An Ashy Valentine’s Day

Well, in case you were uncertain as to the relentless pace of time, allow me to be the first to remind you: Lent begins this week.

I know. I can’t believe it either. It feels like literally two days ago that we were ringing in 2018.

But yep – Ash Wednesday is here. And I’m personally blaming it on Apple and their freaking High Sierra Update that Valentine’s Day and Ash Wednesday fall on the same exact day.

Talk about bad timing.

America’s sweetheart holiday devoted to gorging on chocolate and strawberries, surreptitiously falling on a day of fasting and abstinence.

I think it’s Apple’s sneaky way of trying to undercut Amazon’s recent takeover of Whole Foods.

#ConspiracistAtHeart

But truthfully, this Lenten season is coming not a minute too soon.

This weekend was a mess of rain and humidity and grey skies here in Manhattan. Which admittedly, has been mirroring my spirit these last few weeks. Maybe you could tell – I hope not.

But last night at Mass, the “penny dropped” as my late acting teacher would say.

Sitting there, listening to the first reading about the man with leprosy, I realized that there were tears rolling down my cheek, and a lump had taken residence in my throat.

The one who bears the sore of leprosy…shall cry out, “Unclean, unclean!”…He shall declare himself unclean, since he is in fact unclean. He shall dwell apart, making his abode outside the camp.” — LV 13: 44-46

Listening to that, I came to the stark realization, that is me.

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That is the lie I have been believing and living with: Living at arm’s length, because I do not believe I am worth loving.

I try so hard to put on a brave face and do and say the right thing, but when it comes right down to it, I still carry my brokenness, leftover from the anorexia in my past.

Listening to that reading, it was as though someone had taken the feelings I couldn’t put into words, and proclaimed them from the pulpit for all to hear.

Recovery is journey, ever evolving. And there are times when you’re on mountain tops and times when you’re hanging on by your fingernails. And for those with anorexia in their past, you can attest that the largest and most difficult aspect of recovery is not the weight. It’s not the food. Not the exercise, or the body image – although that is definitely a bear too. But it is the self worth. It is believing that you are worth love. And that is what has flared up here recently.

This story does not end here, though.

Last night, I dried my tears and was on high alert for the rest of Mass, knowing that God was going to “bring it home” for me one way or another. And the Father never fails.

Fast forward to the Gospel.

A leper came to Jesus and kneeling down begged him and said, “If you wish, you can make me clean.” Moved with pity, Jesus stretched out His hand, touched him, and said to him, “I do will it. Be made clean.” The leprosy left him immediately, and he was made clean.” — MK 1:40

There’s so much talk about self-denial and penance and “giving up” this or that for Lent. And, yes, those things are fair and true.

But to me, Lent is about so much more than that. And frankly, so starkly different than the focus on penance and abstinence.

To me, Lent is one giant love letter. From Jesus to you and me.

It all simply comes down to one fact…what are we actually preparing for?

We’re preparing our hearts for the incredible offering of love that Jesus made on the Cross.

These 40 days leading up to it, are Jesus showing us the degree to which He loves us.

A message that, I, for one, desperately need to hear right now. And in return, it is an opportunity to reflect on, and actively participate in that love.

So leave it to God to use a message about freaking leprosy to romance my heart and express the love that He so longs to give to me, if only I ask for it.

God knew that I needed to hear it. And hand delivered it just in time for Valentine’s Day, no less.

So maybe it’s not such a big conspiracy that Ash Wednesday and Valentine’s Day fall on the same day. And in fact, the more I think about it, the more sense it actually makes.

The greatest “grand gesture” of love in the history of the world, contrary to popular belief, was not when John Cusack raised up the boombox in Say Anything

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…but rather, when Jesus stretched out His arms for you and me.

That’s a Valentine.

That’s Jesus saying, “be made clean.”

I need to show Jesus my brokenness – show Him my wounds – and let Him touch them. Let Him cradle my heart in His hands and say, “I do will it. Be made clean.”

He can’t heal what I won’t give to Him.

This Lent, that’s exactly what I’ll do.

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247 thoughts on “An Ashy Valentine’s Day

  1. Take a page from the Eastern church, in addition to fasting we are called upon to help others out. Volunteer at soup kitchens, meals-on-wheels, hospitals, donate to someone in real need. 40 days of Valentines for people you don’t know.

  2. I love how God speaks and works in such ways as you describe here. The season of Lent was one that was extremely meaningful for me in my teenage years. I later went into a denomination that did not recognize it. Anything can be a mere ritual, and that is why some refrain from celebrating. Thank you for highlighting this meaningful season and reminding me of how God has used its lessons in my life!

    1. Thanks Matthew. Yeah he is always whispering to us 🙂 it’s just getting to place where we are able and willing to listen. That’s what I always have to work on. Thanks for the encouragement. Hugs and love xox

  3. You always have such a beautiful story to tell. I got chills reading this and looking at your picture. It’s hard to believe a woman like you feels unworthy. I can relate. I struggled with body issues my whole life, feeling super unattractive, and like nobody would want me. After I went on a diet, my body went into starvation mode and suffered all the effects of malnutrition (despite only restricting for a few months- I feel like such an idiot complaining because people go through anorexia and come out of it, yet here I am complaining and feeling like I wasn’t sick enough). It’s taking me so much time to recover. I felt so alone, and for the first time in my life, I felt like God wasn’t there for me. I’ve had minor health issues before, but never like that. I felt abandoned. I still have my doubts, but I’m trying so hard to hold on. It was all due to a lie that people like you and me: high-achievers, intelligent, disciplined, believed. The lie that we were never good enough. For the first time in my life, I told myself I was good enough. Never thought I would say that. I’m praying that my faith gets stronger through this ordeal.

    So sorry for the long rant. But you have no idea how much you inspire me and help me with your posts. God bless you Carolyn 🙂

    1. Oh Tom thank you so much for this note of encouragement. And thank you for sharing part of your story. Im sorry that it hits so close to home for you. But I’m glad my post offered a little bit of light for you:) sending hugmungo hugs and lots of love xox

  4. Pastor, wonderful writing, insights and sharing! File away for one of your Lenten sermons when you are preaching at your church. Your words ring out with truth for me. On my blog, I have shared the brokenness and feelings of being unworthy from depression. Different illnesses but nearly identical feelings for those who suffer from one or the other! I come to the Cross broken. Thank you ! Wander over to my blog, I think you might like my post, Need Is Need, I just posted tonight!

    1. Thank you so much Rick. I’m so glad this resonated with you. You’re right – we can go to the cross just as we are and He will take us. Can’t wait to read your post! Hugs and love xox

  5. A wonderful post Caralyn, thank you! This pulls at me because of the deep lonely-ness I’ve been through since the divorce. You are a great woman. ❤️

    1. Hi John, thank you so much friend. I’m sorry you’ve been going through a challenging season. Hang in there. Know you’re in my prayers. Hugs and love xox

  6. A very well said post. You are an amazing lady who is broken, but you have Jesus to love you. You are a very
    great and special lady to be loved. Oh, and Happy Valentine’s Day and Ash Wednesday.

    P.S. Did you know that Easter and April Fool’s Day is on the same day this year.

    1. Thank you so much for your kind words 🙂 and oh my gosh no way! Now that’s a bad joke!! Haha Hugs and love xox

  7. The greatest lover of all time is God. He sent His Son as a valentine to humanity locked in this blemished world. He loves you, and the rest of us love you too. Feel the love and move forward with a regained positive mind frame.:)

  8. hey soul sister, over the last few days I have been repenting of word curses I have spoken over myself…some long ago. It is amazing how the Holy Spirit can remind us of things , defining things, we have said over our spirit, soul, and body…words that come straight from the accuser which at the time we are so smashed up we take on board and in agreement say them out loud. We are wounded yes…but we can take the word curse/vow/oath(Lev 5:4)to the Lord and repent of ever agreeing with it. The hidden forces attached to those words can then be told to leave for they have lost their authority(your words)to be there. Bless you with a big hug.

    1. Thank you so much for your thoughts, my soul friend. Yes the Holy Spirit is amazing Hugs and love xox

  9. Anytime I get that feeling I have no worth…I look at a crucfix. Jesus went through all of that for us sinners. That’s why feelings of worthlessness are lies.

  10. Many of you may or may not know why Lent begins this year of Valentine’s Day and this has not happen in over thirty years. The lent season last for 40 days which means Easter is April 1. The reason that the date is always different it is because Easter Sunday is celebrate the first Sunday after the full moon in spring, which means this year it is March 31 and the next day is Easter. Lent is a season that most Christian celebrate to focus on their walk with Christ many may choose to fasting during these days, spent more time in prayer and a time of meditation and repentance and other things to draw closer to Christ.

  11. Girl, God created you just so He could spend all eternity with you, that’s love :):) If He had wanted you to be perfect, He’d have made you perfect. It’s certainly within His power to do so but He made you just the way you are 🙂

  12. This was good. I think it applies to lots of us struggling with past hurts and wounds. Thanks for sharing. You are so brave that sometimes I am in awe. God bless.

  13. Another well written blog Caralyn. I can so relate to the love and self worth part. I feel at times that i’m not worthy of that but need to be more open to it. Today is Shrove Tuesday the last day of “fat eating” or “gorging” before the fasting period of Lent and lucky for me today is my birthday so i can really enjoy the day.xx

    1. thank you so much Wilfred. I’m glad this hit home with you. and HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!!! I hope you’v had a great day 🙂 big hugs xox

  14. Dear sister, if I could fly out to New York to take you out for Valentine’s dinner I would. It’s those kinds of silly gestures from men that women need to believe in themselves.

    There are voices inside of us that torment us. I have struggled with my own, and Revelation 12:10 says even of the Most High, when the serpent is cast out of heaven:

    “For the accuser of our brothers and sisters,
    who accuses them before our God day and night,
    has been hurled down.”

    Yes, even the Most High has devils whispering in His ear. He must hear them if He is to heal them.

    You identify so strongly with the voice of your accuser. Some people try to cast them out of their minds. But another way to address the challenge is to turn to the source and say “You know, you’ve got my attention, and I want you to know:

    ” JESUS LOVES YOU, TOO.”

    1. Hi Brian, thank you so much for this awesome encouragement. you’re so kind. and i love that plot twist – Jesus loves you too! yessss!! Hugs and love xox

  15. My dear friend, It hurt to read those words tonight that you doubt your worth to be loved. I remember writing in Beauty and the Beast that I wanted to hold you protectively and kiss the top of your head. That fatherly feeling came back tonight.

    Can you understand that I am not the only one who sees you that way? I read comments from others, and I know they too care for you, love you, and wish the and pray for the best for you.

    I want to write something profound that might convince you of your worth, but I don’t know that is possible. I know that you’re on the right track in seeing the value Christ placed on you. I also know a small bit of your pain with regrets from my own past and understand the struggle to leave it behind.

    Light your candles. Turn off the lights. Be swaddled in the soft glow that holds back the too-close darkness. Maybe that can be a tangible symbol for you of exactly what God has done from you from the day you were freed from the demon, from the day your family rallied around you, because God’s love came to you through them.

    The darkness will always be close. God’s protective light will always be closer.

    1. Hi Jeff, thank you friend. I do feel that fatherly compassion, and I am very grateful for it. Yes – I need to remember that feeling and relive that powerful episode when it finally broke through. that is feeling is just a glimpse of the incredible love He has for us. I love that last sentence – it brings so much comfort – God’s protective light will ALWAYS be closer. thanks so much for this wonderful note, Jeff. it really means a lot. big hugs to you and julie xo

  16. This was an excellent post. You are not alone – we all to some extent feel unworthy of love, especially God’s. I truly believe that it is the most difficult lesson we have to learn as Christians. You were so brave to admit something that most of us find hard to admit, even to ourselves.

    1. thanks so much friend. you’re absolutely right – that is the hardest and most important lesson to learn. big hugs to you xox

    1. Oh thank you so much for this beautiful prayer, Teri. it really means a lot. you’re a blessing to me! Hugs and love xox

  17. […] Beauty Beyond Bones is one of the few blogs I read–mostly because I get an email every time the author publishes. But it’s easy to proclaim a favorite when there aren’t many others for which I will sacrifice my time. For as long as I’ve been on this reflective journey as a blogger, her blog has caught my attention. I suppose it’s because her persona reminds me of someone who I once loved. I say this with no guilt, however. And that’s because I gave up guilt for lent nearly four years ago. […]

  18. This is the first time Valentines day fell on Ash Wednesday. For single people, the lack of eros on that day can be crushing. However, did you know there are actually three saints named Valentines? Each of them did what they did because they also felt the agape love – a much purer, higher love of the soul.

    I truly love what you do to heal the broken people of the world who suffer disorders. Keep sharing the agape.

    1. how interesting! I didn’t know that! thank you for sharing 🙂 i really appreciate your kind words 🙂 big hugs to you xox

    1. oh Mike, what a kind thing to say, thank you for such a wonderful encouragement. big hugs to you xo

    1. Thanks friend. hahah – good to know. With the solar eclipse and all the craziness lately, i was beginning to wonder 🙂 haha jk jk Hugs and love xox

  19. This brought a tear to my eyes. I still love the rituals of The Catholic Church, though I’m a bit fallen.
    My wound is different from yours. It is the wound if lost love and heartbreak that echos unworthiness in my brain, despite my bravado and the good face I put in my life. I think I’ll go to Mass this weekend. Thank you! You did what fine writers do; you moved me to action

    1. Thank you so much Ellen, I appreciate your support and for sharing your heart. I’m so glad this resonated with you:) big hugs xox

  20. Thank you for this post! I’m restarting my journey in faith this Lenten season and this was a great reminder that God loves me in my broke self. Thank you for the inspiration!

  21. I needed this so much right now. Thank you for the reminder that God is always willing to love and heal our brokenness, no matter how hard we want to hide it.

  22. What an awesome testimony of personal faith in Jesus Christ! To God be the glory. I encourage you to remember, whenever you are feeling down, these faithful words: “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” (1 Corinthians 5:17) God does not see you as a broken vessel, but as what you are in Jesus Christ, and what you shall be at His return.

    1. Thank you so much Marcelo! I really appreciate this kind note 🙂 amen – God sees me for who i am in Christ. That’s such a powerful thing to remember. Thank you. Hugs and love xox

  23. Oh, what truth you have written. The Valentine of Christ’s love for us is so much more than anything else here on earth. You are a child of God, you deserve love. You were created from His abiding love. Keep the faith girl!

    1. Thank you so much Wanda, you are so sweet. Thank you for your encouragement. Yes! God is so good! Hugs and love xox

  24. Caralyn, I know that Lent is particularly meaningful for you. I think, from following your posts the past few months, you’ve expressed some pretty amazing highs and some struggles, which can lead to feeling a bit worn out. I love that in this post, you are finding the fact that Valentine’s and Ash Wednesday are on the same day means something significant from the One who loves you best. Keep trusting in the Lord.
    Jeremiah 17: 7 – 8 http://biblehub.com/jeremiah/17-8.htm

    1. Oh Melissa, thank you so much for this beautiful note of encouragement. it really means a lot. Yes – He is so worth trusting. 🙂 so glad you stopped by. big hugs to you xox

  25. This sermon touched me as well. Our priest emphasized the fact of Christ physically ‘touching’ the lepor, while minute, an ever important detail… and talked about how Jesus knows all about our unworthiness, our uncleanliness, and doesn’t care. He’s willing to hug it out, forgive, and bring salvation despite everything. That’s love right there.

    Hope you have a blessed Ash Wednesday and Valentines day 😉

    1. thanks friend. yeah there’s something about touch that really makes one vulnerable. an important detail indeed. We have an incredible Father. big hugs to you xox

  26. “…but rather, when Jesus stretched out His arms for you and me.

    That’s a Valentine.”

    I love how you put it this way. That’s indeed the truest and sincerest Valentine ever in the history. The forgiveness we received and making us new creations through His love is the most intimate expression of what love really is.

    Thank you for writing this, dear! Bless your heart 🙂

  27. I pray you leave the Satanic Catholic Church 🙂 God bless, you don’t have to join a Church organisation to be saved. Catholic church only arose in 350AD.

  28. The leper allegory fits well with addiction. Our society has so many ‘lepers’, and we can all forgive and recover with God’s grace. Merry Lenten.

  29. So many of us are scared to let the world see our weaknesses, but that photo you put in your blog, it speaks so much truth! I know what it’s like to close yourself up so much, you don’t even know if you’re alive..so many people in the world have to know the beauty that comes from being vulnerable. Thank-you for this ENCOURAGING post. God Bless!

  30. I loved this so much! I had a similar revelation not too long ago. It’s great to find someone who can relate to everything I’ve felt for so long. I wish you luck on your journey, and may God continue to open your eyes to the depth of his love. 🙂

  31. “tout passe, tout lasse, tout casse.”

    Your story is your support, your armor. Put down your sword and stop fighting. Love. Is everywhere around you and you want nothing of it.

    Imagine if you were me. Then stop. You. Have it all. Enjoy it. Love. Is stupid. It will wait.

    The post war guys have dark days. Post war is different than Joe Schmoe crispy uniform. Dark days is what they call them. When they lock themselves away so, they don’t hurt anyone. I think, it’s so they don’t hurt in front of someone. I had my share. I got over it.

    There is something that keeps you in that moment though. Like a song on repeat. The barrier to intimacy or emotional connections. It’s not something you carve away it is kneaded into you like bread dough. Hence, the contradiction. I say, bake the loaf. Make some croutons. Give it to the birds. Let them drop your problems on happy loving couples this Valentines.

    1. Bake the loaf. Such a funny image but it seriously hit home and resonated with me. Thank you Kenzie. Hugs and love xox

      1. Although. If I was twelve years younger. I would bother you in New York. Get shot down then. Go to my bookstores. I’m happy to know that you will find someone and create your own happiness someday.

  32. Love this. So true even if you are not single some still struggle with accepting love and believing that they are worth it. Hang in there. God’s timing is perfect and he knows exactly what you need x

    1. Oh my gosh thank you so much! What a kind thing to say! Glad you enjoyed it! Hugs and love xox

  33. Wow. A lot of emotion in your blog today. Very well thought out. It will definitely make ones eye leak. I am truly speechless. You are in my prayers and thoughts. Thanks so much for sharing and God bless you young lady. So moving. Dad gum I am still speechless. A big hug your way.

  34. Beautiful. I understand that feeling of not having worth. I’ve wrestled with it my whole life. As a mom, the pressure increases to be the perfect mother while also looking perfect. I appreciate the song “The Voice of Truth” by Casting Crowns because it reminds me that God is my strength and He considers me valuable. After all, it’s His opinion that matters most.

  35. – I need to show Jesus my brokenness – show Him my wounds – and let Him touch them. Let Him cradle my heart in His hands and say, “I do will it. Be made clean.”

    He can’t heal what I won’t give to Him.

    This Lent, that’s exactly what I’ll do. –

    At a Christian retreat I took part in a soaking session. Dim lighting soothing music. I preferred laying on the floor with my legs up on a chair. A pastor rested his hand on my chest and spoke a single word, forgiveness. Soon after I had a vision. Above me was a photo album. I reached to touch it, and discovered I could touch it. I fanned to the left, the pages turned forward in time. Fanning to the right I went back in time. The life photos, and sometimes short videos were of my alcoholic progression. It was awesome. I preferred swiping to the right. A more innocent time.

    I forgave myself that night.
    With Joy,
    Dan

    1. Thank you so much for sharing this powerful experience, Dan. Wow. Powerful stuff. Hugs and love xox

  36. One of the reasons I switched to Unitarian Christianity is the endless guilt-tripping too many so-called Christian churches inflict upon congregations. Humans are neither inherently good or inherently evil. We learn to be good or evil through our upbringing and through our life’s experiences. God gave us free will that we might use it, and telling us we are inherently sinful denies the gift God gave us to make our own decisions. Naturally, with free will comes consequences for the choices we make. That’s the price we pay for making bad ones, but even there we are given the ability to learn from our mistakes, another of God’s gifts.

    The point I’m trying to make is that you don’t have to let yourself continue to be convinced that you were born sinful and therefore inherently unlovable until you meet certain preconditions. You are loved whether you realize it or not, and you are loved because you choose to do good and to help others learn and grow from your experiences, and yes, the mistakes you’ve made in life. God gave you the gifts of free will and the ability to grow in mind and spirit, and you’re using those gifts as He intended. There’s no reason for you to feel guilty or unworthy. Regret? We all have regrets, things we’d take back in a heartbeat if we could. But we can’t, so all any of us can do is try to learn the right lessons and apply the knowledge we gain in order to correct our mistakes and better ourselves.

    If Jesus’ teachings demonstrate anything, it’s that we are loved no matter what, warts and all, and we are judged according to how we treat others. You are kind and compassionate and you do your best to help those who are in need of help. I can’t believe your kindness and compassion, your gentle spirit, are corrupt, because you show by your words and your actions that the opposite is true. So don’t beat yourself up so much. Learn to love yourself more, as you love others, and you will find your love returned many times over.

    1. Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts Michael. That’s so true – we are loved warts and all. Thanks for the encouragement. Hugs and love xox

  37. The first message in the series I’m a part of at the congregation I serve is “The Forgiveness of Sins.” That’s what I’ll be preaching on tomorrow (Ash Wednesday). I’m excited to BEGIN Lent by talking about the forgiveness Jesus gives us.

  38. ““If you find me not within you, you will never find me. For I have been with you, from the beginning of me.”“Wherever you are, and whatever you do, be in love.”

  39. Thank you for sharing your heart! I’m grateful that God’s voice shouting “I love you” drowns out my voice when it cries out “unworthy.”

  40. Thoughtful reminder of Lent…Agape on the day the world celebrates love. May God continue to breath His perfect love in and through your life.

  41. Wow. This is so powerful. Thank you. I really needed to hear this message. Time. Relentless pace and all. Is interesting. Our Lord and Savior is constantly speaking to us and telling us what we need to hear if only we open up our hearts and minds to listen to it. <3 Oh man and self worth. Preach. Let us go all Brene Brown please. Sharing this post because I love it so much.

  42. Where is the love button for this post!?

    The readings this past weekends made me get teary- eyed as well since just like you, I heard them as a message from God directly to me. I had a knot in my throat the whole time, and wanted to cry from how beautiful the homily was. It’s a blessing that Valentine’s day falls on Ash Wednesday, since it gives us a chance to be with the best Valentine we can ask for. Come Wednesday, I will go to mass and will also stop by the adoration chapel. <3
    May God continue to bless you

    1. Aww thank you so much Martha! What a kind note of encouragement. God bless you as well my friend. Hugs and love xox

  43. God bless you! I appreciate the courage it takes to post yourself in this way and pray you do too. Jesus is using your tears to wash away the pain others have tried to keep hidden.

  44. I love how you juxtaposed Ash Wednesday and Valentine’s. It is such an inspired serendipity. Goes to show how God can create a marvel such a humans are from dust. Yes, Lent is about the greatest love story of all time. Oh happy fault to merit a Savior.

  45. And Easter is on April 1st this year! I’m going to enjoy preaching a sermon series titled, “Of Fools and Lovers.” It will be about Jesus loving us and how the world sees Jesus and his followers as fools.

  46. What a day(Valentine’s Day) to begin a season of reflection (lent ) what an uncanny reminder of the fathers love for us and what he asks of us in return! Be blessed sister❤️

  47. I love this post 🙂 You are absolutely right about recovery from an eating disorder being about recovering a sense of being worthy of love. I am finally working on that this time around and the message of Jesus’s love for each of us is really helping me. It is wonderful to read your words. I hadn’t realised that Valentine’s Day was on Ash Wednesday this year! Lent makes me nervous because of my history of anorexia and the focus on fasting and giving things up… or taking up ‘healthy’ pursuits… I’ve been wondering what I will do for Lent this year and I think I will commit to writing a body positivity poem each day ! I’m trying to remember to see myself as made in God’s image xo you are wonderful ! keep shining xo Em

    1. Aw thank you so much Em! Yeah His love definitely has seen me through my recovery. That’s an awesome Indra for lent! Hugs and love xox

  48. Wow Caralyn, your post seems to do the same thing with me 😂 been struggling very hard past few weeks, depression has been giving me a lot of cheap shots 😩 happy valentine’s day for tomorrow, loved to meet the lucky fella who gets to be your valentine (I’m sure you would love to meet him too 😂) 😍❤️❤️❤️💌 what are you giving up for Lent?

    1. Aw thank you Benny. I’m so glad it resonated with you 🙂 happy Valentine’s Day to you too! Not sure yet. Maybe trying to go to daily mass?

      1. Wow daily mass 😱 haven’t been to church in a few weeks (I nearly said mass 😂 I’m not Catholic (don’t judge 😂) born into a Methodist church, grew up mostly Methodist/Anglican now with a non-denominal church

  49. Loved this post! I didn’t truly understand Lent until this past weekend’s mass. Or I suppose I did, but it didn’t hit home for me in the way that it did this weekend. So glad someone else felt the same!

  50. Yes!! So well said, Caralyn. He makes us clean and whole. Your post made me think of this amazing song we started doing at my church recently so I figured I’d share it with you at the end of this post. It’s really powerful and I so needed to hear it when we started doing it. Anyway, I think it fits well with what you’ve written in this post. His redemption in your life has made you worth loving. It’s something I need to remind myself of, too.

    https://youtu.be/zTM1Gg6Ig-c

    Have a great night, friend! I appreciate you and your continuing to be open and share what’s on your heart. – Joe

  51. “That is the lie I have been believing and living with: Living at arm’s length, because I do not believe I am worth loving.” When you wrote these words it almost made me cry. You are most certainly worth living. God created you like anyone else, in His image. He would not have done this if you were “not worth living”.
    Your impact on people, me included, is so profound that it cannot be measured. Don’t ever forget that or let anyone tell you differently.

    Love,
    Jim

    1. Hey Jim, thank you so much for sharing your heart on this. I’m so glad it resonated with you. I am truly touched by your *beyond* kind words. big big big hugs to you xox

  52. So you’ve been feeling gloomy and dank like the weather the last few weeks? I thought something was up but then I wondered if it was just me. I’m glad that’s starting to turn around for you. And once again, I want to hug you. I think we all feel like lepers sometimes – unwanted, unloved, unworthy, unclean. But if we can feel Jesus stepping in and touching us and saying, “Be clean,” it’s such a beautiful feeling it was almost worth going through the crap to get there. And that which God has made clean, do not call unclean.
    Now in case anyone hasn’t already suggested it, how about for Lent give up being “unworthy”?

    1. Thank you for the hug David and for you wonderfully affirming words. It really means a lot. Sending you a big hug too. Xox

  53. Thank you for this. I am a domestic violence survivor. And even though I am now happily married there are times when I question my self worth. The negative emotions from years past like to find their way into my present from time to time. Thank you for the reminder that God does think I’m enough just as I am. I am thankful to have my place in HIStory.

    1. Hi Crystal, thank you for sharing your story. I’m so sorry that you had to go through that. Know that you are in my heart and prayers. Yes – you are enough – amen to that! Hugs and love xox

  54. As I get older I realize everybody is carrying something. Some cross… some hurt. That’s why we have the phrase “can’t find the one that hurts.” Sadly, some guys and I guess gals use that to try to prey on and manupiulate others. Youve probably seen it in bars.

    Hmm. How did I get here?

    Anyhow, glad you get the true message of the liturgical year. I agree. It’s not about the externals so much as how we relate to Jesus’ entire life, death and ressurenction. And I think it’s great that you’re looking at yourself so honestly rather than just playing out the stuff, as so many people do.

    All the best for ASH / Valentine’s Day. 🙂

    1. Thanks so much for this powerful reflection Michael. Yes – we are all on the journey together, each carrying our own baggage. But it’s better together 🙂 Hugs and love xox

  55. Thanks for sharing that. It’s wonderful how God is speaking to you. It is not in our perfection but in our brokeness that we draw close to Him. Though so tough to go through it’s easy to see browsing through your comments section that it had borne tremendous fruit in the lives of others.

    1. Yes! I always go to usccb.org and get their daily mass readings. There’s also an app called Laudate that gives the daily readings and a reflection. Hope that helps! Hugs and love xox

  56. Well said. Lent is not about doing without. Rather, it’s about decreasing distractions so that you can more clearly see the abundance that God is giving – and in fact has already given – to us.

  57. Well said.

    Every gift reveals God’s love… but no gift reveals His love more than the gifts of the Cross. They came, not wrapped in paper, but in passion. Not placed around a tree, but a Cross. And not covered with ribbons, but sprinkled with blood. Much has been said about the gift of the Cross itself, but what of the other gifts? What of the nails, the crown of thorns? The garments taken by the soldiers? The garments given for the burial? Have you taken time to open these gifts? He didn’t have to give them, you know. The only act, the only required act for our salvation was the shedding of blood, yet He did much more. So much more. Search the scene of the cross, and what do you find? A wine-soaked sponge. A sign. Two crosses beside Christ. Divine gifts intended to stir that moment, that split second when your face will brighten, your eyes will widen, and God will hear you whisper, “You did this for me?”

    The gifts of the Cross.

    The diadem of pain

    which sliced your gentle face,

    three spikes piercing flesh and wood

    to hold you in your place.

    The need for blood I understand.

    Your sacrifice I embrace.

    But the bitter sponge, the cutting spear,

    the spit upon your face?

    Did it have to be a Cross?

    Did not a kinder death exist

    than six hours hanging between life and death,

    all spurred by a betrayer’s kiss?

    “Oh, Father,” you pose,

    heart-stilled at what could be,

    “I’m sorry to ask, but I long to know,

    did You do this for me?”

    —Max Lucado from “He Chose the Nails”

  58. I am not Catholic, but of christian faith. And I have to say great reminder and very true!! He cannot heal what we don’t give him. So good. Always love reading your posts!

    1. thanks Chloe. amen to that 🙂 thanks for stopping by and for your kind words! Hugs and love xox

  59. Your writing on the Church is incredibly introspective and crazy good 🙂 I blame you for giving me that last shove to go to Mass more consistently 😛

    1. Aw thank you Rachael, that’s so kind of you to say. Yes Lent really is! Big hugs to you xox

  60. Hi from the UK and thank you for your courage, honesty and bravery..I relate to your words and sentiments ….a spiritual / religious foundation is so important to me too and everything flows from that…I wish you nothing but peace and happiness on your journey…thanks for your likes on my site also…Paul xx

  61. Each and every word of this post spoke volumes to my soul. Self worth… this has been a lifelong battle for me! I’m so blessed to see this revelation in your post! You really helped open my eyes to my internal battle.

  62. Isn’t it amazing how God let’s see ourselves in scripture. In the good characters, the hurting characters, the humble characters, in the prideful and arrogant characters, and sometimes Just wrong. He’s always ready to teach us if her spirits are open. Thanks for the like on daily Bible prayer today. May you always have friends around when you need them and may God show you how to be a friend to one in need. Laura

  63. I love your voice in this and the way that scripture – especially stories and verses we have heard dozens of times – can somehow break through in a new way and open our eyes to a new truth. This has been happening for me lots lately as well. Especially as it relates to restoration, beauty, creation/creativity, and community/discipleship. I would recommend listening to John Mark Comer, a pastor from Portland, who did a sermon series about fasting, going deeper with God, and the original purpose and spirit behind fasting. For me, it was a helpful reminder of the purpose behind it rather than simply the food-fast. I can send you the podcast link if you are interested:)

    1. Oh gosh thank you so much Maria. That really means a lot. And thanks for the recco on John Mark Comer! I love listening to podcasts so I’ll have to check it out! Big big hugs to you xox

  64. That’s right! Allow God to continue to clean you up and make you better and stronger than before! Continue to trust him! He is truly our Valentine! Not man! God bless you always! Xxoo 😇💕✨

    1. you weren’t kidding! you’re on a reading roll! thank you for going through these!! 🙂 i love that – He’s our valentine. amen! Hugs and love xox

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