Reflections on loving God, being Catholic, being a woman, being ill, loving life and anything else that comes to mind.

Wednesday, February 05, 2014

Another Preview from Ch. 9 - The Plans I Have For You

One day, my first Catholic friend, who is given to voicing profound insight about Scripture and faith off the cuff, told me, Jesus didn’t mean the gates of hell would be attacking us. He meant the gates of hell would not prevail against the Church. We're supposed to be attacking them! I found myself reconsidering what I'd always thought Jesus meant: “The gates of hell shall not prevail.” (Matthew 16:18) My friend was right. Gates don’t attack. They are attacked and prevail only when the attackers can’t pull them down. Until then, I had seen myself trapped behind towering, black cast iron gates as they were about to open and devour more unsuspecting prisoners. Now, the image flipped and I saw the Church pulverizing those huge gates. The pile of rubble was astonishing. Still more astonishing was the immense crowd of freed prisoners making their way out. Might I be one of them? I eagerly agreed with my friend. We went on to discuss his insight and, to this day, still do. I never told him my past imagery or new vision. But the new pictures remain in my mind and heart.

I don’t think I’m an easy person to love. Though I’m thoughtful, caring, other centered, creative, silly, well read and, definitely stylish, I keep quite a lot to myself. Because I can be talkative, most people probably don’t realize how little they know me. Occasionally, someone will surprise me, as a co-worker did when she warned another young woman in the office, Don’t crowd her. You have to give her space and time by herself. I need time to digest the new. And others always come first. I may plan to tell a friend I’m afraid or lonely or in need but then forget listening to his response to, How are you? It’s rare for me to call someone and blurt out a concern; I don’t like asking for help or attention or anything else; I share the desires of my heart with very few. Only recently have I been genuinely comfortable asking a friend to come and collect me after a medical procedure. I need private time with someone before I can express what I’m thinking and feeling. I do answer direct questions but if my life becomes the main topic of conversation, I usually begin to deflect questions about myself.

My story is so horrific. How can I expect others to handle it? My story is so beautiful. How can I ever do it justice?

Besides, God gave me my share of family. Though brief, it was better than the families many people have had. What more could I expect? I didn’t expect. My friends never inquired into my expectations. They just loved me. They live the new commandment, “love one another; even as I have loved you.” (John 13:34) None of them does so flawlessly. Some of us have argued. I’ve been reprimanded and done my fair share of reprimanding. A few friends really fail every so often. But they try. And I am the benefactor of their love. Because of them, I now have a family that loves, that loved me when I was riddled with wounds, that I can trust to go one loving me.

"The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me, because the LORD has anointed me to bring good tidings to the afflicted; he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound." (Isaiah 61:1) Because of their love, I became the person Christ came to free. While I was enjoying their friendship, Christ used them to pommel the gates of every hell that had been created for me, crushed every prison bar I had claimed as my own. Through a community of Christian friends who love me even when I don’t know how to be loved, God reached down to me in hell and pulled me out. He continues to fulfill my heart’s desires. He has kept the promises He made to me. I wanted to go home. Today, I have more homes where I am truly welcome than I ever imagined. I wanted to be free from the horrible, oozing ache, to be innocent and free. It's still a surprise to me but, I am. I wanted my family. I have my family, family I didn't even know existed. They may not wear the same faces as Marmar, Papa, Grandp√©re or Ti Eduardo but they love me and care for me when I need it. Some even let me care for them when I can. He was right! My Friend was so right! I was happy once. I am happy again.