Hannah in Minnesota

Full name: Hannah Graham

Age: 22

State-in-life and Occupation: Wife & New Mother/Aspiring Freelance Writer

Location: Oakdale, MN

Educational background: Graduated from the University of Mary with a Bachelor of Arts in English

Tell us about a moment in your life when your Catholic faith transformed your understanding of yourself, your purpose and others.

One moment that challenged and transformed me because of my Catholic faith was when I found out I was pregnant.  My husband and I had gotten married 4 months earlier and despite having promised to be open to children in my vows, my heart was more closed off to them than I realized.  Although I trusted in the Lord’s will, I had deep fears that a child would keep me from certain pursuits or create difficulties in my marriage- fears that many millennials tend to believe about having children.  The day I took the pregnancy test I went to Mass and the priest gave an entire homily on how the Catholic faith does not ask us to sacrifice our desires but trust that the Lord will either fulfill them or purify them. Over those 9 months, I tried to abandon myself to the Lord’s will and believe that he cared for my heart and it’s desires but when Abel, our son, was born, there were many unknown sacrifices and difficulties my husband and I had to face or adjust to (there’s a lot they don’t tell you about newborns!). However, I quickly found that while motherhood was purifying my heart as an ultimate call to selflessness, the Lord kept my desires in mind- since then, my relationship with my husband has gotten even stronger than before and I have a received more opportunities and a greater drive to pursue my desire to work and write.

What lesson did you learn from that moment?

I learned that the Lord has a funny way of answering our desires.  Something I am very passionate about is reclaiming feminism and marriage in our culture, yet I have struggled with some of the same questions society does: Does having children keep women from having careers? Are children too demanding on marriages?  However, it was by experiencing marriage and motherhood that I was able to ponder and answer these thoughts. The moment I became pregnant the Lord equipped me to witness to our culture that children aren’t limiting but freeing.  They free us of selfishness and ultimately enhance our lives but, more than anything, they can motivate us to follow the Lord’s will. For some women that means staying at home, for others that means working, or maybe a little bit of both. But I particularly want to share this: being life-giving does not have to be life-taking, it simply means trusting that the Lord will fulfill you.

How do you grow in your Catholic faith?

I think I grow most in my Catholic faith by decompressing in adoration.  The world can be so overwhelming- especially when we are stuck between the chaos on our phones and the demands of reality.  It distracts so much from what is going on in our hearts and in our relationship with the Lord.  Praying in a space where the Lord is physically present to me reminds me how important it is to foster an authentic relationship with him.  During this time, it becomes obvious to me that we are meant to give over our battered, bleeding hearts to Him so that they can be healed, loved, and filled.  In adoration I am able to regain the peace of Christ that the world attempts to take away from me.

How does your Catholic faith affect the way you live your day-to-day life?

I think the better question would be: how doesn’t it affect my everyday life?  It feels like everything I do (in the best of ways) is impacted by my faith.  One specific way Catholicism has affected me is in my ability to order my daily life.  Rather than living for my whims and wishes, Catholicism calls us to live virtuously for Christ and for others.  In my own life, this even means ordering the way I love my family- making sure my husband is cared for before I tend to our son. This does not mean, however, a lack of self-care.  I think sometimes as Christians we confuse sacrifice with a lack of caring for ourselves; however, Catholicism has taught me how important it is to love yourself so that you are capable of loving others. For me, this means having a community I can turn to for council and making time for myself to pray. By ordering my life with the tools and teachings the Church gives I have been more capable of living a very full and fruitful life.

 What do you do for fun?

Thrift-shopping, of course! Or, going to a new place/random event with my husband- food truck fair, book sale, concert- you name it.

Three words that describe you — go!

Determined, Intentional, Compassionate 

Fill in the blank:

My morning routine consists of: Getting baby ready, breakfast with my husband, a large cup of coffee, and a phone call to whoever I’m missing most!

I’m currently obsessed with: Gregory Alan Isakov, Solly Baby Wraps, and the Reed of God by Caryll Houselander.

I feel most inspired when: I’ve had a moment of spiritual, intellectual, or emotional clarity.  It gives me realizations and ideas to bounce off of for creative inspiration, particularly writing.

 My favorite part about my life right now is: Seeing my husband become a father. 

The advice I would give to the millennial Catholic woman is: In the words of John Paul II, do not be afraid. Do not be afraid to suffer, cry, grow, rejoice, aspire, and be purified- those experiences will be transform you into Christ and be a witness. Use your particular witness to change people’s hearts, for they desperately need to see Christians who are honest, authentic, and vulnerable.

Corynne StaresinicComment