I want to thank everyone for their prayers and support this last week. The outpouring of care and love from last Thursday’s post was so moving. We both are deeply grateful.
I wanted to share with you about an experience we had last weekend.
Steven, his family and I took a bit of a pilgrimage to the Shrine of Padre Pio in Pennsylvania over the weekend. Padre Pio was a huge source of courage and hope for Steven’s father during his battle with cancer.
For those who may be unfamiliar with Padre Pio, he was a contemporary Italian priest, who lived until 1968. He was made a Saint, and is most “famous” because he received the gift of the Stigmata — meaning that he had active wounds where Jesus was pierced in his hands, feet and side, for the fifty years – nearly the entirety of his life. He was even studied by medical professionals to verify this miracle. He is the patron saint of pain, suffering and healing — meaning that we pray WITH (not “to”) Padre Pio, and much like asking a friend to pray for us.
We all developed a special devotion to Padre Pio during this time.
And on Saturday, we took a road trip to visit a beautiful church where they keep one of the gloves that he wore to cover his stigmata wounds on his hand.
It was a really beautiful and powerful place to be. We learned all about his history, growing up in Italy, and his life as a priest with this incredible gift.
But there was one plaque that was really powerful, and I decided to take a photo so I could share it with you.
Advice on Daily Living
Padre Pio well understood the journey of the soul on its quest for God. But he also had great compassion for the human person as he or she struggled to turn from worldliness and wrongdoing and strive toward holiness and righteousness. He gave them ten principles to follow to guide them through daily living.
1. Put your trust in Christ as your personal savior.
2. Know that you have no righteousness of your own.
3. Remember that good works come only through Christ.
4. Recognize that the devil is a real individual, bent on destroying you, but do not fear him.
5. Always pray to God and say, in every circumstance, “Thy will be done.”
6. Love the Cross.
7. Offer every action up to God.
8. Never worry.
9. Aspire to the heavenly prize.
10. Rejoice in the Lord.
I thought these were really powerful, simple, concise tidbits of advice that really struck home with me. Particularly number eight: never worry.
That’s because in everything, we can trust God. In everything we can put our complete trust on the fact that the Lord, because He is our Savior, and loves us, will work everything out for good for His children. What a powerful truth we can be assured of.
But in that, we must follow number 5: “Thy will be done” — even when saying that is difficult. Or painful. Or scary. Or upsetting.
This is something that I actually had to learn the hard way, at a very young age: when I developed and recovered from anorexia in my teens.
After I was well on the recovery road, I found myself really angry. I felt angry that I had to go through such a life-altering season.
I felt robbed of, what I thought at the time, were the “best years of my life” — as a teen in high school.
I felt cheated of a future where I could follow my dreams and not have been derailed with an eating disorder that made me throw away my ambition, my extracurriculars, my college plans, my passions.
I felt angry with regret about the relationships that I ruined by isolating with my anorexia, and not returning a phone call for 2 years.
And I felt deep regret about the destruction I inflicted on my body, resulting — at the time — with infertility and a broken metabolism.
I carried a lot of anger. A lot of it directed towards God. How could He allow that terrible season to happen?
And while I don’t know the answer to that specific question, what I do know, is that I wouldn’t have the strong faith I have today unless I walked that difficult road.
God was all I had left, standing there at 78 pounds — my hair had fallen out, I had completely destroyed all my relationships, my future plans, and standing there alone, across the country at an inpatient hospital with all my freedoms stripped from me, I realized that I had nothing left but God.
And praise be, He is all we need.
I also learned, through that season, how to truly take care of my body.
It ended up strengthening the relationships that actually mattered in my life.
And it put me on the path I am on today. Who knows where I would be, had I chased after a serious acting career in California, or a soccer scholarship somewhere else. Seems so foreign and uncomfortable to even try and imagine.
I ended up where I was supposed to be.
And that season of suffering shaped who I am, and only because I endured it, can I show up today as the woman you see before you.
But in order to come to the peace I have today about it, I had to surrender it — offer it up — to Jesus to redeem. “Thy will be done.”
And redeem it He did.
Walking out of that church on Saturday, we all got some keepsakes from the little gift shop. “Pray. Hope. And Don’t Worry.”
That is the Padre Pio motto.
And that is the motto I hope to live out, knowing that we can place all our trust in a God who loves us unconditionally.
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