Vulnerability

When I was leaving my “old life” for my reversion to the church I was really afraid that I would not have any friends. It was the night before my 22nd birthday, I had been away from the church for just about four years and my life was not going the way I had planned. That night I had dinner with a seminarian (now priest) friend, and while I will never forget this conversation, the way I felt leaving the park that night is what stands out the most.

I was fearful of the quiet.

I had created surface level friendships, you know, those friendships where you meet to drink or to go dancing and yet never really talk of anything important. I was empty. My heart was lonely and craving stability. I was living with my grandmother, barely had a relationship with my parents, my boyfriend and I were just not in a good place and I was partying a lot. Going out with the people who I was convinced meant so much to me meant that I would not have to go home and face a life I did not love. My friend could sense that I was empty and knew I needed to end these friendships but most importantly to walk away from them and back to the church.

I was fearful of being all by myself, because I didn’t like the person who I had become.

But my desire to be happy outweighed my fear. So I took that first step and the next day, on my birthday, I returned to the church.

Finally, all these years later I realized I had it all wrong. Yes, I have been hurt, and broken but not because I was vulnerable.. I closed my heart off to love when I stopped being vulnerable.

While I won’t get into all of those examples (seriously… we would be here for days) I want you to know what I have learned from all of this…

Vulnerability is not a dirty word... and God has always been there for me, I just needed to learn how to be vulnerable to receive His grace. In doing so, he has given me the greatest gift…real true friendships. Like the kind where you can pray together, go on a 4 hour road trip barely turning on the music because you just enjoy each others company, and nights where you laugh so hard your tummy hurts.

These friendships have become the holiest, most important relationships in my life. I am NEVER lonely… but the greatest is that I know I am loved. One of my soul sisters takes time out of her busy schedule to meet once a week to pray together. And my best friend has entered into a year long commitment with me to help me get my relationship with Christ back on track. Both of them have taken the time out of their lives, to help me with mine.. because I was vulnerable and shared my struggle. My heart is happy when I think of the people who choose to walk with me in my hurt, and have stood by me when I push them away waiting to hug me and remind me I am loved.

We are not alone. And when we share our struggles we release the power they hold over us. Don’t get me wrong, I am not advocating for you to go out and let everyone know your deepest darkest secrets.

I still struggle with the love people give me, and the realization that I matter.

To give people the chance to love me is hard. Seriously, ask my friends.. or try to give me a compliment, my response 100% of the time is an eye roll…There have been days where my heart feels like it has been ripped out and stepped on. I am sometimes mean to those I love the most, and I am REALLY good at pushing everyone away when they try to get close. BUT there are moments like today, when God reminds us of the things we asked for so long ago. I sat in my friends car and prayed a rosary and I couldn’t help but start laughing (but like I really laughed) because how silly am I? The Lord is always going to provide I just need to stop doubting.

I am advocating for freedom from fear and for you to give up control. Allow the Lord into the most vulnerable moments of your life and know you are loved.

Easy right? NO…8 years later, I am single, with only a handful of people in my life. I struggle with sharing my thoughts and my feelings. Learning who loves me and who is just keeps me around to use me is tough. I’ve got a new phone number and I’ve cut a ton of people out and kept the true quality relationships that God has blessed me with…and while I am far from perfect I am neither lonely, alone, nor afraid. I’ve learned to embrace the quiet and to be a bit more vulnerable each day.

This road has not been easy, but take it one day at a time.

Love & Prayers,

Brittany

P.S. I’m back!

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A Prayer of the Heart

Last weekend I went up to the Sisters of Life retreat house Villa Maria Guadalupe in Stamford Connecticut for a few days of silence with the Lord.

As we know from my last post the last few weeks have been a little bit rough. In order to get my head on straight for Advent a weekend in silence was needed. I spent the entire weekend reading and praying with the sisters.

I am definitely still unpacking emotionally from the beautiful weekend but I thought I would share with you some of the great pictures I took.

 

 

My main focus of the weekend was Flannery O’Connor’s prayer journal entry..

I am afraid of pain and I suppose that is what we have to have to get grace. Give me the courage to stand up to the pain to get the grace, oh Lord.

It’s all about that grace.

Until next time, Happy Advent!

Brittany

2016 the Year of Disappointment and Life Lessons

Hi Friends!

It has been such a long time since I have been able to sit down and chat with you all. 2016 has been quite a busy year, lets take some time to recap shall we? And as we know I LOVE lists I thought we could do a fun top 10-er of the life lessons I learned this year (so far)

Sometimes you work really hard and do everything right and still lose.

This year started a little rough. A friend from the church decided to run for a local office here in the village I live in. I was hired originally to just run his website, eventually I became a pivotal part of his campaign team by stepping up into the campaign manager role. We worked day and night campaigning via social media, going door to door, sending out mailings, attending events, I worked so hard I ended up in the hospital. Even though we worked for months for this we still lost and it was heartbreaking.

Sometimes you think you are doing the right thing but you were totally wrong.

I work really hard everyday.. this year I have learned more about office politics than I have ever cared to know. Someday’s common sense loses. Also sometimes even though you do the right thing and you have done nothing wrong you have to learn how to say I’m sorry. Sometimes it’s just what people need to hear.

When you think you are adulting, you need your parents the most. 

I like to think I am a very independent person, however this year I’ve needed my mom and dad more than ever. Between two weeks in the hospital and feeling sick for more than 6 months this year just knowing I wasn’t all by myself was a huge comfort. If anything this year has taught me how much I love my parents, how much I need them, and how amazing they really are. I can’t imagine how scary it is to see you’re kid in the hospital let alone 2 of your kids this year and a third who is a police office (who also had a major concussion this year) my parents are amazing.

Friendships end, and that can break your heart worse than a breakup.

I’ve lost a lot of friends this year, some were my decision, some weren’t. All of them hurt, all of them taught me a little about myself and who i want to be in the future.

You can’t be unhealthy for years and then try to be healthy for a week and wonder what the problem is. 

RE: Hospital Stays. Working on it.

Saying no will let people down, you still have to do it.

I say yes to EVERYTHING anyone asks of me because I am afraid to let people down. I’ve stopped doing this and it has improved my quality of life DRASTICALLY.

Sometimes prayer is boring and feels useless.

Mother Teresa’s sense of spiritual dryness is real.. it’s a thing and the struggle is real. I don’t know where I stand at all in my faith, I am a little lost and I don’t have a spiritual director right now, but I am going on a retreat next week with the Sisters of Life I’m hoping this will bring a renewed sense of faith I miss being close to Jesus and the church.

Being a Jets fan is always a disappointment.

There is no explanation needed. 3-6.

Gossip doesn’t end in high school. 

I have been talked about in the last month by people who are supposed to be my friends WAY more than that time when I “destroyed” Life Teen. I would love for people to mind their own business, but I know it’s never going to happen so I’m SLOWLY learning to not let it bother me. Not everyone has to like you.

Don’t be vulnerable. Trust is a trap. 

Those who force you to be vulnerable will use it against you. I’m saddened by this. But I no longer trust.

Every year the Jets do poorly my father calls it a rebuilding year. 2016 was my rebuilding year, I didn’t do so great at adulting, breathing, or relationships HOWEVER I learned more than I could ever imagine.

Here is to hope, and that 2017 will bring more joy than 2016.

I’ll update again after the retreat.

Pray for me my friends as I pray for you!!

Britt

World Youth Day Homily

There is something about World Youth Day that renews my faith, every time it comes around it is like the Olympics for young Catholics to be with the Pope and MILLIONS of other young people.

Although I didn’t get to go again this year, I feel as though I am with my friends in spirit who are there.

The Pope as usual gave a fantastic homily and I wanted to share with you the text. Soon I will steal my pal’s pictures and show you some of my favorites!!

 

Homily of His Holiness Pope Francis
Mass for World Youth Day
Krakow, Campus Misericordiae, 31 July 2016

Dear young people, you have come to Krakow to meet Jesus. Today’s Gospel speaks to us of just such a meeting between Jesus and a man named Zacchaeus, in Jericho (cf. Lk 19:1-10). There Jesus does not simply preach or greet people; as the Evangelist tells us, he passed through the city (v. 1).  In other words, Jesus wants to draw near to us personally, to accompany our journey to its end, so that his life and our life can truly meet.

An amazing encounter then takes place, with Zacchaeus, the chief “publican” or tax collector. Zacchaeus was thus a wealthy collaborator of the hated Roman occupiers, someone who exploited his own people, someone who, because of his ill repute, could not even approach the Master. His encounter with Jesus changed his life, just as it has changed, and can daily still change, each of our lives.  But Zacchaeus had to face a number of obstacles in order to meet Jesus. At least three of these can also say something to us.

The first obstacle is smallness of stature. Zacchaeus couldn’t see the Master because he was little. Even today we can risk not getting close to Jesus because we don’t feel big enough, because we don’t think ourselves worthy. This is a great temptation; it has to do not only with self-esteem, but with faith itself.  For faith tells us that we are “children of God… that is what we are” (1 Jn 3:1). We have been created in God’s own image; Jesus has taken upon himself our humanity and his heart will never be separated from us; the Holy Spirit wants to dwell within us. We have been called to be happy for ever with God!

That is our real “stature”, our spiritual identity: we are God’s beloved children, always. So you can see that not to accept ourselves, to live glumly, to be negative, means not to recognize our deepest identity. It is like walking away when God wants to look at me, trying to spoil his dream for me. God loves us the way we are, and no sin, fault or mistake of ours makes him change his mind. As far as Jesus is concerned – as the Gospel shows – no one is unworthy of, or far from, his thoughts. No one is insignificant. He loves all of us with a special love; for him all of us are important: you are important! God counts on you for what you are, not for what you possess. In his eyes the clothes you wear or the kind of cell phone you use are of absolutely no concern. He doesn’t care whether you are stylish or not; he cares about you!  In his eyes, you are precious, and your value is inestimable.

At times in our lives, we aim lower rather than higher. At those times, it is good to realize that God remains faithful, even obstinate, in his love for us. The fact is, he loves us even more than we love ourselves. He believes in us even more than we believe in ourselves. He is always “cheering us on”; he is our biggest fan. He is there for us, waiting with patience and hope, even when we turn in on ourselves and brood over our troubles and past injuries. But such brooding is unworthy of our spiritual stature! It is a kind of virus infecting and blocking everything; it closes doors and prevents us from getting up and starting over.  God, on the other hand, is hopelessly hopeful!  He believes that we can always get up, and he hates to see us glum and gloomy. Because we are always his beloved sons and daughters. Let us be mindful of this at the dawn of each new day.  It will do us good to pray every morning: “Lord, I thank you for loving me; help me to be in love with my own life!” Not with my faults, that need to be corrected, but with life itself, which is a great gift, for it is a time to love and to be loved.

Zacchaeus faced a second obstacle in meeting Jesus: the paralysis of shame. We can imagine what was going on in his heart before he climbed that sycamore. It must have been quite a struggle – on one hand, a healthy curiosity and desire to know Jesus; on the other, the risk of appearing completely ridiculous. Zacchaeus was public figure, a man of power. He knew that, in trying to climb that tree, he would have become a laughingstock to all.  Yet he mastered his shame, because the attraction of Jesus was more powerful. You know what happens when someone is so attractive that we fall in love with them: we end up ready to do things we would never have even thought of doing. Something similar took place in the heart of Zacchaeus, when he realized that Jesus was so important that he would do anything for him, since Jesus alone could pull him out of the mire of sin and discontent. The paralysis of shame did not have the upper hand. The Gospel tells us that Zacchaeus “ran ahead”, “climbed” the tree, and then, when Jesus called him, he “hurried down” (vv. 4, 6). He took a risk, he put his life on the line. For us too, this is the secret of joy: not to stifle a healthy curiosity, but to take a risk, because life is not meant to be tucked away. When it comes to Jesus, we cannot sit around waiting with arms folded; he offers us life – we can’t respond by thinking about it or “texting” a few words!

Dear young friends, don’t be ashamed to bring everything to the Lord in confession, especially your weaknesses, your struggles and your sins. He will surprise you with his forgiveness and his peace. Don’t be afraid to say “yes” to him with all your heart, to respond generously and to follow him! Don’t let your soul grow numb, but aim for the goal of a beautiful love which also demands sacrifice. Say a firm “no” to the narcotic of success at any cost and the sedative of worrying only about yourself and your own comfort.

After his small stature and the paralysis of shame, there was a third obstacle that Zacchaeus had to face.  It was no longer an interior one, but was all around him. It was the grumbling of the crowd, who first blocked him and then criticized him: How could Jesus have entered his house, the house of a sinner!  How truly hard it is to welcome Jesus, how hard it is to accept a “God who is rich in mercy” (Eph 2:4)! People will try to block you, to make you think that God is distant, rigid and insensitive, good to the good and bad to the bad. Instead, our heavenly Father “makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good” (Mt 5:45). He demands of us real courage: the courage to be more powerful than evil by loving everyone, even our enemies. People may laugh at you because you believe in the gentle and unassuming power of mercy. But do not be afraid. Think of the motto of these days: “Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy” (Mt 5:7). People may judge you to be dreamers, because you believe in a new humanity, one that rejects hatred between peoples, one that refuses to see borders as barriers and can cherish its own traditions without being self-centred or small-minded. Don’t be discouraged: with a smile and open arms, you proclaim hope and you are a blessing for our one human family, which here you represent so beautifully!

That day the crowd judged Zacchaeus; they looked him over, up and down. But Jesus did otherwise: he gazed up at him (v. 5). Jesus looks beyond the faults and sees the person. He does not halt before bygone evil, but sees future good. His gaze remains constant, even when it is not met; it seeks the way of unity and communion.  In no case does it halt at appearances, but looks to the heart. With this gaze of Jesus, you can help bring about another humanity, without looking for acknowledgement but seeking goodness for its own sake, content to maintain a pure heart and to fight peaceably for honesty and justice. Don’t stop at the surface of things; distrust the worldly cult of appearances, cosmetic attempts to improve our looks. Instead, “download” the best “link” of all, that of a heart which sees and transmits goodness without growing weary. The joy that you have freely received from God, freely give away (cf. Mt 10:8): so many people are waiting for it!

Finally let us listen to the words that Jesus spoke to Zacchaeus, which to be seem meant for us today: “Come down, for I must stay at your house today” (v. 5).  Jesus extends the same invitation to you: “I must stay at your house today”. We can say that World Youth Day begins today and continues tomorrow, in your homes, since that is where Jesus wants to meet you from now on. The Lord doesn’t want to remain in this beautiful city, or in cherished memories alone. He wants to enter your homes, to dwell in your daily lives: in your studies, your first years of work, your friendships and affections, your hopes and dreams. How greatly he desires that you bring all this to him in prayer! How much he hopes that, in all the “contacts” and “chats” of each day, pride of place be given to the golden thread of prayer! How much he wants his word to be able to speak to you day after day, so that you can make his Gospel your own, so that it can serve as a compass for you on the highways of life!

In asking to come to your house, Jesus calls you, as he did Zacchaeus, by name. Your name is precious to him. The name “Zacchaeus” would have made people back the think of the remembrance of God. Trust the memory of God: his memory is not a “hard disk” that “saves” and “archives” all our data, but a heart filled with tender compassion, one that finds joy in “erasing” in us every trace of evil. May we too now try to imitate the faithful memory of God and treasure the good things we have received in these days. In silence, let us remember this encounter, let us preserve the memory of the presence of God and his word, and let us listen once more to the voice of Jesus as he calls us by name. So let us now pray silently, remembering and thanking the Lord wanted us to be here and has come here to meet us.

Recovery

Thank you first of all for the many messages, notes, tweets, facebook messages, cards, and flowers.

The past month has certainly been an adventure!

I guess lets start at the beginning with my health. Towards the middle of June I was finally starting to feel like a normal person, I was walking every day and finally getting my energy back up! I was also back to doing yoga twice a day. I really felt I was making the changes I needed to in order to prevent myself from going back into the hospital. Around 90 days out from the hospital I started to get a pain in my thigh. I thought I was working too hard. Then while I was at spiritual direction I got a charlie horse. Something that is not uncommon for me, especially because I have a tendency to get dehydrated.

The pain in my leg continued to get worse and I could barely make it into work. A week later I finally scheduled a doctors appointment in which I was sent to the emergency room. After a few test they realized I had three blood clots in my leg and was diagnosed with Deep Vein Thrombosis or DVT for short. Even the doctor was surprised, we all thought it was a simple inflammation of my veins. Out of standard precaution anytime someone has a blood clot they have to have their lungs checked to make sure there are not clots in the lungs. Normally when you have clots in your lungs there are other signs as well like shortness of breath, irregular heart beat, etc. So again they expected to find nothing however they ended up finding two blood clots in my lungs and diagnosing me with Pulmonary Embolism.

So super scary, I am working on recovering.. it will be about 6 months on this one medicine with testing every few weeks. What they don’t tell you and what you certainly don’t expect are the panic attacks and side effects. One of the medicines I am on causes GERD which basically is terrible terrible acid re flux which makes you think you are having a heart attack. The medicine they gave me to counteract that causes terrible joint pain and swelling. It is amazing that what you eat has such a large effect on how you feel everyday. This is a lesson I am learning, especially because I love tacos.

The panic attacks are terrifying. The first one I had was the night I came home from the hospital, I was so afraid I was going to die in my sleep. More people die from pulmonary embolisms each year than people die from AIDS and breast cancer combined. Knowing that and living with this is terrifying. My second panic attack came when I went in the car for a drive for the first time. We were in traffic and there were a ton of people driving like idiots. I was so afraid we were going to get into a car accident and I was going to bleed to death because I was on a really heavy dose of blood thinners. We had to pull over and I had to walk around and calm down for a bit.

So yeah, basically I am back at work, I feel like crap a lot and I have no energy, but I am getting there.

All of this leads to where I am spiritually. It’s been a dark time for me and God. I am trying, I know he blessed me by giving me this pain. With out it I would have never gone to the doctor, but right now I am very much in a why me stage. It’s really hard when you are faced with super scary challenges that don’t seem to go away and you are supposed to thank God and love him for it.

I am working on recovering my relationship with God, while I recover from my hospital stay. The most important thing is to always have hope.

Please continue to pray for me friends and I for you.

Love and prayers,

Britt

 

Underwater Still

I’ve got a little confession to share with you. Until yesterday, I haven’t been to church in a few weeks. Lately, it’s been increasingly difficult for me to even drive by the church which happens to be in the main part of our town. I’m not quite sure what it is, or if it is actually one thing, but this spiritual dryness is killing me.

On Wednesday of this week I had jury duty and we were let out a bit early, and I sat outside of the church in the parking lot and just waited. Not sure for what, a sign maybe to go in side, maybe Jesus himself to open my door but I physically couldn’t make myself walk into the church and my anxiety level was out of control.

Knowing that Sunday was my friend Ralph’s first mass as a priest, I had to get over this. I wasn’t going to miss out on his special day. So I sat on the floor of my bedroom on Thursday night and asked God to take this from me, I texted my spiritual director and asked for confession, but he was unavailable so I just sat in my room and prayed hard for God to remove this hurt in my heart…

And it’s still there, because things aren’t always fixed in one day. But I went to Ralph’s mass, anxiety and all.

I read my devotionals, I say my prayers, and I feel nothing. But I remain obedient. And sometimes it really is just about being obedient and not about the feelings but I miss Jesus.

The struggle is real my friends, keep praying.

 

A Little Lost

Hi Friends! I hope your spring is going well.

Lately I’ve been feeling a little lost, not sure if it’s because I am still not feeling well, or trying to adjust to a new job but life lately isn’t on my side.

To top it all off I think I am in a bit of a spiritual dryness. I don’t feel God, and I don’t hear Him. I feel a little forgotten. I’m told that feelings do not matter in your relationship with God, what matters is that you continue to pray and have hope.

So that’s where I am at I’m continuing to pray and have hope.. WHICH IS SO HARD..

But I came across a few little notes I wanted to share with you, one was from last week when I was feeling extremely sad that God forgot to give me a life plan.. it was in a blog post on Emily P. Freeman’s blog and in it she said “Today I’ll keep my eyes open for Christ’s presence, rather than trying to figure out his plan.”

The other was Tuesday’s Responsorial Psalm at mass .. Throw your cares on the Lord, and he will support you

Alright God I hear you, maybe I’m not alone after all.

Brittany