• strength •

Last week, one of my friends pointed out how, sure, there are a lot of quiet and good women in the Bible but, hey, take a look at Jael who drove a tent peg through Sisera’s face with a hammer. Or look at Ruth. Esther. Deborah.

I mentioned that Judith was pretty hardcore too.

But then I realized that we tend to glorify the physical embodiment of strength and often forget or overlook the quiet battles people fight.

Take, for example, Jesus’ mother, Mary. I think many people overlook her because she was quiet. But if you think about it, she is one of the strongest women in history. She was asked to be GOD’S mother. She didn’t know fully what that meant, but she said yes anyway because He asked her and she trusted Him.

She listened to Simeon’s prophecy when Jesus was a baby and it’s said that she kept this in her heart. It’s one of the seven swords of sorrow which pierced her heart.

She watched her Son, whipped, bloody, spat on, half-dead, carry the piece of wood He would die on up a steep, steep hill. She watched the nails go through His Body and she watched Him die. She cradled her Son’s dead Body in her arms before laying Him in the tomb and watching the stone be rolled over the entrance.

But she didn’t abandon her faith and she didn’t run away. That requires more strength than beheading a man.

To me, the total, radical obedience to God is amazing, regardless of physical feats.

I think that, with the help of films and the internet, we’ve grown more accustomed to seeing strength. We see people in armor or camouflage wielding a sword, gun, or knife. We see a dude with muscles, veins, and a busted lip and go, “wow, he’s strong”. But we don’t look at the smiling woman with EDS and think, “I wish I had her strength”.

So I think that, while, yes, these women in the Bible who beheaded army commanders and drove tent pegs through their heads were courageous and strong, we need to keep in mind that they could not have done that without the meekness, humility, faith, and trust in God – the invisible strength – first.

We should always consider what had to happen to get a person to where they are or what they’re famous for before glorifying their position.

Maybe they don’t deserve their titles.

Maybe they deserve so much more.

Love,

Rana || xoxo

It’s Not Over, Dear Heart

As I mentioned in my last post, one of the priests at my church recently passed away.

I guess I was fine until the funeral Mass because that’s when it sunk in. He’s gone. He won’t be walking around the church and clicking his heels or asking everyone to say “Amen!” at the end of the homily. He won’t be buying donuts or filling the candy jar in the rectory. He won’t mispronounce my name but make it sound beautiful anyway by rolling the R. He won’t laugh off the crying babies in the middle of Mass and tell the congregation that they’re letting him know it’s time to stop talking. He won’t smile down at me with the clearest and most joyful blue eyes you’ve ever seen. He won’t be around to never get frustrated with anyone. He won’t call anyone “dear heart.” He won’t listen to political rants from our other priest in the morning. He won’t hear confessions.

He’s dead.

But it’s not over.

This is not the end.

And these tears will be forgotten when an immense joy takes their place.

The pain that you’ve been feeling can’t compare to the joy that’s coming. – Romans 8:18

He lived Christ’s love.

He was so joyful. I never saw him get frustrated or angry. That wasn’t him.

And I guess I never thought about what he had gone through before I met him about thirteen years ago. But I learned yesterday that he had three brothers – two of whom had died in World War II. One died on a sinking ship and the other was killed. The third died in 2013 of cancer. Father Bratus was so devoted and cared so much for his brother.

This holy man felt pain. But that didn’t bring him down. And I need to live his example. I need to be selfless and generous like him.

You know, I feel very peaceful about all this though.

Obviously, it’s like something important is missing and the parish will never be the same, but Father was dying from liver and pancreatic cancer. And he’s in a better place. He’s not in pain, he’s not grieving; he’s clicking his heels and singing as loud as he can to bring joy to God and I know he’s succeeding.

Take courage, dear heart.

This is not the end.

End? No, the journey doesn’t end here. Death is just another path, one that we all must take. The grey rain-curtain of this world rolls back, and all turns to silver glass, and then you see it.

J.R.R. Tolkien, Lord of the Rings

High Fructose Fantasies

Hello, my darling!

I apologize for the irregular posts. I really should get myself on a schedule, but, ah, that would require effort and planning ahead – two things I’m not particularly fond of. So we’ll just stick with this spontaneous thing I’ve got going on.

Today, I just want to kind of throw some thoughts out there. It might be a bit scattered, so hold on tight. 😉

When we were young, we thought we’d be the popular kids with everything figured out. Don’t pretend like you never had those fantasies. We all High Fructose Fantasiesdid.

And now what are we?

What happened to the kids who weren’t afraid to love, to try things, to make mistakes? What happened to the kids who thought they were going to change the world?

I guess they grew up.

I used to day dream all the time. I used to think about my future.

Now, not so much. It’s getting better, but I used to dread thinking about the next day because it was so overwhelming. It still is if I think too hard or far. It just seems like once you hit high school, things go by so fast.

You’re expected to do, like,

  • 529,720,762,759 hours of community service
  • 5,000 hours of internship
  • decide what college to attend
  • what you want to do with the rest of your life
  • make friends
  • keep friends
  • lose friends
  • love
  • hate
  • get broken
  • pick yourself back up
  • have fun because childhood is the best time of your life but why aren’t you acting like an adult
  • cry but not too much because people will ask what’s wrong and they have their own problems – bigger problems so yours mean nothing
  • laugh
  • dream big
  • no, not that big you idiot because only special people can do that (basically, you’re obviously not special)
  • be yourself
  • no, not like that
  • do your homework
  • stop talking so much, no one cares
  • why are you so quiet, I want to hear what you have to say
  • get involved in extra curricular activities
  • but maybe you should drop them because you obviously need an A+ in all of your classes and you seem stressed out
  • and don’t forget to shower and sleep somewhere in between.

Why don’t we dream big anymore? Because there are only 24 hours in a day  and it’s spent doing s o  m u c h  n o t h i n g.

Why do we really need A’s? I work way too hard for a letter. After that, what? I go to a nice college so I can hopefully get a job in the field I studied for. So much of what I do rests on hope that’s not even my own. Is that okay? Is this really how I want to live my life? I just don’t understand why that’s the only option. *shakes head*

(This is not to say that I’m advocating for rebellion against parents/guardians when they tell you to work hard and get good grades. I only mean that you should think for yourself. Respect authority, kids.)

Back to the point: we don’t dream anymore. Our hopes been sucked dry by an uncreative society’s chaotic and bland version of reality. And we so readily conform to it. Our new dreams are no longer that of a hopeful child with starry eyes looking to a bright future. The only dreams we now dare to hope come true must be possible and probable. Anything else will get you hurt.

Our new dreams, though, terrify us into paralysis. We’re afraid to dream too big. We’re afraid we can’t achieve the success they have. We’re afraid. So afraid.

Why don’t we dream big anymore? Because there are only 24 hours in a day and-

Guys, there are only 24 hours in a day.

Don’t waste that precious time being afraid. If you’re afraid to wear that leather jacket because you’re afraid to break out of the t-shirt and jeans standard you’ve created for yourself, have courage. Do it. Go for it. What’s the worst that could happen? Flushed cheeks and maybe a comment on how wonderful you look?

Small changes add up. Make them.

They don’t have to be life changes. Maybe just a little one. Live on the edge. Chop your hair off, wear striped pants, smile at a stranger.

Summary: society’s version of dreaming is going to keep your from making a move. So screw society and do your own thing. Dream. Hope. Love.

[/thus end Rana’s random thoughts]

Much love from a kid who’s just as confused (if not more so) as you.

Rana