“Strange as it may seem, I still hope for the best. Even though the best, like an interesting piece of mail, so rarely arrives, and even when it does, it can be lost so easily.”
-Lemony Snicket, The Beatrice Letters
If you are seeking a friendly blog update from a bubbly college girl for the mildly amusing or occasionally heartwarming life observation, I implore you: look elsewhere.
This short, somewhat depressing, but hopefully impactful online journal entry involves melodramatic situations, self-help books, fires, and it begins as any of its kind typically do: too good to be true.
The story began as I moved into my shabby yet lovable house right across the street from my college campus last August, ready to take on my junior year. I had the world on a string; I had no RA responsibilities, an easy schedule, a cool job, and roommates who felt like family. I felt like a racehorse anxiously waiting to burst through the gates, delving into new experiences and new relationships. For the first part of last semester, that string was wrapped around my finger.
Until this happened.
(Now is the part where I highly recommend you ‘X’ out of this browser as soon as you are able. I beg you to click over to your Pinterest tab to plan your fantasy wedding, or find an impossible recipe for “perfect brownies” that you’ll never actually make, because you’re too consumed with finding an Instagram filter for whatever foamy caffeinated beverage you are about to enjoy. Please do, and read no further.)
About midway through October as the leaves started falling, so did the world around me. The unimaginable and inconceivable happened. A longtime childhood friend said good-bye after a disagreement and literally walked out of my life. Though I reached out and made an attempt to work things out at the urging of mutual friends, with a 5-page letter of handwritten memories and inside jokes, she refused to reconcile. Two months of sitting on a rainbow in a luminescent college paradise–and before I could get the chance to utter another Sinatra lyric, the lights went out. It felt as if someone had died.
Shortly before this, I attended a talk by Fr. Michael Gaitley about his 33 day preparation for the Consecration to Divine Mercy. Christ’s message to St. Faustina describes how His overabundant graces burn Him like fire because so many have no interest in receiving them. The consecration prepares us to receive these extra, unwanted graces through a deeper sense of compassion and the ability to suffer with others. As I read the daily lessons, the beauty of Fr. Gaitley’s insights touched me deeply and provided me with temporary relief for a broken heart. It wasn’t until recently that I put two and two together. Then the message of Divine Mercy shook my soul.
Perhaps my journey was not just to feel more pity for others or practice better empathy–but perhaps instead, I was called to literally suffer with none other than Christ Himself. Now I know what it’s like to have so much love in my heart for someone who does not want it, and it truly hurts like fire.
(Now, I suppose if you are looking for a blog glorifying the beauty of suffering rather than the beauty of photogenic cities and anecdotes about adorable little French girls, you may be completely mad. But you may have very well found it.)
I could easily blame the Consecration to Divine Mercy for ruining my life, or at least my dreamy year at college. Whether or not the timing was purely coincidental, what with reading about the beauty of suffering with Christ while undergoing a heartbreaking loss of friendship, who can say? Maybe if I never attended Fr. Gaitley’s talk or picked up the book, I’d still have my friend’s name–who I still miss–at the top of my inbox. But if I didn’t, I probably wouldn’t have experienced what it’s like to finally have a personal connection with Christ.
Everyone talks about striving for a”friendship with Christ,” a phrase which here seems like an oversimplification of something much more difficult to attain. It was something I always aspired to have, but how? I thought that only daily Mass, unending prayer, holy hours at 3 am, and mission trips would be the key to a real “friendship” with Christ. If that’s the case I’m certainly a lost cause. Then, I asked myself: how do relationships actually start? Relatability. (Seems pretty obvious.) You share something. Whether that’s an experience, a feeling, an interest…or a suffering. It is after you gain a friend that you discover you would do anything for them. And before long, I found myself going to see Him every day in adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. Although I experienced the “loss”of a dear childhood friend for now–like one might lose a home in terrible fire– I have gained a new one, and we bonded over a much different kind of flame.
“Friendship … is born at the moment when one man says to another ‘What! You too? I thought that no one but myself . . .’”
― C.S. Lewis, The Four Loves
With all due respect (& as I still hope for the best),
The Daily Nonconformist