Leaving Bitterness Behind

 

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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.

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

 

 

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Grief and Blessing, All in One Day

blessedIn this post I share with you a talk I gave at a Dynamic Women of Faith conference in Toronto a few years ago. Yesterday, January 21st, marked the anniversary of my dad’s passing. You can read what I have learned through the mourning process in an earlier post titled, “Learning through Mourning.” As you continue reading you will see that this date now holds two significant memories. Grief and blessing mixed in one single date.

After three years of trying to conceive, we learned we were pregnant on March 25th, 2011. This date was significant for a few reasons. My father had just passed away on January 21st. 2011, and March 25th is his birthday, and it was also the feast day of the Annunciation!

My baby was born in mid November that year, and when he was 2 months old, he caught what we thought was just a bit of a cold. One night, on January 18th he developed a fever and his breathing was irregular. When we arrived at the hospital 5 minutes later he was cyanotic and lethargic. Thankfully the nurses in the emergency department acted quickly. They took us in to the resuscitation room.

My baby was unresponsive at first. As I held him and the oxygen mask to his face and the nurse’s attempted to insert an IV into his little arms. I felt the tears stream down my cheeks and began to pray.

At first, it wasn’t much of a prayer. I was talking to God and started by saying, “Would you really give him to us for such a short time and then take him away?”

Immediately I realized that God could do whatever he wanted and so I began to beg that He wouldn’t take him. I called on the saints, and especially asked Mother Mary for her strength. If God was going to take my baby that night, I would need her quiet strength and her faith since she to had to witness her son suffer and die.

Lastly, I prayed to my father, whom I have reason to believe is in heaven. I asked him to intercede for his grandson, since his birth brought us much consolation after my dad passed away.

In hindsight, that moment to me, was similar to Abraham being asked to sacrifice his son Isaac. At that moment, I had to come to terms with the fact that God was calling my son home to him. The looks of panic on the nurses and the doctor’s face, and my son’s condition told me that his life could end here. I felt myself preparing to deal with it, while still asking that this not be so.

My son had to receive an IO – Inter Osseous instead of an IV- Inter Venous. This meant they had to drill into his bone to give him the medicine he needed, because his veins kept collapsing.

An hour or so later, we were airlifted to Sick Children’s hospital. My son had contracted a common but serious illness called Respiratory Syncytial Virus. He had responded well to the treatment initiated at our local hospital, what followed was in effort to support and watch his progress.  The pediatrician monitoring his care during recovery made it clear that the IO saved my baby’s life!

Our last night in the hospital, happened to fall on the one year anniversary of my father’s passing, in the very same hospital. I was anxious about having to stay at the hospital that night. I knew I would relive the painful memory of the last moments I spent with my father the year before. However, once again I was being called to trust that God had designed this.

It just so happened that I finished feeding him at 5:00 a.m. on January 21, 2012 which was around the exact time my father had passed away. While I held my baby, with tears streaming down my face, he was looking up and smiling at me.

I understood then, that God allowed me to share a new memory. While January 21st, marks the anniversary of my Dad’s death, it now also marks the day my son was sent home after his miraculous recovery.

I believe it is necessary for all of us to ponder how God is acting in our lives. That is what this story is about, God’s action and my call to hope and trust.