Sunday, April 12, 2015

Confessions of a Catholic College Student

My dear readers,

I am not ok.  
I am weak.
I am imperfect.
And, I can't fix it.

I guess you could say I'm failing.  Because despite the above average GPA, the volunteering, the blog, (which has surpassed the 1,300 pageview milestone!)  and the smiles for everyone that are so natural they've become my default,  I have realized that Westley from The Princess Bride was right: "Life is pain, Highness.  Anyone who says differently is selling something."  Well...maybe that's the melancholic in me talking, but there are days when I agree with the Man in Black wholeheartedly.  There are so many people around me hurting, and as hard as try, I am less than enough to heal them.  Maybe that's because I haven't healed myself or fixed my own messes:  the cowardice, the impatience, the laziness...and to top it all off, the perfectionism. The one that makes all the other ones worse.  The one that tortures me because I don't have my life together and am almost clueless about where it's going. 

It's not exactly a secret that I'm Catholic.  I have chosen a faith that gives me a clear standard to live up to, and I constantly fall short of it.  I'm also the "big sister,"  the role model not only for my own siblings but for a lot of the younger girls at my church.  I'm the straight A student.  And I'm the friend that everyone at my college calls "innocent."  No pressure at all. 


I don't feel innocent.  I know that  I'm more like them than they realize.  We're all just looking for enough truth and purpose to back up our chaotic lives, and we're making plenty of mistakes along the way.  If anything, I am the least innocent because I have been shown a way that is good, and I throw it away deliberately.  I don't have the excuse of uncertainty that they do.  They are sincerely still searching and asking questions.  I have knowledge of good and evil, and yet I've fallen for the oldest trick in the book: the one where the serpent whispers "You will be like God,"  and I take matters into my own hands to make it happen.  And I do this all under the pretense of holiness, of earning my place in God's heart.  I try so very hard to look like I'm exemplary.  Now it's time for me to be vulnerable.  I confess to Almighty God and to you, my brothers and sisters, that I have sinned.  I have failed.  And I have beat myself up about it, too. 

See, I thought I was supposed to form myself into this indestructible force to be reckoned with.  I thought that's what Christianity was about.  I thought claiming to belong to God meant that I had to strive for an ideal, when really it's about striving to encounter a person. I thought I was supposed to be like God, but I'm actually just supposed to be united to God.  I thought I had to prove to the world that my faith was effective by becoming perfect, or close to it.

Well, turns out St. Paul is a killjoy and burst my bubble: "But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me."  (2 Corinthians 12:9)

....Yeah.  That's right.  Put that in your pipe and smoke it, Sarah. (Cause St.  Paul would totally just be sassy with me like that.)  

For me or for anyone else to see the power of God, I have to accept that I am human.  I am not innocent.  I struggle all the time.  I experience pain just like everyone else, and I have to face my doubts and my temptations.  I am not sufficient for myself; that's His grace's job.  My weakness makes room for Him to be strong.  My humanity is an opportunity for me to meet God who I need so desperately to help deal with all this crazy life stuff.  The times I mess up are the times He gets to prove that He is merciful.  And above all, He loves me whether I've earned it or not.  

I still can't fix things.  I still don't really understand why my friends have to endure suffering, why I have to suffer, too.  I still get the urge to attempt to be god-like on my own instead of tapping into the love and power of the real deal.  He has to comfort me in the middle of the night when I realize I don't know what to do and I'm trying to be a false light to myself or to my friends.  Lucky for me, He knows how to suffer, how to feel abandoned, how to wish your burden would be taken away, and how to fix things when they look like Hell.  He knows how to win when all I do is fail. 

 I guess this is ultimately a love letter.  I love everyone who is not perfect.  I love the failures.  I love the ones who try to be innocent and the ones who have lost hope and given up on it.  I love brokenness, because it reminds me of the Healer...and Him I love most of all.  I love that what I see as a flaw, something to be condemned, He sees as a door, a place where we are vulnerable enough for Him to come in and love us with all His heart.  You don't have to be afraid to admit to the world you're not good enough.  He loves you anyway, and so do I.

~Sarah M. 

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