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Dying to Self Feels Like Dying Sometimes

July 15, AD2013 4 Comments


When I landed in my first RCIA class I was a hot mess. And I mean a hot mess. I had open gaping wounds from being abused as a child, having been in abusive relationship after abusive relationship, and a very hard heart. I never doubted that God existed or that He loved me, but I had decided that the God that was in the Bible was no longer my God. I no longer loved or accepted Him the way He really was; instead I started making Him in my image instead of even attempting at making myself to conform to His Image. I was also extremely angry, depressed, and I was a drunk. I wore clothes that revealed as much cleavage as possible and I didn’t pass by a mirror without looking at it. I spent tons of money on clothes, shoes, my hair and my nails. I enjoyed the attention that I got from men falling over themselves when I walked by. I was also pretty damn selfish. I have had four years to work on most of these faults and many, many more.

But here’s the thing, even in changing those things I still failed. My conversion was a pretty big deal in my life. Jesus came into my life flipping tables like crazy. I had a true life personal encounter with Jesus Christ. He has changed my life. I have begun to heal for all of those things, but I still fail. For example, instead of being immodest I became ashamed of my body. I started eating and gaining weight because it was a safe way to make sure nobody looked at me. I wore stretchy pants and t-shirts for a year straight, which helped with the weight gain because I had no way of knowing what size pant I was in. I also expected my husband to coddle me because of my abuse and past relationships so I started being a cry baby and not taking responsibility for my family. I started using the Parish as an escape from my duties as a wife and mother. I was still angry, only now my anger was towards pro-choicers, cafeteria Catholics, and whoever else didn’t fall in line with my beliefs. In other words, I became a self-righteous jerk. It is so easy to fall into the trap of the echo chamber. Where you get a group of like-minded people and you sit around talking crap about all those people who are “so lost” in a way that has nothing to do with wanting the salvation of their souls, but rather is all about fueling the pride boiling in your own soul.

In both cases I failed to be who God made me. Both versions of me were deeply rooted in pride. The only difference is that after my encounter with Jesus I allowed God to show me my pride. I allowed Him to humble me and it hurt. He is such a truly Loving and Merciful God; I love Him. The last year has been hard. It has been full of me seeing who I had become and slowly start changing. Rooting out a lifelong pride of self is not easy. There is a reason that Jesus called it “dying to self”, because it does feel like you are dying sometimes. I definitely feel like I’m dying sometimes. But it is all worth it. After every trial I feel the Love of God so strong that I just want to lie down and cry tears of pure gratefulness. While I’m in the middle of a trial of faith I don’t feel so great, in fact, I usually want to throw in the towel and just become “spiritual but not religious”. I have quit going to Mass a time or two during some of the hardest moments, but I just keep clinging to Jesus. I look at him hanging on the Cross and I just hang on for dear life. He is my lifesaver. Literally. He keeps me afloat when I feel like I am drowning.

The lesson that I have gotten from the last year is that I have to be patient with myself. I have to give myself credit for what I have worked on, give God the Glory for the Graces He pours on me, and live my life with joy regardless of what kind of chaos is exploding around me. I also have to remember to take care of my husband and kids. The evil one can twist anything good into something bad. He took a good fruit and turned it into the door that the first sin came into the world. Modesty can become shame, love can become obsession, conversion can become self-righteous judgment of others etc. etc. We have to be on constant watch to make sure that we are doing God’s will and not falling for a trap that was set before us by the enemy. We have to ask God to show us our faults and then we have to humble ourselves to confess them, accept His Mercy and Forgiveness and we have to forgive ourselves as well and move on. One foot in front of the other while keeping our eyes on our Lord, that is how we step out of the boat and walk on water to get to Him; one step at a time. He never gives up on us; I have to remember that and remember not to give up on myself or on anyone else either.

© 2013. Leticia Adams. All Rights Reserved.

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About the Author:

Leticia is a convert who came into the Catholic Church at Easter 2010. She is the mother of 4 kids and has 3 stepsons. She is also a grandmother to a beautiful two year old. Leticia sat on her Pastoral Council, blogs at Catholic Stand as well as her personal blog, is pursuing a Bachelor’s degree of Philosophy, is a wife, and helps with her parish's "Jesus is Lord" adult faith formation class and RCIA. Leticia has a radio show at Real Life Radio and is a volunteer with an organization that helps women in prison come to terms with their past and gives them the tools to cope with life when they are released. In her spare time she sleeps.

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