When Life Gets Hard, Remember This

When Life Gets Hard, Remember This

There are also times when I just need to know that in this big world I am not fighting these battles on my own.
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There are going to be times in our lives where nothing seems to make sense and as if everything is falling apart. There will be times when you prayed for something, and it is as if God misunderstood your request. There will be times when one thing happens, then another thing, then another, and then another, but it will be in these times when nothing goes right that God speaks the loudest. God has a way of being who we need when we need Him. There are times in my life when I need God to be my friend. There are times when I need God to listen to me cry, to listen to me rant about anything even the small, seemingly unimportant things. There are also times when I just need to know that in this big world I am not fighting these battles on my own. We sing a song in church sometimes that I believe illustrates this point beautifully as it reads, “Farther Along we’ll know all about it, father along we’ll understand why, cheer up my brother live in the sunshine, we’ll understand it all by and by.”

If there is anything that I have learned in the past three months it's the phrase “farther alone we’ll understand why.” God places different circumstances into our lives, not as means to test us but to see just how far we are willing to serve Him. Throughout our journey on the straight and narrow, there will be many obstacles and things that at the time we will not understand in the slightest, but that's part of the journey. There will be times when you look up at the sky and scream, “Why,” but there will also be times when you look up at the sky and scream “thank you for saying no, God.” God knows what we need before we even ask, and He will give us what we need when we need it even if it is not what we necessarily want.

Farther along we’ll understand why. As we look back one day when we are twenty-five and have bigger problems than broken hearts and what we are going to do for the rest of our lives, the things we don't understand right now will seem crystal clear or may not even seem important. Time is a beautiful thing that allows us to see growth and importance, which is why the further we travel down the road God has placed us on, the more we will begin to understand why certain things are happening. Even if right now nothing makes sense, everything is falling apart, or it is as if God isn't answering your prayers, He is there and He is active. My friend,“Farther Along we’ll know all about it, father along we’ll understand why, cheer up my brother live in the sunshine, we’ll understand it all by and by.”

Cover Image Credit: Kya Elkin

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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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