I am a little numb with the decision I have made. It’s of course been along time coming and at the same time I have known that it has the finality that there really never was a ‘decision’ to be made.
Over the years I have chosen this for myself, again and again. Yet walls and barriers came before me and I crumbled against the weight. Now I might call the barriers, reality, dramas and trial. I might also know that the barriers are there to teach me. To stretch my resolve. To help me see, to develop in me, humility. They come before me to open my heart, to create an acute awareness, to bring me down, not down in away to hurt me but to remind me that I am no one, I am nothing .. yet I am not alone.
I am unique and created lovingly with a path and a purpose, as are each one of us.
What does freedom mean to me? Everything. It’s the awareness that is now before me. In the past I was too broken and too self absorbed to have any inclination to the truth of ‘freedom’.
I like many before me and many to follow me lived solely for the ‘I’ within my soul. I had no direction, I was not moving forward in anyway other than my physical self growing older.
Only in a very superficial way does doing what ever we feel like mean having total freedom. I have lived that truth out many, many times in my life.
Beginning as young as my own son is right now, I can go back to a moment, one encounter that stands apart form the rest.
When I was about 11 or 12, I stayed up the entire night watching movies. I was at home, I was alone and I did so because I wanted to. I remember resisting the attempts by my parents to ‘go to sleep’ and in the end due to my tenacity, I won out. I know that may not seem like a very big deal but to me it was pivotal. It was at that point that ‘I’ knew best and my parents.. well we didn’t see eye to eye for more than a decade following.
My formative years were left to my own accord. I did as I pleased. Always as I pleased. According to the subtext that doing as we pleased creates perfect happiness, I should have been the most happy elated teenager in the world.
I moved in what ever direction the wind blew. I had moments, moments that seemed to satisfy, but in the end elation was not something I ever achieved. So as I said I ’should’ have been the most satisfied teenager in my world, yet..
That simply was not the case. Not only was I inwardly miserable, my ripples spawned misery all around me. I projected a sense of chaos that well to be frank, strangely many people found interesting. I felt so little for myself that I simply did not demand any one else to be accountable to me either. There are a certain types of personality’s out there that will be very drawn to a personality such as mine was. I had so little sense of self, that my environment had completely controlled my heart, my passions, and my desire. I was ruled by feelings alone. It’s a dangerous existence.
In fact, it worked both ways, as I was drawn to trouble.. apt it may at times have been very highly disguised trouble, I was also giving it in due form. After a few years I didn’t even bother to search subconsciously for dangerous situations, I openly sought inappropriate means-simply to be able to feel.
I- like any dangerous force gained momentum and while leaving such destruction in my wake I could hardly look back. I never did. I didn’t understand remorse. I didn’t care enough about anything to be accountable.
Okay lets skip forward back to the future.. The present. Something Fr Giussani says, like many of the things he has said strikes me now..
“Remember that man can only start from the present, because the previous minute no longer exists and the next minute is not here yet. “
Christ gave us a gift on the cross. It’s available to all who choose to accept it. Christ has wanted one thing from the very beginning. To remain present among us.
He was there, through all of it. My heart actually aches to think of the things I encountered, that I made Him suffer for me. I am not special. It is not only for me that Christ is present. He is always with us, for 2000 years he has endured the sin of the world and will endure the sin of our brokenness until the second coming. His cross is the key. His cross is my salvation. No matter the past- redemption is available, no matter the present -redemption is available. He knows of my stumbling. He know of my weakness, he knew I would deny Him before I even though the action through.
He is aware of my sadness, He knows all of it.
The life I have led is not free. I am not contented.
Fr. Giussani, says “Christ wanted to be present throughout all of history, and to get to Christ you have to start from the present, you have to discover Christ as a presence. You understand who He is afterward, and then you understand who He was 2000 years ago. Our experience tells us that we feel a sense of relief and of freedom when a desire of ours is satisfied, and it tells us that when a desire of ours isn’t satisfied, (when we are told “no”), there’s at least an instant of negative repression.”
That’s two fold for me, because on the one hand, doing as I please, going after unlawful, passionate things that correspond to me, only in a simple superficial way.. left me undeniably repressed. Then after a time, I left home and moved into another situation where I was constantly being told no.. over everything.. then I to felt repressed… It was one form of slavery to another. In the second instance, I had turned my back on the old life, and at the same time ignored the present. Only looking toward my human future.. Not striving towards my destiny but in a very broken human way reaching for material gains, material happiness, material sense of peace and well being.
None of which are attainable with any degree of stability.
Every human heart is made for God. We are all made up with the same drive for satisfaction. We are constantly moving forward. BUT the condition for fulfillment in never going to be satisfied with earthy material goods. It just does not correspond with the heart God has created within us. No matter how many times we choose to follow our own desires, the path may even run parallel at times to our destiny.. But in the end there will be no perfection.
This is a hard lesson for me.
I feel shaken, as if my entire world has been shaken up and hurtled back in a moment. How many times have I been in this exact same place. Why is it different now. I feel chocked up and my heart pounds in my chest because I am here in the present with an awareness that has never been here before.
What is it that comes first? I think I can at least grasp that concept now. Christ comes before. Everything I do, is intertwined with Him.
I don’t know how I didn’t recognise that truth before. I mean I get it, I like all sinners turned my back on what I knew to be true so I could do what “I” wanted what felt good to me right now..
I like many others, masked my desire and lied. There is no other way to say it. I lied to myself. I lied to my heart, to my family, and especially to God.
I am the Yes Lord! girl and at the same time I was inventing what “I” thought God wanted. I was like the ones that came before me with their own justifications and beliefs as to what God wanted and was.
More form Fr. Giussani.. “What does doing whatever you feel like mean? There’s only one draw back to following Christ, to being Christian, to being in the Church. The drawn back is that you are obliged to make your self aware of all that you do.”
What happened to me? Why now? What is this time, what is the difference this time from any of the past? I may have hidden out for awhile. I may not have done anything inherently wrong for awhile. I have done a great job of ‘being good“ but how easily I slipped into the old way. My weakness as before -the desire to be loved. I as this is obvious now, turned my back so critically, so blindly, so ignorantly to Christ. I denied Him as He knew I would.
I thought I was alone. I thought it was about me. It never was.
Sin, as Guisanni reminds us, which is the opposite of freedom has ruled me longer than not. I have never been free. Not once in all these years, not once until now.
Through the sacrament, I was made clean. A truth that I can not comprehend. An action so merciful I’ll spend much time in gratitude. I know I strayed from the path, I sinned. I am weak. I don’t blind myself with the thought that I am done either. I know there will be temptations, I know there will be trials. But I am not alone, all I do is for Him. I am made for God. That’s the difference. I am not an educated woman, but if I can take one thing from this new mess it is that. I am here, right now with a purpose, I have a vocation and a heart open to God. I don’ t think my life is going to change instantly, because it won’t but slowly from the inside out I can live a different way. Everything looks different, with my gaze fixed on Christ. I feel hope.
Everything happens for a reason. I’ve always said that. The people in our lives, the actions we encounter. What a gift to be open with an awareness in our hearts of Christ presence.
I am responsible for leaving the path to my density. I have sinned. I have lingered in the realm of sin. I have met the edges of despair and destitute, I have done so with out purpose. I have encountered the grace that could only be from God that has lifted me up. I fear the Lord, I fear the pains of hell. I have had the desire for a simplicity of heart for as long as I can recollect, I think maybe that is the desire for which God has placed within my soul. Every-singe day for the rest of my life I will beg Christ to be present to me. I will beg for the will to resist temptation, to be aware that everything I do, has EVERYTHING to do with God. I will mortify myself in restitution so that there is nothing , no veils of sin that hide Him from me. I will beg for the fortitude to abandon my whole self to His will.
I am a pilgrim in this world, this is not the end for me. This is my journey