On Faith

As some of you may know, lately I’ve felt like I’ve hit a wall. And not just once, but like, I kept plowing into the same stupid wall fifty times. So I needed something to change. So this week, I decided to spice up my spiritual life with the wonderful Blessed is She Study Guide. And boy, has it been enlightening so far. I feel like sharing my reflections would be in keeping with my last post on being unfiltered in a filter culture.

So here we go.

Why is it that we only seem to turn to faith in times of trial? God is always there, watching over the good and the bad days, our triumphs in addition to our failures. Why are we quick to ask for help and complacent when everything’s going great?

I am pretty lucky to have so much at my fingertips. I can access all kinds of information, communities, and inspiration from my phone. I am blessed enough to go to a Catholic college where the next Mass is never too far away (both in terms of time and distance). I have beautiful friends with whom I can talk about anything. I don’t think my faith has anything serious to fear.

As awesome as all those are, having so much within easy reach doesn’t do anything to exercise my faith, like any other muscle. I have to work on it to feel it grow. We want love, faith and happiness to dispense from the sky at the push of a button, just like we all want to get in shape by surviving on ice cream and movie marathons (I’ve tried).

Real faith isn’t just sitting around, passively waiting for that door to open. It necessitates some kind of action, which will empower it to act again.

And it’s hard to go out on that limb just as your body hurts when you start a new workout. As my girl Flannery O’Connor said, “[People] think faith is a big electric blanket, when of course it is the cross. It is much harder to believe than not to believe.” It is messy and it is a challenge. But I think it is worth it.

But isn’t even a small start better than no progress at all?

I am a tiny seed, but I can make waves, and I usually do it by way of curiously mixed metaphors. ☺

For any Catholic women out there looking for inspiration, I recommend checking out Blessed is She’s Instagram and devotionals.

I’m a Mess

So much of a mess, in fact, that I wanted to title my finsta (that’s slang for fake Instagram, fellow kids) Jess the Mess, but that name was already taken so I settled for an Evanescence pun.

 

save me
Me, on a daily basis, except I can only wish to sing like Amy Lee.

 

We’re about to get real.

One of the reasons I take so long in between posts is because I struggle to come up with quality ideas to write about. And it doesn’t help that I’m a recovering perfectionist, so like, I need to make sure that the product I’m putting out on the airwaves, as my dad calls the Internet, is as perfect as possible (and I have, like, two followers – I can’t imagine what it’s like to have an actual audience).

I don’t think that the very nature of blogging helps much, either. When I write on here, I’m basically yelling into a void and hoping maybe someone likes what I say, at the most yells back. And I know what it’s like to be a reader, too – everyone else’s posts are always timely, their themes pristine, their thoughts shining like the gold coins in that pot at the end of the rainbow, watched over by a fat leprechaun who will ward you away with his shillelagh. In the background, unicorns dance over the hills.

Wait, what? (cue scratching vinyl noise)

I’ve written about this before, but it’s so easy to forget that behind what we actively put on the Internet to share, everyone has a behind the scenes. Everyone is their own man behind the curtain, to whom the viewers are instructed to pay no attention.

(Ah, maybe that’s it. Maybe that leprechaun-rainbow-unicorn scene was in Oz.)

I believe in honesty, and that means pulling back the curtain from time to time. I don’t have a glamorous life. Sometimes I get sad and don’t know how to fix it. I think I wore the same shirt three times last week (don’t worry, I have a washing machine), this will be my fifth night sleeping in a garage, I didn’t meet the deadline I set myself for the novel’s edits, and as you know, if a glacier could have a blog it would probably beat me to posting regularly.

This is because I have a life that’s currently a grade-A certified mess, and unlike the main character in my novel, I wouldn’t want to replace it with an ostensibly better one free of problems. I can’t remember a time where my family was more hectic than this. I have no idea what I’ll say when people ask me what I did this summer.

But to get back on topic, people are… (drum roll) problematic. Messy, annoying. And yet, somehow, we love each other anyway and get through all of the problems, even if not perfectly.

So I guess the point of this post is, despite the temptation, to not settle for perfect. Dig deeper, and you will find a mess, but weeding through it might be the way you find something beautiful under all that dirt.

I Am Not a “What”

This summer’s been crazy so far. Lots of personal stuff has kept me more stressed than during school. And the way the world is provides no comfort. On the bright side of things, I have made some progress in the first (and hopefully only) rewrite of my novel. I’m almost done with all but the stressful middle section, and will soon progress to the line editing stage.

Combine that with trying to make regular posts on this blog (which I know I haven’t been very good at), and the general hectic nature of my life at home from school, I am pretty much always frazzled.

So I apologize for my absence.

But this post isn’t about writing, it’s about life and some observations I came to last night. And feel free to disagree with me – I won’t, like, call you a dissident heretic and make you apologize (I know, I deserve a gold star sticker for being so tolerant).

So the other night, I was watching a rerun of an early episode of “This is Us”. If you live under a rock and haven’t seen or heard about this show, I very much recommend it, if you like watching honest reflections of real life with its highs and lows.

Jack, played by Milo Ventimiglia (my heart), was giving an emotional apology to his on-screen wife. I can’t find the particular clip because I’m technologically challenged, but he was saying something to the effect of when he was younger, he never knew what he wanted to do with his life until he met Rebecca.

Feel that? It’s your heart wishing you had a real life Jack (or maybe that’s just me)

Coincidentally, when I went to bed that night, I had a dream that I was talking with a friend who I haven’t seen in a while, over a few years. We were in my basement, and I was complaining about wanting to go back to being a little kid and not having any responsibilities. She said something to me like, “Well, you still don’t really have a lot of responsibilities now.”

Good job on my own subconscious for turning against me and making me stressed, right?

Anyway, I woke up and decided to combine these two things into a blog post, but I haven’t gotten around to writing it until now, because I’m lazy. The combination got me thinking: We obsess over what kids want to be when they grow up, and when we ask, we always mean their profession. Not who they want to be.

Isn’t that vastly more important than how they make money?

Don’t our values inform the kind of work we choose to do? Shouldn’t we be cultivating compassionate, kind, loving people rather than focusing only on producing a competent workforce?

I didn’t know what I wanted to be when I was 10. I still don’t. I know that whatever kind of career I make for myself, it will pale in comparison to the person who I become. We’re more than our job titles. We’re more than the sum of our ranks in life.

Maybe if American culture at large began to realize that, we wouldn’t have such high rates of anxiety and depression. Maybe teens wouldn’t feel so much pressure to meet sometimes contradictory expectations.

Basically, it’s like that fake John Lennon quote

If we work on improving our interior lives, I think all the rest will follow.