I have received quite a few emails and comments from readers encouraging me to keep writing. I’ve read every single one of them even if I didn’t get a chance to respond to you personally. I greatly appreciate your messages!
The past few months have been a time of rather intense and immense spiritual growth all of which God has accomplished in me. He gets all credit, honor, and glory. He’s taken me to places I never could have imagined, expected, or even known that I desired. He’s also required a very deep purging and purification on my part in various areas. It’s been intense. He’s not even close to finished with that process. All of this is aimed at Him answering my prayer to be able to love as He loves and to become a saint one day.
The things that have gone on I have shared in bits and pieces with a few different people and my priests know small parts, one as my Confessor and the other as my spiritual director. I don’t fully understand what God is asking of me at this point in time, so I’ve been careful in what I tell different people, for good reason. And the full extent is only known by God and me. Although, I’m slowly entrusting more-and-more to my spiritual director.
When God is asking us to grow in charity towards Him and others, betrayal and rejection are inevitable. In fact, it seems to become more common. It’s one of the ways He challenges us to grow in love. Going deeper into divine love and by extension fraternal charity is deeply scary. It’s one of the reasons the Apostles fled. It’s one of the reasons our impulse in those instances is to flee, whether we encounter it in others or God asks it of us. I have had to fight with every ounce of my being not to flee from what God has been asking of me and doing in my life. It is only in standing firm that I get anywhere. When I allow fear to take hold, I fall.
My constant friend and companion along this journey–the one I’ve found who understands what I’m going through right now–is St. Teresa of Avila. St. Therese is also a strong force in my spiritual life. God showed me at Adoration this past week that He has led me to the second water, once again through no merit of my own. This means that a stillness I’ve never known has entered my soul, even as I was deeply hurt by multiple people this week in my effort to serve Christ as He wants. I still cried a lot, but a steadiness and peace stayed with me even as I endured the pain. He’s given me the grace to pray for every single one of them, to forgive, and to accept the pain it’s caused that I know will pass in time. It was quite providential that these were the two verses God had me pray with over the last few days. It was all God’s doing that I started praying through the First Letter of St. Peter this week given what I found myself up against on multiple occasions:
Beloved, do not be surprised that a trial by fire is occurring among you, as if something strange were happening to you. But rejoice to the extent that you share in the sufferings of Christ, so that when his glory is revealed you may also rejoice exultantly. If you are insulted for the name of Christ, blessed are you, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. 1 Peter 4:12-14
Above all, let your love for one another be intense, because love covers a multitude of sins. 1 Peter 4:8
“Let your love for one another be intense” this is actually a different translation than the one I’ve been praying with, but it’s more fitting. A friend of mine recently told me that the intensity of my love and the intensity of my spiritual life will lead to me being rejected by a lot of people. No, I’m not a mystic. That isn’t what I mean. She wrote me a letter explaining something she had discerned through the help of St. Therese and St. Faustina in prayer where she was told to holdfast as my friend, even if it’s difficult. She doesn’t understand my spiritual life, but she’s willing to walk beside me.
She then confessed that she herself had betrayed me and distanced herself from me and my friendship for a year because of what friendship with me demanded from her. She saw her spiritual life change dramatically by being in my company, unbeknownst to me and through no fault of my own. It was all God’s doing. I was completely ignorant until a few weeks ago. Her revelation to me hurt me a lot, but God used it to fortify me for what is to come. Even though her words to me were a warning that my spiritual life would be deeply difficult, it’s given me a glimpse and helped me to understand in a small way what I’m going to be up against because of the path God has called me to. A path I could never have foreseen.
Her letter helped me to see how many of my relationships have played out and how they are continuing to play out in this way. By virtue of the personality and soul God has given to me, real (holy) friendship with me requires a swimming into the depths. It’s not something I intended, but it is apparently something God wants because those depths are in fact to seek true charity grounded in communion with Christ. It is only this year that I realized how my blog came to be called Swimming the Depths. God is asking me, and some of the people around me, to go into the deep and that is terrifying. I’ve pulled back and pushed back a lot, but when I finally let go God gives me the fortitude, charity, and peace that I need in specific circumstances in order to allow Him to work in my life. How often we impede God’s working in our lives through our fear and blindness!
Part of going into the depths is the willingness to go deeper into charity. When our love for others is “intense” it is actually much easier to forgive. The radiant love of God welling up and surging forth from inside of us burns away the iniquities of those around us from our sight. That doesn’t mean we don’t still hurt and mistrust, but it does mean that we can in charity–through grace–extend the forgiveness the person needs whether they are aware of it or not at the time. This ability is a grace that only can come from God since our immediate response to pain and betrayal is to walk away from those people. Instead, holy love requires us to stand fast even as the other person rejects us, even when they cannot see what God has allowed you to see.
Much of this probably makes little sense. It is the reason that whenever I have thought about writing, I cannot summon the words. I have to force myself to write my weekly contribution for Catholic Exchange right now because words keep failing me. Whenever I’ve tried to in some way explain a piece of it, I keep hearing ‘that’s nice, but I don’t understand what you are saying.’ Or worse, ‘depart from me.’ With the exception of the few instances of the Holy Spirit working through my Confessor and my spiritual director and the willingness of my friend to listen even as she doesn’t understand. My husband and I are very different spiritually and while his guidance has been indispensable, it’s still difficult for me to articulate to him.
I’ve also been beaten down a lot by the envy of other people and I must admit it’s brutal. This is not to make me sound like a victim. I’m not. It’s simply that I did not expect it and so I’ve had to learn to make peace with that reality so that I can push forward in God’s mission for me despite the very large obstacles that have been put in my path. I never knew until recently that spiritual envy is a thing. I can’t claim to be holy, but I’ve known holy people and my desire is to be like them, not to destroy them.
Growing spiritually can require us to go it alone wholly dependent on Christ for a while. It doesn’t mean that we isolate ourselves. That would violate what we are a part of in the Mystical Body, but it means that we may have to keep things to ourselves that we’d love to share simply because the people around us are not ready or do not want to hear it. It’s the difference between those who are to be fed on milk and those who are ready for solid food, as St. Paul tells us in the Letter to the Hebrews. It can be a rather lonely path at times, but thankfully Christ makes up what is lacking. Please pray for me as I pray for you.