It’s been a month since I said yest to God. A very important month that’s only intensified by the 40 days of Lent and of course Easter. I mostly travel alone in this journey. There is no support at home or a gaggle of Catholic girlfriends where we can shop, drink coffee and transform together. But God provided me with 4 friends from Weight Watchers–we have never met–yet they are supportive in growing in our faith as well as in our challenges. I have a tendency to be more honest with people I don’t know. I’m praying that maybe someday we can all meet. He also provided two very good friends at work. Two beautiful souls from a beautiful family that listen to my endless questions and talking about God. It’s so easy to talk with them because they love their faith and mote importantly they love God. Very rare to see in younger folks nowadays . I count them as part of my many blessings along with my WW friends. If you don’t have a family God will create one for you. Psalm 68:6 God places the lonely in families; he sets the prisoners free and gives them joy.
During this month, I read a lent focused devotional by Fr. Richard Rohr (highly recommended), dug deeper into my faith by connecting with online studies with De. Marshall Taylor of the New St. Thomas Aquinas institute, Brandon Vogt of Caritas and of course through my local parish.
So what comes after yes? HARD WORK! This is a lifetime commitment and to be exact its a living breathing relationship. I am now part of Jesus’ family, his mom, his dad, saints, the Holy Spirit and of course God, our father. You can’t say yes at the altar and then just go home to business as usual. What if that happened during a marriage ceremony? What kind of relationship would that be? Now God’s part is easy because he’s already perfect. I’m the one that needs to work on my formation, my road of perfecting myself. To a non catholic that might sound strange, but really its not. We reconcile ourselves to God so that we can become more and more like him. Less of me, more of Him. That’s the original game plan. That’s why Jesus came. He modeled it for us. He showed that it could be done. We could become more like God in his attributes while we are human. Not easy mind you and it is much deeper than what I am writing about today.
If you observe couples who have been married for a while, you’ll notice that they know whether the other person is going to like something or not. They sense the other persons mood. Sometimes they can read each others non verbal cues and communicate without speaking. They tend to not sweat the small stuff like recapping the tooth paste. But they know beyond imagination that they truly have become one and yet they still remain individuals each with their own personality, triumphs and challenges.
I believe that our relationship with God is along the same lines as marriage. We marry into the family those in heaven as I mentioned in the beginning and those on earth–family friends, Catholic community.
Part of this process is that the not so pretty parts of you will surface. If you don’t face them on your own. God being awesome, will show them to you. Sometimes its a gentle nudge, sometimes its similar to when your mom squeezed your cheeks together and said “I want you to look at me–because I’m talking to you”.
So, during lent I discovered many things that needed work–and being human I’m thinking “great, I’m working on stuff”. Ahhh, but God doesn’t allow mediocre. He pointed to two major areas and said “What are you going to do about this and that?
My current areas of struggle are discipline, overeating (lifetime challenge) and finances. Of course all three are linked. So, how did I respond? by eating 2 pints of ice cream and more jelly beans than anyone should ever consume in one sitting and then I went out and spent $200 bucks. How’s that for a “yes God?”.
After the ice cream, jelly bean, shopping spree binge which left me feeling like crap, I realized that I truly had a problem and that it had a spiritual solution. Not another diet book or the psychology of why we overeat. This needs a God solution.
I went to reconciliation today. Fr. C told me (based on the details I provided) that yes, I was in sin. Anything that takes the place of God and separates us from Him is sin. He said we sin cause sin always feels good. Doesn’t matter what the sin is-food, gambling, sex, alcohol. It releases dopamine in our brain which floods us with relief and good feelings. The problem is that we constantly have to go back to that well. We make frequent trips and the quantity we need to make us feel good gets bigger and bigger. Typical addiction. Now, not all overeating is sin. Sometimes we just over indulge. But when it becomes a lifestyle, and there is no medical reason for it its sin.
After we overeat, then we are flooded with guilt, shame and a sense of failure. Which causes us to…you guessed it…medicate with food once again. Then we are like Adam and Eve after the fall. Trying to deny, blame and avoid God.
His recommendation was the following. Invite God into your sin. Stop trying to conquer this on your own. As soon as you are tempted call on God ask for his grace and mercy. You may still sin–because this is deeply embedded behavior. But you’ll find that you will consume less even when you are over eating and the times will become less and less. Ask God to show you what moderation feels like, What does it look like. When have you hit moderation and are about to go over the line. If you ask Him He will tell show you.
My Penance: Soooo powerful. He said that this Sunday’s reading is about St. Thomas and how he didn’t believe until he could touch Jesus’ wounds. Read the scripture reading for Sunday (about St. Thomas) and just like St. Thomas touch Jesus’ wounds and believe that you victorious because Jesus went before and purchased your victory through his wounds. Believe that you can because He is victorious and has overcome the world. Do this as penance and every-time you feel tempted.
I cried because I did not honor God with my body and food has become an idol. I cried because I was so relieved. I feel free. I feel light. Mass tomorrow will be awesome. There is no faith that I have encountered in my travels that is this compassionate and this transformational.
There is no place like home…