A New Direction, A New Focus

I have neglected blogging, mainly because I have neglected reflecting. A thousand things swirl inside my head and I haven\’t been able to focus them into cohesive thought and slowed down enough to truly write them out. So, as I was sitting here reflecting on what direction to go and how to get more focused I decided that I needed to work within parameters. Truth be told, I love working in parameters. It challenges me to actually think. For example, I used to write phrases out a long the side of poetry I used to write to force me to begin each line with a specific letter. So, I think I will try, (try being the operative word in my life) to devote some time everyday to reflect on a specific line of a prayer that means more to me than almost any other prayer.

Here\’s a little background information to help you better understand the place I was in when I first encountered the prayer and why I believe it is truly a blessing sent from God. It was the summer after my freshman year in college. If any of you knows anything about my freshman year in college, you would know I was not in the best state. The second semester of that year was, to put it frank, the time where I hit rock bottom and my world as I knew it fell completely apart. I was in Arlington, a place I never even wanted to be, and I knew I was transferring to Austin, so I was well aware that all my friendships there were transient. My life had been completely changed since high school and I was homesick and bewildered grasping at any and all forms of familiarity that I couldn\’t find much of. I was dating my best friend at the time and he was my support through the transition, the one thing that kept my mind sane, one of the only comfortable and familiar things in my life at the time. We broke up in December and I was completely devastated. My form of support was gone. I felt alone and abandoned (which if you know anything about me, is the worst thing for me). I completely broke down. I have a pre-existing anxiety disorder that I work very hard to control and on a daily basis I normally can. That semester, I couldn\’t. I started having an excessive amount of panic attacks everyday for about 2 months. My roommates were worried about me and had me go to the doctor who gave me drugs to numb my mind (I was a walking zombie on those meds and I decided I couldn\’t take them anymore or I would sleep all the time and fail out of school.). I found myself talking to psychologists and psychiatrists about my anxiety, was diagnosed with GAD (and very close to panic disorder), and was offered anti-depressants. (I turned them down. Me? On Anti-depressants? Some would say the world would explode.) I cut off my emotions completely, delved into my schoolwork and got a 4.0. I didn\’t socialize much outside of my other best friend who was thankfully in Arlington with me. I completely lost faith in love and had unhealthy \”relationships\” with a couple of the boys I knew. I guess I had the mentality that love in a true form did not exist, so I might as well \”have fun\”. I regret to say, I used them to numb the pain and give me some feeling of control. It wasn\’t right and I\’m incredibly sorry that I brought other people into my whirlwind of pain. I hated myself. It was the worst place I\’ve ever been. I never want to go back there.

So, there\’s the context of what happened my freshman year. Now, it\’s the summer after all that, and I\’m in the process of healing and starting over again in Austin. I\’m at Steubenville South (a huge Catholic youth conference) with my high school youth group. There is confession there and I haven\’t been in at least a year. After much reluctance, I decide I should go. I had so much hurt in myself, I felt so far away from God at the time. Even though I never straight out questioned God\’s existence, I had definitely not seen Him and His work. I remember praying for peace at night just so I could calm down enough to fall asleep and I got very frustrated when those prayers went unanswered. Where was He when His sheep needed Him the most? Why would He let me cry myself to sleep every night? Why wasn\’t I good enough for Him? Those were all questions I had running through my head. I was in definite need of reconciliation with God. So, I took a deep breath and I went. I told the priest about what I had done in Arlington, all the anxiety I had in my heart, all the self-hatred, all the darkness. I poured out my heart to him and he sat and listened to me. When I was done, he said \”I feel as though I should give you something.\” Give me something? There are 6,000 people here and you want to give me something? He opened up his own personal bible and took out a prayer card. He read it to me and line by line it was as if God himself was saying \”Karen, this prayer was created for you.\” It covered every aspect of what I was going through. It covered every aspect of my heart and the struggles I have been struggling with for my entire life. I listened to it and it verbalized everything I was. It stripped away the guards I had on my heart. I was spiritually and emotionally naked and vulnerable in front of God and the priest. As if this wasn\’t a clear enough sign that God was there and was working His good into my life, when the priest turned the card over, the picture on the front was my own confirmation saint (St. Therese of Liseaux) with the words \”On Carmel\’s Height by day and night someone prays for you.\” I cannot express to you in words how moved I was. I was literally shaking. This wasn\’t a vague sign of God\’s existence. It was a very deliberate and clear sign. Normally, St. Therese is famous for sending people flowers. I suppose God knew I probably wouldn\’t notice flowers and He sent me her image instead with a very clear message. She prays for me day and night. I am connected to her sacramentaly and she can and will not abandon me. God can and will not abandon me. I left there shaking with excitement and complete awe. Never had anything been more clear to me in my life.

I truly believe to this day that what happened that day and the prayer card I got was a miracle and blessing given to me by God. It is my favorite prayer as a result and the one I feel that I need the most in my life. For the next 28 days, so pretty much for all of November, I will reflect and write about a line of the prayer. It will be a spiritual exercise for me and maybe an enlightening perspective for someone else.

Come, Holy Spirit
Replace the tension within us
with a holy relaxation.
Replace the turbulence within us
with sacred calm.
Replace the anxiety within us
with a quiet confidence.
Replace the fear within us
with a strong faith.
Replace the bitterness within us
with the sweetness of grace.
Replace the darkness within us
with the gentle light.
Replace the coldness within us
with a loving warmth.
Replace the night within us
with your light.
Straighten our crookedness.
Fill our emptiness.
Dull the edge of our pride.
Sharpen the edge of our humility.
Light the fire of our love.
Quench the flame of our lust.
Let us see ourselves as you see us
That we may see you as you have promised.
And be fortunate according to your word.
Blessed are the pure of heart,
for they shall see God.

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