“When I called, you answered me; you built up strength within me.” Psalm 138:3
I haven’t been this vulnerable in a while. Earlier this week, I felt raw, exhausted, broken, feeble, emotional, and weak. I haven’t been my regular self and have been fighting hard to keep my eyes focused on Christ. I was looking for strength and help because I knew I needed it. I am usually bright eyed, outgoing and overly positive in most situations but there have been some things happening in my life that are definitely in the “new experiences” column and to tell you the truth, they threw me off my game. The everyday tasks of family responsibilities, ministry tasks and volunteer duties were all still due and I wondered “how in the world am I going to do all of this in my current state when I feel so weak?”
I was recently chosen for a civil duty that is not for the faint of heart. From the beginning, I didn’t know what to expect and without going into any specifics (trust me on this one….)it has felt like I have been binge watching Law & Order: SVU, NCIS, and Cops. Oh my goodness, you mean this stuff really happens and the answer is YES, yes it does! I knew that this would be an opportunity to grow in praying for all those involved; however, I had no idea what kind of effect it would have on my soul, my conscience and my emotions.
Staying Away is Hard When It Is Part of Your Civil Responsibility
I generally stay away from most kinds of inappropriate movies, TV shows, or provocative books and photos; however, being a part of this aspect of the justice system has put me in a position where I have to listen to details and other evidence of lots of horrendous acts of violence and crimes that people commit. Whoa, I’ve never been privy to those details. I know evil exists, I knew that I would have an opportunity to pray for people whom I didn’t know, I just didn’t think I would ever get so close to it and allow my heart to become entangled in the web.
I Called, He Answered
As I was preparing, for this last session, I encountered some challenges in my personal life that took a toll on my spirit. I literally asked God to whom should I go and the first place He sent me was to Confession. It was a Monday, and there was no line. That in itself was a miracle! In my head, I told myself that I would go if HE wanted me to. I said, “I will continue with my work and if after I’m finished….if no one is in line….. AND…..if you still want me to go… make it happen, Lord!”
So I Went
Sure enough….no line, so I went. I wasn’t really sure which sins I had committed in regards to this duty, but I knew that my conversation with Jesus through the presence of Father was the perfect place to start. We talked, listened and prayed together. It was beautiful. My soul was healed as the words of absolution gently landed on my heart and in my soul. I most remember that in my deepest moments of weakness, I knew where to turn. My heart longed and desired to run to the Adoration Chapel, pray to every Saint that I could think of and lean into God for guidance. God answered my prayers by sending me to encounter His Son, Jesus, in the Sacrament of Reconciliation.
The priest reminded that God is always with us…yes, (I’m totally aware of this) but, Father told me to allow God to shield my heart and protect me. You mean that’s it? I “knew” that this is possible, but as weak as I was, I had to literally and physically surrender to God’s grace, love, mercy and forgiveness and this time it made sense! The evil that I was subject to had a stronghold on my heart. I would have flash backs of chronological details, graphic descriptions and horrible images of violent crimes that I wanted to go away. So I prayed during the days leading up to our next meeting at the courthouse for spiritual strength. That morning, I wore my St. Benedict medal necklace, a rosary bracelet with a charm of Our Lady of Guadalupe, prayed a Divine Mercy Chaplet on my way there and had asked numerous people to pray for me and my constituents. We all needed prayer support to endure this. I have faith that these blessed sacramentals prove to serve as reminders of our Faith in God during difficult times.
At the end of the day, there was a profound peace that I experienced. I was confident that the Hand of God was near. Hmmm…I couldn’t remember the details of any one particular situation that I had heard that day or didn’t even have any flash backs. A stronghold on my compassionate heart had been released. Freedom from what I knew to be difficult – was welcomed. I prayed a prayer of Thanksgiving for yet another outpouring of grace on my life. I needed to be comforted as I was about to begin the “mommy” portion of my day when I got home, and I was. Thank you, Lord Jesus, for building up strength within me and giving me hope, peace and joy once again!
My prayer for you is to call on God whenever you need him and wait for his answer. He never disappoints and because He is Love, He is kind, merciful and patient.