In The Face Of Suffering And Sadness, Remember The Power Of A Grateful Heart

In The Face Of Suffering And Sadness, Remember The Power Of A Grateful Heart

"A heart of gratitude leaves no room for complaining"
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With Thanksgiving just around the corner, I thought it would be an appropriate time to bring up what I feel a lot of us are lacking right now: gratefulness.

When life gets hard and things don't seem to be going our way, the last way we feel like acting is grateful, but maybe we're doing it all wrong.

I recently tried this new approach to taking on hard situations, one that included finding something to be grateful for even in the worst of times. Your response at this point might be, "Well, my life is falling apart. I'm failing a class, my heart just got broken, my family is a mess and my friends are no where to be found, what do I possibly have to be grateful for?" The answer to that question is a lot, you have a lot to be grateful for, no matter what your situation is.

If you're reading this article, chances are you have a functioning phone/computer and hey that's somewhere to start! You have the ability to go to your closest sink/water fountain and be provided water essentially at your fingertips, while others have to walk miles for it. You have a roof over your head and heat to keep you warm as the temperatures are dropping.

The fact of the matter is, even though you have a roof over your head, water to drink and food to eat doesn't mean you aren't suffering. But my point is, when we begin to think of how blessed we are and change our hearts to be grateful hearts, we find pain and suffering a lot more bearable, which is exactly what I experienced when I tried this approach. There was a lot less room for the enemy's input, and a lot more room for God to fill my heart. I was reminded that God is the giver of all gifts. I allowed more room for continuous blessings.

We are daughters and sons of King, the ever present and all providing God.

He has blessed you beyond measure with talents, gifts, love and tangible objects. Even when you are at your lowest of lows, it is important to remain grateful, thanking God for all He has provided you. When we dwell on that in which we can't control, we tell God that He hasn't provided us with what we need, and the truth is, He has, for all that we have has been graciously given to us by Him.

"Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.” James 1:17

My challenge to you would be, in the times where you feel you are suffering of faced with a lot of sadness, make a list of all you are grateful for. These things can be as small or as huge, intangible or tangible as you wish, just choose to be grateful for something. There is so much power in a thankful heart. Power to change your outlook on a situation, thus changing the ultimate outcome of the situation. When you feel that your heart is straying away from gratefulness, pray that God would open your eyes to all that He has provided and blessed you with.

“O Come, let us sing for joy to the Lord; Let us shout joyfully to the rock of our salvation. Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving; let us make a joyful noise to him with songs of praise! For the Lord is a great God, and a great King above all gods.” Psalm 95:1-3
Cover Image Credit: 7 Themes

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What We Can Take Away From Lent, Christian Or Not

Even if Jesus isn't a part of your life, the message is the same.
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If you weren't raised in a Christian home, Lent is the season before Easter. It lasts for 40 days and starts with Ash Wednesday, where Christians of all denominations go to their churches and get marked with ash in the shape of a cross on their forehead.

When I was at mass this past Ash Wednesday, the priest described Lent in a way I hadn't thought of before. Lent is typically viewed as a solemn time. There is no joyful hallelujah, and we don't sing at the beginning or end of liturgies. The 40 days can sometimes feel like an eternity. But, last week my perspective was dramatically changed.

The priest invited us to enter into this Lenten Season with the perspective that we're all just working on it. Everyone has some struggle they want to overcome, or some mountain they need to climb, and Lent is the perfect time to do so. While the Christian tradition comes at this with the belief that Christ is the One who helps us conquer these struggles, I think this message of progress and continual struggle can be applied to everyone, regardless of faith.

Our society is so focused on keeping up appearances and only showing the highlights of our lives, it's easy to get lost in expectations. We look through our feeds on social media and see how great our friends look or how much fun they're having at school. If you're having a bad day and all you see is the filtered version of other people's lives, it's easy to feel like you're somehow not good enough.

I know when I'm having a bad day and all that pops up on my Instagram feed is pictures of my friends going out or looking amazing I feel like crap. I forget that other people have bad days too, they just don't post it for the world to see. This is an extremely isolating system, and we need to constantly remind ourselves that no one looks that great all the time. We filter our lives so no one sees the mountains we're climbing, no one sees what we're working on.

We want everyone to think we have it all together, all the time. But this simply isn't true, no one is perfect. Lent reminds us that this is okay. No one should feel like they need to be perfect every second of every day.

In the Gospels we hear about people who were falling apart, on the inside and out. Jesus didn't pass them over because they weren't perfect. He saw them for who they were and gave them the opportunity to become great. Even if Jesus isn't a part of your life, the message is the same. No matter what your struggles are, remember that we're all just doing our best in life, and we're all working on something.

Cover Image Credit: Life Teen

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How Catholic College Students Experience Lent

I'm gonna be riding the struggle bus for 40 days straight
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In the wake of Ash Wednesday, we have officially entered the Lenten season - the 40 or so days before the Triduum and Easter Sunday. (PS - The Triduum is the three days that precede Easter).

Being a practicing Catholic while at college is enough of a struggle on it's own. Being a practicing Catholic at college during Lent can be a downright nightmare. If you've been treading water this past week trying to fulfill Lenten obligations while carrying on your usual college lifestyle, you are not alone.

Whether you attend a college with a strong, moderate, or non-existent religious atmosphere, there are some problems that any Catholic student will run across during Lent. While being at a school that offers more resources for religious services or outlets for religious practice can definitely make life easier for these students, the Easter season poses new problems that even campus ministry might not have the solution to.

Catholics hit the ground running during Lent. There's no gentle ease into it. No, the Church says, jump right into abstaining from meat and fasting today.

Fasting in the Catholic Church is defined as limiting your intake to one normal meal, and two smaller meals, which put together do not equal the larger meal in quantity. It is required only two days out of the liturgical year - Good Friday and Ash Wednesday.

Okay, you think, I can't eat as much as I normally would today, but it's not like I can't eat at all. Don't be fooled. The amount of energy a busy college student needs is definitely not fitting into those tiny portions.

Maybe if you were to stay in your room all day and do some light homework you would feel fine. But imagine you have a big test and all you can think about is how tired or hungry you feel. Or heaven forbid you're an athlete - no way are you completing a workout or practice on that amount.

But Ash Wednesday is in the past, so you are halfway through your fasting obligation. Then you remember - meatless Fridays. Unless you're already a vegetarian, this can put a real damper on your Friday-night dinner plans with your friends.

You could easily order something without meat, but depending on your school's location, quality vegetarian options might be hard to come by. Plus, when all your friends have a big hamburger in front of them and you had to order the Caesar salad because the local diner's veggie options were basically spinach or potatoes, you feel a little left out.

Even in the school dining hall, you can run into issues with questionable seafood, scarce vegetarian options, and lame salad bars. Lent forces you to get creative with your meals, which a college student doesn't necessarily have time for.

Another struggle? Church. Finding a Church that's near you, has Mass that accommodates your schedule, and being able to find transportation if you're not in a city or town can prove difficult. Catholic school students, be thankful for the campus chapel.

Last but not least is the ultimate and perpetual struggle of sticking to your Lenten sacrifice. Cursing, coffee, chocolate, alcohol, Netflix. Whatever you've given up is probably one of the sole things that has been keeping you going this semester.

Without it, where are you finding the motivation to complete work, get out of bed, stay healthy? Short answer: you're probably not.

Lent can be a stressful time for practicing Catholic college students. Take time each day to just sit, reflect on your intentions and goals for the day, and remember that at the end of this all, you get candy and Jesus. Look forward to it!


Cover Image Credit: Pxhere.com

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