I’ll tell you what — my mom and I were talking it about (because she reads every single one of my comments before she goes to bed) — and we were both just so amazed and touched by how kind my readers are.
Last Thursday, when I shared that Steven and I were going home to visit my family in Ohio, and that it was the first time that my family had been together since Covid (January 2020), the outpouring of kindness and well wishes and prayers offered by y’all were truly overwhelming.
I started this blog back in February of 2015 — almost seven years ago! And it’s so beautiful to see the friendships and community created here. So thank you for that, and for being so excited with me for this reunion with my family.
We had a truly phenomenal time. In fact, Steven EXTENDED his trip! In the “11th hour: yesterday, he pushed his flight back a day so that he could spend Sunday supper with my family, and work from here today. I’m tellin ya…WHAT A GUY!!
We did the pumpkin patch…
Complete with a corn maze and llamas!
It was everything I could have imagined, and more. It was so beautiful to see all the cousins bonding together. There was night where it was just the “kids” — aka my brothers and I and their wives and Steven — having drinks at my brother’s house — and that was really a special time together.
But there was one moment at church that I wanted to share with you.
I’m embarrassed to admit it, but I actually cried twice during Mass. I know – I was “that girl!” I actually had to ask my sister-in-law for a tissue from her purse. (Thank goodness for moms with kids, right? Their diaper bags have everything!)
But in all of my years on this planet, attending Mass without fail, every Sunday — I have never been to a Mass where the congregation clapped after the homily. Never. It is unheard of. It is just something that you don’t do at a Catholic Mass.
And well, yesterday — the priest’s homily was so incredible and moving, that people burst into applause afterwards.
And I’ve gotta say – it was a really powerful talk.
He started out sharing the lyrics from the song, Hello in There, that his musician friend sang at a lounge the night before.
You know that old trees just grow stronger
And old rivers grow wilder every day
Old people just grow lonesome
Waiting for someone to say, “Hello in there, hello.”
He talked about how loneliness is rampant at pandemic proportions. How many of us struggle with loneliness, or doubting that we’re loved, or believing that we’re too broken to be loved.
It’s a plight that, to some degree, each and every one of us wrestle with at some point.
And the fact that we’re incapable of raising our faces from our phones to actually see one another makes the problem all the worse.
He went on to talk about how there’s an interesting phenomena where, it’s easy to love humanity as a whole, but loving the humans in our day-to-day life — in our homes, in our workplaces, in our schools — that is harder — and often neglected — because it requires letting people get close to you.
It’s easier to love the grand concept of humanity, or strangers you’ll never see again, than to love someone who can love you back. Or rather, who is close enough to you to see the real you — who requires vulnerability, honesty, and being let in.
That is difficult.
And sitting there, next to this incredible man, surrounded by my rock-solid family – who have loved me through absolutely everything…it’s no wonder those tears were flowing.
There were a lot of really lonely years there during my anorexia. Though I was too wrapped up in my eating disorder to notice — seeking out isolation and ways to just be alone with my disease, thereby not having to be accountable to anyone — I look back now, from a place of health and wholeness, and I can truly see just how lonely I was. I never let anyone in — I kept everyone at arm’s length — safe behind the stone fortress I had erected around my heart. I believed my eating disorder made me safe, but little did I know that my heart was slowly decaying. Not just because the anorexia was deteriorating it at the cellular level, but because it was atrophying from lack of use: I was rejecting love, believing I didn’t deserve it.
And long into my recovery, I kept those impenetrable walls up, unable to let people fully in.
And only the healing heart of Jesus, telling me every single day that I am a new creation, that I am forgiven, that I am not my past, that He has redeemed me with His blood — only then have I welcomed love into my life.
And sitting in church that day, my heart was absolutely overwhelmed. I didn’t know this day was possible. I didn’t know this life was possible. And I am so grateful.
There was a moment this weekend, when my oldest brother was saying goodbye to Steven and I, that he looked Steven in the eye, and said, “Thank you for making my sister so happy. It gives me peace of mind knowing that she’s being treated so well. You’re a great man.”
And watching this tender moment, between my big brother – who I have always looked up to and idolized as a little sister does — say that, it was the perfect close to one of the best weekends I’ve had in a very long time.
So. Back to my blubbering self, sitting in the pews at Mass, during an applause-inducing homily…I have been there: a shell of a person, lonely to the point of decay.
How sweet life is, when you open your heart to others. Open your heart to love. And only then, does life truly begin.
“This is what the Lord says to these bones: I will make breath enter you, and you will come to life.” Ez 37:5
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