In an interesting talk between Bishop Barron and Jordan Peterson, Jordan Peterson talks about how people fill up auditoriums by the thousands to hear him basically say life is hard. This somehow resonates with people, especially after a generation of soft, more feelings-directed psychology which told you “you’re okay”. It resonates with people who have pondered suicide, for example, who feel they are not okay and are looking for answers.
I rolled my eyes the other day at another one of those Facebook posts where a friend posted a selfie of her now and a selfie of her years ago, saying she is so happy about where her life is headed. She had lost some weight, she had a new boyfriend, but it was hard for me to believe she had found the true elixir of happiness and eternal fulfilment.
The world tells us it’s available at our nearest convenience store, it is laid out in five steps in that bestselling book, it’s in a diet, in an exercise plan, in a mindset, in an essential oil.
I’ll tell you where it is, friends. It’s in Heaven. It’s with Jesus, in the bosom of the Trinity, in the communion of saints, in the chorus of the angels. It is available in glimpses and in a still, small voice in this life, but for the most part, it is a little cloudy and an uphill climb.
At present, we see indistinctly, as in a mirror, but then face to face. At present I know partially; then I shall know fully, as I am fully known”(1 Cor 13:12).
Mothers, This is for you!
I tell everyone I can about Sally Clarkson’s books and podcasts. It wasn’t until I read her book “Desperate” that I felt encouraged to continue cheerfully in this battle called motherhood. Until then (and still sometimes now), I felt as if I was a failed, hopelessly messed up person and was raising a failed, hopelessly, messed up child and that no one else felt this way. With Sally’s book and messages for mothers, I realized there is a battle between light and darkness and that battle is within us. As she says in her book, it is the Bread of Life, taken every day, and His Word, spoken every day, which gives us strength for the journey.
Life is hard for mothers and that should not be minimized or brushed off. I just had my fourth child and I keep telling people who ask: pregnancy is just as hard every time, childbirth is just as scary every time, newborns are just as tricky every time and toddlers are just as able to bring out the absolute worst and angriest in you every time.
Sally Clarkson said in one of her podcasts that sometimes Christian friends would say that if she really had God’s grace she should be in a state of redemption and not be complaining all the time. We Catholics who have the blessing of the Sacrament of Confession and go back there time and time again with the same struggles know that isn’t true. We mothers who have doubts, fears and disappointment know that life does not always seem like it is headed to a great place, like my Facebook friend said. Sometimes motherhood is like the Pietá: Mary did not see how God’s plan of redemption was headed to a great place with Jesus dead in her lap. She had to have faith, and trust God even still had a plan.
Single People, This is for You!
My heart breaks for my single friends who watch time tick by and also have to have faith and trust God even still has a plan. The world seems to tell us happiness is physical comfort and pleasure in a succession of Instagram-worthy photos. Even the family is the place for always feeling happy and getting what you want, and if not just look at the divorce statistics to see how marriage goes. Single people must feel that life is especially hard for them: Because it is. Life is already so lonely, so individualistic in this day and age. Single people’s lives can be full of love because they have even more time and more of themselves to give away in that selfless donation. However, with the world’s view of hedonistic happiness, their lives might seem even starker.
A bad night, in a bad inn. That is how Saint Teresa of Jesus is said to have defined this earthly life. It’s a good comparison, isn’t it? (The Way, by Saint Josemaria Escriva, n. 703).
Life is hard because happiness is being in communion with God our Creator, who is Love, but love is hidden and wrapped up in sacrifice and self-donation. Love is not a tingling sensation or that feeling after drinking a pumpkin spice latte. Love is conversion, which the origin of the word means turning around, changing direction, seeing things in a new way.
[Love] Don’t have a job
Don’t pay your bills
Won’t buy you a home in Beverly Hills
Won’t fix your life in five easy steps
Ain’t the law of the land or the government
But it’s all you need,
Love will hold us together
Make us a shelter weather the storm
And I’ll be my brother’s keeper
So the whole world will know that we’re not alone.”
An apology to all salespeople of the prosperity gospel. The gospel will bring us a side of persecution, trouble and loneliness akin to the Garden of Gethsemane, but it will also set us free and bring us home to our Father.