A Difficult Christmas

lbb-meme

Christmas is meant to be a time of joy, festivity and love. However, for some it is a difficult time. Whether it’s because of major life struggles and challenges we face, or because of painful memories associated with this time of year.

How do we make it through this festive time, when our hearts are wounded?

Reflecting on that first Christmas is a start. Mary and Joseph knew they were called to be parents of a Holy Child, and yet they could not provide a decent place for this child to be born. This required a lot of trust on their part.

The wise men who were seeking him, had only a star to guide them. The star that would only have shone in the darkness, by day they travelled by faith and memory and not by sight.

It is a grace, a gift of God to be able to find joy and peace during suffering and difficulty. I believe this requires a deep faith and trust in God. Like the still waters at the bottom of the raging river, a person with deep faith will rest in God in those deep, peaceful waters while the waves crash overhead.

Through faith we find the strength to move forward, to forgive, to love and to smile through our wounded hearts.

I pray those of you who are in need of healing, and most of us are, will have the courage to give your wounded heart to Christ so that he can heal your wounds and illuminate your path.

I leave with the words from Max Lucado “Perhaps the wound is old, and you are angry. Or perhaps the wound is fresh, and you are hurt. Part of you is broken, and the other part of you is bitter. Part of you wants to cry, and part of you wants to fight…. There is a fire burning in your heart. It’s the fire of anger…

There you are left with a decision. Do I put the fire out or heat it up? Do I get over it or get even? Do I release it or resent it? Do I let the hurts heal, or do I let the hurt turn into hate?

The worst part of all is that, without forgiveness, bitterness is all that is left.”

Leaving Bitterness Behind

 

final-cover

In the bitter cold winter, the trees seem dead and bare. While we can still find glimpses of beauty on a cold winter day, we are easily caught up in the negative aspects of winter, the cold, the limited sun light, the difficult labor of shoveling snow. When we embrace bitterness, our souls look like the trees in the middle of winter. We too can focus only on the negative and lose sight of the sun shining overhead, the snow glistening and the children playing.

The image for my book, was drawn by Paola Lecanda and depicts a woman who is walking away from the dead, barren trees. The shadow behind her shows that she is walking towards the sunlight. The symbolism of the eye in the background is her ability to self-reflect. To look deep within herself and root out the bitterness. This work of leaving bitterness behind, does not have to be done alone. Christ wants to help us if we just let him.  Our Catholic faith is so rich and the opportunities for healing through the sacraments alone are a treasure many of us take for granted. This book I have written is meant to be a tool for those prepared to do the work and enlist divine help in doing so.

Have you ever met someone who seems constantly discontent? Maybe you know someone, who is always complaining and you can’t remember the last time you saw them smile. Imagine that is the person you see in the mirror every day.

There was a time in my life, when I no longer recognized the person in the mirror. The person I did see, I no longer liked. She was flustered, angry and overwhelmed most of the time. Most days, this was hidden behind busyness of caring for family, apostolate and a semi-superficial prayer life. Unfortunately, my family was usually at the receiving end of my anger and complaints. I enjoyed my prayer time, but refused to do any deep self-reflecting. Apostolate and writing became the perfect escape.

One day while examining my conscience in preparation for the Sacrament of Reconciliation, there was this one habitual sin that didn’t get much thought, I just knew I committed it and was sure to do it again. This time, a question popped into my mind, “Do you want to just keep bringing that up in confession or do you want to change it?”

I knew full well, the Holy Spirit was poking at my conscience and I knew the right answer was to want to change it. I went into the confessional that day with the conviction that I was not going to confess that one sin again.

From that point on, Christ was very generous with his grace to allow me to move into the direction of making this change. However, he was also very gentle and patient with me. Rooting out this one sin was not an easy process. This is when my trip to leave bitterness behind, began. The next few years, were not easy but it was a grace-filled time. While I was still in the healing process, the inspiration came to write down what I had learned and to share it.

20161115_134019

Purchase the book here “Leaving Bitterness Behind: A Catholic Approach to Healing Past Hurts”