letting go: the sweet life.

“None of the thoughts that render us anxious, and agitated in spirit in any way comes from God, who is the Prince is Peace…” (St. Frances De Sales)

This morning while reading Searching for and Maintaining Peace (Fr. Jacques Philippe), I came across a quote from St. Frances De Sales. I find this seemingly simple and perhaps even obvious statement, so rich and compelling. These words invite me to honestly reflect on the kinds of emotions and reactions that dominate my life. Are they anxieties, fears, agitations and doubts? Or are they ones of hope, peace and trust?

I chose to write about this today because I know that I am not alone in this battle of positivity vs. negativity and ultimately of good vs. evil. We are ALL struggling, at varying degrees, with the pressure, stress and demands of “life”. It seems that now more than ever, people are crumbling under the often crippling demands to be perfect, powerful,  rich, put together, successful and flawless.

IMG_0781.JPG

* God speaks to me in analogies… even if they are seats on the train hehe *  This image spoke to me of the redemption and newness that comes from God. He takes us when we feel dull, faded and used, and transforms us into something beautiful again!

Even as I write this, it seems a bit crazy and naive of us to fall into this trap. But when it’s our own lives, careers, relationships and life choices… things can become a bit blurry. We often find ourselves putting unrealistic expectations on our shoulders and fighting back feelings of failure, shame or regret when we fall short.

The good news is, we are not destined to stay in these low and often dark places. It’s not something we can just wish away, and for some of us, this journey is going to require more work and care than others, but there is always hope.

IMG_0790.JPG

The sweet life!

As the quote above says, God is the Prince of Peace and therefore with Him comes a peace that no one can destroy. God isn’t some magician who just takes away every hardship in our lives… but he gives a different and deeper kind of peace. I think this quote says it best:

“Peace is not the absence of something, but the presence of Someone” (unknown)

I pray that all of us can enter into the deep peace that is of Christ. That we find solace and hope in He who is the Prince of Peace. Let’s pray for each other, that we can let go of the anxieties and agitations that try to hold us back from freedom, joy and peace! Perhaps a little piece of cake and tea is just the perfect place to start?!

past the facade

It’s wise not to judge,

What we see from another,

Their faults and their flaws,

Perhaps merely a cover.

Of crosses they bear,

Heavy burdens that they hold,

Things they can’t control,

Many stories left untold.

May our hearts grow soft,

As we look at each other,

Showing tenderness,

In the lives of our brother.

monochrome photo of city during daytime

Photo by Jonathan Borba on Pexels.com

 

 

 

 

 

the very bad, terrible, no good day.

Is it just me, or does it seem like a lot of people right now are going through a hard time?

It’s like that kids book, Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day by Judith Viorst on repeat. Ugh. And while this Alexander kid in the story had a pretty rough go, I feel like the adult version can be a lot more bleak. Sometimes I just wish it was gum in my hair, no toy in my cereal, or no one liking my painting in class…

I can name quite a few people in my own circle (me included), who just seem to be handed a very crappy set of cards these days. Whether it’s external circumstances, or things in their inner life being brought up, they are swimming upstream.

adult art conceptual dark

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Sometimes it’s really a fight to stay positive, focus on the good, and resist the temptation to despair or give in to the unhappiness. I read a blog today and she posted one of my favorite bible verses!  I really needed to read it today. I think it’s worth keeping in our hearts, especially in these troubling times.

 Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect”- Romans 12:2

Yessss! We are not to be conformed to this world. The world right now is preaching a lot of stuff that can lead us astray. Money will bring happiness, the rich and famous are more happy, perfection looks like a beauty blogger with the perfect body, you need to have impressive material goods to show off on your Instagram account, life is about cool holidays and eating fun food and documenting them on social media.

Don’t get me wrong, some of these things in and of themselves are great; taking care of our bodies, enjoying traveling (which I love to do!), and celebrating the gifts God has given us through food and experiences. But so often these things become the ultimate goal.

However, God calls us to renew our minds, to discern with Him, what is good and acceptable and perfect! The joys that He has to offer are so much greater than any mega yaht, beach body smoothie mix, perfect instagram worthy scene and amount of money sitting in our bank accounts.

God wants our ultimate HAPPINESS and that is found in Him alone. Even as I write this, I am not necessarily “feeling” completely happy in Him. But I also know that this is true despite any feelings I might have. Even in these darker seasons, God is still rooting for our happiness. It might not come with bright snazzy lights, and warm fuzzies, but it’s going to be a beautiful final product. I guess were like that clay that the Potter is working on. It might be messy, unclear, and a little bit uncomfortable as things are moved around, but that final masterpiece is going to be worth saving and treasuring!

red lighted candle

Photo by icon0.com on Pexels.com

So if you find yourself a little like Alexander on your no good, terrible, horrible, bad day; its alright! Seasons come and they GO, and your not alone. Right around you is someone else who is suffering, working through stuff, and figuring out life just like you. Pray for them, and they can pray for you! Let’s continue to renew our minds in the truth that is of God and His Kingdom!

 

berlin bustle.

 

Growing up in a city of 200,000 people and moving to Berlin, a city of four million has been a crazy adventure! I didn’t know it was possible to have 4 Ikeas in one city?! AMAZING. I had also never drove on a highway with four lanes before. Fun and terrifying all wrapped up in one driving adventure. The lessons I am learning while here are countless. From simple things like new driving rules to more complicated culture changes… everyday is an adventure. I am sure any expat would share the joys and difficulties of the transition period. I definitely underestimated culture schock. As a person who loves traveling and experiencing new things, I figured this move was a piece of cake. But its been a huuuge eye opener for me.

Take for instance the topic of poverty. Not only have I been confronted by the materially poor, but also the poor in spirit. I have witnessed so many sad, angry and lonely people while being here. Living in a big city can be a blessing, but many people seem to be forgotten. Isolated. No hi’s, thank you’s or eye contact has an effect on us after a while. The other day I also caught myself in the typical ‘grumpy berliner attitude’ when some students took a seat beside me and forced me to move all my books, homework and backpack from the seat where I was studying. When they saw my reaction, they felt terrible and wanted to move seats. I could hardly believe myself. Wait, what? You are actually getting angry that these people are sitting beside you… on PUBLIC transportation?!  I tried to cover up my first reaction by being more friendly and thankfully convinced them to stay. But this moment has stayed with me since then.

In Canada, rarely did I have such a negative reaction to strangers. There was a different sort of stranger policy. Everyone was polite to everyone. That’s just how it was. After the episode on the train, I realized that I was letting the berliner attitude rub off on me too much. Unfortunately, over the past few months I have rarely seen friendly encounters on public transportation. Most times, everyone is busy with their own lives, stuck on their iphone and they don’t want to deal with another person who is in their personal bubble. And actually, I can understand that perspective. I have dealt with some strange, stinky and upsetting people on the train. But even still, we must not let that attitude keep us from loving. From being kind. I think these small gestures like smiling as you let someone take that empty spot beside you, or moving your bag so someone has more space, or letting the old granny take your seat, is a remedy against the poverty of spirit. Its definitely not the easy way, but I think its the way that brings light and joy and peace into our day and the day of those around us. Even if just for a train ride.

 

 

 

a little closer

Silent but fierce,

Interior war.

Trigger is loose,

Don’t want anymore.

Holding them back,

Demands all of me.

Words in my head,

Just want to be free.

Count your blessings.

But where do they hide?

Always choose joy.

That path I have tried.

Look to the cross:

More close than before.

See His pierced heart,

Do we still want more?

Look to the Cross,

More close than before.

 

 

a Refuge in the rain

On this rainy afternoon I find myself slightly melancholic and over contemplative (also procrastinating homework). It seems as though these gray skies have a way of inspiring more reflection than usual. I find myself pondering the theme of loneliness which is a common side effect of rainy days I suppose. We all experience loneliness in one way or another. For some, its the absence of friends, for others its the consuming demands of a job that keep us away from loved ones. Some find themselves living away from their homes for work, school, love… but we all experience loneliness. Even if we are surrounded by people, we can still feel alone at times. Why? I suppose because our friends, parents, siblings, boyfriends/girlfriends, husbands/wives are not meant to fulfill us completely. There is someone else who has this task. He is the ultimate Lover in our lives. He really plants  truth, freedom, joy, acceptance and purpose deep into our hearts. Of course, others are meant to bless us and reflect the love of Christ in our lives. But no matter how wonderful these men and women are, they can’t fill the void of loneliness that we all have in our hearts. I have always heard that God has to take the first place in my life, but in practice this is really difficult. How quickly we expect others to make us happy. Making internal demands for the perfect words and actions of others around us. When they don’t meet our expectations, we are left feeling hurt, disappointed and even defeated. Its incredible how easily this kind of attitude can seep into our lives, and how it can really wound our relationships.

I guess the purpose of this blog today is a reminder that God is really the only one who fulfills those lonely parts of our hearts. He is the path to joy. When we find ourselves in our room, our office, a party, a family dinner and we feel empty; God is there. He is calling out to us, and he wants to enter into those places that feel cold. He wants to be central. He wants to bring warmth and life. He wants to overwhelm us with everything we need and desire! At the same time, He gives us an understanding of what it means to live in relation with others. Life isn’t about being served. Its about service. The Gospel for today was exactly that; ‘ …It shall not be so among you; but whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be your slave, even as the Son of man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many’ (Matthew 20: 26-28). When God takes ownership of our hearts, we no longer dwell in loneliness, because we know we are not alone. We then start to change our expectations of others. We accept our weakness and our poverty. Just as we cannot love others perfectly, they too cannot love us perfectly. And once this is understood, we turn to He who can and does love perfectly. He who came to serve and not be served. He who loved until the end. This is where I want to find fulfillment.  O Sacred Heart of Jesus, let us abide in you where there is perfect love. In you we find peace. In you we are never alone. Amen.