Refrigerators and Sisterhood

Refrigerators: a family’s wall of fame. In elementary school, I put my scribbled stick figure depictions of my family on there, proud of my artistry. In middle school, the refrigerator was instead filled up with report cards that showed off our good attendance and A/B averages. In high school, it was filled with weekly schedules of each member of the family: Who had work, school, and other priorities we needed to know about to figure out who got the cars and at what times.

In college, the refrigerator now showcases no report cards nor stick figure scribbles. There are no schedules to see. Instead, it is filled with life: wedding invitations, condolence cards, birth announcements, graduation pictures, and prayers.

I don’t live with my family anymore but looking at these moments of life that hang on my refrigerator door, I am reminded that while I may not live with my biological family, it doesn’t mean I am without one.

I live with faith-filled women who desire the same thing I do, a relationship with God. Looking at this refrigerator, this wall of fame, I come to realize how blessed I am to have this other family of mine.

We walk through this life together as sisters in Christ. The pictures and cards that hang on the door are proof of this.

We celebrate love, we rejoice in new babies and when a life is lost we hold each other close offering a shoulder to cry on. We are there for each other through the joy and the pain. We suffer together, we laugh together, we study together and we pray together.

We come home at midnight and pray a rosary in the quiet darkness of night. We dance in the living room, we cook and bake, we praise and worship our God, and we leave notes of encouragement and prayer for each other when we need it.

This family I am blessed to be apart of is a family because we have a beautiful sisterhood in Christ. As sisters we ask questions like, “how can I pray for you today?” and do so with sincerity and genuine love.

Having true sisters in our lives are important. We need people to pray for us, and not just to pray for the most mundane things in our lives, but for the deep, dark gritty stuff we don’t want just anyone to see.

The past few months have really proven to me just how much I needed this sisterhood to surround myself with. All three of us have gone through our own trials; whether that be financial stress, relationships, anxiety, grieving, or work conflicts.

Satan had been dragging us through the mud and without the sisterhood we have, life would have been so much more difficult. We aren’t meant to do this on our own; we all need community. We need others to help us to lift our crosses, to carry us to the finish line and to lift us up in prayer as we go about our days.

If I didn’t have someone to talk me down from my emotional freak out about work and school or someone to lift me up in both affirmation and prayer, I wouldn’t be in the place I am today. When I fall, I have sisters all around me to push me back towards Christ.

Find that sister who can come home from work late at night and serve you up an ice cream sundae when you feel like you’re drowning in school work. Find that sister who writes uplifting messages to you on the bathroom wall with the steam from a hot shower. Find that sister who looks you in the eyes and truly cares about the trials you’re facing in your life.

Live your life with these sisters in such a way that when you look back on the memories you’ve made and the experiences you witnessed, you’ll see both the joy and the suffering.  You’ll know you’ve walked, crawled, been carried, and supported each other in this life together and that the refrigerator you see keeps only a vague snapshot of the emotions and stories you hold close to your heart.

 

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Are You Radically Accepting Your Imperfection?

I have never been late to a class before.

Yep, that’s right. I, Sarah, have never been late to a class.

This statement was true…until one unfortunate morning.

I was driving to school at my usual departure time. There was no hurry, I knew I would get to school with about 20 minutes to spare, just as I did every morning (my philosophy: being early is on time and being on time is late).

I pulled away from my house and got on the highway, entering into something out of my worst nightmare: unmoving cars.

Traffic was almost at a standstill, red brake lights lit up the freeway as far as the eye could see. I looked at the clock on my dashboard and nervously tucked the fear away as I slowly merged on. I had an extra twenty minutes planned into my schedule just for instances like this. I assured myself I’d be fine, I’d get to school on time.

My outlook slowly started to change and panic slowly set in as I realized just how long I would be stuck in this traffic.

Some of you are probably thinking I sound ridiculous (and you’d be right). I’d only be a little late to class, it’d be no big deal. Professors don’t care whether you’re in their class or not, and in most circumstances I would agree with you. Unfortunately, my philosophy class was a little strict. My professor gave us daily ten point quizzes at the start of each class over the reading we were assigned from the class before. If you’re late or miss a class, those ten points go down in the grade book as missed.

Back in the car, after what seemed like hours of me driving full of panic, I finally pulled into the university’s parking lot and walked as fast as I could to my class. My shoes squeaked across the floor of the quiet building from the melted snow that was trampled in by me and other students. I opened the closed door of my classroom and almost everyone turned around to see who was arriving late (by the way, having everyone stare at you is the worst thing ever for a girl who always chooses to sit in the back of the class).

I sat down and quickly pulled out my pen as my professor quietly wished me a good morning and handed me the quiz. The first three questions were marked off. He had already asked those questions and I wouldn’t be allowed to make them up. Despite his wish, it wasn’t a good morning for me.

I was so angry.

I was angry at the traffic I had to get through, (I even took a detour but the traffic was still backed up there too). I was angry at the driver in front of me going fifteen miles under the speed limit. I was even angry at my amazing professor for always starting class with quizzes that commuters like myself could potentially be late to, for reasons outside of our control.

I kept telling myself, if only I had left three minutes earlier, I would have arrived on time and received all of the points I was allowed. If only I would have gotten up 3 minutes earlier, I would’ve been there at the start of class.

Now here’s some back story to the situation: I had a 103% in the class. Every quiz I had taken in that class I had been on time for, and received full credit plus the bonus question. On top of this, at the end of the semester, our professor knocked off the two lowest quiz grades too.

Now, you are allowed to call me ridiculous because looking at it now, I agree. I was so distraught over a quiz that would have no impact on my grade.

Clearly, I’m a little bit of a perfectionist. Everything has to be perfect. I need to do everything right the first time and achieve the unachievable status of perfect. I need to get an A in every single class, I need to always be on time for the lecture, I need to answer every question correctly when I’m called on.

I’m not just a perfectionist in my education. I also strive for perfection in my work and in my spiritual life.

My prayer life isn’t perfect and it bothers me. The amount of work I put in at both of my jobs is not perfect and it bothers me.

When I make mistakes I critique myself very harshly. I play the mistakes over and over again in my head and put myself down for not being better.

The desire for perfection is easily one of my greatest causes for anxiety. Most of my anxiety comes from me worrying that I’m either letting someone down, not doing my job right, or  saying and doing the wrong thing.

When I was beginning my new job as a youth minister intern, the same thoughts were taking over my mind: “what if I mess up?” and “what if I make a mistake and something bad happens?”

It bother me so much that during confession without any intent on sharing how I was feeling about my new job, I just dumped it all in the lap of the priest. I basically emotionally vomited on him.

He looked at me while I was on the verge of tears because I was finally telling someone what had been bothering me for so long. I had no idea the hold it was having on me until I let it go and felt a weight fall off of my chest.

He kindly smiled at me. “Sarah,” he said, “nobody’s perfect.”

He told me we all make mistakes, and that’s how we learn. There’s almost a beauty in making mistakes. It humbles us so we can become better christians.

He looked at me in the eyes and said it again, “nobody’s perfect, we’re only human. I make mistakes too.”

When he said this, it finally sunk in. Never once had I stopped to think about everyone around me and their own imperfection. I have yet to meet someone who’s never made a mistake in their life.

A few months later I was promoted to a management position at my retail job. Once again I found myself worrying about the mistakes I would make in my new role. I just had to be perfect, I couldn’t ever get in a disagreement with other managers or finish the day without reaching all of our goals.

It consumed me. The anxiety of trying to achieve perfection was once again eating at me. I’ve been trying and failing to remind myself that it’s impossible to achieve perfection, to know I’m only human.

I was talking to a friend of mine about this recently, discussing how we shared in each other’s suffering of anxiety. I was telling her about how perfection was definitely a factor in my personal anxiety. We came to a similar conclusion that we need to learn to continually accept our imperfection.

We’re going to fail and we’re going to make mistakes but that’s exactly how we learn and grow. No one on this earth is free of making mistakes. We need to embrace the fact that we are all imperfect. That conversation inspired me to write this blog and as I was writing it a few days later while sitting in the student center, that same friend texted me, asking a simple yet profound question: Are you radically accepting your imperfection today?

 

I was caught me off guard by the beauty of that question.

I found that asking myself this question was a great way to evaluate myself and challenge my views on my imperfection. Am I radically giving my life over to Christ? Am I continually accepting to love God over my desire for perfection?

Jesus would never want us to live in our anxiety-filled hearts because he made us for greatness. Let that sink in: he made us for greatness.

If you also struggle with anxiety stemming from perfection, take a moment and reflect on this. Ask yourself what Christ desires of you. Humbly remember that you are not perfect and continually take into consideration this question: are you radically accepting your imperfection today?

 

 

 

Falling in love with Love

Crushes: in my opinion, they feel exactly how they sound. Cruussshhh.

I feel like my heart is physically being crushed whenever I fall for somebody.

I can sit on my bed for what seems like hours, just thinking about him. I can feel my teenage, sappy heartstrings pull and I want nothing else but to be with him.

It can be fun, exciting and potentially lead to something more. But other times, it’s not so fun and exciting. Sometimes a crush can lead to heartbreak and emptiness.

As harsh as that reality may sound, it’s just a fact of life. Although it hurts, sometimes we have to accept the fact that not everyone we are attracted to will lead to a romantic relationship.

Having an attraction to someone does not mean the feelings will be reciprocated, and that is okay.

It’s okay because we don’t find our worth in people, we find it only in Christ.

It’s just a little harder to remind myself of this when I discover the feelings that I have for someone are unrequited. It hurts; I know how much it hurts. To see that person everyday, to hear them laugh or talk about something you both share an interest in; it hurts to stand and listen.

I’ve had a crush that’s lasted for over a year, I know how it feels.

One day I was pouting with these thoughts at the front of my mind, wanting desperately to find new love so as to fill the void I had developed from this crush.

I opened up my daily devotional for the first time in weeks and read this little quote by St. Augustine, which I find amusing and fitting, considering I refer to him as my “saintly crush”:

“Additionally, I sought for something to love, for I was in love with love. There was a hunger within me from a lack of inner food, which is none other than yourself, my God.”

The quote hit me like a ton bricks and I knew what I missing.

As St. Augustine suggests, I was in love with love; in love with the idea of imperfect human love.

Yes, I want to fall in love with a Christ-centered man someday but before I get there, I need to fall in love with the “Christ-centered” part in my own life.

With that in the back of my mind, I came across those same thoughts of longing for love and for my crush. I was looking for someone to emotionally throw-up on and purge all of my crush-related feelings; surely it would make me feel better if I could just get my feelings out in the open.

The only problem? There was no around to listen.

I reminded myself of Augustine’s quote and breathed, “Alright God, I guess I’m turning to you today.”

So I told God how much I was hurting, how I felt like I was suffering. I told him how my heart hurt with the longing of this crush that I had held on to for so long. Simply, I just asked him to ease the hurt, not get rid of the crush, but to just ease the burden of longing that I was carrying.

And of course, he answered. I was so focused on this crush, “in love with love”, if you will. But in those five minutes of me trying to seek peace for the pain I felt in my heart, God answered.

A week earlier, a friend had loaned me a book about Bl. Pier Giorgio. It was a biographical book that told the story of his life. If you don’t know much about this man, I highly recommend learning about him. Bl. Pier Giorgio Frassati was an amazing witness to the faith. His faith and trust in Christ and his charitable heart for the poor is incredibly admirable.

After I had let my emotions loose to God and finished praying, I opened up this book that I was already a few chapters into, intending to read one more. But after I prayed and confessed my struggling heart to God, I found myself finishing the book that night. And I fell in love. Not with the man whose life my eyes consumed in the pages that night, but with God.

Bl. Pier Giorgio’s life reminds us of how important it is to place our trust in God. He was so trusting in God and turned to him with every problem he faced (even with his own crush). This man knew something that I was just beginning to discover: God is Love, with a capital “L”.

When we have a problem, who better to turn to than Love itself? Why am I entrusting my problems solely to those around me? Only God can fill that void of doubt, insecurity, and pain.

It was that night that I discovered a truth.

Before I fall in love with imperfect but beautiful human love, I want to fall in love with, quite literally, Love itself.

When I have a problem, I want to turn to him. When I am struggling with the emotions that are come with a crush, I want to turn to him. I know he will always fill that pain, that suffering, that void in my heart.

As humans we all desire that same thing: to love and to be loved. It’s an emotion we all crave and only one can truly satisfy it: God.

Just Breathe and Be Still

Deep down inside of me I believe there’s an angry New York City driver just itching to get out.

I have little to no patience when I get behind the wheel.

It gets worse when I haven’t eaten in a while and my inability to practice patience is almost hidden by my hunger-related anger.

Naturally this topic came up in my small group one night.

My girls laughed as I told them my moral failure of not remaining cool, calm, and collected behind the wheel when I follow someone going a little slower than I am.

My co-leader suggested that we pray for my patience.

Imagine the horror on my face: when one prays for patience, one does not receive patience, but rather plenty of golden opportunities to practice it.

Despite my best efforts to convince them not to put it in our book of prayer intentions, they wrote it in the book like any group of true sisters would. As much as I don’t like to admit it, while I didn’t want the opportunities to practice patience, I knew I needed it.

Of course, that week went very much how I expected it would. Backed with the prayer of my sisters, I drove everywhere that week behind someone going about ten miles below the speed limit.

Whenever I’d finally have an opportunity to pass one car, another car a mile up the road would be going the same pace.

One day was so bad, I found myself wondering if it was national “drive slower than the law allows” day.

I’d like to say after that week of prayers, I became one of the most patient drivers you’ll ever meet. Unfortunately that is not the case.

God did teach me something though.

While driving down a country road, I found myself driving behind someone going 30 mph in a 45 mph speed limit area.

I tapped my hand on the wheel and started coaxing the driver to increase speed as if he could hear me. Come on buddy, just five more miles, you can do it. Come on friend. You saw that speed limit sign back there, didn’t you? 

Then I heard this voice in my heart.

Where do you need to be Sarah?

I stopped my coaxing and thought about it for a second. Where did I need to be? I had just finished my last class and was heading home for the day. I didn’t need to be at work. My only plan for the day was making dinner and doing a light load of homework.

I had nowhere I needed to be and because that was the case, I found myself asking, why am I in such a hurry if I have no where to be?

That was the big question of the day.

I realized that I’m always in a hurry, always wanting to go faster. I’m always wishing class would be over sooner or wanting drives to go by faster. I push and push and push. When’s my next meal? When is the next movie coming out? When is the next episode of Blue Bloods coming on?

I think our culture is telling us it’s good to always be on the move. It’s good to be busy, or to always be in a hurry. Being busy means your calendar is full which somehow translates into you leading a full life.

Living a full life is not the same as having a full event planner.

Life is about more than just going. It’s about more than just getting from one thing to the next.

Life is not built on the day to day tasks you accomplish. It’s about the memories you make, the relationships you keep, and the joy you encounter.

Sometimes it’s about not even being productive.

Not being productive doesn’t mean procrastinating from homework and turning on Netflix. What it means is needing to find time to do things that don’t relate to our school work, our job, or any of our errands.

Maybe that means reading a book for a half hour everyday instead of checking our email for the third time since we’ve been home. Maybe during that long car ride, we turn on some music and seek joy in singing along, or we turn the radio off and seek joy in the silence.

Something I’ve been trying to do is put my phone away when I’m home at night with my roommates. Just sitting on the couch and talking about our day is more fruitful when we ditch the phones rather than sit there in silence while we all stare at a screen.

It’s not a sin to be busy. We all lead fairly busy lives, but we need to be careful busyness doesn’t consume us. When I no longer have the time to sit in silence and pray, even for just a few minutes every day, busyness has consumed me.

When I’m too busy to pray, I remember what my dad always says: when the devil can’t get you to sin, he’ll keep you busy as a way of keeping you from God.

That doesn’t mean we should just cancel all of our responsibilities and commitments, and live under a rock (although to an introvert such as myself, that offer seems tempting at times).

But I urge you to find the time everyday to make a memory, or to seek time with someone in conversation. Find the time to sit down and pray for awhile, enter into a daily conversation with God, just breathe and be still with him.

I don’t want to wake up in thirty years and realize I wasted the entirety of my life running from place to place, or staring at my phone, sucked into the world of social media.

I want to realize that I spent my time on this earth doing something worthwhile. I want to look back at all of the memories I made and the friendships I kept. After all, we don’t want to live life to the busiest, we want to live it to the fullest.

“I Forgive You”

What does a college student do when there are impending due dates lurking around the corner, a stack of books needing to be read, and a pile of dirty laundry that needs washing?

Watch a Disney movie of course.

And that’s just what I did one sunny Saturday afternoon.

After much deliberation on deciding what to watch, I went with the new live-action version of Cinderella.

Ever since the first time I watched it, I fell in love with the more complex set of characters than those in the original cartoon.

What I love the most though, is how virtuous they created Cinderella to be. She’s kind, more kind than I think I’ve ever striven to be.

I’ll sit there in frustration as I watch her slowly fall from a girl living a fairly wealthy life, into her new role as housekeeper extraordinaire.

I watch as she willingly gives up her room for her stepsisters, only to be placed in the attic or when her stepmother purposely knocks over her plate and without a second thought, Ella goes to clean it up out of sheer kindness.

Coming from a woman who’s stubborn and always needs to get in the last word, I found myself more than once yelling at the TV and wanting nothing more than to shake Cinderella by the shoulders and say, “Stop letting them push you around! This is your house, fight back!”

The first time I saw it, I sat there waiting for the end of the movie when she would finally get her prince, and that awful stepmother would deserve whatever she got.

I was surprised when I witnessed a completely different outcome.

As Cinderella leaves her house for the last time with her prince, she turns around to stare at her stepmother and says, “I forgive you”.

WHAT.

No revenge? Not even a sassy one-liner executed perfectly as she walks out the door?

You can imagine my frustration.

But the more I sat on it and thought about it, I realized how perfect those last words were.

Forgiveness.

It was never my favorite word, growing up I hated it. Whenever I got in a fight with my sisters or brother, my parents would make the instigator apologize. That was fine with me because it seemed like I was always the one being antagonized. The only problem was that after they said they were sorry, my parents would make me say, “I forgive you”. Stubbornly and through a dramatic pout, I would utter those three “awful” words.

It is something I still struggle with today.

Sometimes it’s easy. For example, when your sister eats the last Pop Tart for breakfast and you’re stuck eating two boring old pieces of toast that leave you hungry an hour later, you learn to get over it and forgive her quite easily.

Other times, it’s not so easy.

When someone’s been bullying you or hurting you deeply for some time, it can get a lot harder to forgive.

When I’ve been wronged by someone, I find it’s so much easier to turn to revenge, thinking I’ll feel better once they get what they deserve. I never do feel better but that doesn’t stop me from thinking it; I’m not one for turning the other cheek.

But even if I want nothing more than to fight fire with fire, God asks us to do the opposite. He wants us to forgive others and He’s got a good argument for why we should:

If we are going to ask God to forgive us for every time we’ve hurt him, which is all the time (aka. sin), it would be hypocritical of us to never forgive those who hurt us. Why should we beg for forgiveness for our sins and receive mercy but then turn around at those begging for our forgiveness and keep that mercy to ourselves?

Forgiveness is so important that Jesus told us to include it in our prayers when he taught us the Lord’s Prayer. We pray it every time we go to mass: “and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us”.

Once Peter asked Jesus how many times we should forgive our brothers. To get the message to us that we should forgive over and over again, he tells us a parable in Matthew 18:21-35.

To sum it up, a servant is in debt to his king. When the king requests to be paid, the servant begs for mercy as he is unable to pay. The king shows mercy and forgives the servant his debt. The forgiven servant then turns around and punishes another servant who owes him money rather than showing him the same mercy his king showed him. When the king finds out, he punishes the servant for not sharing in the same mercy he received.

This parable has always been a good wake-up call in my life because as I’ve said, I am not so forgiving.

There was a day where I was incredibly angry with another person. I was texting my sister about it, how angry I felt. She texted me back and said, “for someone so little, you sure do have a lot of rage”.

Never has a truer statement been spoken.

Yes, there can be a lot of hot-headed stubbornness in me when I’m angry. Forgiveness is always the last thing on my mind. But then I read that parable Jesus gives us or I watch characters like Cinderella turn around and forgive their enemy of everything.

I am reminded of our call to love. And in that call to love comes the call to forgive others.

Just as God forgives us time and time again, so should we forgive each other.

Bow to no enemies

I really need to stop eating chocolate before bed.

As good as it tastes, chocolate makes my dream world a little crazy, and not to mention, vivid.

I blame chocolate for the time I dreamt of talking frogs (which I’m terrified of) who attack me in my bed, for the time I ate my own teeth like candy, for the time carrots were growing out of my legs, and for the time I dreamt this:

I was wearing a simple tiara and a long evergreen dress, the kind you see Queen Susan wear in Narnia. I was staring out of a large window, overlooking the village below me.

I looked out with fear; an enemy was attacking my village. I watched from my window as my villagers fell from the invading warriors.

A soldier came up behind me to sneak me out of the castle so I wouldn’t be taken as a prisoner but he was too late.

Enemy warriors came marching into my castle and surrounded me. One grabbed my arm and pulled me down the stairs and outside.

He threw me on the ground in front of their leader: an old woman with the likeness of an evil Julie Andrews stared down at me from her horse and said, “bow down to me, I am your new queen.”

I didn’t move but only looked at her.

She said, “bow down to me or die.”

So here’s where it gets epic:

I grabbed the crucifix that was hanging around my neck, stood up tall and yelled loudly, “I bow to no earthly man.”

Great dream, right?

That morning my roommate and I laughed as we tried to find a meaning behind the dream. (It’s a usual past time of ours, trying to understand the dreams I have).

Well here’s what we decided:

I had just finished an amazing summer. I was doing great in my prayer life, I was hanging out with friends, and I had plenty of time to grow in my faith.

As school crept closer, I was nervous. I wasn’t sure if I would have time to pray like I had this summer, it was going to be such a busy school year.

The dream was an analogy for me:

The village I ruled over was my life.

My soldiers were all of the good practices I had developed over the summer: a better prayer life, healthy eating, time in adoration with Jesus, etc.

The enemy queen was one of my real enemies. Her name is busyness and I am terrified of her.

I had a good defense; good soldiers to protect my village. I had good practices to keep my life in order until Queen Busyness came to conquer it all.

I watched as my village crumbled, my life slowly falling apart from her arrival.

I tried to run but she took me anyways.

But when she asked me to bow down to her, I knew I couldn’t. There was only one I would bow to, and that is Jesus Christ.

Jesus was speaking to me in this crazy chocolate-influenced dream I think. I was so incredibly scared to jump into the new school year with my new ministry job and my new extra-curriculars. I was going to be so busy but Jesus knew that, and knew me.

As long as I have him with me, I will never bow down to any of my enemies. They might make it hard sometimes to live a good Christian life but Jesus is standing by our side when these earthly things that fill our lives do conquer us.

Maybe you too are incredibly busy. Maybe your queen is the struggle to be pure in a relationship or she’s the insecurities you’ve been hiding for years.

Whoever she is, she’s going to be hard to fight.

You might have a great defense system but that doesn’t mean you won’t ever be invaded by these enemies.

As you struggle and fight, know God is always right beside you.

My life is busy but I know God will never leave me alone, he is right there helping me through it. He won’t ever give me something I can’t handle.

I don’t bow to my enemy queen. She may have invaded my life but as long as I’ve got Jesus, she’s not winning anything.

Who’s your enemy queen?

Take some time today to stand up to her and say, “I bow to no one but God.”

Worthless? Nope, Not Even Close.

I think we as christians spend a lot of time talking about sexual sins. Anyone else agree?

In my opinion, Admitting to lying, gossiping, and sometimes even stealing, doesn’t get the same kind of reaction as does sexual impurity.

Yes, they’re all sins but I feel like we get this notion with sexual impurity that says, if you aren’t chaste, you are worthless.

And that is just not true.

I was listening to this story the other day: A pastor was using a visual aid to show his teens what it looks like when they give into sexual temptation with their boyfriend or girlfriend.

He pulled out a stick of gum and asked the crowd if anyone wanted a piece, many people raised their hand and said they did.

Then he threw the piece in his mouth and chewed it. He pulled it out of his mouth and asked the crowd again if they wanted the piece.

No one raised their hand.

The moral? When you have sex outside of marriage, you become that chewed up piece of gum which nobody wants.

You know the message I get from that story?

If you ever had sex in your life outside of marriage, you are garbage and no one will ever want you because you are worthless. After all, isn’t that what a piece of chewed up gum is?

My heart hurts for every young man and woman who has heard this message especially those who have already lost their virginity.

Can you imagine how they feel upon hearing that message and assume they are indeed worthless?

Well guess what, no matter what you’ve done in you’re life, it does nothing to determine your worth as a person.

I don’t care if you’re a murderer, a prostitute, or a priest. We all have the same worth, no person more so than another.

God created you just as he created everything else on earth and said, “it is good”. (Yes, he said that about YOU.)

We all make mistakes and God forgives us for those mistakes but I’m telling you now: no matter what you’ve done in your life, God’s opinion of you has not changed. He loves you unconditionally and mercifully.

He doesn’t lower his love for you whenever you sin against him. I shudder to think about what would happen if he did.

Let me back this up with a story we find in the Bible.

The woman at the well in the Gospel of John is one of my favorite stories and it goes a little something like this:

One day after traveling far, Jesus stops at a well to get a drink of water. A woman comes up to draw water out of the well as well and they strike up a conversation.

Here’s the odd part of the story.

This woman is no Jew striving for a life of virtue. She is a Samaritan living in sin. She’s had five different husbands and is now living with a sixth man who is not her husband.

At that time, there was a deep hatred between the two groups and it was unheard of for a Jew to start talking with a Samaritan.

This woman is a Samaritan but even among her own village she is an outcast because she is unchaste.

This doesn’t stop Jesus from coming up to talk to her though. The apostles are confused as they watch Jesus talk to this woman. Why would the Messiah be talking to some worthless sinner?

Think of the example he is showing his followers when he does this. Yes, the woman he talks to is a sinner but is she worthless? By no means.

I can totally see Jesus looking at Peter’s confusion and saying, “hey, you’re going to deny me three times one day and I still hang out with you”.

We are all sinners yet every single one of us has the same worth.

The woman at the well received the same love from Jesus that Peter and John received.

I’m not justifying sin either; every time we sin we are hurting our relationship with God. What sin doesn’t do is lessen our worth.

We can disobey our parents and hurt our relationship with them but despite what we do, they will continue to love us. God is the perfect parent which means he’s even better than our own parents at forgiveness, love, and mercy.

I urge you to confess your sins often. We can go to confession as many times as we want, there’s no number limit, no “three strikes and you’re out”.

You will receive abundant mercy and forgiveness every time.

But also know that you are not your sin. Don’t let anyone ever tell you that you have less worth because of the sins you keep. You are priceless and nothing you do can change that.

Nobody is perfect and if someone is judging you for your sins or vice versa, remember what Jesus also tells us:

He that is without sin among you, let him cast the first stone. -John 8:7

Everyone sins, no one is exempt from that unless your name happens to be the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Saints sinned. Priests sin. The holiest of the holy sin. We are human and we can’t escape that. All we can do is continually seek mercy and forgiveness and know that our worth is not determined by the sins we have.

You, my friend, are not worthless, not even close.