All of you. All.of.you.
You guys. I have known that God loves me for a long time. I have been told that piece of truth since I started going back to Mass in college.
But, it has only been in the last month that I can honestly say that I know, God loves me.
I didn't hear a voice. I didn't wake up from a prophetic dream.
I was living my life, doing my thing. I had come home from a whirlwind month of seeing my family and friends. Talking with my therapist. Getting to know my self better. And, I needed to go to confession. Unfortunately... it didn't happen. I missed the one time. I had something else going on for the other time. I mean, we all have been there. You know what it's like.
But then, it started weighing on me. I really needed to go to confession. Ugh. And my mind is quick to go down the negative road. How can anyone be around me? Who am I? I'm the biggest sinner of all the sinners. Lies, lies and more lies. The devil knows when you (well, at least he knows when I) am in need of some grace and weasels his way into our thoughts. I was getting to one of those points where I felt completely unloveable.
And then I got a phone call. Nothing life changing about this particular phone call or conversation (honestly, I don't really remember what we talked about!), but it was enough of a reminder for me that, right in that moment, full of sin, I was loved. I was worth it.
And it clicked. God loves me. No matter what. Does He want me to change some things about my life? The way I think of myself? How I react to certain situations? Yes. Of course. But, even if I fail. Or I am slow on the uptake... he.loves.me.
What an amazing feeling! I went into the Steubenville Conference with this new found truth for myself, and I was excited! I was ready to hear what God had to say to me. I was ready to experience His love even more. To share that love with the teens. But, I still needed to go to confession. And then I was denied. And wasn't even sure I was going to be able to go.
I was a mess. I went to Martha's room and sobbed. Literally. I cry a lot, but not like that. I was frustrated. I was pissed that the priest wouldn't hear my confession. I couldn't believe I was thisclose to a good cleansing and some grace... and it was taken. What the heck?!
I pulled myself together. Went to the sessions with the teens. Tried to not show that I was falling apart a little bit. Listened to the talks. Laughed. And heard the story of the young, rich man... for the gazillionth time.
Multiple talks addressed this gospel passage. And it was exactly what I needed to hear. At one point we were asked to close our eyes and look at Jesus on the cross, dying. Where are we? What are we doing? What is Jesus saying to you?
Jesus was looking down at me with love. Guh. Even though He is in pain, bleeding, suffering because of my sin, he looks at me with love in his eyes. Holy moly. This was intense. Just as Jesus looked at the rich man with love asking him to leave everything and follow him, he looks at all of us (no matter what) that way, too. The thing is... the rich man missed it, just as I have for way too long. He walked away from Jesus, grieving and sad. He missed the fact that Jesus loved him. He didn't think he could do what Jesus had asked. But I'd like to think that if he realized the profound love that Jesus had for him, he wouldn't have walked away.
I am a sinner. I hadn't been to confession... and Jesus still loved (loves) me. It was an incredible feeling. I felt like I could breathe a huge sigh of relief. I have found something that I was seeking for so long. And, funny, it was never far.
The Eucharistic procession was amazing and intense. I cried. I raised my arms. I sung loud. I felt the Lord wrap his arms around me and squeeze. He loves me. And I totally believed it.
The following weekend, I then hung out with people that I had never met. Yes, I had read their blogs, emailed with them and even chatted on the phone. But, we never hung out. We never gave each other a hug. And I was a bit nervous. Would these ladies like me? Would they want to actually hang out with me? Am I going to do/say something that will make them realize that I am crazy? Ha. Oh, it makes me laugh now. Because when I got there, picked up Niki and stepped into the house... I knew I was supposed to be there. No matter what.
The ladies were amazing. They loved me for me. All of the weird, maybe annoying, sometimes awkward things that I said/did. I could be myself and no one bat an eye. :) It was such an amazing thing for me. God used this weekend to show me, again, that he loves me. All of me.
And... that is something I made sure the girls in my Steubie small group knew. And it's something that I want you to know, as well.
God.loves.you. All of you. Just as you are right at this moment. No matter what you look like. What you are doing. What you have done. No matter if you are harboring guilt, anger or fear. (Rom 8:35) In those moments when you don't want to wake up, and in those moments when you are on top of the world. And, no matter if you believe in God or not, he loves you.
God's love (and mercy) is larger and wider and stronger than anything you think will prevent you from that love. You are loved. You are worth it.
I am praying for you. That you will know His love, truly and deeply in your heart. I humbly ask that you will pray for me, too. :)