Learning to Give Myself Grace
About three years ago I remember sitting in mass on a particular Sunday and hearing a homily that changed my entire outlook. At this time in my life I was in a cycle of partying, un-fulfillment, anxiety and depression. I was grasping onto so many people and things that I knew would never bring me true happiness, but continued to cling to them despite that knowledge. I was going through the motions of attending mass every Sunday (I later reaped graces from this) ... but still, I was only going out of obligation. It felt like I "had to.” some call that "Catholic guilt." (I was someone who thought this too!)
It was on that night three years ago that one special priest touched my heart so deeply with his words that I wrote them down and have frequently reflected on them since. He said:
"It was through my sins that I learned the most and I wouldn't take them back... because it was through them that I realized I wasn't happy... and I wasn't the person that I wanted to be." -Father B, 1/26/14
His statement struck me as such a merciful outlook. Prior to then I believed the Catholic Church to be so rigid and unforgiving. Because of this belief I had been living in fear. I felt oppressed and was ashamed of who I seemed to have become in contrast to what the Catholic Church expected me to be. I felt inadequate. Can anyone relate? I knew the decisions I should be making, but continued to choose the alternative. All out of the fear that I couldn't be better and was already written off as "a failure" in so many people's eyes and in the eyes of the Church.
I could not have been more wrong!
I will be forever grateful to Father B for helping me to see what the Catholic Church stands for and what it actually means to be a woman of faith. It was his loving and open heart that touched mine and led me on a journey I could not have ever imagined.
The beauty of our faith is that where mistakes abound, grace and forgiveness flow evermore.
I must echo to all of you what Father B. shared with us that night.
It was truly through my mistakes that I was able to find my true self. I found my passion in mission work and in nursing, both of which still push me everyday to be more outwardly focused, more loving and more forgiving and accepting of others. In turn, they have helped me to love, forgive and accept myself.
If you can take one thing away from my mistakes let it be this:
Never let this world break you. Do not let the modern-day perception of the Church define your understanding. Try to seek out the truth. We aren't defined by our mistakes, but more-so by the little decisions we make each day, that bring us closer to eternal happiness, and closer to being a person capable of love, grace and growth. What more could we aspire to be?
Be brave "saints" (as Father B. would say) the world needs you.