Tag Archives: Choice

Weakness

We don’t like weakness. We especially don’t like our own weaknesses. We pray that God will take them away, and sometimes he does, but a lot of times, he says “I have something better in mind.” Saint Paul begged God to take away the thorn in his side, whatever that might have been, and God told him, “My grace is enough.” So often we find ourselves asking God, “Can’t you just make this easier?” Maybe when we don’t get a clear response it’s because his answer is the same in the twenty-first century as it was in the first.

God chooses the weak and the messy. Think about his twelve apostles. They weren’t perfect by any standards. Ten abandoned him when he needed them most. One sold him out altogether. Only one stood by him at the cross (and there’s a theory that this may have been Lazarus, and not John the apostle). Later, he chased down Saul, a nasty persecutor of Christians, and asked him–didn’t make him, but asked him–to be his apostle to the Gentiles. If it weren’t for Saint Paul, we wouldn’t have most of the New Testament. He consistently chooses the least likely people to do his work.

He consistently chooses the uneducated, the humble, the simple, the sorrowful, the weak, to show the world that his ways are not our ways. That actually kind of freaks me out. What does that actually mean for me? I want to be a saint. I don’t say that lightly. I really do. That means really figuring out my weaknesses. I know what some of them are, and I don’t like them. The fact of the matter is, though that saints embrace their weaknesses. Jesus embraced human weakness. The fact that God decided to take on a human body that could get sick, and feel sorrow, and get hurt, and die, is insane. Still, he embraced that human weakness out of love.

Not many people know this about me, but I flipped upside-down before I was born. My mom was carrying me around so my head was upright. They were going to have to do surgery, but somehow I “miraculously” flipped back around so I could come out naturally. When I was about a year old, around the time I should have been learning to walk, I wasn’t, so a tiny piece of muscle was taken from my leg, and they figured out that I have MD. I wasn’t supposed to live passed the age of five. In fact, the likelihood of my even existing were very slim. Both of my parents somehow had the same defective gene that meant my body would be “weird.”

At times I have celebrated it, and at times, I have resented it. Had my body been “normal,” I probably would have played sports. I probably would have had very different friends and different interests. I also probably wouldn’t have figured out how to play guitar upside-down. I probably wouldn’t paint abstract pictures or make abstract mosaics. I probably wouldn’t have become an author, and I probably wouldn’t have come very close to God. I probably would have gone to a secular school half way across the country to get away from the boring suburban town I live in, and I may have lost my faith altogether. Instead, I went to Gordon, a small Christian school within driving distance of my house, so my mom could get me to my classes and then home. It was there that I learned that, not only does God notice my existence, but he loves me. It was also there that I learned nearly everything I know about writing. God’s love, reading, time, and failures have taught me the rest.

Yesterday’s post was about trust. I wrote about how God chooses to trust untrustworthy people. He’s made it quite clear to me that he loves me. Trusting someone with your love is a pretty big deal. Both of the priests at my church know that I think God is calling me to religious life. I asked one of them: “Why does God choose who he does? I mean, why would he choose me? There’s nothing special about me.” He effectively said, “I don’t know.” I know my weaknesses. I also know my strengths. I have physical weaknesses and I’m a sinner. I also deal with a few leftover insecurities from when I was a kid, but I know how to manage that stuff. I’m not just a writer; I’m a good writer, and I know that. I’m loyal. I know how to prioritize, and how to manage my time, even though I fail to do this as I should sometimes. The point is, I’m human, and so are you. For the remainder of Holy Week, this is my advice, from one messy human to the next: look at your weaknesses, and try to see them as God sees them; let him use them for his glory. Write about it, sing about it, cry about it, scream about it, and especially, pray about it because sometimes our weaknesses end up being our strengths.

Because in my world guinea pigs can fly!

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Trust

Several weeks ago, in fact it was before Lent began, the Gospel reading was about how Jesus couldn’t fully trust a certain group of people because he knew just how messy human nature is. This crushed me. It left me with the nagging question, “Can he trust me?” That’s a nasty question because the answer is complicated. I wrote a while ago about when I nearly lost a year’s worth of work, but I chose to trust, and I gave the problem to God. I chose to trust him, and my work was restored. The truth is, God knows everything about me. He knows about all my messiness, but I know that trust is a choice.

I recently made a choice. I chose to say “yes” to religious life. I’ve started working with my priest to find the right order for me. This is a really new development, but it feels right. I haven’t entirely embraced this in the past, even though I’ve considered it off and on for quite some time. I haven’t been totally willing to say “yes” before because the fact of the matter is, it makes no sense for him to choose me or trust me. I have no idea what he has in mind for me to do, but I don’t have to know. Last night I was praying my rosary like usual, but instead of trying to simply visualize what was going on, I tried to imagine what Christ might have been feeling during his Passion.

The second decade of the Sorrowful Mysteries of the Rosary focuses on his scourging at the pillar. I saw and heard the whip in my mind. I saw his blood. More importantly, I think, I realized that each of those slashes was one of my sins. His mercy says to me, “You’re worth it.” I’m worth it. He sees something in me that I don’t because I am messy, and not only is he saying that I’m worth that pain, but I’m worth dying for. He’s saying that my soul is worth carrying and taking the guilt for all my sins. With that in mind, how can I say “no” to him? I don’t know what he has in mind for me, and my soul isn’t totally trustworthy in the sense that I am faulty, but God chooses to trust me. What I have failed to grasp in the past is that God chooses to trust, too.

Because in my world guinea pigs can fly!

Mercy

This is what I know of God’s mercy.

God made humanity out of love, knowing we would betray each other and even betray him.

God never stops giving, even when we forget about him.

God chases us down to love us and save us, but doesn’t make us choose him.

God forgives every time we ask for forgiveness.

God saved us despite what it cost him.

God chose adoption over vengeance.

God knows everything about you. He knows your name. He loves you.

When The Sky Does Fall

My last post was about how I didn’t lose my book and my sky did not fall. I believe that my sky didn’t fall because I trusted in God. But what if I had lost my book? I had made the choice to trust God before I knew what was going to happen. I had chosen to trust him even if the worst did happen. Trusting God and losing a book would have been one thing. It would have sucked, but I would have been able to recover from it. God wants our trust. He wants to be our family, and that’s what family is about. We entrust the most important parts of our lives to our God, and sometimes we do so because there’s no one else we can trust.

I saw an absolutely terrible thing on the news a couple of days ago. it was about the orphaned and neglected children left without resources or comfort or love in the aftermath of the war in Syria. I haven’t forgotten about them. I’ve made sure to include those kids in my prayers because they need someone to take care of them, and I don’t know how many people changed the channel because they didn’t want to hear or see the sad story. I am trusting God with the lives of those kids who aren’t even mine, but they need help. Still, there’s only so much that can be done, and some of those kids will die. In that sense, the sky will fall. Blue diamonds will be lost. I would just like to ask that anyone who might be reading this to join me in praying for those blue diamonds.

Sometimes our skies fall much closer to home. Relatives or pets die. We get sick or injured. Students end up not having enough money to finish a degree. Relationships end badly. Trusting God is a choice, and we have to trust him with these issues before the sky falling is even a possibility; before it even crosses our minds that something bad could ever happen. Reading this here will not help anyone do that. Writing it down doesn’t make it any easier for me to do it. The ultimate question is, what do we do when the sky does fall? Do we continue to trust?

Think about this: Jesus’ whole life was a series of falling skies, both for his friends, but mainly for his mother. When the angel Gabriel came to Mary and asked her if she would be the mother of the Messiah, it was up to her. She had to make that choice. She had to trust God that this would turn out okay. She knew that the Messiah would save Israel, but she didn’t know exactly how he was going to do that. She chose to trust. Then again, when she went to the temple to present Jesus to Simeon, she was told that because of her son, a sword would pierce through her own soul. She didn’t know what that meant, but it couldn’t have sounded good, and again, she chose to trust. Jump ahead a few decades, and she trusted Jesus all the way to the cross. The sky fell hard, and still she trusted. Most of his friends couldn’t handle it, but she trusted, and luckily, John trusted, too. Three days later, everything turned out okay. We know how the story goes.

We have to make the same choice. We have to choose to trust God, and in a way, it’s harder for us. Mary was born without sin, so it was easier for her to know and to trust God. On top of that, she had some inclination of how things were going to turn out in the end. In our lives, that often doesn’t happen so much. We still have free will, though, and trust is a choice we have to make in the end. We know the story of Jesus’ life on earth. We know what he’s done in our own lives. We know he can do anything, so before anything happens, good or bad, choose to trust. Choose to hope. Choose faith. Choose love. Choose peace, and know that the God of all that is good loves you, wanted you to exist, wants what is good for you, wants the best for you, and is coming back in the end. The sky might fall. The sky might have already fallen for you, but know that Jesus can take a fallen sky and make a blue diamond.

I wish you all countless blue diamonds in the coming year, and a very merry Christmas.

-Katie

Because in my world guinea pigs can fly!

Advent Reflection Notes (Week One)

Earlier today I finished doing a novena to Mary Undoer of Knots. It’s a specific way of doing the rosary that really underscore’s Mary’s power as an advocate for us with God. I also started taking an online Advent retreat. These are some notes I took from the videos I watched.

1: Jesus is why I can smile and cry at the same time.
-One of the videos talked about finding happiness, and the speaker talked about how so many people are, or at least seem to be unhappy. Happiness is a weird thing because it doesn’t mean being gleeful all the time. It’s hard to define it, but I think it’s about feeling real or authentic, at least in part. The other day I was praying, and I remember telling God, “This world isn’t satisfying.” That’s not to say I don’t like things in this world, it’s just that I know there’s something way better available.

2: Can I give Jesus an hour every day? What is my best time?
-I’ve been doing the rosary every day for a while, so I know I can pray for at least a solid twenty minutes. I don’t always pray at my best time, and sometimes I pray as a way to procrastinate instead of actually scheduling devoted time for God. I’m not entirely sure this is really the way to go, though. I feel like conversation, which is what prayer should be, should be more spontaneous.

3: When praying, let God speak first.
-I definitely don’t do this. I often pray when I need something or I’m feeling bad about something, so especially when nothing in particular is going on, I need to let him start the conversation.

4: “I’ve been praying for something for twenty years, so I’m beginning to have hope.” St. Padre Pio
-That’s definitely something to think about. I’ve been praying for something really important for several years now, and it hasn’t happened yet, but for one thing, I think the waiting has made me more patient, and maybe more persistent. I’d like to know more what St. Padre Pio meant by this because it’s counter intuitive.

5: God sometimes leads us by rejection. Rejection allows us to be alone with God.
-I’ve actually started to realize this on a personal level recently.

6: I worry about what I think I can’t do.
-Jesus asks of us what we can do, not what we can’t. What I forget is that what I’m capable of often surprises me. More to the point, what God is capable of through me will probably always surprise me.
-“My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness.” 2 Corinthians 12:9

7: If you assert something enough, does it at least sometimes make it true? Can I start to trust God more simply by telling him that I do?
-This was a question that popped into my head while watching one of the videos. I think the answer is, “no.” Trust is a choice.

Anyway, these are just some musings I had while watching the videos. I’m hoping to post something like this once a week for the remainder of Advent. Hopefully they’re at least interesting, if not particularly insightful. I did write in my last post that I want to give Jesus more room, which I think ultimately means giving him more time. This is certainly one way I’m trying to do that.

Because in my world guinea pigs can fly!

Logic, Faith, Homosexuality And World Peace

I don’t know if I’m exactly Catholic anymore because I’ve deviated from quite a few beliefs that are traditionally Catholic, but I still pay attention to what happens in the Catholic Church, and I really like Pope Francis a lot. I guess it’s just nice to have a professional opinion to go off of. I especially like what he said recently about gay priests. He said that he cannot judge gay men who chose to remain celibate in the pursuit of God. Apparently he still does not condone gay marriage, but it’s certainly a step in the right direction.

I know it’s not exactly orthodox, but I believe that gay marriage is just as sacred as a marriage between a man and a woman. In almost every way, it’s the same. 2 people love each other and vow to be together in sickness and in health until death do they part. True love, I believe, transcends gender. If homosexuality was dangerous it would be another story, but there’s nothing dangerous about it. The biggest problem about it is that it has been stigmatized into something that must either be hidden or eradicated, which only causes hate and violence.

At one point in time it was believed that people were disabled because either they or their parents were sinners. I recently went to a presentation by some students at my school about what they, some professors and I believe a couple doctors thought about disabilities. Before a discussion session, they showed a video, and one professor that I actually had the semester before said she believed that people have disabilities as a physical representation of the evil in the world. People like me are just randomly picked to carry the burden of the rest of the world? I think not! People like me are brought into the world to make life a bit more interesting. My disability has brought me closer to my family and friends and closer to God. In fact, I probably wouldn’t be a Christian if it weren’t for my circumstances. I might not even be a songwriter. Everyone is made a certain way for a reason.

It is still believed by some that homosexuality is a disorder, therefore, the same stupid argument could be applied and therefore, I think that homosexuality is no more sinful than Muscular Dystrophy. God makes each of us special, and I think that if he didn’t want there to be homosexuality, he wouldn’t let it exist. I also believe that sexual orientation is not a choice, and therefore it is not a matter of free will. If it is not a matter of free will, it can’t be inherently sinful. I like boys, and I would never be able to convince myself that it’s wrong or that I like girls. It’s just not how my brain works. It’s the same for a friend of mine, only she likes girls.

Furthermore, homosexuality is not a problem that politicians or the church should need to worry about. They need to be focusing on real problems like terrorism, hate, poverty and starvation. If people were just willing to accept each other for their differences, they would see the similarities among all people and their capacities for innovation and love and they would work together instead of bickering over technicalities and tiny details.

Because in my world guinea pigs can fly!

Choice And Belief.

I don’t believe in ghosts for a few reasons. The first is that I’ve seen no convincing evidence of their existence. I’ve always thought those ghost hunter shows on TV were total bogus and nothing has happened in real life to convince me otherwise. Part of the reason I don’t believe in ghosts however is because I choose not to. The whole idea of specters, spirits, etc freaks me out, so I choose to believe that they don’t exist.

My cousin asked me something along the lines of “Isn’t believing in ghosts sort of similar to believing in God?” In some sense, yes. People have plenty of stories and evidence to support their beliefs in both. I had to take into consideration whether it’s by choice that I believe in God. I’d say it at least partly is. I also believe that Jesus came to me in a dream and told me to follow him. It’s a little difficult to argue with that.

There are plenty of people who don’t believe in God at all, so my question is; is that by choice? Can you have an experience like that and simply choose not to believe it? If so, why would that be? I’m sure there’s probably a scientific, rational explanation for it, but couldn’t it be both?

I don’t like the idea of supernatural beings. I do believe in demons, but I don’t believe that they are distinct entities. I believe that they rely on human feelings such as anger or fear to exist. Other than that, I’m not even sure that they are describable. I don’t believe that spirits of the dead can hang around in the world of the living because it completely screws with what I believe about the afterlife.

I’d love to know what people think about this stuff. 🙂

Because in my world guinea pigs can fly!

Free Will, Chance and Predestination

I was reading a particularly boring novel today, and of course my mind started to wander. For some reason I started thinking about free will, chance and predestination. I stopped myself and re-focused on my homework, but I figured the topic would make for a good blog post.

Let’s ignore chance for a minute since the other two are tricky as it is. It is a self evident truth that humans have the freedom of choice. It is also true that God has a plan for this world. Some people believe that this plan includes a selection of the people who will be saved or not. By this thinking however, one has to believe that it does not matter how “good” or “bad” a person is because God has already decided their fate. This does not leave any room for redemption or for the choice to turn to or away from God, which obviously, people do. I would argue that God chooses people to be His followers, but he also allows them to freely make that choice. God knows what people will choose, and perhaps He will influence them one way or another, but ultimately, the choice is theirs.

But how does it work with less theological issues? Is there such a thing as chance or is every single event and situation  planned out? Why do bad things happen? In computer programs, sometimes variables are included. If X, then Y. If Y, then Z. If Z, then X. Perhaps parts of God’s plan allow for chance in this way. Obviously parts of it are fixed; people live and die; the world as we know it will come to an end some day, somehow, but it seems that there is some kind of “if, then” variable in some parts. Perhaps this variable is what we call human nature. This does not leave chance unacounted for because God “programmed” or “designed” human nature, and He allows for it, so it is still under His control.

Bad things happen because there is evil in the world like a virus in a computer program. Human nature was tainted by original sin, which made it impossible for the world to be perfect anymore. God allows bad things to happen as part of the redemption process, and ultimately, He will “fix” everything when the End comes. He could take care of everything instantly, but he doesn’t for a perfectly good reason that I don’t think humans can ever be fully aware of.

Well rheres a first attempt at least. Back to work now! Please leave comments!