I’m getting callouses on the tips of my fingers. They feel thicker and tougher after only a couple days of repetitive activity and I often find myself running my thumb across them. I’m attempting in all my clumsiness to learn guitar which is not an easy feat for me. The only music lessons I’ve ever taken was a bit of piano when I was younger and the good ol’ recorder in the 4th grade. Basically, I have very little music skills. It’s been a humbling experience to say the least. Praise and worship is such a beautiful part of this life I’ve joined, and I can’t help but want to contribute a little more. They say you pray twice when you sing to God. How my heart yearns to pray twice, three, four times to praise the One who has loved me so perfectly. As my fingers are getting tougher, however, I find my heart is growing softer.
Over the years I’ve built an armor around my heart. It’s a wall with looming, strong doors and many defenses guarding entry. It’s something I’ve worked on and toiled over to protect myself from being hurt by anyone or anything. I was proud of it. I was proud of building my “independence,” my “self-reliance.”
God was not pleased. He knocked on those giant wooden doors of my heart 2 years ago. He whispered into the echoing chambers that were so good at keeping everything locked in its place. My fortress, my walls began to crumble at His simple knock.
While I was in school, I was determined to be exteriorly perfect. I wanted to have the best grades, the most friends. I strived to be the one everyone else wanted to be. The summer after my sophomore year in college, I had an awesome job working in the mountains of Colorado. When I came back to school, however, I suddenly found myself very, very alone. One of my best friends left to study abroad, my friends from my summer job went back to their home states, and I realized school no longer brought me fulfillment.
To my horror, I saw everything falling apart. I tried scraping up the pieces to maintain my exterior image. The pieces of my life were scattering on the floor like shards of glass. While trying to scoop up these pieces in the shadows, however, I was cutting myself up. I was hurting myself more by trying to only rely on myself and not let anyone see into the darkness of my heart.
I started to seek for something, anything because I felt so terribly alone. I didn’t know where else to turn so I turned to the Mass because nothing worldly seemed to fill the void in my heart.
In my little shadowed corner, Jesus knelt and started to help me pick up my shards of glass. His hands were bleeding at the sharpness of my edges, but He didn’t care. Tears streamed down His face and He wept for me. He knew that meeting me in this place of darkness, of brokenness, would draw me closer to His heart–His heart that was so vulnerable, without walls, without defenses. His heart that was so contrasting to my own.
Over the course of many months of healing, prayer, and building true friendships, I began to see who God really was and began to hear His call to lower my defenses.
Here at Big Woods, that call still resounds in my heart. My fellow missionaries and friends have been demanding a vulnerability of my heart by sharing their own. As the callouses on my fingers grow, pray for me that the callouses of my heart might fall away. To go out and proclaim the love of God to others, I have to know God’s love for my heart. And I mean, let’s be honest, I won’t fully know His love until I meet Him in heaven because I am little and I am human, but I can sure as heck try to get as close as possible to His Sacred Heart here on earth.
Sweet Jesus, break down the armor around my heart so You can hold my fragile heart in Your strong hands. Help me love You more.
“God, infinitely perfect and blessed in himself, in a plan of sheer goodness freely created YOU to make him share in his own blessed life. For this reason, at every time and in every place, God draws close to you. He calls you to seek him, to know him, to love him with all his strength. He calls you, scattered and divided by sin, into the unity of his family, the Church. To accomplish this, when the fullness of time had come, God sent his Son as Redeemer and Savior. In his Son and through him, he invites you to become, in the Holy Spirit, his adopted child and thus heir of his blessed life.” -Catechism of the Catholic Church
A couple pictures from this week: