God has made it very clear to me in the last few months that pride, hurt, and vanity are among the biggest of my personal Goliaths at the moment and these are prayers built to vanquish them. If those are struggles of yours as well these prayers can be tremendous means of grace and healing, perfect for the humbling, growing season of Lent.
I have made printable versions of each of these prayers for you and they are available free without reservation, no sign up required. The grace of these prayers is for everyone.
Happy Easter! I hope you had a truly wonderful day!
I loved getting to spend time with my little family. My kids are just getting to the age where hunting for eggs can become more of a hunt and less of a “stumble over.”
So Lent is very focused, typically, when it comes to how we grow in faith (no shame if this wasn’t your year for that though – I’m right there with you!) but what happens after it’s over? So often I have spent Lent gutting it out, simply “surviving” my small sacrifice and waiting to collapse back into it at 12:01am on Easter Sunday. And then any progress tends to kind of just, well, stop.
Maybe it’s just me. Maybe you all are awesome at growing through Easter. Please tell me your secrets if you are!
So this year I decided I wanted to change that. I want my Easter season to be even more focused on Christ than Lent was for me this year. And then I’m going to work on growing in Ordinary Time, and then even more in Advent, and more at Christmas, and that seems to me to be a cycle that could result in some real change. We don’t have liturgical seasons so that we can only “focus” twice a year and just go with the flow the rest of time. We have seasons so that we can have cycles of growing, just like plants. There are times that are more restful, times that the growth is intense, but it is all a part of a life cycle.
So here’s the super simple thing I am going to do this Easter season: I am going to fill out this daily prayer guide, every day, and pray these prayers while kneeling, focusing on Christ, and not doing anything else.
There is a daily offering, gratitude, petitions, and a personal litany of saints. There is structure to keep me grounded with a mix of pre-written and personal prayers. It will remind me to reach out to the saints that keep trying to remind me they exist and want to help me (Time I really started talking to you, right St. Teresa of Avila?)
Easy, right? I know it should be, but I struggle a lot with focus. My mind is busy, distracted, unfocused. And just doing this small thing will probably be more of a challenge than I want to admit.
For those of you interested in logistics, I am going to print the daily prayer guide once, laminate it, and then use a dry erase marker so I can reuse the same sheet over and over. It would also work to put it in a frame and use it as if it were laminated, but I know I am going to want to have it in my hands as I pray.
Want to join me? I would love that. And you know what? If strong, regular daily prayer hasn’t been happening for you (even with all the good intentions in the world) maybe this can turn the tide, and then that relationship you nurture in daily prayer can absolutely go on to revolutionize your life.
About 5 months ago my husband and I started sitting down every day for 10 minutes of uninterrupted conversation. We have always had a pretty good marriage. But you guys – it’s INCREDIBLE now. We didn’t even really feel like there was something wrong before if we went a day without really communicating and now we can’t deal with it if we don’t get our time. And that’s our relationship with God too. It’s just like a friendship or a marriage. You put in the time, and the growth can blow you away.
If this is way too elementary for you, awesome. Find your thing to do to help keep pushing the growth. God wants to keep growing with you. How do I know? You’re still breathing, so you’re not done yet.
How do you pray every day? Let me know in the comments!
God doesn’t “will” suffering. It’s not “God’s plan.”
Say what? So all those people saying everything bad that’s happening is “God’s will” or “God’s plan” are confused?
Yes. Yes they are. Very confused. And if you’re one of those people, please, in humility learn why that’s not the truth. (Links to resources in the next paragraph)
God doesn’t will for us to suffer. He does allow it though, but that’s not the same thing. (Want to learn more about this? Start here – He explains it so much better than I could. Still want more? This is longer, but so, so helpful. Literally changed my life.)
God assures us that, though suffering is not His will, He is capable of working in and through suffering, and we see this most clearly, especially today, on the Cross.
You have suffered. I know you have. I have too. We all have.
So what can we do with our suffering? It happens, we can’t avoid it, so what do we do with it?
If you’ve spent any time around here you know how I feel about recycling. (Spoiler alert: I love it.)
So what if we tried to recycle our suffering?
Weird idea? Maybe. But really it’s just a different way to talk about “redemptive suffering” – an idea as old as the Cross itself.
Suffering can mean something. Suffering can serve a purpose. We can offer our suffering to God and say, “Please, take this. Use this. Make something out of this mess that seems like it should just be thrown away.”
And you know what? He does.
You can give him tears, broken hearts, broken bones, shattered trust. He’ll take dysfunctional families, hopeless situations, all the physical pain and spiritual turmoil we can muster. He’ll take it all and it comes with a promise – if you give it, He will use it. Will you get to see the final product? Maybe not here. Maybe not in your lifetime. But someday, yes. If you go meet Him, I firmly believe He will show you.
Even if you know nothing about God, looking around at the world you cannot help but see that He is an artist. He is a creator. A master of form and design. Go to the zoo, a garden, look at your children or best friend. And yet He does all his work with inferior, finite, unwieldy resources. He is the God that takes the absence of the sun and uses it has an opportunity for a sunset. He fashions each human face, the depths of the sea.
And that’s why I think the recycling metaphor is especially fitting. Recycling has connotations of using materials that are essentially worthless on their own and turning them into something of value. And for people that struggle with the idea of redemptive suffering, I think that comparison may be illuminating.
It’s something to think about the next time you suffer. It does not need to be without meaning. It is not without purpose. Suffering can help you to know Him better and it can help others to as well.
Think of our God, a God of creation, a God of victory from a cross, a God of recycled sorrows.
His arms are open. He will take what you give Him. And with the discerning eye of an artist He will begin to use it all. And in that, find peace.
God bless you this Good Friday and always. Know you are in my prayers.
It has been very difficult for me to write. And I think that’s why I have avoided it so much lately. My mind is ever more pregnant with ideas and thoughts that I have great confidence in being amazing when I flesh them out, but yet they never get written. There is always something else that goes into running a business to do first. More marketing, more research, more making.
But what’s the point? I have felt the vocational call to writing my whole life, and yet I run. I let the skills fall into disrepair, like a language I once spoke fluently but have lost with time and disuse.
So the humble thing is to write anyway. Writing is a tricky thing. It is easy to think that the inherent act of putting down your own mind for public consumption is riddled with pride – what else could it be? Isn’t It a chance to share your own brilliance first and foremost?
For someone focused inward, yes, it can be that. The idea of fame through authorship is particularly appealing to a specific kind of person, myself included.
But for me the sinful pride lies in the puffed up dreams of all the incredible things I could write if I merely deigned to do it. The idea that my own brilliance is so overwhelming that the simple act of trying would guarantee success. This is real pride, sinful pride.
And so the humble thing is for me to write. Write badly. Write poorly. Write silly things that need never have been said at all. Because only then can I see that the gems sifted from the sand are cut not from my own mind, but the mind of God. He is the source of all that is good and beautiful, and for that we praise Him. But he deeply desires to collaborate with us to realize the good and the beautiful in the world today, and for that we work. We do all we can to build our skills to offer them to God, that He may use us.
I get ahead of myself these days. Running a business has taught me to think 5 steps ahead at all times, but that is impossible in the spiritual life. It’s wonderful to plan your spiritual life, in the sense that you make the bedrock of it part of the everyday, part of your routine. But God does not work in our time, and thank Him for that. Looking back on my life, if I had actually got the timing I had wanted for all the things that happened, I know I would not have a fraction of the joy and happiness I do now. I didn’t want to meet my spouse so young. I wanted to get into grad school. I didn’t want to start having kids so young. I wasn’t ready for a second baby. And those are just the big things.
Each and every one of the blessings I initially received so hesitantly has unlocked the door to unknown depths of joy and purpose. And ultimately, every one of them has been a neon arrow pointing back to God.
I could go on forever about God’s unexpected blessings, but I am here to talk about writing, and how I let Satan corrupt my calling. Temporarily.
I was in Ireland studying writing at a small school for American students. As much as I loved it there, it is hard so admitting that it was not a God filled time. I let Satan snake into my heart and my work and it probably would have killed my vocation altogether if God had not pursued me. But two of the holiest men in my life, my father and the godfather of my son would not let it go. God bless them for that. Their spiritual steadfastness coupled with their insistence has truly been the voice of God to me, as so many have been throughout my life.
I went to Ireland to write. And I did. Lots. Lots of crap.
It’s hard to admit that I was not strong enough to be in such an aggressively secular setting and maintain my spiritual and artistic integrity. But that was exactly the problem – I went in as myself against secularism in one of its greatest strongholds: highly intelligent, liberal artists and their professors. And I lost. I lost deeply. I lost painfully.
I did not lose due to the weakness of my position, but the weakness in myself. The weakness of pride. The weakness of thinking that the fact that my beliefs were true meant they would always conquer even when I did not rely on the One who is the very source of truth to be the one to defend them. I tried to defend myself and my beliefs as some sort of offering to God, a misguided attempt to earn honor in His eyes when all he desired for me was to empty myself, and offer myself to be His avatar – His tool in the midst of the chaos.
It’s like in an argument. The “winner” is quite often not right, but just a better rhetorician. But does that change the fact that truth is true?
No. Never. The truth does not change. Period.
In Ireland I can point to a single lunch with my professor at which the devil crawled in and got cozy write on top of my call to writing.
I need to forgive my professor, which is something I still struggle to do. His totally misguided advice at that truly horrible lunch gave me fearful pause, made me think that my writing would never be good enough unless it got grittier, and then when I tried to do grittier in the next assignment, he ripped it to shreds – as well he should have. It was awful. It was unnatural. It felt like selling myself. And I hated it.
So I stopped writing. It’s so embarrassing that that was all it took. For five years I had written every day – compulsively, continuously, poorly, very well, and everything in between, but I had always written. I didn’t know how to not. Until I stopped. Until I let such a little thing – the opinion of one man whose own writing I did not admire at all – stop all the momentum.
My next semester I was in Italy. I expected to write so much beautiful poetry, so many wonderful journal entries, so much prose. And I did not write three sentences that weren’t for class.
The scary thing is that I didn’t even realize what had happened. I didn’t see the difference. The desire was gone and even though I had years of habit there that had reinforced the act even when passion had waned before, it all vanished.
The years went on, and I had fitful spurts of trying, but again I was trying. I was trying to push through under my own power, and I always failed to stick with it. I was writing for myself.
And then I felt the call to commit to Pink Salt Riot full time, and it was just so clear that God was calling me to share more of myself and my artistic Catholic lifestyle through blogging. And I approached it with trademark confidence.
I am an awesome writer, I thought. I blogged for a big-time blog as a college intern. I went to Ireland to study writing. I have written thousands of poems. This was going to be great. No big deal.
Until it came to actually doing it.
I was always able to find one more obscure visual element to tweak, or plugins to research, or online shopping to do. The excuses got weaker and weaker and I began to realize I was avoiding writing. I was avoiding it at all costs. I was inventing excuses. I was manufacturing to-do lists.
Anything to keep from looking at my long struggle with writing. Anything to keep from writing and facing the ultimate humiliation: writing something bad.
So I have been wrestling with this for about a month now. And then just yesterday in Adoration at a women’s conference, God pinned me.
Our adoration time was guided by Fr. Matthias Thelen, and the Holy Spirit and him are seriously tight. It was such a gift to pray with him. He urged us all to delve into the root of fear in our hearts and ask “What are you afraid of?”
In my heart I heard the answer: “I’m afraid of what people will think.”
Then Father told us to ask Jesus what He thought about that. Jesus said simply, “Why do you care?”
Why do I care?
Why do I?
I sat with that. I realized I wanted to stop caring. I wanted to let go. But I realized I couldn’t.
But Jesus was there to reassure me in that too. I didn’t have to. I just had to let Him help me do it. I just had to take my eyes off everyone else and look at Him. I just have to care what He thinks.
And I cried. I cried for the duration of adoration because I had this overwhelming sensation of Jesus sitting in the empty seat next to me. He was holding me leaning in to Him on his lap like my husband does when I am utterly exhausted. And I let go.
So here I am, on the plane home from the women’s conference, writing again. It’s not Pulitzer material, but that’s okay. It’s true. It’s what I’ve been given. Its what God has given me.
There are still consequences. I was 20 when I went to Ireland. I am now 28. The time has passed. The skill has to be rebuilt. The words have to come back. I will have to relearn so much, but I’m going to do it. I want to give Him every ounce of skill I can acquire because I feel the call to be a finely tuned instrument in His hands. I am writing now because I feel the very tug of God on my fingertips through the keys. He is desperate for me to use what He has given me. He is calling me, and I have no recourse but to answer.
If I stay faithful, if I look to God first, not just as the source of truth, but the source of its defense, I will find the strength to continue. If I seek refuge in Him when the inevitable first and second and 128th wave of criticism pass over me. If I write not for my own glory, but for His.
Because what else could be worthwhile in this life?
Nothing but the love and glory of God.
God bless you, and let me know if there are struggles in your life that God has pursued you through in the comments! I’d love to hear your story.