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It Is Good That You Exist

July 12, AD2014

I have been reading Elizabeth Scalia’s blog for a year or so now and she always gets me thinking. Lately she has repeated the words of Pope Benedict, “It is good that you exist,” which had me thinking about how many of us long to hear those words. Most people hear those words, maybe not in words but in the love of their parents, of both parents. Or at least, that is how it should be. That is how God set up the family, for there to be a father and a mother who love each other and whose marriage tells each of their children, “It is good that you exist.” But what happens when that isn’t what happens?

When children are raised by a stressed out single mother or father, for whatever reason, but mostly if it is because of divorce, then what do the children hear from that marriage? I can only assume the answer to that question really. I was raised by a single mother, but it wasn’t because she was divorced; my father left before I was even born. I don’t really know why, but never in my life has my father seen my face. He doesn’t know my name or anything about me. He has no idea that I have four kids and a grandchild. None. He doesn’t even know that I exist, much less that it is good that I exist. And that has left a very huge wound in my life.

There are other things that happened to me in my childhood that left wounds including being raised by an over-stressed single mother who saw the memory of the man who promised to love her and abandoned her every time she looked at me. It left me seeking ways to have my existence validated. The countless ways that I sought that validation are all things that people from the outside can look at and judge one way or another. Yes, having sex with a twenty-two year old man when I was fourteen was a sin. Yes, it was a pathetic attempt to fill a place in my heart that only God could fill. Yes going to the Baptist Church where they told me that God loved me, that I could say one prayer asking Him into my heart and He would save me (from all the pain, in my child’s mind) and be my Father, tickled my ears. And it felt good to a child who had rarely been told that she was good. Yes, all the other men who used me for their own ends were liars, but for the little time that they told me that I was good, it was worth all the pain when I realized that they were just saying that to get me to sleep with them. All of it was worth it to find some tiny glimpse at the idea that I was worth being around. That my existence wasn’t an accident. That my life had a purpose, that someone would love me someday and keep me safe.

There are many circumstances that a person could live through that could leave them feeling like that.

How many times, as Catholics, do we get so caught up in a debate about morals that we forget that the person on the other side of that debate may just be hurting and looking for someone to say to them, “It is good that you exist?” How many times when we are debating about homosexuality do we throw charity out the window for the sake of speaking the truth and send the message to homosexual people that it would be better if they didn’t exist? How many times do we stop to think that maybe, just maybe, they are arguing with emotions because we are adding to their wounds. We are making them feel like they aren’t worth having around because they are “disordered”?

Maybe we are saying the truth, like the truth that I was indeed a slut, but maybe we are not getting how that truth sounds to a wounded soul. Not because homosexual people are all wounded, but because on some level all human beings are wounded, some way, some how.

You and I, as Catholics, may or may not understand that what we mean when we say something is “out of natural order.” We are all sinners and all sins are disordered, therefore we all commit disordered actions, but to a person who has heard that he or she is disordered, which is typical of the experience of homosexual people or promiscuous people, such a charge sounds like condemnation. Everyone was created good, regardless of their sins. Are we called to try and avoid those sins? Yes, but not just one group of people.

I read comments from people saying that our opponents should get to know us as people and not assume that we are hateful bigots. Well I think that we fail to see them as people too, which is even worse because we are the ones claiming to follow Christ. I would like to see Cardinals be the first ones to reach out to the LGBT community, not wait for an invitation. I know plenty of those people who do drugs, sleep around, cuss a lot, and are atheists who hate all things Catholic. They do not want our approval for their lifestyle; they want to know that we see them as humans and that it is good that they exist. And it is! God made them good and He cared enough to create them, flaws and all.

It dawned on me, during a therapy session where I was talking about how much I hate Facebook but can’t seem to kick it. I get sucked into Facebook threads when the subject is one I take personally. When I see someone write a comment that I feel personally attacks me, my faith, my beliefs, my family, my race, or someone that I know, I start typing as if I am in a boxing match. Not only am I speaking emotionally, but I’m speaking through my wounds and then when I start getting the “Likes” of people who agree with me, then I get validation that I am good. Good at arguing, smart, or whatever. The problem is—that it is false validation. Speaking through my wounds doesn’t help me heal; if anything it only makes them fester and get infected. It causes me to lose the peace of my soul and it also causes me to add the wounds of others who are just seeking the same thing I am: To hear that it is good that we exist.

Loving our enemies is all about putting down our arguments and seeing the human person, whatever the“them” that they are in the us vs them debate of the day, and telling our enemies that it is good that they exist, even if we disagree with them. God isn’t ever going to tell us, “You know, you were so close to being a saint, but you failed to make that person change their views with your argument and instead you loved them, flaws and all, so it looks like you are going to hell.” No, he is going to be happy with anyone who can see past the flaws of others and love them even when they are wrong. How do I know? Because He looks past my flaws and loves me, even when I am wrong.

Photography: See our Photographers page.

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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  • Tito of Tacloban

    “God isn’t ever going to
    tell us, ‘You know, you were so close to being a saint, but you failed to make
    that person change their views with your argument and instead you loved them,
    flaws and all, so it looks like you are going to hell.” No, he is going to be
    happy with anyone who can see past the flaws of others and love them even when
    they are wrong. How do I know? Because He looks past my flaws and loves me,
    even when I am wrong”.
    Yes, indeed, God loves us even when we
    are wrong. His love never changes. When we sin, it is we who reject God, not
    the other way around. That was why our Lord did not condemn the adulteress. But
    He did tell her, go and sin no more. For to love truly is to will the good of
    the beloved, and must perforce exclude approval of sin or a sinful lifestyle
    that can do no good to anyone. Dostoyevsky
    says somewhere that it is only the saint who is able to love the sinner even in
    his sin. That is because he is so closely united with God that he lets God love
    the sinner through him in such a way that it can truly be said that is God who
    loves the sinner through him. We are all called to be saints, and by the grace
    of God and our cooperation we will yet be. And part of the process of becoming saints
    is knowing how to love the sinner but hate the sin, as St. Augustine says.

  • David Peters

    Leticia, this article is filled with an incredible amount of depth. I think you observe things other people do not see that are so real and so important for us to understand. It truly is a gift. I love how you highlight compassion. Thanks!

  • deltaflute

    Your post reminds me of Joe of Shameless Popery’s post about people first language. He said rather than saying things like gay people say people who are gay. It changes one’s thought patterns ever so slightly (and other’s perceptions). Because whatever the sin, it does not define you as a person. A person is not a gay person; they are a person with same-sex attraction. They are not a slut; they are persons who fornicate. They are not thieves; they are people who steal. And so on. We need to stop labeling people and start simply addressing the issue itself. That is that sin is well…sinful. And how to work with a person to help them with causes them to stumble and fall. Just like we all need some spiritual guidance.

    • The “people first language” is a concept co-opted from the disability community and conflated into your comment. I am foremost a disability advocate and there is no consensus about people first language. I care full time for my son who is a spastic paraplegic; it doesn’t matter of you say Adam is a spastic paraplegic or Adam is a person who has spastic paraplegia. Words are of little meaning as are conflated concepts unless accompanied by actions which bring you close to the person.
      “Gay person or a person who is gay; a person is not a gay person; they are a person with a same sex attraction.”…you use the person first argument and then debase the concept by calling who they are and what they do as sinful. God made people in His image and likeness…gay, straight, cisgender, etc. God does not make mistakes. God made the whole continuum of sexuality….in his image and likeness; so God’s image and likeness and sin are innately contradictory. God made the whole continuum of human primates and He said this is good. You need to make a leap from people first language to all people are made in the direct image and likeness off their Creator. Simple…..

    • deltaflute

      So you believe that nobody sins including sexual sins because they are made in the image and likeness of God?
      The point I was making is that we are not our sins. Gay or slut implies that one defines themselves by their sin just like being a teacher. We are not our sin. But we also all sin. One can separate the two.

    • Read my comment with care, please,,,,God made sexual orientation, either through genetics, uterine hormones or… does not occur after birth as a function of nature. Can what God made in his image be sin, can expressing who you are be sin? God did not make murderers, that is sin; God did not make thieves, that is sin; God did determine sexual orientation prior to birth…that is sin? God did not make infidelity, that is sin…

    • deltaflute

      So you believe that sex between same-sex persons is not sin? You believe that unmarried sex is not sin? Expressing yourself, as you call it, can be sin. Persons with all kinds of disorders are created the way that they are. If a person is genetically disposed to be suicidal/depression, is it not a disorder/ sin if they mutilate themselves? Would we not tell such persons to seek some sort of help or would we just say “who cares if they kill themselves because that’s the way they are made?”

    • As my friend say a bit ago “…who am I to judge?”

    • deltaflute

      What he said was, “If a person is gay and seeks God and has good will, who am I to judge?” This was in response to whether or not there was a gay lobby in the Vatican. He has affirmed numerous times that homosexual sex is indeed sinful.
      One could apply this to any number of things people are born with but fight against including depression. Let’s reword this a bit: “If a person is depressed and seeks God and has good will, who am I to judge.” or “If a person is born with Prader-Willi syndrome and seeks God and has good will, who am I to judge.”
      But in neither case would most people agree to allow a person to commit suicide or eat excessively to the point of harm. Would you agree?
      It is the same for anyone contending with any other sin like excessive drinking or gay sex. One can affirm the person while condemning the action. So I’ll ask that you speak plainly, do you think homosexual sex is not sinful?

    • No…and I haven’t read that Jesus had any opinion about “gay sex”, if it was that so very important an issue!

    • deltaflute

      Would it be safe to say, then, that you are not Catholic? You don’t believe in binding and loosing, the authority that Jesus gave to the Church and St. Peter? You don’t believe the words of the Bible in 1 Cor 6 and 1 Tim 1 to have any authority? In other words, it’s not an issue that a person in gay sex will not reach heaven as the Bible says if they do not repent?

    • It would be safe to say that I was an RC and am very familiar with its inner workings. I also am aware that the NT was written and re-written and re-written and translated many times and that the autograph does not exist. I am also aware that Paul/Saul conflates his Jewish and Christian traditions often especially in his misogyny. I am very aware of the fact that the RC Church is very wrong in many of its pronouncements on human sexuality. I do not believe that gay people who are genuinely in love and who express this intimacy need to repent as they are simply acting in accord with their God-given nature. Also, I did not realize that this would be a Grand Inquisition hidden in an anonymous poster. This is a dialogue, no?

    • deltaflute

      I don’t know you personally or through previous internet interactions. So I ask questions to understand where a person is coming from. For example, I know Bill S has a gay son and he’s an atheist. You are more than welcome to ask me questions if it helps you understand me a bit better.
      So is it safe to say that while you are Catholic you do not believe it is a moral authority? You also don’t believe that the Bible as a whole is the True word of God? Men are made in the image and likeness of God but yet, the parts that discuss gay sex as being immoral are not correct?
      If you don’t agree that Catholicism is a moral authority, then why do you remain Catholic? Protestants don’t believe in the authority of the Church either. What separates you from them?
      Furthermore if you don’t believe in portions of the Bible, why would you be Christian? There are plenty of people who don’t believe in the Bible as a whole, but they aren’t Christian. What separates you from them?
      Drawing these conclusions together, would it be fair to say that you are culturally Catholic, but are a non-believer? I’ve never understood people claiming to be something that they are not. It’s like calling myself a vegetarian all the while I eat bacon for breakfast. I know I’m not a vegetarian, but I am a Catholic because I believe in the authority of the Church and the Truth of the Bible.

    • Just where in my response does it say I am a Catholic?

    • deltaflute

      You said you were a Catholic, but you didn’t say what you are. You have a tendency to answer questions only part of the way. This is why I keep asking probing questions. If you would speak more plainly, it would speed the dialogue up. Are you an agnostic, atheist, deist, Jewish? Whose authority do you support, your own, a minister’s? I’m having a difficult time understanding exactly where you draw your conclusions about the morality of gay sex. First you quote the Bible, but than you refute it. See my confusion?

    • deltaflute

      And I do apologize for my denseness. You did say were, but the whole paragraph sounded more like you identify as culturally Catholic just not religiously so.

    • If you need to know, I am a pantheist and I draw upon religious writings, psychology, psychiatry, anthropology, disability studies, mythology to lead me to truth. If you really want to know “where I am coming from,” read my blog…just google my name…after that If you want to dialogue…e-mail me: [email protected]

    • deltaflute

      I prefer to dialogue with strangers out in the open so I’m afraid that I won’t email you. It’s a matter of safety, you understand. People who share similar beliefs to mine are often threatened, including googling their name and finding where they live and then threatening to kill them, from members of the militant left. I prefer to keep myself semi-anonymous especially since my children are very young.
      I’m curious as to why you responded to my comment in the first place. I find people are often trying to win an argument on the internet, which is just plain frustrating. I’m not interested in winning anything. If anything I’m interested in the logic behind a person’s argument. I can see that we are arriving at our conclusions from different places. You’re trying to justify a moral question with matters of biology. I would appreciate it if you answered my question about depression/suicide. Would you allow a person to kill themselves even if they are biologically wired that way?
      The reason to answer is this: If you can see why there is a moral issue with allowing someone to

    • Evolutionary biology provides a solid foundation for morality. I responded to your original comment because I feel that your/Church position on gay and lesbians and sexual intimacy is contrary to the the majority of Catholics/sensum fedelii. It is also contradictory to the APA, AMA, APsyA and other Christian faiths. I alao feel it is disrespectful and condemnatory of gays who choose intimate relationships, I find your first paragraph in the last comment quite specious…I do not hide behind anonymity….never have and never will…nor did Christ.

    • deltaflute

      So you believe in a sort of Darwin-styled evolution as the basis of morality? We can just eat people or throw them to the wolves and let things be?

      Some Christian faiths agree with the Catholic churches stance.

      Intimate relationships do not equal sex. No one is saying gay people can’t have close friends. All we’re saying is no sex. It is the same for heterosexuals who are unmarried. It is the same for polygamists, pedofiles, and a whole other assortment of peoples outside the confines of marriage. I assume for you all sex is fine. Do you not have limits or is statutory rape acceptable?

      Christ was God so why would he be anon in the first place. He is our creator; therefore we already know him. I’m glad nobody has threatened you or your family. I would hate for you to have to experience that.

    • I do not hide behind anonymity, never will … oh I said that already! Never assume anything about my positions and I never said pedophilia, ebeophilia, non-consensual sex, polygamy, underage sex, etc were ok. I am opposed to intruding into the bedrooms of gay people…and how is it that you know I have never been threatened? You assume too much about me or my positions…

    • deltaflute

      I find it ironic that you hide and duck and never reveal a true stance. You’ve still not answered my question about depression and suicide. And yet, you get all haughty about my semi-anonymity. How is one to have any true dialogue if you refuse to reveal or answer a question?

      No, I believe your agenda is not one of dialogue. It’s simply to badger anyone who has a different stance than you do. A word of advice, if you and all the pro-gay marriage people actually want to further your ideology, than logically step those of use who disagree through your thought train. So far nobody has bothered to logically explain to me why the government needs to recognize gay marriage particularly when they wish that I “get out of their bedroom.” Gladly. I want nothing to do with a gay person’s bedroom activities. But forcing religious groups like in Denmark to perform same-sex marriages or individuals as myself to recognize them are different things. It’s not logical to expect me to recognize bedroom proclivities and then….not. Maybe you can explain it to me. So far noone has.

    • To satisfy your curiosity, depression and suicide can have genetic markers. Both can be endogenous or exogenous …. they are disorders which can be treatable. Depression is not a sin, suicide? who knows the ability of the person to control a self-destructive tendency…let God judge that. Now I answered all your questions. Semi-anonymity…rather total anonymity? While depression and suicidal ideation are treatable….homosexuality is not, nor should it be. Reparative therapy is junk science, proven so and violates human dignity.
      I do expect you to recognize “bedroom proclivities” of any kind….simply to recognize and not demean the humanity of others. A vast majority of Catholics have no problems with gays or gay marriage. You can believe whatever you want, this is the USA….do not expect others to share your beliefs. I am done as you expect me to respond to your questions, yet you read my answers not to understand but simply to reply. If you want to get the last word in, please feel free to respond…I will not. I am not anonymous…

  • Bill S

    Well said. Being an atheist who brought my wife back to the Church only to stop believing in it myself, I like what you said about God not condemning you and saying that you failed to convert someone and just accepted them for who they are. I have a gay son, so I appreciate people who are tolerant and accepting of people not like them. I think your kids and grand kids are going to benefit from your attitude.

    • Leticia Adams

      Thank you for your comment Bill. It made my day.