Yesterday I was thinking about how to go about celebrating the 12 days of Christmas. For Catholics, and really all Christians, Christmas begins on Christmas Day and goes until the beginning of Epiphany which is January 6th. I never knew that until I came into the Catholic Church. I always wondered where that song came from and it all made sense to me once I learned the Liturgical Calendar. It is not a “catholic” thing. It is part of our faith as Christians, even if we don’t know it.
Last night as I sat in Mass, I listened to Father Jonathan’s homily and it was one of the best homilies that I have ever heard in my life. God bless good priests. He is one of them. This morning I woke up and came up with my idea of how to celebrate and share the 12 days of Christmas. I am going to blog my way through them.
In Father’s homily he said that the difference between Christianity and other religions is that for us, God came down from Heaven and put Himself right in the middle of our mess. He came as a baby wrapped in swaddling clothes, which were not sterilized and probably not clean. To top it off he was laid on dirty hay. That is how much God loves us. He doesn’t just sit there and wait for us to come to Him. He takes it upon Himself to come to US. In a particular time in History Jesus was born. It is not a story. When I really think about that it blows me away. People can argue about whether or not he was God, or the Messiah, but nobody can say he wasn’t ever born. To do so would be denying historical facts.
Father also said that God loves us; he never gives up on us even when we have given up on ourselves. As long as we have breath in our bodies God will keep putting Himself in our face to let us know that He loves us. We are made for greatness, we all know it. We all have that feeling deep down that says we are made for something outside of ourselves. We try to fill that with all kinds of things; success, money, nice things, other people, and many other things. It is only when we realize that no matter what we are doing, it is not enough and that’s when we turn to God. People in deep denial usually have to be at rock bottom. That was me. It was not until I had nowhere else to turn that I finally turned my life over to God.
Many of you reading this knew me before my life changed 2 years ago. You may think I’ve lost my mind, or have handed it over the pope to tell me what to do. There is no telling what many of you who knew the old me think. Many of you didn’t know me back then, and you may wonder who I was. Either way there are things that both groups do not understand about me and my change. How God stepped into my life and has suffered with me through the last two years. So for the 12 days of Christmas I am going to share 12 of those stories and lessons that I have learned over the last two years of my life. God has been so good to me and my family. It has not come without sacrifice, hard days or tears, but God has been with me the whole time encouraging me and loving me.
Jesus is my true love.
On this first day of Christmas, I will tell you about how I started to fall in love with Him. I always believed in God. There was never a day in my life when I didn’t. There were plenty of days that I would have told anyone who asked, that I was a Christian. Even those times when I was having casual sex with different people, drinking myself blind, ignoring my kids, dropping F bombs like nobody’s business, among many other un-Christian like behaviors. Anyone who would have pointed that out to me would have gotten a mouth full of ugliness about how they had NO idea who I was and they had no business judging me, only God could judge me. (My eyes are rolling at my own self as I write this) I honestly thought that believing in God was all that I needed to make it to Heaven; it did not even scare me to think about dying and stand in front of God. All I can say is that I was blinded with pride. Only pride keeps someone from admitting their faults and that they need a savior. (I still struggle with my pride. I think that I am slowly by the Grace of God chipping away at it, but I still have a long way to go.)
When I started going to RCIA, two things really hit me like a ton of bricks. One was Noe talking about God’s love. I knew all the stuff he was saying, but for some reason this time it was as if God was standing in front of me and saying “Leticia, come home. Let me love you; let me take care of you. Aren’t you tired of fighting me?” Yes, I was. I was tired of screwing things up. I was tired of crying. I was tired of always ending up in the same place no matter how hard I tried to make things better. I was tired of thinking *this* was the time when everything would be fine, only to end up with it all blowing up in my face. I was tired of drinking until I passed out, OR picking a fight with someone. I was just plain tired. Exhausted, lost, confused and ready to give up. And I did. I gave up. I gave up and let God have my life. That is when my life changed. That is when one by one my dreams started coming true.
The other thing that hit me was when Manuel gave his testimony and he said that he sat in the same place in RCIA a few years before me. He just wanted to come in, do the meetings and go on about his life. He believed in God and felt that was enough. Until a Priest said “If you think that all you have to do is believe in God and you’ll be saved I have news for you. Even the Devil believes in God, look how far that got him.” WHOA! I have been thinking about that statement for the last two years. It is true. Not only does the evil one believe in God, he KNOWS God exists. It is not a matter of faith with him; it is a matter of fact. And still he choose to reject God. The rejection of God by the devil is a very deep subject, but it does make me think that it takes more than just believing that God exists to make it to Heaven.
I rejected God. That is the definition of sin. I still reject God in things, because I am still a sinner. When I would do things that I knew where wrong, such as sex outside of marriage I was rejecting God’s plan. Just because you can come up with rationalizations as to why it’s ok, doesn’t change the fact that we know God says it is a sin to do it. God does not change, no matter what reasons we come up with of why wrongs are right and rights are wrong. That is the oldest trick in the devil’s book. That is what he does. And we all fall for it. I fall for it. I realize it and am so disappointed in myself, and then start thinking that either God will not forgive me OR it’s not a big deal and there is no need to confess it. HA! Both are wrong. God is always waiting for us to come to him. He is always waiting for us, so He can forgive us and our relationship with Him can grow. The evil one is our enemy, and a liar. He lies and tells us that all of that is BS. So when we see someone trying to live that out in their life, our first thought is that there is something wrong with them, and they are missing out on so much fun. Well, let me tell you, I’ve had that “fun”. I was the funnest person in the world. I laughed danced, smoked, drank and did everything that the world says is “fun”, and every night when I closed my eyes I knew it was all empty lies. I laid there with an ache in my soul. There was still a empty hole in my heart where God goes. I knew it. I just didn’t know how to fill it, until I walked into Noe’s RCIA program.
So on this first day of Christmas my true Love gave to me the gift of being born in a manger. He did that to have a personal relationship with me, and when I rejected Him time after time He kept putting Himself in my life. He never gave up on me. When I confessed all the terrible things I had done to reject him, He forgave me. And when I fall He picks me up. He loves me. And he loves you. He loves you more than you can ever know.
Jesus came as a baby in a manger for you. Not just “the whole world” but you. He came down so that he could suffer like you, go through the hurts and struggles like you, to die on a cross for you and to have a relationship with you. Give him a chance to be born in your heart this Christmas not just as some part of your life, like all the other parts in your life but as the center of it. I promise you will not regret it.