Thanks for Looking at Me

I went to mass last night, for the vigil of the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, by myself. I wasn’t going to make it today with work, Scouts for Gabriel and Basketball practice for Alex in the evening. The boys had school mass for today and Alex was an altar server.

I sat in the usual pew, but moved in a little, to make room for my family that wasn’t with me. Funny, that I noticed that. The mass was lovely, and the parishioners present were louder than usual with their responses and prayers. Or maybe I hadn’t noticed before. It felt more full than the usual 10AM Sunday mass but with less people.  My eyes were fixed on the large crucifix above. I mean, truly fixed. I don’t know what made me think that the more I bore my eyes into His, he would be more likely to turn His crowned head and smile at me. That’s all I wanted. I knew it was silly, and as I write this, I know it’s a little ridiculous.

New Post: Thanks for Looking at Me by @fillpraycloset. A reflection on how my Advent is shaping up, relationships in my Catholic Church and online..
This is really the altar at my church.

We’re in the thick of Advent, and just like last year, it’s been spoiled for me by external factors. Right before Advent begins, I am left with a fake, plastic smile whenever I leave my house. Maybe that’s why I wanted His smile, to know that He knew (even though I know in my heart He knows) and that at least He was with me.

Last week, I left the first candle burning too long (it won’t last the next two weeks), I forgot to move the little wooden Christmas tree on my Advent calendar, and my Jesse Tree? I’ve got two ornaments up and I am sure they’re the wrong ones. I stopped reading the Advent reflections from the booklet that I bought for myself and Tiffany back in October. I’m just deflated, if I’m really being honest with you, and I know I can be. It’s not spiritual dryness so much as a disappointment in certain people, of late. I pray for others that ask me to, and I pray for my family every day.

It’s more about being let down by others in my Catholic community. I expect slightly more compassion from them. Maybe that’s not the word. I expect more love, in the agape sense. I get that you never know what cross people are carrying, so you can’t always assume that the response you are getting is not intended to hurt you. Believe me, I get that. You could also argue that to get, you gotta give. And maybe I haven’t with every, single person. I’ve learned that I don’t need to allow negativity and disrespectful behavior regardless of whether they are Catholic, Christian, Purple or Unicorn. Those unicorns are shifty.

A friend came by Saturday night to drop off a little present for me, and to see how I was doing (neck spasms, remember?) and we all got to talking about friendships. She didn’t have friends from elementary school that she was connected to now, whereas Mike and I have one each from Elementary school. I noted how the close circle of friends that I have, I’ve made in the past 4 years. Most of those are online friendships and I treasure them. I pray for them. My boys pray for them. My husband knows them because I talk about them as if I just had coffee with them and “oh Honey, wait till you hear what happened with so-and-so”. I love them all dearly.

New Post: Thanks for Looking at Me by @fillpraycloset. A reflection on how my Advent is shaping up, relationships in my Catholic Church and online..

It’s easier to see the darker side of the coin though, isn’t it? When I talk about these disappointments in my Catholic (real life) community with my husband, he says “Honey, it’s like you always tell me, it’s not the Catholic Church, it’s the people, and they aren’t perfect”. I remember looking at him thinking I said that? And even more than that, he remembered? Isn’t that a blessing? I remember my mouth hanging open as he said that, and thinking to myself, He’s right. Of course. I can’t keep my Catholic community on a pedestal. They are no different than anyone else. And hey, Cristina, guess what? They will probably feel the same way about you at some point. Because you, for sure, aren’t perfect. You are bound to mess up and let someone down that you didn’t mean to. And just like that, I remembered this verse:

Psalm 118:8
It is better to take refuge in the Lord
    than to put confidence in man.

Maybe that’s what I was doing last night as I focused on Jesus, I was taking refuge in His face, turned to the side, grieved and pained. Sure, I may not be lighting my candles, or putting ornaments on the tree, But I am reminded of where my refuge is, and the blessings I do have in my husband, children and those wonderful women that have become like family to me. Their virtual presence is felt more than the multitudes of people I encounter every day.

Isn’t that something for Advent? Nice one, God. Thanks for looking at me, without looking at me, and telling me, in your way, that it’s all ok.

How’s your Advent shaping up? Tell me. I want to hear all about it, especially if you went and got that wine advent calendar!


16 thoughts on “Thanks for Looking at Me

  1. I have one friend from elementary school that I still keep in touch with. I haven’t seen her in years, but we know just about everything in each others lives still. I feel pretty blessed, actually.

    As far as being disappointed in people, just because humans are human doesn’t mean that we don’t still feel sad or disappointed. I’m sorry that your friends haven’t stepped up to the plate! In all honesty, I’m probably THAT friend to a lot of people. I am not naturally ‘aware’ of what people need as far as attention and other things. I can be, but it takes a lot of effort to figure that out.

    At any rate, you know I’m always praying for you 🙂

    And love yer friggin face.


    1. It’s not so much attention, as courtesy. I know I’m being vague. I kind of have to be this time. 😦 And you are totally NOT that person. You are one of the virtual gals I was talking about. See, there I don’t have to be vague. xoxo


  2. People will always, always, always let you down. It’s what we’re made to do. Turn it on it’s head, Salty – have you thought that you’re being given the opportunity to practice warrior love, rather than easy agape?

    Guess what – I speak from experience as a (blue, actually) unicorn who is very good at talking the talk and NOT at walking the walk. I get hurt, I forget to pray. I’m a bit useless.

    Most of the time I don’t even remember God’s ‘out there’.

    But there’s this, which still stands:

    He is the God of more love than our tiny hearts can ever, ever, EVER comprehend, and you are his beloved daughter. He ‘gets’ this. It’s okay.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. If only I could reblog this here. People need to read that post. Or maybe I need it for myself for a while. I am so happy to know you. Truly. You are a beautifully, messed up, ugly, beautiful friend. So many hugs.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. What a bittersweet post. It’s true, people will let you down. I’m sure I have let people down, and I don’t even know it! People are imperfect – whether they’re family, friends, community. You can either accept it and move on, or torture yourself over it. I love the way you put your thoughts in a way so accessible to us readers. And love you, too 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I just returned from a retreat (as you know!) on the east side of MI, suddenly in the middle of a bunch of Catholic-Catholicness and friendly women, and I was… maybe?… okay, yes I was… soaking in a little vat of self-pity over the fact that I’ve had a hard time making many friends in three years of living where we are now. Some of this is my own introverted fault, but still, our overtures and invitations to dinner haven’t resulted in many return invitations.

    I’m not sure what to make of it except to chalk it up to cultural differences. After living in a tight-knit Catholic community outside DC, where we had so many close friends who always wanted to hang out, it’s hard to be living in an area where everyone is so insular. But it is what it is.

    So it’s strange, that feeling of being rejected or let down. Unlike yours, mine is a sort of rejection by omission. But then I have to turn it back on to myself and ask, “What more can I do? Is there something I’m *not* doing?” Not to stress myself out about it, but to ask the question honestly. (Something for myself to reflect on—not directed at you. :-D)

    All that to say… it hurts. It sucks. But you’re loved, no matter what. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah, maybe. If you invited me over I’d go that night, and then every night till the date you meant to have me over. Pushy much?

      Or maybe it’s something else. Something that I will explain during our next phone call. 😀 I wish you lived closer. We’d be hanging out all the time, not because you’re awesome, but because of your babies. ❤ so cute!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Christina, you shared this experience so beautifully and filled with such heart. It’s so hard to experience the negativity that is always possible in the Church and even harder when it’s something that seems to be directed towards you. But, I have to say, I love how your husband is always so wise with what he shares with you in these conversations. I love how he listens to you and is able to gently remind you. It’s so very beautiful. Prayers for you! And, I get it. About Jesus on the Cross. Those moments you want to be held and seen. So glad you were able to have a quiet and fully present Mass. I miss those. Most days with my two littles I leave barely knowing what happened all the while trying to so hard to be present to the miracles. They grow out of this right? lol


    1. Hi Amanda! I have to say that I don’t know what it’s like to have my little’s at mass! As a convert, they have only been going for the last 2 1/2 years? So, they would have been 5 and 7? But whenever I see families with babies at mass, I always make it a point to smile at them and the baby. There was one time when a woman with twins attended and she was having such a hard time, the twins were yelling and she was exasperated. I made sure to tell her that she is doing such a great job with them and how lovely it is to see babies at mass. She looked at me like I was a little crazy and I just smiled. I never saw her again, but I hope she felt more encouraged to come back. Thank you for your kind words!! xo


  6. My mom made me chuckle the other day when we were making excuses for people. I used the old cliche, “Well, we’re only human.” And she replied, “Yeah, well we need to stop being so human!”

    And…mark my words, that man of yours will be the best Catholic yet!!


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