Friday, April 28, 2006

When Life Knocks You Down...

Sometimes, Life is fun. There are times when it seems as though life could never have been so good and it can't get any better. Memories are made and life is enjoyed. You relish the moments like this and thank God for them, because you never know when it is going to end or when another one will come along.

And sometimes, life hurts. There are times when it seems as though things are particularly dark and you don't want it to get darker. Memories are made then, too, but life isn't so much enjoyed. It seems rainy and you pray for the sun. Sometimes, it's a little rain and sometimes it's a lot of rain. But no matter how hard the rain, when it rains it does indeed pour. It's enough during the rainy seasons to take life one day at a time, and sometimes you feel ever so lonely.

At mass the other day, a priest said something very interesting during the homily. It's stuck in my mind. Whenever life gets you down, and things are going really poorly, life hurts. Especially when life throws things at you that you can only deal with yourself. There's no one that can understand your hurt. When your heart is breaking and you worry about those you love, and your friends are busy. No one is there. That's what it feels like, anyway. But, it's when you feel the most alone that Christ is the closest to you.

In such an unstable, constantly changing period of time -- life -- it can be hard to pick up and move on. But, to know that, no matter who won't support you, who hurts you, no matter who defends the other guy, God is always there. He knows the truth. He knows what happened and He always understands. He is the only one who you can depend upon. God won't leave you to go to work, He won't not talk to you, and He won't defend the person who hurt you.

As much as I love people, they can be so frustrating. God isn't. He always knows me. He cries every time I cry. He picks me up when I fall and holds me when my heart is crushed. And when I feel better, my Father will put me down again. And I will jump back into the ring and fight the good fight.

It's just such a comforting thought to know, no matter how we feel, we are never really alone. God is with us always.

Friday, April 21, 2006

Nothing Ever Stays the Same

There's an old Country Song that I am quite fond of. The lyrics are,

"I watch my best friend Janey slippin further away.
I keep waving, til I couldn't see her, and through my tears I ask again why we counldn't stay.
Mama wispered softly, time will ease your pain,
Life's about changing, nothing ever stays the same.
And she said, how can I help you to say good-bye? It's okay to hurt, and it's okay to cry.
Come let me hold you and I will try. How can I help you to say good-bye?"

These last few days, this song has danced through my head frequently. And I am sure as the next few weeks slip by, the song will come more often. Right now, it seems, that saying good-bye to those I love is about to become perpetual.

Tomorrow, one of my dearest friends is to make the great walk down the aisle. After dating a wonderful guy for a few years, she is going to make her vows. Quite a beautiful sacrament, her friends are delighted for her. And she's been engaged for about a year and half. But, quite honestly, the truth of the matter didn't hit me until the other night. About seven of us girls were out celebrating during her bachelorette party. We had dinner and then went to D.C. for a play. What a lovely night! And in the middle of all the excitement, it hit me. I have to say good-bye on Saturday.

While it's nothing permanent, one thing's for sure, I won't be seeing Christy nearly as often as I have been. Instead, she'll be down in Norfolk taking care of her husband and starting a family. Life with and for Christy is about to change drastically.

And I have to go through the tears again in a few weeks.

Never have I ever been able to say that I have real friends. Until the last year. I have been blessed to make some incredible friendships since last January. Confidences have been told, memories made, tears cried, and laughs exchanged. It's been incredible having people who care about and love you so much. Friendship is a gift. And while, I have had a year and a half with these special people, I have been dreading this May the whole way.

And now it's just around the corner. I never realized how much I was dreading it until the last few days. I am terrible with good-byes. I don't like them. Leaving for long breaks have never been fun for me, becuase I have to say good-bye to those I care about around me, and then when break is over the fun happens again when I am forced to part with my family. But, May is going to be much different. Not just because it's a three month vacation. That would be enough. No, this time, a few of my dearest friends are graduating.

Oh, but how proud I am to see them go and fulfill the vocations to which God has called them. From FOCUS missionary and getting a Master's in Evangelization to teaching young children, my friends are going on to do some incredible things. In that sense, I am so excited for them. They will leave here and leave such a mark on the world- share God and love with so many people.

But, as they are off, bringing the lost sheep to Christ, I hope that every now and then, they'll stop and remember that somewhere in Virginia, there's someone praying very hard for them all.
And I know that I will see most of them again. This is the one thought that consoles me. But, it won't be like now. Now, where all I have to do is go across the hall to see Niki and Michele or run up the three flights of stairs in Campion to see Kelly and Ted. I won't see them everyday, nor once a week. It'll be a long time between visits and possibly phone calls. There won't be dinner meals or the "Breakfast Crowd". There won't be anymore Monday night Bowling or Friday night Frisbee. Skyline and George Washington Park are going to be strangely empty.

So, right now, as time flies quickly, I am milking every moment I can with my Senior gals. Most of them have been awesome about remembering to schedule a little time for me, even among those ten-page papers. I see most of them a lot. I don't know if it's because they know it's important to me, or if maybe they are beginning to feel the coming of the end, as well. But, it's coming.

And when May comes and I am cheering my gals across the Graduation stage, dancing with them at the Dance, and eating the last few meals together, I hope they don't mind a few tears. I hope when Ted drops me off at the airport, she'll understand the crying and maybe do a little herself.

And then I'll go home, leaving my gals behind for awhile. And Mom will whisper softly, "Time will ease your pain. Life's about changing, nothing ever stays the same. And she'll say, "How can I help you to say good-bye? It's okay to hurt, and it's okay to cry. Come, let me hold you, and I will try. How can I help you, say good-bye?"

Monday, April 10, 2006

God Hugs and Head Tousles

They say that you don't have perfect happiness in this life. Now, if I set out to dispute that, I would be essentially buying myself a one-way, first class ticket to the Hot Place. I am not intending to intentionally condemn myself to Hell. Not my way to spend an afternoon. While we don't have perfect happiness, I think that God does allow us brief, intense moments where we experience almost perfect happiness.

For some reason, I get a lot of these Heaven samples during Spring and, consequently, during Lent. I get them in the Chapel an awful lot. Father Heisler put it perfectly. It's kind of like God is reaching down and rubbing your head. But, maybe that's what He does for His guys. For His girls, it's different. Girls don't respond well to tousling of the hair. It disrupts our order. Who would know this better than God?

No, God does not mess up His girls' hair. He gives us God hugs. What wonderful things these are, too! It feels as though God is sweeping you up into the air and into His arms where He holds you as long as He sees fit. These are lovely little things. I once asked Father Heisler if he gets God hugs. "No," he answered. "God just kicks me." Ted very aptly put it, "I think God kicks His sons and hugs His daughters." I agree. Men respond better to abuse.

I mean, think about it. Put two brothers in the same room. What do they do? Promptly break everything in the room by wrestling. For those of you who never had brothers, I pity you. You never had quality enjoyment like my four sisters when we sat watching my two brothers fight to the death. It was violent, but it was somehow an expression of love.

It's probably the same with the guys and God. Why would God hug guys if guys rarely hug each other? No, instead God tousles their hair. This is exactly why when exiting the church most guys' hair is messed up. They need some love from their Father and He gives it to them in a way that boys understand best.

It' the same with the girls. We come out of the Chapel beaming because our Daddy has just held us for a moment or two. He kind of comes up behind you and and gently puts His arms around you. You can feel it because you suddenly feel surrounded by Happiness and comfort. God is there, and He's loving you. It's amazing.

It's during these moments that we feel incredibly close to God. He makes Himself close. When we are suffering or just had a rotten day, God understands. He wants us to come to Him in our lonliness and dejection. This is humbling ourselves before Christ, which is something that is essential to our salvation. And when we do put ourselves at Christ's feet, He'll reach down to His boys and tousle their hair and hold His little girls. He will comfort us. He is comfort.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

The Great Race

Life has a funny way of proving a person wrong. For most people, this smackdown on pride only comes once in a while, popping out of nowhere to remind them that they are only a puny human running around on Earth and that there is something greater behind the controls.

For me, however, these pricks in pride have to come several times a day. I haven't figure out why. I am not arrogant in the least (and you if mistakenly take me as arrogant, you may go and talk to Sophie or Ted, who will tell you quite the opposite.), and I always make sure to remind myself of my spiritual puny-ness. But, I firmly believe I am God's sitcom.

Take, for example, yesterday. It all started off at 8:30 in the morning. I had been preparing for three weeks for my Marshner Presentation. I put in good, solid hard work! And I was scared to death. This surprises many people, but I hate presentations. I have issues with them. The last time I did a presentation was my Junior year in High School. For my English class, I had to recite a Robert Frost poem in front of the class. When I stood up and walked to the front, I began reciting. Just for the record, it helps life when you breathe. I suddenly realized I was not breathing. Then, the my world began to go black. Thanks to my Guardian Angel, I didn't pass out. But, I came darn close!

So, you can't blame me for having like five panic attacks before this presentation. These happened as early as four days before the presentation, and I would just drop my stuff and start walking up and down the hall, breathing deeply. Poor Ted was there during at least one, when we were leaving to attend mass in town at 7:45. At 7:15 in the morning (two days before D-day), I was shaking like a leaf stammering out incoherent sputters, while Ted was holding me by my upper-arm, telling me gently to breathe. It was quite a cute picture.

The morning I walked into Marshner, after talking things over with my best Friend God, I felt strangely calm. I think I was in denial and that God was pouring spiritual Ridalin into my body. When my term came to present, I stood up on my shaky legs and went forth to my fate. Thanks to a friend, I never had a chance to talk too fast, because she would tug on her ear before I had a chance to speed up. It was like giving a speech to Carol Burnette, on Purgatory. When I finished and went back to my seat, I fell into it triumphantly. I had done it! I hadn't passed out! And it went well! I felt victorious. And then it came.

"Umm...Miss Smith?" Doctor Marshner's voice rose from the opposite side of the class. From the time my presentation ended until I left class he told me what he thought about my presentation. I was mortified. Most of what he was saying was shocking. Especially since he had fallen asleep at least four times during my presentation. Why me??

I had workstudy after class and, to get away as much as is possible on this ant hill of a campus, I sat on the stairs in the library. I don't know if they planned it, but it seemed like everyone of the Apologetics students in my class decided to come to the library that morning. And they all had to put in their two cents. One of them even told me what grade he would've given me. Another prick, ouch!

So, after a calming afternoon (I had to unwind after a very stressful week), after dinner I went over to the Student Center with Ted, Beth, and Sophie to play air hockey. Now, let me just say that I love that game. Until last week, I had never played. But, I discovered that I had a knack for the game, because out of a million games, I had only lost two. But, God felt I needed yet another prick after that morning.

Kelly showed up at the Student Center. All of a sudden, we locked eyes, glaring each other down like cowboys-er, girls- from the Old West. One of those flute songs that play during Western gunfights suddenly echoed through out the room. Everything went quiet. We sidled across the floor, each taking a side of the air-hockey table. Dust and sand swept across the room. We each took a slider. Another glare. More music. The game began...and I got creamed. Once wasn't enough for me. I had to get creamed twice. But, it's ok. Kelly doesn't know this, but I let her win. I just didn't want to make her feel bad.

So, the day from...heck...finally ended and when I crawled into bed last night, I had the comforting thought that the worst of the stress was finally over. No, it wasn't. More was piled on my little plate again this morning and afternoon. I realize over and over again that it never stops. The stress just keeps coming, but I think it's easy for us all to forget that.

And with stress, comes God's pin pricks. He wants us to remember that we are not just us out there floundering to get things done. He's there with us, trying to tell us how to do it. We just don't always listen. We do it our own way. And then, He pricks us. And I always laugh, right along with God and the whole Communion of Saints, who are watching me on Heaven's television. Being God's little sitcome is fun. But, I just can't help but wonder: the actors on Earth get an off-season, why can't I? I think it might possibly be due to the fact that these are actors. I am not acting. This is my real life, and there is no break. But, so as not to depress myself, I try not to focus too much on that. After all, it's a tough job to be God's sitcom, but someone's gotta do it!