Sunday, February 21, 2010

The Promised Post

Ok so I promised a post on my first Ash Wednesday a few days ago...and due to recent events and much unwanted school work I haven't been able to sit down and write it. This is five of Lent? It feels like it has been a month! So here it goes...

Ash Wednesday
I start off my day early so I can go to mass and receive my ashes. My two room mates, who claim to be "Catholic", told me to wake them up so they could come. I do. No response, no movement. I get ready and 10 minutes before I should be out the door, I see one of them make their way to the bathroom. My anger subsides a little, relieved that at least ONE of them is taking this day SOMEWHAT seriously...but unfortunately she was just getting up to facebook. I asked her why she wasn't coming...this was an important mass, and she tells me she doesn't even go to Christmas mass, so why bother today? So I leave. STEAMING at her total disrespect, but as soon as I enter church and kneel down to pray, my anger just slips away and I am filled with the Holy Spirit. I recieve my ashes and I sit wondering what mine look like (they looked like a smudge of dirt lol) and I tried to focus on forgiveness and repentence at mass. I loved the solemnity and the lack of music...quite appropriate. As I re-enter my dorm, I am greeted with sheer ANGER by my room mate who is completely dumbfounded as to why I didn't answer my phone and why I "left without her". Seriously, it happened. I thought it was a joke, but nope...she was far from kidding around. She just walked right back into her room in a huff and doesn't emerge for about an hour. During this period I am just struggling with understanding the situation, trying to rely on God for an answer...some guidance. Should I have been late for church to try and have persuaded her more? Should I have answered my phone in church for HER just because she couldn't wake up and decide if she even wanted to be there? I knew the answer was what was with this attitude? She apologized later, but it was more for keeping the peace than her acknowledging she over reacted and made the mistake herself. Aside from this incident, fasting was hard. I had a test the next day and I could not was like all I could think about were the hunger pains. And to top it off, the time I went for my 1 meal, the dining hall did not have any real food out because they stopped serving lunch and didn't have dinner ready. So I don't know if I splurged on smaller foods or not...but I had to eat something. It was a day full of obstacles.

The following days were somewhat low key...and if anything, I was for once enjoying school. I did face much temptations with all the desserts around and facebook being a click away...but I resisted. Until last night when everything got a little ridiculous. Most of my dorm mates left this weekend so there was only 3 in total here (myself included) and the 2 other girls were going to this "birthday party" and wanted me to experience my first college party in a lower key setting. I really struggled, trying to say no, but I felt obligated (it's a long story as to why, but I was basically in a position to go to the party or look like a jerk.) So I went. It wasn't bad for the first hour, no pressure to drink (which I didn't!!) and not too crowded. But as time went on, more people came, more beer was flowing, the band was too much. Literally, I kid you not, the singer of the band said "It's college, I want to see you make mistakes, get drunk, get pregnant." Umm...oooook pal. I asked to go home and my room mates took me back and they said they were happy I tried it, even if I didn't like it. LIE.

The next morning at breakfast, they said how they wanted me to party more, how I didn't mingle enough, I seemed like a "pretty bitch" at the party just standing in the corner not doing anything...and on and on and on until the question of the cookie came up. It's Sunday and technically I can have dessert today and so they asked why I wasn't eating my cookie. I said I had church in an hour and I needed to stop eating so I could get communion. That's just how it's always been at my house, we don't eat before church for sunday morning mass, and if it's a later mass, you cannot eat for an hour before. Even my friend's mom enforced this at her house during sleepovers when we were just 10 year olds. Well this just didn't sit well with them. In fact, it set them over the edge, and they crossed the line. "There's a point where you can be religious, but that is just too weird and too over religious. God doesn't care what you do, He wants you to have the cookie" I just sat there, trying so hard to bite my tongue while she just chewed my ear off. I felt truly ganged up upon, not only were they telling me my faith was stupid, almost to the point of a mental disease, but I was also being asked to give up one of my lenten sacrifices because "I have too many". Apparently, according to this religious genius, during Lent, God limits you to 1 sacrifice.

As soon as I could, I up and left, and went off to church 20 minutes early. As soon as I got in that pew I could feel the tears coming and I felt like such an idiot. I didn't want to make a scene in church, but all my stress just overtook me. As soon as school became fun, it was taken away and I wanted to pack up and leave again. I didn't want to go to another party, I didn't want to hear people tell me my faith and my lifestyle were ludacris, and I didn't want to be in a school full of people who hate all that I live for. The preists words today were so perfectly relevent to my situation. He taught how Jesus was tempted for 40 days and His hardships were His alone, He had no one to soothe Him. He asked us, "what if Jesus had given in? What if He had aborted His mission and fled because it was all too much for Him to bear?" The preist reminded us that we will feel this way all of our lives, despite vocation, location, etc. But if we choose to give in, Satan's won. I just had to thank God for sending me this message at the time He did...a time where it meant the most. I wanted so badly to flee, but I can't. I'm here for some reason...a reason I wish I knew now, but I will in time, and if I give up, I've lost. He needs me to be strong so He can use me and I'm going to do my best, but even that won't be good enough. I need His grace, strength, and guidance to get me through not only this semester, but the next 3 years. Hopefully by then, I'll have a much thicker skin.

I hope you all are having a spiritually enriching Lent so far,
and if you find yourself struggling, just think of how much
God is teaching you through this season,
I'll be praying for you all, so don't give up & don't flee.
You have a mission to carry out.
Blessings Always,


caraboska said...

If you want to live godly, it needs to be completely unimportant what other people think of you. You live at peace with others as far as possible, but beyond a certain point, enough is enough. Most of my roommates in college moved out after a while, leaving me alone in my room. Which is probably the best thing for the godly person in an ungodly environment. Try to get a single if you can next year.

Another good way to avoid the party scene is to have a job that requires you to work at times that make partying impossible. A Christian friend and I used to split the graveyard shift at the front desk in our dorm - he worked 12-4, I worked 4-8, every Friday and Saturday night/Saturday and Sunday morning. This is something that actually sent one roommate packing: no parties in our room on the weekends because I had to be in bed at 10 PM. And I really had to be - you really do have to be awake if you work at the front desk, even and perhaps especially during graveyard shift.

If that won't work for you, another thing you might consider would be moving off-campus next year, and looking for appropriate company off-campus. For example, at church. Or if the town is too small to provide this kind of opportunities, perhaps it would be in order to transfer to a school in a town with the kind of opportunities you need.

There is a reason Jesus sent the apostles out two-by-two. If one is going to purposely go to a particular college, knowing it is an ungodly environment, for purposes of Christian witness, then it is better to make that decision together with another Christian friend. God can provide others to take your place if you need to move. I've seen it happen myself.

One time, for example, I needed to move and switch jobs, and one thing I really wanted and prayed for was that the Lord would provide someone to care for some newly-converted people at that workplace - I mean, the assistant manager was such a person, but I wanted there to be yet another person. And right before I left, sure enough, another godly Christian woman appeared in that workplace.

I would counsel you to view this year as one where you learn to let go of your expectations of other people, and spend some time thinking about the ideal conditions you would need to lead the godly life you desire, and then figure out what steps you need to take to do that. If you really can't move, then that would mean coming up with alternative methods of creating the conditions you need. I think you've done the right thing by starting this blog, for starters.

And yes, it really is OK to think about what you need. Godliness is very important - more important than anything else. And if they think you are a pretty bitch for it, then you are in good company: that of all the prophets who endured abuse for preaching an unpopular message. Not to mention Jesus Himself.

I strongly recommend that you read Anthony DeMello SJ's 'The Way to Love'. 30 chapters, one a day - don't try to read more in one day, the material is just TOO HEAVY.

~Joseph the Worker said...

As for your roomates, I'd suggest that you just thank God for giving you the graces to go to mass and remember that we are all sinners and worthy of nothing on our own. Only through his gifts are we righteous at all. Sadly, everyone doesn't get the same gifts of grace, nor does everyone seek grace in the same ways or measure, but we have to refrain from judging others in their own situation.