“And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together,” Hebrews 10: 24-25
I’ve been all over the place emotionally, recently. It seems like every week, I’m recounting a different tearful episode.
And I think it’s because my life is out of balance.
Working hard professionally, spending time with loved ones and friends in a social setting, getting enough sleep, being nutritionally sound, getting some movement in every day, spending time with God, and spending time alone to recharge — these are my factors that all need to be in balance to thrive.
And as much as I hate to admit it…it is the spiritual spoke on my “wheel of balance” that is off-kilter.
Living in New York City is really hard as a Christian, I’m not going to lie. Because unless you specifically seek other Christians out, 99% of the people you’re interacting with don’t share your faith.
And to be honest, particularly in the aftermath of Roe being overturned, I’ve been feeling incredibly spiritually isolated, with no Christian community to surround myself with, other than my dear fiancé.
During the pandemic when we weren’t going to physical Mass, we would attend Fr. Mike Schmitz’ virtual mass online, and he is such an incredible homilist, that we felt that literally, every sermon was written just for us, and what we were going through that day.
So though we were not physically in community, we were getting deeply spiritually fed, just through an powerful message that really hit home, every single time.
But since returning to in-person church, I’m going to be honest…I have never felt so distant from God. And I know, that’s on me: it’s what you put into worship, not what you get out of it. But the truth of the matter is that I’ve been going to churches that feel like they’re red-lining. Big, beautiful churches, practically empty, with maybe 10-15 other worshippers on Sunday morning, during the “primetime mass.” Everyone is wearing masks and socially distancing, so you just feel like no one is really there with you.
And it doesn’t help that the last several homilies have been a from traveling priest asking for money to fund overseas missions.
It just is so spiritually unfulfilling. And much like the churches on life support, I feel that my Christian fervor is also slowly dying.
And I can see it play out in my life. I’m more anxious and insecure. My outlook has been incredibly negative recently, which is a hugely unattractive tendency. I’m stressed about money. And feeling the need to control my future instead of trusting on the Lord.
I’m just…out of balance.
So, last night, I went to my old parish by my house. My fiancé was out of town this weekend, and so I went to the young adult mass that I had gone to ever since I moved to New York City in 2011.
It was the first time I had been back since the pandemic.
And when I tell you — it was full to the brim. Absolutely standing-room-only, with none other than young people, my age, all there to worship and be in fellowship at the free wine and cheese gathering afterwards.
But it was so powerful, being in that room, surrounded by the most amazing contemporary choir, singing moving, beautiful music, with everyone singing along. My spirit was truly so moved. It felt like I could finally breathe. Like for the first time the room was full of oxygen.
And I thought to myself — this is how God intends His children to live: in community with fellow believers. It is not good to people to be alone on a spiritual desert island. Community is so important.
But that wasn’t the only revelation I had at Mass that day.
Call me idiosyncratic, but in all the 10 years I have been going to church there, I would always sit in the same exact pew every time — or at least try to. This is a pretty typical “church attendant-practice,” and I definitely adhere to it. And last night was no different.
There I was, sitting on the aisle, fourth row, right side, in front of the choir. And being in that same spot, hearing the same familiar church songs, smelling the incense — I was having just the most vivid memories. It was like I was transported to being back there in that same place, ten years prior, also alone. And I just remember sitting there, and pouring my heart out to God, praying — nay, pleading — for Him to bring a good Catholic man into my life. I would get dressed up every Sunday to sit on the aisle in the desperate hopes that God would plant a nice young man right across the aisle from me.
I remember being so sad at times, feeling so hopeless, so alone, longing so deeply to find a mate.
And that’s when it hit me yesterday: God gave me everything I always prayed for. Looking down at that sparkly rock on my finger, I realized that the life I have right now is the answer to my prayers, and more.
At this very moment in Mass, the choir was singing the most beautiful acoustic guitar song, and the lyrics were: “You alone are all I need, for you hold my destiny.”
And hearing that, I had a few tears stream down my cheeks.
God has never let me down in my life. From rescuing me from the depths of my anorexia, to healing my ulcerative colitis, to bringing this incredible man into my life, God has proven over and over that I can trust Him totally and completely. So why, then, should my future be any different?
I have so many fears and apprehensions about this and that, but God holds my destiny. God knows the plan already, and it is good. It will be beautiful and exactly right.
God loves to delight His children, and I need to surrender my heart to that truth.
It is amazing the power of a full, alive church, and a heart that is open and willing to listen for His still, small voice.
How are churches where you live? Are they full? Are they floundering? Let me know!
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