Unexpected Invitations

It has been almost two months that I have been in the dark. I have been there before. It is dark and lonely and void of God’s presence, at least to those of us who live there. 

I have spent the time twisting and turning and writhing to find my place. Saying to myself, this is part of the journey, allowing myself to accept the time in the desert. But this time felt different. In the deserts that I have experienced before it was not God’s presence that was lacking but my own. I wouldn’t say I was alone this time. I would say that the black hole that consumed me was something beyond me. Something I had never experienced.

It wasn’t until a trip to the Blessed Sacrament that I cried out. I could not contain it. I went there specifically to cry and to beg God to come back to me, even though I know that he never left. But this daunting darkness consumed me and I hoped it wasn’t what Mother Teresa had experienced. I am no saint and I knew that I was not ready for all of that. I asked God in one breath to show up. I thought how nice it would be if the lights went dark in that chapel. Then they did. Then Father walked in. 1- God, Melissa-0.

And I left that place full of hope, knowing that in that tiny prayer, I could expect God to answer. That a single visit in the darkness could bring light. That things, they could change.

It was 5:30 am when my eyes opened. I was at peace, different from my emotional outcry the day before. I needed a good meditative piece to read and I thought of Elizabeth Scalia and checked aleteia. There it was staring me in the face- the reason for my darkness.

The piece was entitled, Are all these sexual abuse revelations triggering you? They are Me! I read it quick and with bated breath. That there could be another human on earth who could be sent to decipher my pain. We forget about one another. We don’t take the time to listen to one another. We are wild beasts ravaging around this crazy world. 

It was that sentence, the one that freed me. The one that diagnosed me. The one that let me out of my prison sentence. Two months hard labor in the darkness had been two months too long. But the words, her words, brought that first ray of light.

if you are lately feeling out of sorts — if you are feeling unaccountably sad, moody, unfocused, angry,  ashamed — if you have that cloud hovering over you, consider that perhaps you are being triggered, all subconsciously.

The weight of the Weinsteins and the Matt Lauer’s was all-consuming. The women who were getting justice while I was not. The lingering effects of sexual abuse that seep in like the bite from a poisonous snake as you slowly die without even realizing it. It is a deadly poison and a scary thought to think that you are dying and nobody has noticed. Oh how well we as victims can hide the pain.

So I pass Elizabeth’s message on to you. For those who have been living in a subconscious darkness. For predators. For the empathetic who are effected by the headlines. And for my brothers and sisters who still suffer the vile effects of sexual abuse. Know that God hasn’t left you. He is present, we need only move away the cloud.


I deleted my blog in the hopes that I could run away from the very thing that God called me to- talking about my abuse. It is such a thing to deny one’s call amidst the notion that the call is inextricably tied to suffering. Most people understand suffering in the context of misery and pain and not in the light in which Christ bathes it. Shunned is the man who walks away from the light. This man indeed calls himself a Christian.

In the arms of the gospel, Christ’s soldiers falter for just an ounce of understanding, for one inkling of His mind. And when we spend enough time on the one word, or the one story that particularly convicts us, its uncomfortable sway leads us to continue on as if we never read it. Such for me was the parable of the Dishonest Steward found in Luke’s gospel Chapter 16. It took me ten times to read it, and hours of rage to understand it. I wanted it to come easy, like this is what he says I read it let’s move on. Like that run on sentence. Like we read, move on with our day, we completed one-third of our day, I got it Jesus. But today was different. With the day off and imminent silence, the frustration of His words led to a rush of trying to understand Him. And that led to an Aha moment, which in turn led to this post.

It was the commentary from MacLaren that pierced me, opening wide the gaping wound sewed up with the consolation of knowing He was behind them,

Let God be Your End

He was talking about applying the same success used in the world as being the same success we should use in Christianity. He goes on further to say,

“And let there be a correspondence between your end and your means. That signifies, ‘Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all they mind.’ Or else when everything comes to be squared up and settled, the epitaph on your gravestone will deservedly be. ‘Thou fool!”

When we find success in the world, we find it at the expense of another, at the expense of ourselves. Our means to an end are for our own self-fulfillment, our monetary gain, our own name recognition. We may not recognize it and so then it is simply a matter of time until we do. But when Christ lifts the veil from our eyes as He did today for me, I realize that I am tired and broken because my perseverance has been weighed down in the worldly definitions of success rather than in the context of the Kingdom. My shrewdness has been capitulated to the world, shrouded in defeat of the success I thought I wanted or needed to attain. So I say no not #metoo, I say instead #whynotme. For those of us who have suffered at the hands of our abusers but who find our solace in Christ. For those of us who are not recognized by Hollywood or by professional sports leagues. For those of us who are not rich or famous. This is perseverance in the kingdom of God- recognizing our abuse as a platform for Christ’s message of forgiveness, mercy and redemption through Him who gives suffering a meaning and a name. Who gave me my name- Melissa, servant of Jesus.




Why am I here?

I read a post this morning (fantastic by the way) about how to garner more comments out here on WordPress, meet and greets and the like. It got me to wonder that age old question, why am I here?

What started out as a recovery breakthrough and call from God has taken on a life of its own that led me all the way to the Catholic church. I’ve met people out here in blog-land who’ve accepted me throughout the entirety of this journey, and some who have not. I read and re-read so many theology based posts I sometimes become nauseous with the verbose and stale translations that make Jesus dead. I’ve been asked to be myself but most times I’ve been asked not to be myself. At times I don’t even know what to call myself. 

The mass, it is my saving grace.  Receiving Jesus weekly in the Eucharist has taken me to places I never thought I’d be spiritually. The celebration of Him, the focus on His sacrifice and the participation at His table is at times overwhelming for me. I could float off in the distance in my little Catholic life, and maybe God will let me do that. I pray God will let me do that. But it’s times like this I find and know my writing and working out my salvation is as much for you as it is for me. And I am not concerned about comments, online cocktail hours or whether you like me or not. No, the truth is so much more than that. 

We try and make people conform to the way we think they should be. We say that being a Christian makes us free, but I was in bondage over people pleasing so much more than I was in the world. Even now, it is hard at times to write what God has for me, knowing it will draw your ire. But be myself I must, I know who I am, and God does too.

I wish more people would write about their struggles and realities rather than cloak themselves in bibles. I wish more people would be honest with themselves about who they are. I can’t imagine that most Christians don’t use the word moron in their everyday vernacular or get angry or feel hurt or sad. I can’t imagine why we can’t and won’t accept people right where they are, and why we need to shove the gospel down their throat like bad medicine. If I cannot be myself in Christ, where else can I go to do that? Certainly not back to the world which has nothing to offer except certain death…

We have to allow ourselves to feel, to grow, to move inside and outside of ourselves, to be healthy, to get healthy and to take others with us. We can’t exist inside a shell of who we are. We can’t be perfect. We have to reach out in the language that the person our hand is extended to understands.

So why am I here? I don’t know. I ask myself that question a lot these days. So I’ll ask you the same, why are you here, what are the intentions in your heart? Is your space self-serving, do you tear down others with your words, do you judge, do you hide behind pretty things, do you get angry and let the writer know, do you let people be free to be themselves and give them the words you know they need? What are you doing here? Well?

Christianity- The religion of prostitutes, beggars and sell-outs

A long long time ago, there was once a blogger who “happened” upon my blog. Said blogger was an atheist. He came specifically to challenge me on my faith and had a lot to say about my “kind” of people, those being the “broken” ones. I told him that I wasn’t an apologist nor would I engage in any kind of scripture war with him, but rather tell him what I know, my story, ugly as it was in all of its glory. I told him about what had brought me to Christ and the things I had experienced in my journey to get me there. He laughed at me.

I am not quite sure why sexual abuse, divorce or the like is funny, or how it lends itself to criticize and mock someone for believing that God saved their lives, but he managed to do it. He then went on to post on his own blog about how “all of these broken people” find Jesus and how their stories are all the same. I think he may have lumped drug addicts and alcoholics into that category, but he basically said the common denominator was that we were all messed up folks. I don’t think I was quite ready to hear that, from someone I didn’t even know nonetheless and although many people answered him back, I did not, because, well, I didn’t know how to.

Time went on and life went on and I wasn’t quite sure why he bothered me so much. Yes, I had all the answers in my head but they were mixed in with my emotions and love for Jesus and I felt sad that someone would say what he said. So I put that in my back pocket and moved on.

You see, we are quick as Christians to say “well the bible says this, and the bible says that”, and yes these things are truth in our eyes, but alas we are human, and when a perfect stranger tells you that your common denominator is brokenness and your God is not real, well… it hurts. It doesn’t hurt because I’m not emotionally or spiritually mature enough to take it, it hurts because the beginning, middle, end and continuation of my recovery depends on Jesus and Him alone. And that’s where I was. Someone telling me I’m broken and that the God that healed me is not real. For anyone who has ever recovered from anything- sexual abuse, alcoholism, drug addiction you name it, you very well know that recovery is a life long process. And ANYTHING can make you backslide at anytime, even when you have the strongest of success stories.

So this morning when I read Luke 7:36-50 and saw when the “righteous” man invited Jesus to eat with him, my wheels were spinning. The text says that he was a “Pharisee” but my insides told me was a self-righteous bastard. A prostitute then comes along into this house where Jesus is and then…

“Bringing an alabaster flask of ointment,
she stood behind him at his feet weeping
and began to bathe his feet with her tears.
Then she wiped them with her hair,
kissed them, and anointed them with the ointment.
When the Pharisee who had invited him saw this he said to himself,
“If this man were a prophet,
he would know who and what sort of woman this is who is touching him,
that she is a sinner.”
Jesus said to him in reply,
“Simon, I have something to say to you.”

And here goes nothing…

Jesus goes on to tell a parable about two debtors- one that owed significantly more than the other. He asks the “righteous” man, if the creditor forgives both of their debts, “Which of them will love him more?” and the man says, “The one, I suppose, whose larger debt was forgiven.”

Jesus tells him he’s right and goes on to say something simply profound. I’ll let him say it because this part just cannot be paraphrased,

“He said to him, “You have judged rightly.”
Then he turned to the woman and said to Simon,
“Do you see this woman?
When I entered your house, you did not give me water for my feet,
but she has bathed them with her tears
and wiped them with her hair.
You did not give me a kiss,
but she has not ceased kissing my feet since the time I entered.
You did not anoint my head with oil,
but she anointed my feet with ointment.
So I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven;
hence, she has shown great love.
But the one to whom little is forgiven, loves little.”
He said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.”
The others at table said to themselves,
“Who is this who even forgives sins?”
But he said to the woman,
Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”

(You can find the scripture here, go to the bottom of the link)

And it hit me, all at once. The atheist was right. He was right about so many of us who come to Jesus being broken. It’s right there in the story. Jesus told a religious fanatic that a prostitute who came begging for mercy was the one that understood mercy and forgiveness more than he ever would. It’s the gospel in its purest, most beautiful form. That “Pharisee” was not just symbolic of religious hypocrites, but also symbolic of people whose pride blinds them to truth in its purest forms. And we, we the broken people are the prostitute, begging God to save us from ourselves. Because we’ve discovered and admitted that we need help, that we just can’t do it on our own.

The flood of emotion I felt after reading that today was real, and palpable and so very hard to write about. To remember being in the darkest of places, begging this God I did not know for a way out. You can call me a moron, broken or stupid, but I can tell you, in the middle of a dark hole when I knew that I could not help myself, God , He was there, picking up the broken pieces of my life, and like the prostitute, gave me a new one. It’s the truth. And there is no other plausible explanation.

So if you are the prostitute, the homeless man, the beggar, the drug addict, the adulterer, the prideful bastard, the sell out- Christianity is for you. It may not seem that way in the world, but it’s the truth. And if you don’t feel like you belong in the church, you don’t, none of us do, including me, you’re in good company. Jesus never fit in anywhere either…