Day 40: Fifty More Days?!

“When a man dies, his life is revealed.” — Sirach 12:27

Just kidding. This ends here. Easter. Let’s reflect.

When I write an essay (or anything) for school, I tend to do that for me. It’s about me and my grade and what the professor will think about me and my paper so I can get a good grade and pass. But writing for this blog was significantly different and felt even more important. None of what I did here was for a grade, or because I felt obligated or “had” to do it or else I’d be wasting money and time and disappointing others. This was different because I didn’t make this blog — God gave it to me as a gift to give away.

There were so many instances where I felt I ran out of things to write, where I really believed I had written everything I could possibly write about. I prayed through all these posts completely because I knew if I tried to do this on my own, I would’ve had nothing left after Day 1. But I allowed Him to take my hand and write down what He saw every day. Writing for God is infinitely better than writing for a grade.

I’m still astounded at how God graces even the wrong choices we make. Only someone infinitely Good can bless the darkness. Something is always happening, and I feel like I’m more apt to see it when I look back and see how all the broken pieces of myself fell into place. I never broke — God just rearranged the pieces. It all had a purpose. All it was was learning how to walk again. And sometimes Walking is Hard, but Happiness is Simple. Let Him take that weight off your Shoulders — He’s carried the burden of all our sins already.

Maybe my Creative Writing professor had it right — maybe writer’s block doesn’t exist. There’s an infinite pool of creativity, imagination, and life within us, and the root of all this is Love. We all have our own ways of opening our hearts — this was my start. We all have our crosses, but our gifts have the power to heal. If we share in Jesus’s suffering, we will also share in his resurrection. Some way, somehow, dying and rising are two aspects of the same mystery.

It’s all just so strong; I can’t even look back anymore. “Further up and further in” — it’s all just ever upward. Use your Gift and He will bless everything in your path, even when it’s all pitch black. I promise.

He promised.

Happy Easter, everyone! Thanks for keeping up.

[Pretend that this is my signature.]

Day 39: Pace

“Now the centurion, and those who were with him keeping guard over Jesus, when they saw the earthquake and the things that were happening, became very frightened and said, “Truly this was the Son of God!'” — Matthew 27:54

Trying to be good about this and post before the Vigil tonight so I can have a proper Easter post, so here we go.

It doesn’t even feel like I’ve written 39 of these. I have a poop ton of reflection about these last +40 days already written down, but I’ll save some of that for later. All I’m saying is that we’ve all got problems that will last much longer than the three days Jesus was in the tomb, but wait in joyful hope today and rest.

I’m excited to be able to eat my bars of chocolate and start carrying my bottle of hot sauce everywhere again, but I’m more excited to see people get fully initiated into the church and receive their sacraments and for the entire congregation to call down all the angels and saints to pray for them and renew our promises made at our baptisms and say the “A” word and just be happy to be Catholic. We’re about to celebrate the pinnacle of our faith — that’s means to wait and rest and be still in this state of joyful hope.

We’ve all fought so well.

Day 38: You Are

“Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” — Matthew 26:41

I could not keep my brain alive and focused when I got home yesterday, so here’s another late post.

Good Friday was… good (no kidding). Very good, though. A great deal of prayer, a little bit of crying from the Passion of Christ in mass and through film. CSA did Stations of the Cross outside of Brower while it was raining, and there was something symbolic about that and our wet knees from kneeling on the ground, but I don’t know what. (Or I don’t feel like thinking. Come on, self, the Easter Vigil is tonight and I can’t think of anything now, so close to the end?) To be honest, my eyes are literally drooping just thinking about yesterday because I was incredibly tired the whole day — from 3am to midnight, I was functioning without really functioning. Maybe that was symbolic too? Hm.

I’m sorry for holding You there on the Cross. This time, I stayed awake with You, and You appeared everywhere.

Thank You.

Day 37: Titles

“Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall.” –– Proverbs 16:18

This wonderful 4am post is brought to you by me, Charlene, She Who Gets Little Sleep Sometimes. (I always liked those long titles for Queens and Lords and Kings. How cool would it be to have part of Daenerys’s 20,000 titles? “Khaleesi of the Great Grass Sea, Breaker of Chains, Mother of Dragons.” That’s legit. What would my royal title be? Charlene Paule, Wearer of Beanies, Sleeper of All Locations, Queen of Indecision, Consumer of Food, and Drinker of Water?)

An important fact to remember: there is a reason why pride is the deadliest sin.

These past couple months, I’ve wrestled with the concept of pride, and coming to the realization that the scope of pride is much bigger and more vast than I ever wanted to believe is terrifying. There are two sides to pride — one is the more obvious side that people see and most often associate with the word. One side of pride esteems the self too much and the other doesn’t do so enough. The thing about praise and compliments is that so many times, it all turns into pride. Not exactly pride in a boastful way where you tell everybody every good thing anyone has ever said about you (though it can be that too). It can take the form of fear and doubt — isn’t that weird? It can turn into the fear of not doing things worth complimenting, of doing things that aren’t perfect. It can turn into doubt that you use to berate yourself and make you believe you’ll never be able to live out the things people have said about you. Pride can not only be in the form of lifting yourself up, but also putting yourself down. There is pride in not sharing as well as too much sharing.

Downplaying and being too hard on yourself is not humility because humility is truth and telling yourself that you’re less is essentially telling God that He created trash, something that is not good. God is love, and telling yourself that you’re not enough, or that you don’t have gifts, is that hidden side of pride that oftentimes disguises itself in a faulty definition of “humility” — that is not loving yourself. Immediately turning down praise from others and turning it into something it’s not is not loving yourself. Telling God that He is wrong is not loving yourself. Don’t crush what is good about you and turn it into either sort of pride.

The line between pride and humility is thin, and that ever-mysterious and frustrating line is truth. Finding that balance between the two extremes is so central in being comfortable in who you are.

Pride is the deadliest sin because it kills who you really are. You’re not better, you’re not worse — you just are. That’s the vaguest and broadest statement ever, but that’s truth, isn’t it? God had this crazy idea to create, so He created you, and now you are.

That’s all humility is — it is truth. And the truth about ourselves that trumps the false is simple: I am a child of God. And the reason that’s so cliché (to the point where we roll our eyes whenever someone says it) is because it’s true. Really think about that phrase, dig to the root of it, and find the amount of power that it has.

I am a child of God. What a freaking honor that is.

In other words, that long and elaborate royal title I came up with for myself boils down to one: Charlene Paule, Child of God. Ultimately, it’s the only one that matters.

Day 36: Praytience

“Great is our Lord, and abundant in power; His understanding is beyond measure.” — Psalm 147:5

This post is for yesterday… my bad.

I was incredibly happy today and I can’t exactly pinpoint a reason why, but I guess that doesn’t matter. I realized once more the importance of going to God first and foremost before going to your friends, for the sake of being at least a little more sure about whatever it is you’re struggling with. We’re very affected by our friends, and that’s not a bad thing because God can speak through them, but there is that whole human dynamic thing we got goin’ on, ya know.

On a completely different note — try to understand one another. I’ve mentioned before that I have trouble validating my own emotions, and in order to do that, sometimes I need to understand as much as I can the way people work and why they say the things they say. I realize that I will never know, because even with those I’ve known for, like, 15 years, I’m still learning that — no matter how much I feel I have them all “figured out” — they are constantly changing. You’ll never completely understand, so don’t let that thought get in your head, but you can try to understand as much as you can. I don’t know if my thinking is faulty or not, but I’m just trying, yo. It’s really important to me that I don’t hold any unnecessary anger toward those I love, and sometimes these people will unintentionally hurt me, and once I understand why they did what they did, my patience (and therefore love) in regards to them increases. (This whole spiel is brought to you by a peace in one small area of my life that I found today.)

Anyway, God’s plan, right? Put it all toward God’s plan!

Day 35: Chairs

“Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind, regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.” — Philippians 2:3-4

Oh goodness. Do you ever get so irrationally angry at and end up holding a grudge against yourself? I am so quick to forgive others and console them and let them know that it’s okay it’s okay, really, it’s okay, but when it comes to me, I bash it to the ground. And it sucks because it’s not just me who feels this way! I hear it in other people’s stories and troubles and casual conversations. How sad it is that there are so many times we don’t treat ourselves the same way we treat others? Why are we so critical of ourselves?! If we loved ourselves as much as we love others a lot of the time… man. That would be heaven on earth.

You know what the most frustrating prayer is? The Litany of Humility. When I’m constantly praying that “others may increase and I may decrease,” I end up twisting that into something it’s not. Then I realized that if you’re praying for someone else to be lifted as someone else is praying for you to be lifted, that creates a very important balance, and that’s why it’s so, so important to constantly pray for others and lift one another up — we need each other, otherwise we’d decrease ourselves into the ground. It would be ideal if we could constantly see God even when we’re alone, but He didn’t create us for isolation — we were made for community, and if we’re made for community, we’re made to trust, and I feel like that’s the hardest part.

Also, how awesome is it to just sit with your friends? Literally just sit. Isn’t that all we do with people most of the time anyway? Sit for a meal, sit at a coffee shop, sit in a movie, sit and study — all we do is sit. What the heck, that’s awesome.

Let’s all sit and pray.

Day 34: Courage, Dear Heart

“She could not, however, spend much time looking back; what was coming into view in the forward direction was too exciting.” — The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, C.S. Lewis

Speakin’ to the core, Mr. Clive Staples.

Snippet from my personal post for today: “Defend yourself, take up space, give yourself some power. Dang.”

(This is the part where I ask ya to pray for me. Smooth, I know.)

Hiiiii, Holy Week!