I bought a medal today. Not like, metal. From Home Depot. That you use for God only knows what – to patch your roof? To wall a garden? No a medal. With the picture of a saint on it. To wear around my neck. Something I haven’t done in… hmm… try ages.
Maybe it’s pregnancy. Making me all sentimental and emotional. Or scared. Yes that’s it. Mainly scared. It’s because I’ve been having nightmares. Miscarriage nightmares. They started almost as soon as the first trimester nausea but were way worse – because emotional trauma is always worse than physical. I can take torture of the tummy, not the heart. Please not the heart.
So I got a medal. Seems like a last resort. A ditch effort. I’d say it was about 6 years ago I started to really ask why stuff like that mattered. They call them sacramentals. Holy things – beads, medals, water, salt, relics…etc. What always bothered me the most (as an adult) was that these things seemed to matter too much to people. Like the “holy thing” was better than the Holy One and the “holy thing” was a cure all, a fix-everything.
And the salt in the wound of my tender millennial christian heart was when the “things” meant more to people than people. When the rosary and the praying of it was more important than looking and seeing your neighbor’s need wasn’t a holy card but a smile and a hug. They don’t need Jesus’ face on paper they need you… Jesus’ love through you.
That problem. The problem of getting outside of our church bubble and actually loving, serving, being Christ to others… that problem felt so much bigger. And spirituality so much more… I don’t know… “spiritual”? Other worldly? Everywhere and nowhere. It can’t be contained in a little holy thing. The mystery is too big. The kingdom of heaven being here and now, Christ among us… that’s the thing to care about.
I felt the holy weight of that. And my relationship with Jesus, our friendship, our love, the drama of my fickle heart, my questions, my anger… it filled up all the big spaces in my heart and prayer cards and medals can come off like a silly hat trick the way some people talk about them.
Bury St. Joseph and your realtor will wake up and be competent?
Die in a scapular and get a free ticket to heaven on the next Saturday? Come on. (Since when is eternity on the Gregorian, 7-day calendar?)
Spirituality is bigger than that. It’s relationship. It’s about Jesus.
But Jesus is about us. And here I am, waking up in the middle of the night clinging to my husband because I felt once again in vivid realness the physicality and emotional trauma of the contents of my uterus being contracted out of me. My body against me.
And I need something. Anything. I need rest. I put this medal over my head and it reminds me to ask the holy men and women who have gone before me to pray for me. I need all the prayers I can get, right?
My faith is intangible but I am not. I am here. Real. A human with hands and feet and eyes and that’s why we have the things. At least tonight that’s what I feel. What I’m understanding. See, it has to be my idea though, in my time.
That’s maturing and making your faith your own. You question it, you rebel, you might hate it for a minute, but then when you need it… it kind of makes sense. Funny. The wisdom of centuries of Christians makes sense. Go figure. Pictures, icons, statues, scripture written on the wall, a fish symbol in the sand, a holy book in hand. The “things” have been around forever.
Because things are comforting. Seeing, feeling, holding this thing, this medal around my neck it feels comforting. It takes pressure off my mind because at least I’m doing something for myself, one more thing to treat the tumult of my tortured sleep.
It’s a sign that I’m not alone. That my God is here and do I need the sign? No. But does it help, yes. I think that’s the point. I am a physical being and I need the physical things. I need them to have their proper place in my faith walk – not before people, not before a personal relationship with God (that’s where I’ve been turned off by them before).
But here. Quietly to myself. Around my neck and against my heart. Here for me who’s here on earth. I need some of the things. My mind needed it to help put me at ease. Jesus gets that. Thanks for getting that. Thanks for getting me, Jesus. And letting me come around to this in my own sweet, stubborn time.
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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God & Spirituality
“The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he refreshes my soul.” Psalm 23:1-3
If we attach God’s blessing to our fertility and our families it would mean I am more favored by God than the woman next to me who can’t have children. And we know God’s love doesn’t work that way.
So yeah, I’m not the perfect Christian. Not always the loving, well-behaved daughter of God. But He is big enough to handle my big, complicated emotions. He is understanding enough to listen to my angry ranting and raving.
It’s okay to stop suffering. There is no need to drag on your suffering when God is inviting you to step into the new person your suffering can enable you to become.