"Do not be afraid!
Open, I say open wide
the doors for Christ."
St. John Paul the Great______________________________________________
Open was my word for 2014. Determined to break the "shell" that had built up around my heart over the years, I said that enough was enough. This shell was meant to keep out pain, but as I eventually realized, only served to keep out love and keep hurt inside. I knew I was deserving of love, and capable of giving it, but the barrier had to be broken first. I had work to do.
I wanted to have an open heart. Open enough to let love flow in. Open enough to let love out. Open enough to let the hardships of the past drain out. And for the adversities that I knew would inevitably come, I prayed for an increase of fortitude; that is, courage in the midst of difficulties. I wanted an open heart, even if that meant that that crap had to come inside too. Because I knew that love would make it all worth it.
God was so very good to me last year & beautifully orchestrated so many little moments that helped me learn to open up & how to love. Over the course of many, many months I learned that love was a two-way action... that one must let love in as well as share love unto others. Additionally, the reality of it all is that until you have accepted love into your heart...you don't really have anything to give.
One night I was praying the rosary, focusing on the Joyful Mysteries. [These being the stories of the Annunciation (Lk 1:26-38), the Visitation (Lk 1:39-49), Christ’s Birth (Lk 2:6-12) The Presentation (Lk 2:22-35) and the Finding of Jesus in the Temple (Lk 2:41-51). ]. Per usual, my thoughts wandered a little and I half meditated on scripture & half thought about this whole concept of receiving and giving love. Then it hit me.
The first and second Joyful Mystery are epic. Exactly what I had been thinking about with opening up for the sake of love was perfectly illustrated in these two stories. Even better, it was the Virgin Mary who opened herself up. Just when I thought I couldn’t love her anymore it dawned on me that she had already done exactly what I was trying to do. She became not only an even stronger role model, but I recognized more fully how powerful of an intercessor she could be for me.
In the Annunciation, a long time favorite passage of mine, we read the well known story of the angel Gabriel coming to Mary to announce the good news. Out of perfect humility, Mary accepted God's will for her and let Love Himself in--in the most literal of ways. She said yes. She opened up. She let God in. She let Love in. Epic.
Luke doesn’t stop there, of course. After the annunciation the Mother of our Lord leaves with haste to visit her cousin, Elizabeth. This being the Visitation, the second Joyful Mystery. Instead of wallowing into seclusion because of pregnancy hormones or the ardent need to crochet adorable hats for the future Baby Jesus, she goes out and takes God-- the Christ child in her womb-- to her relative. The fruit of this mystery is Charity, and it’s easy to see why. Upon receiving the gift of Pure Love inside her, Mary went and shared it--bringing insurmountable joy to both cousin Elizabeth, and the infant inside her. Epic.
Anyways, back to resolutions.
Slowly, timidly, I opened myself up to Him… I wanted His love. And he showed it to me in little ways like the sunshine and the rain. Through people who became friends, heck...and even people who remained strangers. Through the Eucharist I realized that He was all I needed. Through the rosary I realized that my prayers were being heard. Through John Paul II, I realized that we all have our crosses, but that our stories---whatever they may be--have worth. The more I opened up to Him, the more I recognized His love throughout my life. He is good. **
A few days before the new year, I saw how what had been happening with my heart subtly mirrored what happened in the Annunciation. Though nowhere near as intense as being impregnated by the Holy Spirit...it was all very good. ;) So I decided that with the year 2015, I would continue on this “accidental” theme of living out the Mysteries and would focus on the Visitation specifically.
I hope that as 2015 progresses, I can learn all the more intensely to be open. While still keeping in mind the importance of accepting Love (MOREEE SACRAMENTTSS!!! MOREEE PRAYERRRR!!! MORE SPIRITUALL READDDINGGG!!! YAYYY!!!) my primary goal is to let Love out. Jesus isn’t someone to be hoarded y’all. That’s what boyfriends are for. (Just kidding. I don’t encourage the hoarding of boyfriends.) It’s going to be a wild ride. I’m going to suck at it for the most part (like last year...I’m certainly no expert at receiving love….) but it’s my goal nonetheless.
Prayers welcome & appreciated as this year unfolds. Charity is hard when your name is Mariah. ;)
**If you are struggling with having an awareness of God's love, I recommend two things:
1. Ask God to help open up your heart....but don't be surprised if He chooses to do so by breaking it first. “Sometimes the only way the good Lord can get into some hearts is to break them.”-Fulton Sheen
2. Pray a 54 day novena with the intention of having a greater awareness of God's love and presence. The Virgin Mary will intercede for you! "You shall obtain all you ask of me by recitation of the Rosary" -Our Lady