Beautiful Song for the Suffering

I’ve been wanting to share this  for a while–It’s kind of a cheater’s post because I’m just sharing these lyrics but there have been times when I’ve played this song over and over–it has moved me . . .it has helped me. If you’re suffering, may be it can comfort you too so I’m passing it along!

The song is Need You Now by Plumb.

Well, everybody’s got a story to tell
And everybody’s got a wound to be healed
I want to believe there’s beauty here
‘Cause oh, I get so tired of holding on
I can’t let go, I can’t move on
I want to believe there’s meaning here

How many times have you heard me cry out
“God please take this?”
How many times have you given me strength to
Just keep breathing?
Oh I need you
God, I need you now

Standing on a road I didn’t plan
Wondering how I go to where I am
I’m trying to hear that still small voice
I’m trying to hear above the noise

How many times have you heard me cry out
“God please take this?”
How many times have you given me strength to
Just keep breathing?
Oh I need you
God, I need you now

Though I walk,
Though I Walk through the shadows
And I, I am so afraid
Please stay, Please stay right beside me
With every single step I take

How many times have you heard me cry out?
And how many times have you given me strenth?

How many times have you heard me cry out
“God please take this?”
How many times have you given me strength to
Just keep breathing?
Oh I need you
God, I need you now.

I need you now
Oh I need you
God, I need you now.
I need you now
I need you now

Listen to the song here: Need You Now by Plumb

You can buy the album on Amazon here: Plumb Need You Now

Let Go, Let God Heal and Surrender!

Do you ever get in the way of your own healing?

I’ve been realizing this a lot lately–things change but suffering stays and I find I have to still let go of many things . . . .

And that I’m still holding on too tight.

So one day in the Adoration Chapel, I cried out, “God, help me to heal!” And I felt God saying, “do you really want to be healed?”

And I realized in some ways I didn’t. I didn’t because I wanted to hold on to my hurts. I was afraid accepting them would mean they would never be made right.

But my unwillingness to let go wasn’t changing anything-it wasn’t altering my hard reality-it was only keeping me bound up in the hurt and bitterness.

And making it impossible for God to heal me.

Because the truth is, it’s not always my job to make things “right.” And sometimes I just can’t. And the truth is, things may never be “right” in this lifetime.

Perhaps it is a lack of humility that has kept me from letting go, so worried about my own feelings. So I’ve begun to pray the litany of humility:

O Jesus! meek and humble of heart, Hear me.          

From the desire of being esteemed,  Deliver me, Jesus.

From the desire of being loved…          

From the desire of being extolled …          

From the desire of being honored …          

From the desire of being praised …          

From the desire of being preferred to others…          

From the desire of being consulted …          

From the desire of being approved …          

From the fear of being humiliated …          

From the fear of being despised…          

From the fear of suffering rebukes …          

From the fear of being calumniated …          

From the fear of being forgotten …          

From the fear of being ridiculed …          

From the fear of being wronged …          

From the fear of being suspected …

That others may be loved more than I,   Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.

That others may be esteemed more than I …          

That, in the opinion of the world,  others may increase and I may decrease …          

That others may be chosen and I set aside …          

That others may be praised and I unnoticed …          

That others may be preferred to me in everything…          

That others may become holier than I, provided  that I may become as holy as I should…

You see with Lent, my renewed prayer life, reading Father Larry’s book and my realization that I was standing in God’s way, things have begun to happen–in me.

I’m just going to be honest, there were times before, before all my suffering began, when I wanted to follow God’s will, but I was afraid of what challenges God might give me in order to make me a saint. I was too tired, in a way, just managing my day to day life. I didn’t think I could handle more.

And that is perhaps the most beautiful thing of all this suffering . . .I am not afraid anymore. I am holding nothing back from God. I have had every emotion under the sun. I have experienced pain more intense than words could ever, ever describe. But now I know–there is nothing I can’t handle. God stands next to and carries me through–whatever. I’m not afraid of what God will do to make me holy. So now when I pray, God help me to become holy, I am honestly willing to face whatever He has to take me through to get me there.

This is my surrender.

Ready for Lent?

So how’s your Lent looking?

Have you thought about it?

Have you thought about what you are going to do this Lent–what you are going to give up or add in?

I heard someone on the radio say, I think it was Father John Riccardo, that when Lent ends you should look more like Jesus than when Lent began. So that’s what I’ve been keeping that in mind this year as I’ve been setting my goals for Lent for me–and for my family.

Now, there have been years, two that I remember distinctly, where my suffering for Lent was kind of built in. And I was told by my confessor to not worry about making too many other sacrifices. One year was the year I was pregnant with my fourth and she was due right about Easter. You don’t think that suffering–then you’ve never experienced the end of a pregnancy!

And the other time was last year–my year of intense suffering. I barely even remember Lent last year. Well, that’s survival mode for you.

Well I’m not 100% right now, my suffering hasn’t ended, but I’m ready to take on more. Mostly because I’ve realized my prayer life, although I’m still praying, has gotten a little stale. I think it’s been mostly whining!

I realized I have grown weak in resolve and purpose and . . . hearing God.

So this Lent, I’m ready to do more to get back to where I need to be. I’m ready to come out of this holier–closer to God.

All right–so for Lent, I thought about getting my family closer to Jesus, what we personally need to work on, and hitting all of the three areas of prayer, fasting and almsgiving.

Here’s what I came up with for my family’s goals:

  • Do one nice thing for another member of the family everyday. We will be recording all these in a notebook and giving a star to the biggest favor of the day.
  • Do the Week of Prayers published by the USCCB. Here’s the link: http://www.usccb.org/about/justice-peace-and-human-development/upload/Lenten-Prayers.pdf.
  • At dinner time, read the Gospel of the day and discuss it.
  • Continue our habit of praying one decket of the Rosary a night (and making sure this happens more often!) and saying a full Rosary once a week.
  • Participate in the Living the Eucharist study put on by our parish.
  • Give up chocolate. For every good deed, put an M&M into a bowl. On Sunday, we get to eat all the M&Ms!
  • No dessert after dinner on Mondays and Wednesdays.
  • Only drink water on Thursdays.
  • Only watch/use entertainment that does not offend our Catholic faith. If it does, have the courage to turn it off.
  • Earn money for Operation Rice Bowl.

Of course, we haven’t had our family meeting yet, so we’ll see if the list stays unedited or if things are added or subtracted as we talk it out.

Personally, I decided I needed to do a few things myself in addition to that:

My parish was nice enough to put together a little Lenten package for us as well with prayers, devotion booklets, daily Scripture reading (The Word Among Us) and encouragement to go to Adoration, etc.

There’s a sheet attached to the front with suggestions for Lent.

lentlit

So that’s what my Lent will look like. Here’s to hoping–not that its not too hard for us–but that positive changes and growth come out of it.

Are you ready for Lent?

 

 

 

 

Busy? Pray More!

Well life doesn’t stop just because we are suffering. Sometimes we have to cut back to our basics…but stop? We can’t.

Sometimes I think that’s a good thing and sometimes I think it’s not. It’s good because we need to keep going, we need to think of other things besides our pain, we need a reason to move. But it’s bad because sometimes we need time to process…and to keep our spiritual life going.

Which is the point. No matter how busy, we have to keep praying. Especially when we are suffering.

Because when our spiritual life gets put on the back burner, we get weak. We somehow seem to lose perspective. And when we are already suffering, we don’t need that!
St. Francis de Sales knew this truth when he said, “Everyone one needs a half an hour of prayer each day. Except when we are busy. Then we need an hour.”
That’s exactly it–business can add to our feelings of overwhelmedness–and of our own failures. And when we throw our prayer and devotion time out the window, we don’t even realize sometimes that we made ourselves weaker adding to the cycle of feeling overwhelmed, burdened, focused on the wrong things . . .

I’m writing this because I got a pretty good reminder of this in the past month. As  you can tell by my blogging absence, I’ve been caught up in being busy! Don’t ask me what–it’s just the daily drama and the practices for the kids for this and that (and everything) and, well, even just trying to normalize life again. It’s a constant adjustment, as the suffering still ebbs and flows.

Throw in a couple sick kids and some long snow day  . . .and well, I started to feel it.

I guess the good news is when I feel so out of sorts, I cry out to God. It’s a natural reminder to get back to the things I’ve put aside.

And yes, God is faithful–helps me to find my way out and I begin to cleave to him again.

So if you’re feeling it, reach out to God now.

Add some extra devotion in. I bet you could find a little time despite the business. I bet you’ll be glad you reached out to the One who can help  you through your overwhelming business.

Getting There

It’s been about a year now since I began my particular suffering. A year.

A year is the time that some say, you begin to come out of it a little–come out of survival mode, come out of the fog . . . .

For the most part, I can see that that is true. But I’ve have twists and turns that make it interesting–some good, some bad.

Its still just a matter of acceptance.

Accepting that after a year, my life is-well-what it is. Accepting that grieving still happens and probably still needs to be done. Accepting that everything isn’t going to turn out the way I want, that even the good parts aren’t everything I dreamed.

The reality is that suffering changes us and our lives forever–in good ways and bad.

There will be parts of me that will be haunted forever, and will mourn forever over my suffering.

But I think what it points to is that reality that this life is broken. This life can never be perfect.

This life is not the end goal.

And so maybe we can’t heal the way we dreamed of. In fact, I can’t even imagine being able to fully heal. It’s hard to believe that even in Heaven,  I will be completely okay. But we will.

We will.

There’s beauty here.

But there’s stunning beauty in the world to come.

And that is always something to give us hope.

And hopeful is  good way to look at the new year.

The Roller Coaster

rollercoasterGrieving has stages but I think in most cases of intense suffering, we don’t move right through them.

We move into one stage and then fall back into the last one and maybe sometimes way back and so forth . . .sometimes over and over again.

Sometimes its a change in circumstances that move us forward and back or sometimes we just feel differently about things. Sometimes we feel closer to accepting our suffering and sometimes we just don’t know how we ever could.

It can be annoying to ride that roller coaster. It can be frustrating to make all that progress and then feel like we’re back in the beginning again.  It can be very hard if our circumstances give us a glimmer of hope–and then snatch it away again

Sometimes we just feel like we want to get off the roller coaster. We get so sick of it.

But I wonder if we need it. I wonder if just barreling through the pain, through the process, without ever having those moments of hope or relief, if it would just be too much for us to handle.

That’s what I think. I think it may just be too much pain to  move straight through.

And I think every up and down, as hard as it is, helps us to move a little bit farther ahead in that grief process. And so the next time we fall back, well, its not quite as far.

We do this over and over . . . and hey, we are actually making progress!

Believe it or not, I’m saying, the roller coaster is actually part of God’s grace, part of the way He guides us through these pain-filled times. We may not like the process–we may not like any of this–but we have to trust that God is leading us through it the way we need to go.

And yes, we are getting stronger!

Taking a Break/Being Thankful

Thanksgiving day and I think it’s time to change the subject…. Well not entirely but today I’m putting aside the intensity of the suffering and instead I’m making a list. Here is my list of what I am thankful for:

  • I’m thankful for being able to see the hand of God constantly in my life. That’s the beauty of suffering- you would never get to see God move so powerfully without it.
  • I’m thankful for what I’ve learned about myself. Although some of the things that have happened has taken a toll on my confidence, seeing myself (with God’s grace) stand up under the suffering and endure has made me realize I’m kind of amazing.
  • I’m thankful for family who has stood beside and supported me in many many ways.
  • I’m thankful for the generosity of people. When this suffering began for our family and word got out, so many people stepped forward to help us get through–including people I didn’t even know. We had people help with shopping, laundry, cleaning, getting kids’ the places they needed to go, prayers and many many meals among other things.
  • I’m thankful for good Christian friends who have prayed and listened and kept me balanced and gave me perspective when I felt like I was going crazy.
  • I’m thankful for those basics we take for granted–that I never had to go without or even think much about, like shelter, food, and clothes.  We have more than enough.
  • I’m thankful for the communion of saints who have also stood beside me and received many of my prayers: especially Pio, Therese, Anthony, Rita, Joseph and Augustine.
  • I’m thankful for how amazing nature is, how God can show himself, speak through it and how it inherently has joy and signs of God imprinted in it.
  • I’m thankful for the Catholic Church , her Magisterium and her unwavering faith and morals–the truth that doesn’t change as the culture does.
  • I’m thankful for my faith and morals.
  • I’m thankful that I’ve lost over 30 pounds since I’ve had the baby and feel good and enjoy clothes shopping for the first time in a while.
  • I’m thankful for a large family and all the joy, craziness, chaos and fun that goes with it. Therein lies true joy.
  • I’m thankful that I’ve been a stay-at-home mom ever since my first child was born over 12 years ago.
  • I’m thankful for miracles.

The Ascension

Sometimes when I meditate on the Ascension, it crosses my mind that this glorious mystery could have been less than glorious at the time To my mind of weak faith, if I imagine walking and talking everyday with Jesus, if I imagine Him being returned to my presence after I thought I had lost Him, and then Him going away again . . I think confusion, sadness. Even though there was the promise of the Holy Spirit, I doubt the apostles fully grasped what that meant. How could they see that as comparable to having Jesus before their very eyes?

But is that how the apostles viewed it? No. The last chapter of Luke tells us that after they witnessed the Ascension, “And they worshiped Him and returned to Jerusalem with great joy. And were continually in the temple blessing God.”

That is pure faith. They had no idea what was going to happen next. They didn’t know what it would be like when the spirit Jesus promised came. They didn’t know what they would be like. But the trusted Him completely They trusted that what He said would happen would actually happen, and they trusted that it was for the best.

That’s a lot of trust. A lot of faith. And it’s beautiful.

Certainly they must have felt some pain–the pain of loss, the pain of separation. But their faith was so strong, so real that they went forth with joy. Great joy.

Because they were so close to Jesus that they really got it!  What does that tell us? The key to joy? Jesus.

Cultivating that close relationship with Jesus.

Over and over again in my suffering I come back to my very own weak faith. When I’m willing to just trust Him, to be brave and accept whatever He has for me, then peace comes, when I can willingly accept that He can–and will–bring good from anything that happens.

Okay so that doesn’t happen much. But its there once in a while. Its possible if we can get to that trust. It always comes back to trust–and faith.

And the disciples got that and lived it.

Falling Down and Getting Up and Falling Down and Getting Up . . .

I’m going to draw a strange analogy because hey, it’s my blog and I can right?

See, I’ve been taking a kickboxing class. And its really, really hard. Usually I get to the point where I can’t keep up; I can’t do everything our instructor asks because I’m just too exhausted!

Last week, we were punching the bag and then hitting the floor in plank position, legs in and out, jumping up hitting the bag, back to the plank, etc., etc., etc. .

After a few times of doing this, I was like done for. It was so hard to get back up from the floor and keep going. But I did. And then I did it again. And again. Yes, I was slower–way slower than when we had started it . . .but I kept getting back up.

Because I’ve often had this vision of myself rising up . . .barely able to stand, barely able to walk. But still collecting all my strength and rising up.

Even  knowing there is still pain to come–and that I will fall again I still get up.

That’s what I thought about while i was doing my kickboxing class. It kept me going.

It keeps me going everyday.

I’ll say it again. There are days where i just have no idea how I will even make it through the day. But I just keep going.

It’s the call of those of us suffering and it’s faith. Because you believe there is  reason to get back up–even if you can’t see it, even if you never see it.

It’s a powerful vision to know that you have the strength–that God gives you the strength to get up when you fall.

To know: Out of these ashes, beauty will rise.

Little Book of Hope

Once when my husband was going through a dark time, I made him a little book of Bible verses and quotes that could encourage him, give him hope and remind him that suffering had a purpose. It was small so he could fit it into the pocket of his scrubs (he’s a PA) and carry it with him wherever he wanted. I ran across it the other day and thought I would share with you the contents to perhaps encourage you as well:

photo (8)“LORD, my heart is as heavy as lead, and I cannot see beyond this present state of depression. I do not ask, since it may not be Your will to grant it, for immediate consolation. I ask for an increase of faith, hope and love. Given more grace, I can endure my mood of passing gloom. I accept it in a spirit of penitence. Lord, turn my discouragement into true humility.” -Dom Hubert von Zeller

“Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart; and you will find rest for yourselves. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30

“Love is the measure of our ability to bear crosses.” St. Teresa of Avila

“Cast all your worries upon him because He cares for you.” 1 Peter 5:7

“Jesus said to me; ‘How many times would you have abandoned Me, my son, if I had not crucified you. Beneath the cross, one learns love, and I do not give this to everyone, but only to those souls who are dearest to Me.” Padre Pio

but he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness.” I will rather boast most gladly of my weaknesses, in order that the power of Christ may dwell with me. Therefore, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and constraints, for the sake of Christ; for when I am weak, then I am strong.” 2 Corinthians 12:9-10

” I was well calumniated, well contradicted, well knocked about. Oh, I had crosses indeed! I had almost more than I could carry! Then I took to asking for love of crosses, and I was happy. I said to myself, truly there is no happiness but in this!” St. John Vianney

“God is our refuge and our strength,an ever-present help in distress.” Psalm 46:2

Hope these lift your spirits. Do you have any other favorite quotes or Bible verses of comfort?