Hope Through Brokenness

shattered-cup

For much of my life, I’ve found myself pretending to be perfect.

I care so much about what people think about me, where it bothers me when people don’t think that I’m (cool, fun, smart, nice, insert good thing here). It’s simply a part of the human (*after the fall*) condition: we are insecure about how we are perceived because we don’t completely trust that God and others love us and want what’s best for us.

So I have found myself putting on a face, faking that everything’s alright when it’s not. I’d imagine that everyone reading this can relate. Our world is pro at this, especially with social media like Facebook and Instagram: we put up our best, happiest pictures for the world to see. And then what happens? Everyone looks at those pictures from their bedroom all alone or something and gets jealous thinking that they’re a loser because they aren’t experiencing all of the crazy stuff that their friends are.

We have to remember that life has both good and bad moments, and that’s okay! Pretending that only good things happen is a false hope. Even optimism, as much as I love it, is a false philosophy if it isn’t based on reality. It’s okay to be sad for a while, it’s a regular human emotion that God gave us. Even Jesus cried when His friend Lazarus died! John 11:35. (He later raised Lazarus from the dead… haha goes to show how awesome being Jesus’ friend is… : )

In life we go through a boatload of stuff. Good and bad, happy and sad, exciting and depressing. What keeps you centered through it all? Is what keeps you centered going to constantly be there for you? Does it help both in good times and in bad?

What keeps me centered through all the bumps in the road is my faith in Jesus Christ. Jesus is always there for us, even when it’s hard to just have faith in the first place. I love and appreciate the support of my family and friends, but they simply can’t be there for me in the most intimate ways that I need it. It’s one thing to calm someone who is crying. It’s a radically different thing to give peace to a soul. True intimacy not only allows us to share our bodies, as we are accustomed to thinking of it, but also our emotions, fears, hopes, dreams, struggles. If we are holding things back, then we are not being truly intimate (quick stereotypical Catholic thought: apply that to contraception.. (light bulbs, anyone?)). And only our God, who created each of us uniquely, can truly understand us and accept us completely as we are.

I remember a friend of mine making a statement to me a few weeks ago: “Chris, I’m not even sure if Christianity is relevant to me.”

You know, there are probably times when we are all tempted to think that. If everything is going well, if we seem to be in a good place and are living an exciting life, why would we want anything more? But if we come to realize that even in our greatest triumphs, our most ecstatic joys, there is still a part of us that is crying out for more. These moments are oh so familiar for those who are poor, spiritually broken, alone, needy, sick, and mourning. Our souls are longing in these moments for complete and total love. For security and fulfillment. Something that this world cannot give.

As for the relevance of Christianity: it is only as relevant as its God. And our Lord Jesus Christ, the bridegroom to each of our souls, is exactly what we need. We are like broken pots, busy trying to hide our imperfections from each other, afraid that someone might notice. We have two options. We can stay all by ourselves, continuing to try and live a lie of our own self-fulfillment, or we can call out to the master potter, who will hastily come to us, pick up each of our pieces, and put us back together good as new.

This Christmas marks the coming of Jesus Christ into the world to do just that. He came so that He can help us become the children of God that He created us to be. All that we need to do is call out, and He will be with us to help heal our brokenness.

Here’s a prayer that maybe you can join me in praying this Advent: Lord Jesus, I need you. I am broken and in need of your help to heal my body, soul, emotions, and all. Please come and heal my faith, help me to believe in and know you with great conviction. Give me a strong hope to get through the difficult times of life. Give me a strong love for the people in my life, especially those in need. Help me to see you in the poor, the suffering, the needy. Come into my life and renew me, make me your own creation. Amen. 

A Lenten Reflection: How Can I Get Up? How Can I Go On?

The following is a guest post by Vincent Kania, Seminarian for the Diocese of Joliet.

Jesus with the cross

I have suffered, and the way only gets harder. I have accepted this pain, but I still have so far to go. This weight is crushing, and each step is an agony. I begin to lose heart, where can I find strength? I have already endured the mockery, the buffets, the scourging, the spitting, I don’t think I can make it. The cross digs into My shoulder so deep and with each slow step, My head and My body bleed. How can I go on?

“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Psalm 22:1)

And then I see you, My friend, among the faces of the crowd. My heart leaps, My hope returns. Surely, here is one who will show me kindness, encouragement, compassion, love. I look to your face with eager expectation, but you turn away, preferring your sin to My suffering. I am crushed, I stumble, I fall. I lay on the path in despair. I have the power to make this stop at any time, I can escape this pain in an instant. I think of last night and the cup I drank, the cup I promised My Father that I would drink, but oh how inviting, this despair. How can I get up?

“You have taken away my friends and made me hateful in their sight.” (Psalm 88:9)

And then I look up and see you, My friend, once again. You are not even paying attention, shutting me out in your own self-absorbed world of sin. But I also see your pain, which you try to ignore. Even in your betrayal, I love you so much that I cannot bear the thought, of not being with you for a single moment, of losing you for all eternity. And now you are right in front of Me, as I lay underneath the heavy cross, and finally, you turn to me. As I catch your glance, your eyes widen, and I see your agony, your suffering, and your fear. And then you turn and run. My breath catches in My throat. I want to call out, but My voice falls silent. I strain to lift the cross, to run after you; the pain is great, but My love is greater.

“He had no form or comeliness that we should look at him, and no beauty that we should desire him. He was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God … He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth;” (Isaiah 53:2-4, 7)

And as you disappear into the crowd, I realize that I am on My feet again, moving forward, step by step. My friend, you flee before My face, yet I know that this suffering is the only way to save you, to take away your pain and give your another chance. You have rejected Me, but I still hope. How can I go on, you ask? I see you, My child. And this next step, this horrible, hideous pain, this is for You.

“But God shows his love for us in that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8)

 

Other posts by Vincent:
Friendship and Flirting
Why Priesthood? Interview a Seminarian: Vince