When I was a young child I made a deal with God. While the concept is fairly common for young children to do, my plea was different from most. Instead of begging Him for the newest American Girl Doll outfit and promising to be good in exchange, I told him to make the abuse stop, or I wouldn’t go back to Church with my family. Well, the abuse didn’t stop and I was convinced God had abandoned me. I thought it was pointless to go to Mass as a young child, but my parents made me and was to young to stay home alone. Mass is a waste of time, God doesn’t listen to me. Having no conception of the Father’s love, those thoughts continued to plague me for years.
Last night I gave a talk to the beautiful women at James Madison University. I weaved the message of God as Father and the depths of His unconditional love for us throughout the hour-long talk. Someone after hearing my story once asked me, “How do you believe in God?” My response to them was, “How could I not?” I am alive today because of Him. Without His love and hope I would have despaired and possibly taken my own life.
Last night one of the students asked, How did you keep getting up when you were recovering from your eating disorder? That is an excellent question and my answer can really be applied to any struggle you are faced with. When you fall down in any type of struggle you must make the resolve to get back up. And when you fall again, as you will, you get up again. Then when you think you’re doing fine and suddenly fall again and are tempted to stay fallen, you must get up again. No matter what you have done or what you are struggling with you must reach out your trembling hand to the Father and let His gentleness guide you to freedom.
One time I asked my Spiritual Director, Why didn’t God stop the abuse? He looked at me and said, The same reason He didn’t stop the Romans from killing His Son.
God gives us free will and while He doesn’t will evil to happen, He allows it because He will not take away our free will. It it up to us to decide how we will use this gift He has given to us. I challenge you to use your free will to fight for freedom, whether that be an eating disorder or any type of struggle. Be a solider for Christ, walk with Him to Calvary and as you fall along the way, ask for the grace for the cross to be placed squarely on your shoulders as you rise again.
The last fall is the worst fall. In it Christ identified Himself with those who fall again and again, and who get up again and again and go on- those who even after the struggle of a lifetime fall when the end is in sight; those who in the last fall lose the respect of many of their fellow human beings, but who overcome their humiliation and shame; who, ridiculous in the eyes of others, are beautiful in the eyes of God, because in Christ, with Christ’s courage, in His heroism, they get up and go on, climbing the hill of Calvary.
In the third fall, the showing of Christ’s love is this: He does not indwell only the virtuous, only those who are successful in overcoming temptation, only those who are strong and in whom His power is made manifest to the world; He chooses to indwell those who seem to fail, those who fall again and again, those who seem to be overcome even when the end is in sight. In them, if they will it, He abides; in them He overcomes weakness and failure, in them He triumphs; and in His power they can persevere to the end, abject before men but glorious with Christ’s glory before God. – Caryll Houslander