Just the other day I was looking through some of my old journal entries that I wrote years ago. Journaling before the Blessed Sacrament became my refuge, my safe place to help me process the layers of my heart. I honestly cannot say enough about the power of journaling with the guidance of the Holy Spirit, in the presence of our Lord. I don’t think I would’ve had the courage to look at the depths of my heart, if I wasn’t quickly consoled by the gaze of His presence in the Eucharist, and the peace that held me in those moments of pain.
One of the entries I read through was reflecting on a time of bullying during my childhood. For my entire 5th grade year I was relentlessly taunted by one of the boys in my class, and bullied for being “fat”. Every time he saw me, whether I was alone or surrounded by other people, he called me names and humiliated me. My little heart was broken over and over again that year, and I carried the effects for years as I battled with lies related to my worth, distortions regarding my body image and beauty, and deep shame for being publicly humiliated. Like any child, I wanted to belong and fit in. It was painful being harassed, but it was especially lonely to have no one stand up for me -to- defend and protect me.
Jesus spoke to this pain during a time in prayer, and I wanted to share this journal entry with you, in hopes that some hurt or pain that you’ve carried can be consoled by His words.
“I pictured Jesus coming and sitting beside me and as He put His arm around me He told me, ‘I already know what they’ve said and how they’ve hurt you. I know how you want to go run and hide in shame and embarrassment. And I know you’ve always wanted me to make them love you. I can’t make people love you, but I can promise you that I’ll always be here to love you.’ His words really hit me because I realize that I’ve always looked for Jesus to make people love me and then when they didn’t, I blamed Him, not realizing that He was the one who was always there loving me. I’ve never looked to the Lord to love me, I’ve looked to the Lord to make other people love me, and that’s the one thing He can’t promise me. He can’t override their free will. But he’s been waiting here with open arms my entire life waiting for me to look at Him so he could say, ‘But I’ll love you.’”
“I’ll love you”, says Jesus. He says this to us every time we’ve been hurt, abandoned, rejected, humiliated, or just not loved well. Every time imperfect, human love fails us and wounds us, He says, “I’m here, focus on my love.” It’s sad to admit, but many times that hasn’t always been enough for me. Too often my heart has been like, “Yeah, I know you love me Jesus, but I want _______ to love me. I want ______ to accept me. I want _______ to give me what you give me.” Why do we sometimes have this compulsion to seek from others what Jesus is already willing and wanting to give us? When I’m fixated on Christ’s love for me, I am not expecting human love to fill me. I am not as let down, betrayed, hurt or angry, because I know that the source of Divine Love that my heart needs, is constantly present to me.
Rescue me God
There’s been many moments in prayer where I’ve been angry with God, that He didn’t rescue me, or protect me from moments of pain and humiliation, especially when I was a child. At times this has been a barrier to me receiving His love for me because I mistakenly thought, “You weren’t there for me. If you loved me, you wouldn’t have left me in that situation, so helpless and hurting.” I know as my faith has matured that this isn’t what Jesus did to me, and that His heart broke with every word my little heart had to endure. I was never alone and I wasn’t the only one hurting – He was too. He might not have been able to sweep in and rescue me from that hurt, but He was present in it with me.
God doesn’t always “save us from humiliation, pain and death; rather he redeems humiliation, pain and death after the fact.”-Ronald Rolheiser
We all want to be saved from pain. We all want to be rescued from it. But how many of us are willing to let ourselves be transformed by it? Ahhh this is where our faith goes deeper. If we equate love with being rescued or spared suffering, then we will always find it challenging to reconcile how a loving God did not step in and keep us free from pain and humiliation. But, if we look to Jesus on the cross, then we will see that love is powerful, most especially during moments of pain and humiliation. As nice as this sounds, there are still moments where I think, “Why didn’t you just get off the cross and slap everyone Lord? Why didn’t you prove them all wrong, defend yourself, and make them pay?”
When I am hurt by others, this is often what I want to do. I am tempted to want them to suffer and see what they did to me, how they hurt me. But this isn’t what Jesus modeled for us and so we have to move beyond this ourselves. Suffering and humiliation, when endured with grace, can help us grow in holiness quicker than most other experiences. Often times the thought of “growing in holiness” when we are in the midst of such consuming pain, doesn’t offer us much consolation. We might still think, “I wanted you to stop this Jesus, I wanted a rescue mission.” That’s okay. Sometimes our pain has to be acknowledged and felt before we are ready to see how Jesus has redeemed it and made us better for it.
A love that is present to us
It doesn’t matter how old we get, the desire to be loved and FEEL loved will always remain. It is imprinted on our hearts. We were created out of love to be loved. But where we search to fine this love will determine everything. It is beautiful when we connect with others and get to experience a taste of Jesus love for us, but human love is often unpredictable and based on what someone can give at a certain time. Jesus’ love knows no limits. It is not conditional based on what He’s going through, or how much you’ve given Him. It is always present. He never feels burdened by us. He doesn’t look at us as if we are needy. It is the exact opposite. He delights, rejoices, when we come to Him. He wants nothing more than to pour out His love on us and allow us to be fully consumed by Him. That is why He gave us Himself to be consumed in the Eucharist. He comes within us to heal, transform and love us.
I pray that in memories that surface, of times where you have been so badly hurt or loved so poorly, that you will hear Jesus telling you that He sees your pain, He knows how poorly you were loved and He loves you so so much. It may not change the experience, but it will change your heart. Love transforms and there is nothing, absolutely nothing as powerful as Divine love that is poured out for us. Jesus suffered to give us this love. He wants us to experience it in it’s fullness. In every moment of everyday, may you know how perfectly you are loved and may you carry that love to everyone who is starving for it.
2018 Drewe DeJesus
Photo by Josh Applegate at Freely Photos