unremarkable … REMARKABLE!

There was a time in my life when my mind was open to anything being possible. I believed in praying and being fulfilled. I believed that doing the right thing as much as possible made me a good person in the eyes of God and if I did as I was told, adhered to what I was taught in the catechism classes, went to confession and tried never to repeat my sins I would have a good life. I was a child. I became a teenager. I was young and I had a good life. I wanted it all. I got older and my eyes were seeing real life and I went from wanting it all to wanting just enough. I wanted to be like they say in medical reports “unremarkable”. I did not want any drama. I wanted the most regular of lives. I wanted things to stay as calm and uneventful as they were. I just wanted to fly under the radar.

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I got what I wanted for a while. I flew under the radar but I always had a strange feeling that the other shoe was going to drop and when it did, it shattered my “unremarkable” world. I no longer believed in miracles – only hard work and luck. I didn’t believe that it was worthwhile to ask so that I should receive. I barley knew where to seek in order to find my answers and I had given up knocking because so many doors were closed to me. For 16 years since the shoe plummeted to earth, I have been waiting to hear God. Over 16 years, in spite of my tumultuous relationship with Him, He has answered me occasionally, in spite of whom I’d become but I never heard Him. I never got the answers to the questions I had asked time and again. Why was I going through what I had been going through? What was I supposed to do? What did this journey mean? What was I waiting on? What was going to happen? I heard my voice directing my instincts and I thought that may have been Him speaking to me, but I never believed that it was. I had lost anything in me that pointed me toward blind faith. I tended towards logic and the scientific. I based my conclusions on facts. The hardest thing for a person raised with religion who faces daily adversity is to balance faith with fact. Faith, for a person like me at times became fantasy but when I watched the faithful find success, I knew they were doing something I used to know how to do, once upon a time…only in my grief, in my anger, in my frustration, I forgot how use faith and my faith melted into fear and it crippled me.

One night, after 16 years, I had one of those moments that is freakishly unique to me. I believe we all have bizarre moments that only we alone feel and can describe. One moment I get from time to time is a feeling that lasts about 3 seconds where I get a calm sensation that all is well. All is as it should be and it makes me smile. It is a brief, wonderful, peaceful feeling. My unique moment that night was new. I ditched my rosary and my usual prayers to try and talk to God. I wanted to try and hear him – again.

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I sat alone in my room and quietly uttered words like I was explaining what I was searching for to a friend. Then I sat with my legs crossed, turned my palms upward and closed my eyes and waited. I didn’t wait very long before I shut off my own voice and heard a voice that was very familiar to me, then another and another before the original familiar voice spoke again.

Without getting into details I will say that by allowing myself to be truly still for what I believe is the first time in 16 years, I got my answers and I accepted them because I understood them and it felt amazing. It was freeing. The tears were brief but they were happy ones. They were tears of relief and of gratitude. I suppose it  – this feeling – these answers were worth the wait. I have been left with a sense of true acceptance of the tasks of my journey. I have been left with a stronger appreciation of my blessings.  I find myself lighter, secure in the knowledge that my life, albeit challenging in so many ways, is supposed to be this way and for the first time in 16 years, I’m truly okay with it. Everything I have, everything I have achieved has been earned. Everything I don’t understand, I am certain I soon will. And the things I am waiting on, will come to me when the time is right. That night, I accepted patience. That night, I learned that I have to be kinder to myself and cut myself some slack often. I must continue to work hard and try hard but to also be okay with just taking a break when I want to and not dwell on outcomes or incessantly search for answers. What I felt that night made me realize that I am being taken care of. I realize that I am not unnoticed. I understand that the path I walk is my path and no one will ever walk it better than I do. That night, I finally found the joy of living the life I live, with all it’s twists and turns because I am the only one who can live it this well. I certainly was never meant to fly under the radar. I was not meant to be unremarkable.

I have always believed there is something greater than me. I don’t know the bible very well. I have struggled with my relationship with God. But in all my ups and downs with my faith, I never let it go. I am a spiritual person. I use my faith like a life line tethering me to a boat as I jump in and swim in choppy waters, riding the waves as best as I can. I have sunk many times but it has always been there within reach and I have  grasped it tightly many times and pulled myself back to where I needed to be. Gone are the days when I scheduled going to mass every single weekend into my life. On some days in this life of mine, I have been called to be the person who removes all extra activity from our day and be the one who keeps the weekend uneventful, with just the four of us being at home together, doing whatever it is we feel like doing. Some weekends I am called to be my husband’s wife and my children’s mother, doing things together as a family before a busy week begins. Some weekends we go to mass and every time we do, it is special. I think when we do go, we see things through different eyes and listen to and interpret words in a new way and we appreciate being there sharing that hour together.

I had a beautiful connection that night and I feel changed. I don’t feel worn down thinking about the things I have to do or the way I have to do them. I am satisfied that in the instances where I know I have given my best with no positive results, I have done nothing wrong and I have to accept that while I cannot control the actions of others, I have to believe that my efforts will bear fruit in time. I feel okay about things being a little more difficult for me and my family. I feel okay with having to take 10 steps to an end result when other people may only have to take 2. I feel okay with the struggles I have waded through and I don’t expect that much will change or become stupidly easy from this point on, but who else better to deal with shit and turn it into magic and joy than me. I have solid partners in my three men. They give me immeasurable strength so I can get us all where we need to be. My life is certainly not charmed but it is substantial because I am “remarkable” just the way I was meant to be. It may have taken 16 years but I can finally say I can hear Him and I know now everything is just as it should be, things are going to be just fine and for this realization that took so long to materialize, I am remarkably grateful.

Remarkable-Sermon-Series-Idea

 

To Today’s Youth: Stay Loud, Stay Strong!

Yesterday, I went on a 12 hour day trip with my 15 year old. Every so often I plunge myself into this world of his that is so fascinating to me and I come away with a greater sense of what it is like to be young today. I have to say, it’s a little complicated, it’s got it’s difficulties but is it also it’s pretty cool. It is quite different from my time as a teenager but some of the struggles are still the same.  The worst part of being a teenager is being misunderstood by adults who are just teenagers who finally got old enough to have their way and boy do they ever hang on to it for dear life!  My teenagers are going to be adults one day too who will have their way and my only hope is that they remember to listen and approach the younger generation with eyes and mind wide open and be okay with letting go of some of the ways they do things in order to evolve. I hope they approach the young better than we have in generations past because just maybe they would learn something from them, the way I do now.

During the drive with my son, I listened to some very poetic and emotional rap with enlightened ears and learned why my son identified with it. I was taught the difference between talking to a specific girl and dating a girl. I found out that in his high school, it is understood that different groups exist and are accepted. It doesn’t mean you have to hang out with everyone but it certainly means that if you are discovered to be a hater you are considered a loser and pretty much a cave person. I learned that he is ever so gradually making decisions about things in his life that are making little statements about who he is and who is is striving to be and I couldn’t be more proud.  One thing was clear to me in light of my conversations with my son yesterday, good kids are raised by good people but there are still too many negative people and situations that we have to get around, so much archaic nonsense we need to get rid of, that stand in the way of our youth making significant change.

Last weekend I watched American youth march for what they believed in. They marched for change. They were not asking their government for anything unreasonable. They want their government to implement stricter gun control, implement stricter laws surrounding weapons. They were asking their government to help them live. They were asking their government to help them survive at school, a place where they should be safe so that they can learn. The world watched a turn out on March 24th that was massive. The youth had a voice and stayed strong amidst many horrible comments from politicians funded by the NRA as well as the ignorant masses who were solely concerned about their right to own a gun. The positive support these young people received outweighed the crass negativity. The youth stayed loud and strong and they prevailed.

Over the course of history, it was the young who initiated significant change. The young possess and fire and a drive to live life the way they want to – the way life needs to be lived. They want safety, they want justice, they want humanity, they want peace and so did we when we were young. Young David Hogg, Parkland, Florida”s Stoneman Douglas High School  shooting survivor, said in an interview with Anderson Cooper before the event on March 24th, “It’s like when you try to tell an older person how to do something with their phone and you keep trying to explain to them what to do and eventually you just turn to them and say ‘just give it to me’ and you fix it. That’s what we are doing now. We are saying to the government just give it to us. You’re not doing anything to fix this so we are going to fix it”. For many of us, that burning flame inside us that drove us to make a difference was extinguished. Maybe we hit hard times, maybe we were tired of trying and being beaten down but when we looked behind us there was always someone young  who picked up that torch and began walking towards that goal of achieving all the things we all ever wanted as a people on earth. That is what is happening in America now. The young are tired of waiting on adults to fix the problems in their society so they are stepping up to the plate and do what needs to be done to stop 96 Americans from losing their lives to guns daily, because it is possible. Japan, Australia, Canada, Finland and many countries have proven that strict gun control law is the best way to prevent death by firearms. We have all seen the videos on social media and the stats. It is possible, yet America chooses not to amend gun laws because politicians need the funding, the funding comes from the NRA and politicians want to be in power to rule over the people who may not survive a gunshot wound on any given day in America.  Add to that, the ignorant masses who just want to have a gun for the power it gives them as they clutch it tightly in their hands.  No one looking from the outside really understands this twisted concept neither do the young people who are rallying against lax gun ownership laws. No one with half a brain understands why grown men and women are trying to character smear teenagers who just want to see their government make it harder for their peers to walk into a gun shop and buy an automatic rifle so they can return to school and slaughter students and teachers.

I love young people. Young people who possess the qualities of leadership make me proud to know them. They don’t just pop out of thin air either. They come from adults who teach and guide them as they navigate their way around right and wrong and around equality and injustice and good and evil. Good youth come from good people who raise them – parents, teachers, clergy and yes, occasionally good politicians.

I am so tired of the criticism of today’s youth because they happen to have grown up in the biggest and most impacting technological era of our time. I am tired of hearing older people criticize them for not socializing and for having their head down, eyes glued to the screens of their devices. My God, remember when youth were criticized for watching too much TV? Remember when Rock and Roll and Heavy Metal was looked upon as Devil Worship Music? To be young is to be criticized. That will never change because when people grow older and are unable to keep up with the way things evolve around them, they get jealous and grumpy and they say exactly what older people said about them when they were young. If you can’t find a place to be on the planet as it changes around you, don’t be cynical, just be quiet and kind because if you are, maybe that young person will help you turn on your phone.