As the Director of Community Relations at Barnes & Noble, I have the privilege of meeting the authors that come to sign books in our store. A few weeks ago a lady named Fran emailed to see if we would have Beth Gayle, the author of And Then Came the Angels, in our store. I agreed to it and we set up the signing.
I received a call from Beth herself a few days later, just to confirm everything. We got to talking about general stuff on the phone for some reason and we both agreed to pray for each other. Beth was so endearing on the phone, even the first time I talked to her.
Well, the string has been broken. After a litany of days of spectacular clear skies and bright sunshine, the day outside is rather drab.
As I drank my coffee this morning, I felt myself assuming that drab mood. I don’t like going in to work at 11, first of all, because I like to be up and getting my day going early with everyone else. But some other things were on my mind and I was generally just a moody camper this morning as the geese continued to squawk away under the overcast sky.
But I told myself that I would not spend the rest of the day being in that kind of mood. I shifted my focus to the Eucharist, to God, to the universe, to the source of all things good. And I began to pray a prayer that maybe you can say to yourself as you go about your day:
“God loves me, and God’s love is all I’ll ever need.”
At first, nothing happened. My mind kept wanting to stray to sadness and just general yuckiness. Isn’t it amazing how sometimes we actually enjoy the little pity parties we give ourselves? But I stayed with the prayer. I kept my mind’s eye on the Eucharist. And slowly but surely, the joy inside me started to emerge. I am content right now, despite the clouds–the inner ones and outer ones–and I know that today has so much good in store for me simply because God loves me and wants it that way.
People will always fail us. We will always fail people. It’s just the way it is in our fallen world and with mankind’s fallen nature. It’s puzzling sometimes but we have to learn to accept it. But the one thing that will never fail us is God. He loves us dearly. Sometimes we don’t see the whole picture in our lives, but let’s rest assured that it is God who always provides the missing piece.
P.S. THE SUN IS OUT NOW!!!
It’s been a welcomed day off today, even though I did have lunch with some representatives of a major corporation. I am thankful that they were so receptive, and it looks like it’s going to be a victory for Barnes & Noble. I am thankful for this weather, which, yet again, reminds me of how much joy there is to be had in this life.
I went to Adoration today, but the doors to the church were locked. Instead I sat near a wishing well and went about basking in the cool air and sweetly stinging sun while I said my Rosary. I’ve been focusing on the Joyful and Glorious Mysteries exclusively in recent weeks, but today I went back to the Sorrowful. I said them, however, in a whole new way.
After reading my friend Daniel’s “Monday Motivator,” I was inspired to thank Jesus for all the pain he went through for us. For those of you not familiar with the Rosary, we pray to Mary for her prayers while we meditate on specific events from Jesus’ life. Today I was very specific with my thoughts, going through each of the mysteries and really trying to unfold the pain Christ took upon himself just because he loved us. Just because he wanted us to achieve redemption and salvation forever in heaven.
I will stay with these mysteries and a spirit of gratitude this week for all the suffering our friend and brother endured. Maybe it would be a good idea if all of you prayed with me in kind before the hustle and bustle of Christmas shopping hits us. It would be a good way to both be connected to each other and to God this Thanksgiving week.
Thank you, Jesus, for staying awake to pray for God’s will, even though you knew what that meant. Thank you for agonizing in the Garden of Gethsemane, bringing your pain and requests to your Father. You have given us an example of how to ask things of God but to ultimately say, “Thy will be done.”
Thank you, Jesus, for taking blow after blow at the pillar. It must have killed you to know that your mother had to watch as they scourged you with those terrible lashings. I would have wanted to die right there. But you kept standing up, taking more and more for us.
Thank you, Jesus, for sitting quietly as they mocked your kingship by driving three-inch thorns into your head. You could have shown them exactly what kingly power you had. You could have erased it all, all the pain and all the mockery. But you didn’t. You kept focused on God’s will, even through the blood in your eyes.
Thank you, Jesus, for carrying the cross, which had to have tore an awful gash in your shoulder already opened by the scourging at the pillar. Thank you for continuing to get up after you fell, for giving us an example of what it means to absorb our trials in life on our feet. Your mother was there and you saw her. How much she loved you. How much she wished she could take that pain upon herself. But you took it. You took it for her and for all of us.
Thank you, Jesus, for hanging on the cross for three hours, barely being able to breathe, watching as very few of your friends stayed around to be with you. Thank you for these last few hours of your life, at least your first one, for it shows us that we too can die to ourselves with dignity if we just keep our eyes on you.
Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on us. Amen.
One year ago today, I started this blog with a post entitled “Glad,” the story of my discovering years later a secret message my grandmother had left for me on the back corner of a drawing she’d given me when I was a kid. It was literally a miracle around the corner.
It has been a loaded year, to say the least. A lot has happened and changed for me, and I am happy to say that all of it is good. Even the pain I’ve experienced is good because I finally had the courage to face my problems along the way, striving to clear out all of the ego-driven garbage I’d accumulated in my life. Even in recent weeks I’ve set my eyes and prayers on the latest cleansing and healing I need God for. I will be sharing my thoughts and insights with you as I take this next step in my life, not in finding peace with my family and Church as I was searching for in the spring, but in allowing this new feeling of peace and joy I feel for myself right now to take root. Deep root. What happened Sunday at Church is great, but it’s still new, and I know that all the old defense mechanisms and unhealthy ways of thinking are still there. It will take some time for this new reality to take root, but if the past year is any indication, it may not take long at all. Still, I have to be patient even if I backslide into old thought patterns of undeservedness, guilt, or fear, those terrible vices that have eaten me up and even destroyed a friendship I really treasured.
I summarize the last year because I want you my readers to know that this growth in me would not have been possible without you. There are so many of you that let me know you are with me and that you are praying for me. I swear my mom is like Monica, Augustine’s mother, when it comes to praying for her children. I told a friend in Austin back in the spring that I had a strange feeling inside me that this spiritual growth I was undergoing felt like it was going in overdrive. It was moving so quickly and so genuinely at the same time, that I was allowed to actually see it happening from week to week, sometimes from day to day, almost like it was a movie. Sometimes it feels like I’m an outside observer watching myself change, as if I really could just lie there and watch grass grow. It’s been really bizarre sometimes, honestly, how quickly it has happened. That kind of acceleration would not be possible without the love of all of you. There’s no way what has happened for me in the last year is based solely on my efforts.
So today, after a year of french bread, I wish authentic “glad”ness for all of you. I ask you to join me in believing, I mean truly believing, that we deserve the very best in life because God wants us to live with joy. I’m finally starting to believe that myself, that I deserve the very best in life, in work, in relationship, in everything. Not because of anything I’ve done, but simply because God loves me. Our pasts do not define us. Our mistakes and sins are not our identity. Believe that with all your heart today, and look forward to the miracles that await around the corner.