Christina Mead

I’m not proud of it. It’s not something that I ever plan on doing, or will keep doing in the future. I just want to tell you about why I left Mass early.

I feel the need to tell you because I’ve often heard people chastise and shame anyone who leaves Mass right after communion. There are much worse things a person could do but for some reason this one really irks the Catholic world. And I get it, Mass isn’t “technically” over. But I think before we go shaming and guilt-tripping and name-calling and judging… we all need a little imagination.

I try to utilize my imagination often, especially if something ticks me off.

For instance, if a woman cuts me off in traffic and I feel that anger rise in my heart as quick as my middle finger wants to rise, I try to remember that she is a real person. Who is clearly in a rush. Probably to go check on her elderly mother. Who is in the hospital suffering from cancer. She only has a week to live. Of course I want to give this poor woman my spot in the traffic line to get on the highway! My anger is replaced with empathy because maybe that is her story. This is a broken world, the chances of someone having a bad day are pretty high. So what does it hurt me to give them the benefit of the doubt and assume they need a little extra forgiveness?

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not perfect at this and I don’t remember to do it all the time… but when I do, it helps a lot. It helps me not judge people, like those I see leaving Mass. Their story could be the same as mine.

One Sunday in March, we happened to sit in Mass amidst so many families with babies. It was beautiful. And breaking my heart because I was in the middle of my miscarriage. I cried all through Mass looking at them around me and knowing that wouldn’t be me in a couple months. It took all my strength to make it through Mass to communion, and then I had to get out fast. Fifty-five minutes of crying was enough.

And then this Sunday after communion during the announcements, the priest asked all expectant mothers and fathers to stand for a special blessing. Everything in me felt panicked. My heart started to race. Tears began to well up in my eyes. I felt anger, and sadness, and disappointment all hit me like a giant crashing wave.

“We have to go. Now.” I told Dan, who understandingly put his arm around me and ushered us out as quickly as possible.

I don’t know how I’ll do on Mother’s Day. I’m dreading it frankly.

But you see, both those times I was half concerned about not making a scene of my sobbing, and half concerned with people judging me. I know the latter isn’t up to me, it’s their issue if they want to judge and shame me for not staying until the closing refrain of “They’ll know we are Christians by our love.” However, it was still on my mind.

So this is my plea… use your imagination. Make up a story. That man on the street corner begging for money? Maybe his house just burned down. Your boss who was short with you? Maybe he just had an emotionally exhausting fight with his wife.

That woman leaving Mass early? Maybe she just had a miscarriage and is grieving her baby and can’t handle hearing another prayer for the deceased. Maybe she needs to cry somewhere else.

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You Are Enough

Don’t ever forget that okay? You are beautiful and precious and deserve good things — and I can’t tell you that enough! Look I even dedicated a side-bar-box-thing to it. God has a plan and a purpose for your life and He died and rose again because He wants to spend forever with you! Okay, read on. Important reminder over.

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“And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.” Colossians 3:14

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