This Easter will be 5 years since I came into the Catholic Church. 5 years ago today I was crawling into my bed as I landed from my trip to Rome where I am pretty sure that I met Jesus as a shepherd on a walk on my last afternoon there. That Holy Week was one full of grace and love and mercy and all the things that God does when we are scared little souls who need all the reassurance that everything will be ok if we give our lives to Him. Five years later Holy Week is so much different.
I have been down the road of suffering, of wanting to walk away, and of fearing for my soul and salvation while wondering where that loving God has gone. For so long when I was a teenager in the Baptist Church I thought that if you were suffering it was a sign that you were living a lie, that you were not saved and that there was some defect in you that you were refusing to face so God could not bless you.
As a Catholic I came to understand that all suffering is redemptive because the One who redeems took suffering upon Himself and changed a weapon of torture into a door to salvation. For years I was very happy to know this but in the last few years it has been harder to live it. Not because I don’t know how to suffer. When you are raped and molested at the age of 5 years old, you grow pretty accustomed to pain. I am a survivor, that I know, but what scares me is that God will not show up. That for some reason I am not one of those people who He loves and will come to save. In so many ways I am still that little girl who is waiting for someone to come in and save me from the most painful thing that ever happened to me. I am stuck there, laying on that bed wondering when it is going to be over. Where was God when that was happening to me? I do not know. I find comfort in the words of Jesus on the cross “Why have you forsaken me?” because in so many ways, I ask that question every day of my life.
So Holy Week scares me. I am scared of the gift of salvation. I am scared that it is not a gift that was ever meant for me, or one that I will never figure out how to accept. Five years ago I could not wait to jump in feet first into this life of being Catholic and now I am scared to death of not being good enough.
There seems to be so much fear in my life now and I can’t even understand where it is coming from except that it is all about me. I am looking forward to this Holy Week and everything that it brings because I really want to turn my attention back to the One on the Cross who died for me. Looking at Jesus there is a reminder that God Himself knows fear and pain. That He did not do that so that He could let me go, even if I am wrong about so many things.
I want to be able to stand at the foot of that cross this year and lay down all of that fear. To say “yes” to whatever He has in store for my life and to be able to be free of what happened to me and use it to help others. For me to be able to take on suffering as a gift of God’s providence and not evidence of my own shortcomings.