In my last blog I wrote about some lessons I learned at a Lent retreat. That retreat was full of jewels and I want to share some more of what led me into Lent this year.
Lent is usually comprised of three things – praying, fasting and almsgiving. In looking at fasting, the priest gave it a twist I had never thought of. When we think of denying ourselves the priest suggested we deny Satan’s access to our souls – especially when he wants to feed me with the lies that I am not lovable, I am not loved, and I cannot love. This brought tears to my eyes as I remembered the past in which I believed all of these lies. I was a senior in college when the “I am not lovable” tortured me so much I went to the school counselor. I thought I wasn’t lovable because I was immersed in my sins. The counselor tried to convince me that my sins were nothing – that they weren’t even sins. This only compounded my unrest and anxiety. I married right out of college and a few years into my marriage, I remember being convinced “I am not loved.” Once again I ended up in a counselor’s office. I was focused on everything that was “wrong” with my husband. Another counselor, but the same message – my sins were not sins and I just needed to loosen up. Then, when children came along, I was convinced “I cannot love.” The first time my pride was challenged through my eldest, after the first “no” to mama, I saw clearly that parenting was going to be an uphill battle and after reading all the psychology books, I was left with more anxiety, clinical depression, and an unhealthy detachment from my children.
It wasn’t until I started back to the Sacrament of Confession that I learned that, yes, I was immersed in sin, but I was loved no matter what. I had a Savior who already died for these sins, and with and by His grace, I could leave these sins behind. It was through my confessor that I came to know that the Blessed Mother was a real help for me and that Jesus’ dying wish was that I behold Her and that She behold me!
What a turnaround for my life. One by one, my spiritual director is picking apart the lies that have been binding me to my sins for years. The worst of all the lies I've come to recognize I bought into so far is that I believed I would only be loved if I was perfect. I was blind to the amazing presence of my Lord, and Savior. Now, believing in faith and through faith that I am entrusted to Mary, the lies are losing their power! The focus of my life has been changing from focusing on myself and feeling a victim of my dear ones, to seeing God’s action in every moment.
Entrustment to Mary helps me see lies for what they are – LIES!
Instead of thinking I’m not lovable, I make a conscious effort to remember I am in Mary’s arms.
Instead of thinking my dear one doesn’t love me, I ask myself – what did God want to show me in this event? Remembering that God alone suffices, that He loves me no matter what, that His love is eternal, helps me accept when others don’t love me as I wish they would.
Instead of thinking I cannot love, I beg my Blessed Mother to obtain the graces for me to love as I should. “I am the vine, you are the branches. Whoever remains in me and I in him will bear much fruit, because without me you can do nothing” (Jn 15:5).
In Mary’s arms, I am glad it is the season of Lent. WE await what God wants to do with my soul by Easter!
Contrition – the first pillar of interior life – is born on the foundation of truth. Only in the light of the truth that you discover about Love, who embraces you, do you see sin as it really is: sin. This happens because you sin “in front of Him,” in the face of Love. You must stand completely naked before God and realize that your sin – your unfaithfulness – is always before Him. You must realize that you sin against God; you sin in the face of the One before whom you are standing at the moment of your unfaithfulness. Yet, God gives you grace, the action of which is itself the desire to be sorrowful. God gives you the light of truth, which allows you to see the distance that separates you from Him. Additionally, He gives you the light to see that, due to this same grace, this distance is overcome. You perceive that the smallest response, a crumb of contrition, suffices to close the gap, such that this distance between God and you no longer exists. (S.C. Biela, TheTwo Pillars, [Ft.Collins, CO: IAMF, 2006], 3-4.)