Finding Beauty In the Struggle

Finding Beauty In the Struggle

"Happiness can be found even in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light." Albus Dumbledore
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To see a greater purpose when you are trudging through an endless spiral of let downs and failures is never easy, but always attainable. Throughout my twenty years of life I've endured my fair share of rough experiences to last a lifetime. Time after time I have let myself give up and hand my soul over to a greater being that ruled in the dark. What I couldn’t see was that God was using those experiences to shape me. I was blind to the new person I was becoming after I pulled myself up off the ground. Too stuck on my own misery and despair; I forgot to open my eyes to the one above for an outstretched hand. Held up in my own world searching for physical and emotional support; I forgot to open my heart for my spiritual needs. In my times of brokenness I have cut myself off from the Lord though it is only through Him that I shall be fulfilled. "But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well." Matthew 6:33. What I hear in this passage is this: be still, I am with you always, but I need you to search for me and to love me with all your heart as I give you all my life without condition. God hears you. He hears you when you are silently screaming for someone to listen. He hears you when you say "I'm fine" and really mean "I need help". Rely on Him when all hope seems to have faded. Let Him remind you that there is more to come. You are destined for rivers and oceans of the deepest blue. You are destined for a lifetime of happiness and unconditional love from the Father. Trust in the Lord for He is refining your heart each and every time you tell yourself that giving up this time might just be easier.

As I sit here writing this to you I am reminded that the reasons why I was so blind to God in the midst of my struggles was because I was so focused on the material aspects of life. Who was going to comfort me and what were they going to do for me? I longed for things that wouldn’t fill my heart. I wanted that immediate gratification I get when I get likes on an instagram post or when someone compliments my outfit. I tried everything to fill the void in my heart but it only seemed to grow bigger. I repeated this process every day for almost all of my teen years. I longed for physical and never for spiritual. I'm learning that in order to overcome my struggles I must yearn for the Lord. In the friends that I surround myself with, the conversations I have, and how I treat others. When my life isn't focused on what's above I veer off the path that was destined for me and I fly into the ditches when I hit pot holes.

"You will seek me and you will find me when you seek me with all your heart." Jeremiah 29:13.

Soon I came to realize that striving to meet God in my everyday life was just how I was going to fill the hole in my heart and overcome my misfortunes. I started to become intentional in my prayers. It was no longer about just praying for the sick or asking God to do things for me. I began to ask God to open my heart so that I may see Him in everything I do and in everyone I interact with. I was no longer closing myself off from the Lord but actively searching for Him when I got a little lost or fell away from His embrace. For it is when I am at my most vulnerable and broken that the Lord is there, carrying me through it all. When I feel alone He is always there holding out His hand all I have to do is accept His mercy. This is something that I have always struggled with. I have always had a hard time feeling worthy of God's love. I constantly told myself that His mercy was too good for me and I had sinned too much to receive it. I had turned my back on Him too many times and I no longer felt worthy of His forgiveness. I have had a long journey filled with doubt and guilt. There have been really great days and some very bad days. I now know that in thinking that I wasn't worthy of God's love I was reducing Him. I was telling myself that He wasn't powerful enough or forgiving enough to offer me any mercy. In Colossians 1:16 it is said, "For in Him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions, all things have been created through Him and for Him." If God can create hurricanes that wipe out cities and send angels down to Earth; I can be forgiven. In recognizing this I have been able to love God even more than I thought possible. In Love Does by Bob Goff, he shares a simple but beautiful line that goes something like this, "We are not an afterthought in God's mind, he already has our pictures in his wallet." God's affection and mercy does not have to be earned. He already looks down own us with the biggest of smiles every day. God does not want us to fear Him because we have done wrong. He wants us to run to Him full force asking for the forgiveness that has already been won for us by the cross.

In Ephesians 1:7 it is said, "In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God's grace." This is a HUGE reminder that Jesus died on the cross so that we all may have life and free will to make mistakes. Because of this I am slowly starting to live my best life. Laughing as often as I can, going out of my way to talk to a friend, and calling my parents because I'm freaking out over even the littlest of things because to me, that’s life. It's messy and at times way too overwhelming but filled with an overflowing amount of joy. I have found a beauty in my struggles because I know that in the most trying of times that is when God is refining my heart. I know that when I am broken down that I will rise with a fuller heart and be able to spread the love of Christ wherever I go because through Him I am empowered.

Cover Image Credit: RJ Grunewald

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A Letter From God To Help You Finish The Semester

God sees your struggles and He's here to give you strength and motivation.
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My Child,

The lack of motivation towards the end of the semester is normal. You are mentally and physically tired, but you are almost at the end. Don’t stop walking down the perfect path I have for you. When you’re going along and you come upon a speedbump, I want you to go over it and keep driving. The paper you have to write and the test you have to study for are just small speedbumps I have given you to make you wiser. You can write that paper and you can gain motivation to study for that test. I am here to give you strength, and am here to open up your mind and give you motivation.

You are so loved. You have such a beautiful mind. The light of Jesus shines through your eyes and your smile brings comfort to the world. There’ll be times you feel like you’re carrying a heavy load. There’ll be times you feel like the task I have given you is impossible to perform. But remember this: I would never put anything upon your shoulders that you cannot carry. If I put you in a certain situation, it’s because I know you are strong enough to go through it.

When you feel like crying, cry to me. When you feel like a failure, remember how much I love you. You are not a failure and you are not going to give up. I will hold your hand through every second of your life. I will seek your heart through your darkest moments. I see you, I see your heart, and I see your burdens. And remember that I have your heart which means I also have your burdens. Follow my footsteps and you will be free from the doubt. Remember Mark 4:40-41: “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?” I have the power to calm any storm and wave. I have the power to calm YOUR storms and waves. Set your doubt, anger, and tiredness in my hands and simply be patient.

Romans 8:14-15 says,“For those who are led by the spirit of God are the children of God. The spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again, rather the spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship.” Nothing can separate you from my love. Not even your lack of motivation. You have no motivation because you do not feel good enough. You are more than good enough. You were perfectly made by me and when I look down at you, I think of how proud I am of your heart.

Throughout the last few weeks of this semester, you will stumble upon speedbumps. But hold the hand of my son Jesus and you will be able to go over that speedbump with ease. Go write that paper, go study for that test, and go get an A in that class. I know you can because I have given you power.

Love,

God

Cover Image Credit: Margaret Carnes

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8 Phases Of Lent As Told By 'Jane The Virgin'

Nobody understands Lent like Jane.

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Every person that participates in Lent knows that there are different phases — almost like the stages of grief. Now that Lent is coming to an end, I wanted to review the challenges we have all faced so far. Easter is just around the corner and we have earned it. Although everyone's Lenten experience may be a bit different, we all know the struggles of giving something up, cheating, remembering to skip the meat on Friday's, etc. The pain is almost over, so enjoy a recap of everything you've been through in the past few weeks. Here are 8 scenes from "Jane the Virgin" that understand your struggles.

1. Thinking of what to give up

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Thinking of what to give up for Lent can be so stressful, especially when your whole family won't stop asking you about it. Leave me alone!

2. Fat Tuesday

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I hope that every Catholic family out there is having a full-out FEAST on Fat Tuesday! Don't worry about your food baby; it's called Fat Tuesday for a reason, right?

3. Getting weird looks on Ash Wednesday

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You just know everyone is looking at you like this when you have that big, black smudge on your forehead. But hey, at least when you pass another ash-covered face you can give each other a solid nod. They know what's up.

4. Cheating

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This is how every Catholic grandma looks at you when they catch you cheating during Lent.

5. Telling yourself you won't cheat again

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You tell yourself, "hey, we can do this, no more cheating during Lent." You are happy and confident.

6. Cheating...again

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Let's face it. It just isn't your year. Don't worry, Lent is almost over and the shame can finally end. Be gone, shame!

7. Eating a fish sandwich for the 100th time

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Fish sandwiches are delicious. That is until you eat one every week for almost 6 weeks.

8. When it's finally Easter

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Lent was long, but the wait was well worth it. Now go have some brunch and hunt for Easter eggs!

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