The Heart of a Woman

Wait, both readings are on women ‘committing’ adultery…?

I was incredulous flipping through the pages of my Magnificat as I sat down to daily Mass yesterday morning. Feeling a little Catholic feminist rage bubbling up on me, I took it to prayer as I reflected on the first reading of Susanna.

Side note: Blessed is She does a great job with the readings if you care to get a quick reference as to what I’m discussing. 

Back to the rage…

Looking at these two readings, my first thought was 1. Where’s the man in the Gospel, and 2. It’s hard enough to be a woman, yet throw the “your word against ours” mentality, how is a woman of God set to succeed?

The lightbulb went off. Of course.

I will put enmity between you and the woman,
and between your offspring and hers;

Genesis 3:15

We’re barely three chapters into the story of salvation when Satan’s biggest enemy (at that time) is revealed. Woman.

Because of Eve’s assertion to God that the serpent tempted her to sin, the serpent is punished. Of course, Eve and Adam have their own awful consequences, but the serpent is very powerfully cursed.

You know those feelings you have when someone commits a perceived offense against you and you immediately desire revenge? Can you imagine the intensity of Satan’s anger?

How does he attempt his revenge? Through the heart of a woman.

Satan wants nothing but to destroy the beautiful relationship between God and one of his daughters. And he is relentless!

Have you ever heard of ladies being “nothing but drama”? Why do you think that is? I rarely (if ever) hear such labels on gentlemen. Because Satan attacks at our deepest insecurities and tells us to compare ourselves to the women in our midst because we’ll never be good enough. He attacks where we are most vulnerable.

Susanna, a pure and holy woman after God’s own heart was the target for two men and their lustful desires. Yet she remained noble and righteous before God. What would have happened if she had given into their demands? Not only would she have sinned before God, but certainly could have been subject to the same fate as in the reading. There was no way in which she could prevail.

Yet she did.

She trusted in the Lord wholeheartedly.

Daniel 13:35

When we trust God, wholeheartedly, we are focused on His plan for us, His loving gaze on us, and our future with Him. He comforts us where we are most vulnerable.

If we look back through stories of the Bible, the most miraculous things happen when a woman trusts God.

  • A brother is raised from the dead
  • A conviction is overturned
  • A life is saved
  • Regions are brought to Christ
  • The Savior of the World is born

 

How is a woman of God to succeed with an attacker like Satan? Just the same as Susanna, facing insurmountable odds…she trusted in the Lord, wholeheartedly.

This week, dear sisters of Eve, let us ask God to help us build our trust in Him, shine the light and comfort us where we are vulnerable. 

CWBN and a New Blog Name

I must be one of the last bloggers to get a recap up of the Catholic Women’s Blogging Network Midwest Conference back the last weekend in March. I have been sporadically blogging during 2017, and when I saw this conference pop up, I knew it could positively motivate me to blog more, or at the very least, build new relationships!

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Happy to say, that the conference more than satisfied both! I left motivated to share more of my voice in my blog, felt empowered by many of the women surrounding me, and I found the focus for my blog!

When I started my blog, I had started calling it “All in God’s Time” as much of my life felt like I was waiting on God’s timing for my career, for my relationships, etc. While that’s certainly still the case, as I reflected on blog posts that I had written or want to write, everything came back to relationship. Relationships with friends, family, significant others, self, and with God.

I chose the name “Wholly Agape” to represent relationships that at the core, are filled with love. Authentic love and friendship is what we all long for in this life. As I search out how to build those relationships, I’ll be sharing some of what I’ve learned and perhaps asking others to share their stories as well (if you’re interested, send me a note on Instagram).

Thanks to Nell of Whole Parenting Family for the thought-provoking questions at the CWBN Conference that led to this new revelation!

Other shoutouts:

Jacqui has an awesome linkup all about the conference, so if you’re looking for more recaps and information, check it out!

Which “Com” Camp are you in?

I was struck by a thought yesterday morning. I had just attended my very first Blessed is She Brunch and was reveling in the beautiful conversations I had with equally lovely ladies. There was no pretense, no attempting to show up better than another. As one woman mused to me “everyone is so truly authentic.”

Authenticity. What a word. To be so truly yourself when interacting with one another. It’s marvelous. It also caused me to have the thought I mentioned above:

When women are acting in authentic community with one another, where is there room for comparison?

If we are truly living authentically in communion with other women, it seems (to me, at least) that the comparisons fly away. Or, that they don’t matter quite as much. I spoke with women younger than me, married with multiple children already. Women years older that were rewriting the next chapters of their lives, and everything in between. Plenty of room for comparison, but it was amazing instead to see how God was glorifying himself in each individual story.

As someone who considers herself the queen of comparing herself to others, it’s amazing what happens when you’re filled with COMmunity and COMpassion (for yourself and others) as opposed to COMparison.

What “Com” camp will you find yourself in this week?

My prayer this week is that we be filled with compassion for our fellow Sisters in Christ. We all have unique journeys and unique stories of how God is working in our lives. Let’s focus on those and the things we have in common than what we do not. May God be glorified through each and every one of us and our unique path to holiness.

Photo Credit: torbakhopper Flickr via Compfight cc

Peace with the Plan

One of my (largest? most noticeable? most annoying?) flaws is that when I’m interested in something, I delve into it until I burn out. The burnout can happen in a matter of days, or years, but most often within a few weeks. It can literally be about anything, knitting, web development, calligraphy, hiking, (blogging!) you name it. Hobbies start to become interesting!

I’ve often wondered if this is truly the best use of my time. Not that the activities themselves are bad, honestly they are perfectly fine, but the investing so much that inevitably my spirit no longer wants to engage in the activity is a higher threshold than it needs to be. God calls us to balance and temperance.

Has anyone ever been on a particularly moving retreat experience? If you’re anything like me, you’ve left feeling on fire for God and so committed to bringing His Gospel to the world as soon as you recover from your post-retreat nap. All too often, that fire dies out before you can truly spread its warmth.

Building a strong fire does not mean putting all of your wood into a pile, pouring an entire can of gasoline and watching it burn. It takes time and care, adding kindling or additional fuel to the flame where it’s needed.

Just like activities that end in burnout, our relationship with God can result in the same. This Lent, I’ve really been enjoying the Blessed Is She Lent Journal, as it helps to provide some of the kindling for the flame of my faith. Lenten observances are feeling a little more substantial as I’m not focusing on diving headfirst into a chocolate fast, but taking the time daily to read, reflect, and renew my relationship with God, in small, easy to handle entries. It’s not how I would’ve shaped my Lent, but clearly, my plans have their flaws.

What do you do to keep from burnout in your faith and your daily life?

You Can’t Do it All…and That’s OK

I remember driving back one night to my apartment with my then-boyfriend. He was asking me what I had planned that week. I mentioned a programming meeting with the committee I served on, a young alumni board meeting for my alma mater, choir rehearsal, a therapist appointment, and likely an event for a board I wanted to join. We were only about a year into our relationship back then. I remember the look of surprise on his face.

“Wow, you’ve got a lot going on!”

“A lot” was an understatement. I’m someone who lives off of being busy. Do I succeed at my busyness? On rare occasion, sure, but it’s really not where I thrive. In my 20-some years of life, it’s one of the hardest things for me to just…slow down.

A few years later, after more dating, more transparency, and more honesty, I talked to my boyfriend about how I was going to drop from one organization, but then add on more responsibility to another board position. He looked at me like I was crazy.

“How many of these ‘roles’ are you doing at 100%?”

I just looked at him. I hadn’t thought of it like that. I mean, I wasn’t doing any of the roles poorly, but was I giving them my all? Could I give each role my all?

Of course not.

It’s taken multiple years of therapy  (and one patient fiance’) to arrive to a point where not only I see the importance of slowing down, but I also feel the value on my mental, physical, and spiritual health. Now, instead of dashing off to whatever board meeting I have tonight, I can kick back and work on some calligraphy, write another blog post, or head to adoration. Or even, head to bed early! (What?!?) I know my body would appreciate the break!

How do you take care of you?

Relationship Counseling? But You’re Not Even Married!

“So when’s the big day?”

“We actually haven’t set it yet. Hoping on a Fall 2018 wedding.”

“Why haven’t you set the date? It’s been almost 8 months. You know that vendors want you booking at least a year out. You guys should start now!”

“We know, and we are considering that. We are working through counseling first.”

“Oh like with a priest? So you HAVE started wedding prep!”

“No, like with a therapist. Like Marriage Counseling, except we’re not married.”

“Why would you do that, it’s not like you’re married and considering divorce?”

I would be lying if I said that relationship counseling was my idea, or that I was a willing participant from day one. My approach was basically “if this is what it takes for us to get to the aisle, great. Let’s do it!” My fiance’ is a very practical man, and saw that we had many differences in how we conducted our lives. He’s frugal, I’m anything but. He’s patient and thoughtful, I say whatever comes to mind. And despite 5+ years of trials, joys, difficulties, and arguments, we both truly feel that God has called us together to the vocation of marriage.

So now, we’re going to get married in <2 years, and we’re just magically going to pray our issues away, and life is going to be fantastic, and despite our differences, we’re going to merge two lives into one harmonious life?

Yeah…about that…

Enter relationship counseling. The week before we got engaged, my fiance’ and I sat down with my parents, who have had many unforeseen challenges in nearly 30 years of marriage. In talking with them, we learned what they found to be some of their greatest successes and hardest failures, and what they’d recommend for us, including counseling. R was already encouraging relationship counseling, and with my parents’ support, I agreed. I mean, how hard could it be?

Except for the fact that when you’re a newly-engaged bride-to-be, it takes a lot of willpower to not start sketching out the details of your nuptials right from the start.

Long story short, my ever-patient fiance’ had the necessary “Come to Jesus” moment with me about what we really needed to do for our marriage prep. No, it wasn’t wedding planning, but relationship counseling.

What do you actually do in relationship counseling? How is it different than marriage counseling? 

Not having been married, I cannot speak to any differences between marriage counseling. What I can tell you is that in our relationship counseling, we’ve focused primarily on compromise. As outlined above, R and I are two very different individuals. Needless to say, conflicts arise, as they do in almost any healthy relationship. Our first few appointments focused on prior conflicts that we had difficulty resolving. After a few appointments, we were handling conflict differently, but new conflicts arise, and we learn tools to handle it.

Sometimes, you also find that while people close to you fully support the relationship, when you decide as a couple to make large changes, that there is resistance from those loved ones. This has been one of the more challenging things to tackle. However, with prayer and unending support from one another, we are working on how we manage that as a team, and stay on the same page.

Not every appointment has been easy. R manages his emotions better than I do. Some appointments would be great, and I’d start thinking about wedding dates and booking churches. Other times, if the appointment was particularly trying, you could guarantee I was questioning the health of the relationship. R always views each appointment as progress, and that’s something I hope to learn from him.

While there are no current mathematical statistics around our nation’s divorce rate, most scholars believe it’s around 40-50%. R and I have known many friends and acquaintances go into marriage with the best of intentions and end up either second-guessing their decision, or worse, choosing to separate, divorce, and/or get the marriage annulled. Of course the future cannot be predicted, but R and I want the best possible chance of lifelong success in our marriage. While I may have been a tad apprehensive about relationship counseling, I truly see it as one of the best tools in our marriage prep toolbox!

Have you done pre-marriage counseling? Would love to know what you’ve experienced!

 

Welcome

Welcome to my new blog! A little about me, and this new project of mine –

Who am I?

My name is Diane, and I’m a twenty-something Catholic, a marketing professional, and I’m engaged to a wonderful man, R.

What is this blog about?

I cannot promise adherence to any particular topic. I’m an ENFP, and my interests vary from hour to hour. What I will promise is that the over-arching theme of this blog will be reliance on God and His perfect timing. That’s been one constant in my life, and I’ll share some of that along the way.

When will I be posting?

Only time will tell on that! I’ve been ambitious in blogging projects before, only to get burnt out of daily posting 2-months in!

Where do I want this to go?

That answer is a little unknown as well. I want to build relationships with other bloggers, and share some of my stories, both past, current, and future, as I think there is benefit in learning from others as well as sharing.

Why now, if this hasn’t worked in the past?

Why not now?

Love + Blessings,

Diane