyond the grave. I can hope that my dad is “putting in a good word for me” now, that he is currently experiencing reality more fully than the rest of us in the Church here on earth.

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Reflecting on My Dad’s Early, Grace-Filled Death

The consoling knowledge of the “communion of saints” continues to support me on my journey of grief. It is wonderful to know that those that we love need not be dismissed as “dead and gone.” There is the wonderful Reality that life goes on, beyond the grave. I can hope that my dad is “putting in a good word for me” now, that he is currently experiencing reality more fully than the rest of us in the Church here on earth.

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Radiance, Body Image, and Identity

As I cried in my bathroom, I told God how sick I am of fighting against my body. I told Him how exhausted I am of trying to love myself only to fail. I told Him how I didn’t understand how I was good even in my overweightness. I told Him how frustrated I was that I didn’t feel comfortable dressing in the clothes I wanted to.

I got out of the shower and stared at myself in the mirror once more. Suddenly, God said:
“You are so, so much more than the clothes you wear. There is so much more to you than that.”

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Being a Witness to Christ in India

My mind travels back to those greats who came to preach the Gospel to India, who were as strange as we are if not more. They were new missionaries, and had to learn the language, the way to dress, the food, the customs, and the huge cultural and social barriers They were rejected, accepted and rejected some more. Still, they made Jesus known. They are the reason we have faith.

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Motherhood and the Road to Sainthood

But with every small victory—the occasional moments when I am able to practice gentleness with my 4-year-old, despite how mad I am that he just pushed his little brother down the steps—a change takes place in me. My capacity for gentleness grows. I had no idea how much virtue I lacked in the realms of gentleness, self-control, and patience. Motherhood moved my focus from an external sense of stability and social validation to a much deeper internal need for God’s grace and guidance—inevitably helping me rely more on God’s fatherhood.

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Showing Up, Over and Over Again

But while sitting in front of the Eucharist, the Lord pointed out that I am a human being, not a human doing.

I don’t need to prove myself. The arbitrary limitations I have set are a result of my own pride, not based on the truth of who He is. I have distorted my perception of His affection from loving to loving only if I can be a perfect robot of holy conduct and charity. God’s mercy is not dependent on my actions, but in my identity as His creation.

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All Things New

We sat there, my mom, dad, and I as the man in the white coat leaned against the counter next to alcohol swabs and sterilized medical things. When he said, “Stage III Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer,” I looked to mom as I always did when I didn’t understand the medical jargon.

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