You Can’t Drink Poison Then Wonder Why You’re Sick

“Don’t say: ‘That person gets on my nerves.’ Think: ‘That person sanctifies me.” – St. Josemaria Escriva

Yesterday was a bad day.

I don’t say that often. I have lazy days, frustrating days, long days, but rarely do I have plain bad days.

Since becoming Catholic in 2011, I’ve worked hard to meet adversity and meanness with charity and compassion. I work hard to control my tongue, and even more control my fingers on the keyboard when on the internet. It’s easy to sit in front of a screen and treat it as a line of demarcation between reality and fiction. When arguing with someone online, it’s easy to forget that there is an actual living, breathing, hurting, loved individual on the other end, no matter how intolerable they are to us personally.

Yesterday, I was not charitable. I did not meet the person with whom I was fighting (someone I once knew personally and intimately) with compassion. Anytime we interact there is tension. Both of us want to get at the other, even when we both claim that we don’t. I chalk it up to unresolved issues that 1. we had when we were dating, and 2. that we have accumulated over the years and not talked through because, well, neither of us really wants to listen.

You could say, “just cut them off, stop talking to them,” but the situation is a bit more complicated. There’s a third-party involved, and that relationship cannot be severed, nor can this party be thrown in the middle of our issues. The one I was fighting with is a person I will have to deal with for the rest of my life, and he is one of the only people in the world towards whom I feel this amount of animosity.

I lost my cool. Not once, but twice. I failed the first incident by responding to what I knew was him baiting me into fighting. I fell for it. I fell into it. I failed the second time by, while claiming that I was done doing this with him, that I was going to try and do better by not stooping to the levels and language that I did, I stooped again. I trash-talked, I made petty (albeit true) comments in a public forum.

I’m not going to try and excuse my behavior. I’m a grown woman and I should know how to act, even and especially on the internet. I failed to set the example that when someone hands you poison, you don’t have to drink it. And drink it I did. Then I proceeded to moan about being sick.

My relationship with this individual was toxic when we were together, and ten years later, it’s still toxic. We both eat at each other, then we both turn around and act like what the other says and does doesn’t bother us. We’re both… excuse me if you will… full of crap. If neither of us cared about the other (in a broad, platonic sense), we wouldn’t nip at each other the way that we do. He wouldn’t do his best to show me how smart and wise and “enlightened” he is, and I wouldn’t waste my time trying to show him that he may be those things but he doesn’t know the first thing about being a father.

Now, this isn’t to say that he on his own is a toxic person. He says that he’s come a long way from who he was when we dated, and maybe he is. I don’t know because all I see is what he posts on Facebook, and what he tells me. And while I tell him that I’m not the same person I used to be, I always revert back to the outrageous, defensiveness 17-year-old I once was. I don’t show him a difference.

He hands me poison, and I drink it.

Two things shook me out of my tirade yesterday: one, a good friend and family member pointing out that I was being hypocritical by saying I didn’t want to stoop anymore, then doing so anyways when I had the chance to prove I’m not that person now; two, my mom said to me, “I hate seeing you like this. You have done SO WELL over the past few years when you weren’t speaking to him and now you’re right back to where you were before, and that’s not you.”

Thank God for people who are willing to set me straight even when it hurts. And I mean that with the utmost sincerity. I was making an absolute ass of myself and I’m sure it got a good “ha-ha” from his end, which of course cripples my pride. But that’s exactly what I need and needed. I need a blow to the pride. I need to remember that this person who keeps goading me into these behaviors has no power if I don’t give it to him. He may goad, but I’m the one who has control over my actions and reactions. I need to remember that he’s a person with aches and pains and past and present hurts just like me. I need to remember that even though he doesn’t claim religion or faith in God, he’s still made in the image and likeness of God. He’s broken, just like me, and we both have a Father who wants to make us better, who hates to see us bicker and hurt each other the way we do.

Right now, I honestly don’t want to be kind to this person. I don’t want to show him an ounce of compassion because I personally don’t think he deserves it. He won’t take it anyways. He’ll see it either as a ploy or a weakness, and he’ll exploit it either way because that’s just how this works. But it’s not really about what think, is it?

I’m done drinking the poison. I’m done letting him get rash reactions from me. I’m done speaking to him unless it involves the third party. Does that mean I’m going to kowtow and bend a knee? Absolutely not. I have the third party to protect, and even if it makes me look like the bad guy, I will never apologize for doing what I deem is in the best interest of said third party.

Mr. Wise and Enlightened can have the last word. He can prove how much smarter and wiser and all-around just a better person he is than me, and I’ll take it. I’ll take humility (and being humiliated) over pride and acting the way that I did yesterday.

Sometimes the suffering that we experience in life is completely self-inflicted, but we can especially in these moments allow God to work through others and show us where we’re lacking, and how we can do better, both for ourselves and those around us. I take full blame for yesterday, from the initial argument to the way it blew up on social media. I took a huge dose of humility, and it’s been much like a panacea to me. It’s been an opportunity for the Lord to remind me that at the core of it, I know nothing of patience, charity, and humility as it applies to temperance.

“Be slow to speak, and only after having first listened quietly, so that you may understand the meaning, leanings, and wishes of those who do speak. Thus you will better know when to speak and when to be silent.” – Saint Ignatius of Loyola

When Grace Flows Down

As is the case for many, many people, 2016when has been an extremely difficult year for us. Between taking in my niece through CPS back in January, a move, a car accident, several financial hardships, and enough family drama to rival a daytime soap opera, we walked into the Christmas season feeling completely defeated. My husband and I knew that we wouldn’t be able to provide a decent Christmas for our children without taking away from bills and other necessities, and so we decided to reach out for help.

Through the kindness of complete strangers, our children were able to have presents beneath the tree this year. Through the kindness of complete strangers, CPS was able to provide extra presents to my niece this year. Because of gift cards we received from friends and loved ones (and a certain “secret Santa”), my husband and I were able to purchase items needed to make some small repairs around the house.

And though it takes a lot for me to admit these things–prideful creature that I am–I want you to see first-hand what it looks like when grace flows down.

These people–friends and strangers, alike–took the time and effort from their own lives, from their own stresses and worries, to help us. They took the blessings that Christ has given to them and poured them out onto us. For all the blows we were dealt in 2016, it absolutely pales in comparison to the love we’ve been shown, and not just in the way of presents and monetary gifts, but for all the prayers offered on our behalf, for all the messages and phone calls asking if we need anything, or if we just need to talk for a bit.

While I understand that Christmas is not about the material things, it’s the charity and love behind what we’ve been blessed with that stands out the most. I see the selflessness of the gifts. I see the hands and feet of Christ at work. I see the kindness that the world feels is so lacking.

From the bottom of my heart I want to thank those who reached out to us, who helped give our children a good Christmas. From the bottom of my heart I want to thank everyone who has been praying for us. Thank you for taking the time and effort to sacrifice what you have for someone else. Thank you for being the examples of Christ that the world needs, especially now. ❤

 

 

Parents of the Millennial Generation

I did it once when our oldest son was about 7-years-old. It was one of those days when nothing seemed to go right at home. No one was having a good day. Maybe it was something in the air, a misalignment in the stars. Maybe the barometric pressure was off that day and it put everyone in a foul mood. Who knows? if-you-want-to-bring-happiness-to-the-whole-world-go-home-and-love-your-family

It was one of those days when all we could do was try to survive one another until daddy got home around five.

And believe me, survival is exactly how it felt. One minute to the next. I tried all day to remain calm, to be present, to not shut down and vegetate in front of the television like I’m prone to do when the stress is too much.

My then 7-year-old wasn’t having it. He did everything in his power to get a reaction out of me; whether it was good or bad, he didn’t care. He pushed my buttons until I finally gave him what he wanted: a reaction.

I set him out on the front porch. I told him that he wasn’t allowed to come back in until he was done acting the way he’d been acting, until he was ready to follow rules and listen to his mother. It was around 4:45, it wasn’t too hot or too cold outside, and I sat right by the window watching him the entire time. We were both angry, we were both at our wits-end, and it was a last-ditch effort on my part to rattle some sense into him.

Truth is, I hated doing it. Even knowing that he was perfectly safe sitting there on the porch, that I hadn’t put him in any kind of danger, I hated what I’d done as soon as I’d closed the front door on him. What was I teaching him? Sure, some parents will say that I was teaching him that I am the authority; it’s my house and my rules. If he can’t obey those rules, then he doesn’t get to be in the house.

I wasn’t teaching him tolerance.

I wasn’t teaching him obedience.

I certainly wasn’t teaching him love.

I was teaching him that he’s only wanted so long as he can follow the rules. I was teaching him that when people upset you, it’s perfectly okay to set them out on the curb like unwanted things, like you do with broken toys or appliances.

You’re taking that a little far, you may say. But kids think differently than adults. They are both far more literal and far more abstract than we are. They are not tiny adults, they are children, and children receive messages differently than we do. But you have to admit, even for our spouse to say, “you’re pissing me off so you need to go. I don’t want you anymore,” it would hurt.

I know some parents will say that I had every right, and that I did the right thing. They’d do the same thing to their children, because kids need to understand authority, they need to understand respect. They will say that children who have no respect for authority are the same ones running the streets and looting and setting things on fire as we speak. They will say that an inability on behalf of the parents to teach their children respect and obedience to authority is teaching them to be entitled, sniveling idiots.

But you know what I think these entitled, sniveling little idiots lack more than respect and obedience and self-control? Unconditional love. They lack a love that says, “we disagree, and I’m not happy with your opinion, but we can still work together, we can still be civil, we can still be friends.”

Sound like a bunch of hippy talk to you?

Do you know how many children are left to live on the streets because their parents found out they were gay? Do you know how many children have been kicked out or forced into abortions because they got pregnant young and out of wed-lock? Do you know how many children have been ostracized by their entire community because they chose a different religion, or because they chose to love outside of their race?

Nothing says entitlement quite like “this is MY house, MY rules, and if YOU don’t like it, you can get the hell out.”

Nothing says entitlement quite like treating your child like a possession that can be used and disposed of whenever they make YOU unhappy. Or telling your child that you brought them into this world and you’ll take them out of it.

Nothing says entitlement like the parents of the millennial generation.

And I’m not sorry if that pisses you off. You know why? Because if you’re offended by that then you’re probably old enough to be excluded from the Millennial generation, which means that you’re, of course, quite competent enough to handle your emotions responsibly. I.e. not sending me hate mail or telling me that I myself am an entitled know-it-all.

I get it. There comes a time in every person’s life when they have to make the decision that they’re either going to allow their past experiences, their childhood, to control who they become and what they do, or that they’re going to learn from it, grow from it, and do better. I’ve had to do it, and as hard as I try to be a good mom, I’m sure that my children will reach this point, too.

I can’t solely blame the parents for the actions and choices of the child; my mom raised my siblings and I with the same rules and philosophies and we still have that one sibling who went off into left field and got mixed up with some bad people and bad habits. It happens despite our best efforts, trust me, I know.

My point is, unconditional love starts at home. Acceptance starts at home. Responsibility, obedience, and respect begin at home. And it begins with not treating each other like property. It begins with teaching our children that we can still be courteous and amicable in our disagreements with others, even when others call us names and act uncivil. It begins with showing our children that we will love them no matter their grades, their lifestyle choices, the music they listen to, the friends they hang out with, whatever.

If you’re Christian, it begins with understanding that Christ didn’t send Judas away, even knowing that he would betray Him. He broke bread with him, shared in Communion with him. He loved him until the end. He didn’t say, “love your enemies and pray for them, except for that back-stabbing bastard, Judas, over there!”

If Jesus didn’t do it to Judas, and we’re not expected to do it to Jesus when things aren’t going our way, then on what plane of existence would it be okay for us to do this to our own children? The most vulnerable and malleable of all.

Don’t teach your children through your own actions towards them that they’re allowed to treat other people like shit when those people don’t do what they want, don’t give them what they want, don’t fit themselves to their beliefs and ideologies.

We can teach our next generation to speak out against injustice and to speak their minds without being destructive and outright violent. It begins at home.


Disclaimer: I’m not talking about situations with adult children that compromise the safety of the household, and/or of themselves. My own family has been in this situation with addictions and stealing. It’s not an easy thing for a family/parent to do, to draw the line between being supportive and being an enabler, and my prayers go out to any families dealing with this type of situation.

Conversion and Surrender

Becoming Catholic was one of the scariest things I have ever done in life. Since childhood I’d been taught that the Catholic Church was a crooked, greedy, abusive, and judgemental institution where you paid your way into Heaven and only priests were allowed to speak to God. do-not-be-conformed-to-this-world-but-be-transformed-by-the-renewal-of-your-mind-that-you-may-prove-what-is-the-will-of-god-what-is-good-and-acceptable-and-perfect

My conversion to Catholicism didn’t begin with a blinding light and me falling off my proverbial horse like St. Paul. I guess you could say that God and the Church had pursued me my entire life until, at the urging of my soon-to-be mother-in-law, and in order to appease my husband’s family, I agreed to attend RCIA (Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults).

In retrospect, I basically imagine that God clapped his hands and said, “Whelp, that’s that. She’s mine now!” the moment I walked into the RCIA classroom.

Over the next few months, everything that I thought I’d known about the Church and her teachings was stripped away. I began to see the Church for what it was and not for what my poorly catechized family members taught me as a child, or what secular media showed me on television. I asked questions and they were answered. I brought up issues that have long plagued the Church and they were explained, sometimes to the benefit of the Church, and sometimes to its detriment.

My sacramental conversion began when I wanted my husband’s family to like me. I was tired of not knowing that meal-time prayer they all prayed together. I was tired of hearing words like “Holy See” and “Ecclesiastical” and “Pontificate” and not knowing what in the world they were talking about. I was tired of not understand the sit, stand, kneel, stand, kneel, sit, “Amen” in Mass.

My true conversion began when Father Paul asked me if becoming Catholic was really what I wanted to do. He explained that I was free to choose whether or not to become Catholic. I was free to walk away if I didn’t feel it was for me. I sat there in that chair, at this small wooden table, staring at a priest whom I’m pretty sure has the gift to read souls, and realized that I wanted this because I wanted it. Not because of my husband or my soon-to-be in-laws. I wanted to become Catholic because over those many months, I’d fallen in love with the Church, with Christ.

There have been far more profound “yeses” to God in the history of our faith, but mine at that moment felt pretty flipping profound. Why? Because I knew from that moment on I would have to surrender everything to God.

You see, conversion is synonymous with total and utter surrender. You cannot become Catholic without surrendering the former self to Christ. You take your most deep-seated philosophies on life, your most ingrained behaviors and habits, and you surrender them wholly. You empty yourself of who and what you are so that you may be filled with Christ’s love and mercy and grace to become an entirely different creature.

At least, that’s how it goes in theory. But you have people like me who cling desperately to facets of the former self, who battle with God over who’s will will be done. You have people like myself who are afraid to trust in God and step out of their comfort zone in order to achieve the change we need to grow. And so you wake up every morning and you surrender again and again and again, until the issue is resolved and God reveals another part of you that could be better, holier, and you start all over.

As Bishop Robert Barron says, in essence, having a relationship with Christ is like taking a piece of glass, which in darkness can appear perfect, unblemished, and turning it toward the light where suddenly you can see the flaws, the imperfections. And the beautiful part about it is that we’re given the tools to wipe the glass clean, to mend the fractures and see clearly. When we smudge the glass again, we’re given the tools necessary to wipe it clean, if only we’re willing to first accept that there is a blemish, and then accept that we need the help to mend it.

I wasn’t simply converting from one belief or faith to another (I was a polytheistic Pagan before my conversion), I was converting my entire existence to center around one Truth, and that Truth called for me to make radical, necessary changes. And I didn’t look at these things and think “wow, the Church is so oppressive and doesn’t want you to have fun!” For the first time I saw that these guidelines for the Church were no different than my having expectations of behavior from my children, of giving them a bedtime and helping them to establish healthy life habits. It was no different than my wanting the absolute best for my children, for them to be good, honest people, and doing my best–as their parent–to set them on the right path, to teach them the right things, and to implement discipline where necessary.

Any parent who truly cares for and loves their child is going to have rules and regulations to keep them from hurting themselves or others. They place rules not to keep the child silent and still, but to ensure that they can LIVE and live WELL. At least, that’s how it’s supposed to work. But that’s a different conversation for a different time.

I’ve been Catholic for five-and-a-half years now, and I can tell you that every day I go through small conversions, and every day I must renew my surrender to God. It’s a lifelong process. Even Mother Teresa spent hours in the confessional, surrendering her cotton-ball sins to Christ. Even up to our dying breath, we must surrender to His will.

 

Let Us Not Become Weary In Doing Good…

I used to wonder why it was so difficult for Let us not become wearyin doing good,for at the proper timewe will reap a harvestif we do not give up.people to just be good. What was so hard about being a decent person?

The short answer: sometimes, being good hurts. Sometimes, doing the right thing takes us out of our comfort zone; it makes us confront issues that we would rather not confront. Sometimes, doing good means putting ourselves in situations that call us out upon the water, if you will.

I struggle every day against doing what feels good, what makes me comfortable, versus what I know is right. For example, I know that keeping my niece is the right thing to do. I know that probably sounds extremely cold and callous, but hear me out.

This hasn’t been an easy journey, as I’ve mentioned before. I thought that after seven months, things would get easier. I thought that we would have gotten used to having five children, and that the children would have gotten used to having a new “sibling” in the house. I thought that after seven months, my niece would have better acclimated to our household. Obviously, I thought a lot of things and have made several erroneous assumptions.

There have been many times, in the middle of yet another day of screaming and other drama, when I wanted to throw my hands in the air. Yes, there have been times when I wanted to call the caseworker and say, “I can’t do this anymore!” I wanted to put my own comfort above the needs of my niece. I wanted to be comfortable and less-stressed more than I wanted to do the right thing.

Again, I know this probably makes me sound like an awful, selfish person, but I’d rather be candid in these difficulties than put on a front. Parents get tired. We get cranky and frustrated. We’re human; imperfect humans trying to raise up tiny humans whom we hope will one day be better humans than us.

Everyday I strive to be better; I strive to yell less, to sigh and say “what the actual ___” under my breath less. And everyday, when my niece is having difficulties with her behavior that go beyond simple two-year-old tantrums (which I’ve been through three times now and little phases me), I remind myself that this isn’t about me, or my comfort. My niece needs us. God gave us the capability to take her in, cleared the way and opened the door to not having to go into foster care, and all we had to do was say “yes”. Well, we said “yes”, and now it’s just a matter of remembering that everyday we must continue to say “yes” to God, and “yes” to my niece.

What we’ve been called to do isn’t easy. The situation we’ve been called to handle is a slippery slope, at best. We’ve grown weary in doing good, but as Galatians states:

Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.

– Galatians 6:9

What harvest will we reap from this? Watching our niece/cousin blossom into a beautiful young woman who is full of potential, who got to be raised by her family, where so many children don’t get that opportunity. We’ll get to watch her accomplish all the goals she sets for herself, and then some, God-willing. At the end of the day, we get to know that the struggle wasn’t for naught.

Americanizing the Church

I never realized there was this much

division within the Church when I became Catholic a little over five years ago. We belonged to a relatively small parish, a parish that was tight-knit, humble, and devout. We had an amazing shepherd who didn’t take any crap; none of that flip-flops and shorts in Mass, or loosey-goosey posturing when receiving the Eucharist. He tended his flock with purpose, and he did so diligently and with great love. From where I stood, we had a parish that, even with its many different ministries and callings, had a very simple purpose: to act as the sheepfold. And this is what we did. Each called to our own purpose through Christ, we came together as Catholics to celebrate our Lord and to spread the Gospel in our daily lives.

            Sure, there were differences. Some women wore veils during Mass, others did not. Some people held hands during the Our Father, some did not. While most would receive the Eucharist on their tongues, others would receive in their hands. No biggie, right? These can be differences in how we were raised, or how we were Catechized; sometimes it’s simply a matter of personal estimation.

            For me, the Church has always remained as a constant—the last stronghold of pure tradition and Truth in a time when we’ve all but lost these things here in the west. The Church presented the road map, as Dr. Peter Kreeft would put it, in a world that would rather find its own way and then complain about being lost and in the dark. No matter where we’ve moved, or what parish we’ve attended, this has always been the truth for me.

            There has been division within the Church since the beginning, I get that. While some of the apostles wanted to force circumcision on the older converts, others did not. They had to make decisions on topics that Christ hadn’t exactly been black or white about. They had to set aside their personal qualms and let the Holy Spirit do his work, to build the foundation of the Church that we know and love today.

Even knowing this, I can’t help but feel this sense of dread as I watch the darkness creeping deeper into the Church. Even seeing the millions and millions who went to WYD to see Papa Francis, and to celebrate together as Catholics, I feel this dread. I have enough division in my country, I don’t want it in my Church. I don’t want it amongst the clergy. I don’t want it amongst the lay persons. I certainly don’t want it in my family. And when division is there—which I am not so naïve as to believe there will ever be a time without it—I want us to handle it like Catholics, like Christians. None of this Americanized way of dealing with our issues: just make a few Memes, slap a “haha jk” on it, throw some vague Bible verses in there, and call it a day. Because that’s how we deal with things in this country, with poor humor, insults, and quotes from the Constitution or the founding fathers.

The Church is a church for all peoples. In my few, five short years as a Catholic, I have personally witnessed why it is One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic. I’ve met people with so many different callings from Christ, with so many different backgrounds and crosses to bear, but who bear them gladly, and who all proudly call themselves Catholics.

I remember seeing a man waiting for the confessional who was completely sleeved (tattooed) on both arms. I’ve met women who go against the “dainty-feminine-flower-Jesus’-princess” archetypes well-known in the Protestant community, but who are no less in love with Christ and their faith, who are mothers and wives, and ROCK at it. I’ve met Catholic men who are gay, and who–GASP—haven’t been chased out of the church by pitchfork-wielding mobs who think their very presence will turn their children gay, too.

And then I’ve seen the more “conservative” side of the Church; the people who don’t agree with having tattoos, or dressing a certain way for Mass. I’ve met people who think it’s quite a scandal to hold hands during the Our Father, or to even watch television outside of EWTN.

These differences are part of what make our faith beautiful. Catholicism is not some exclusive entity: “only people who are already holy and ready for canonization can join”. The Church is not AMERICA; it’s not a democracy, it’s a Theocracy. We don’t force you to come, and we aren’t going to force you to stay. You can’t write your local bishop and demand changes in teachings. But we’ll take you as you are, if only you’re willing to let Christ take you where you need to be. It’s all up to you.

Stop, stop, stop, Americanizing the Church. Much like we try to dissect and make the constitution work for certain agendas within our country, I’ve noticed the same thing in the Church with Canon Law and the Bible.

Is this to say that we shouldn’t have opinions? That we shouldn’t raise issues when its needed? No. This is to say that the way we handle these things has gotten all wrong. Again, we’ve Americanized the way we deal with conflicts within the Church. We’ve stopped listening, we’ve stopped using words to create positive changes and instead use them to hurt others when we don’t get our way, or when we don’t feel “heard enough”, like children. We fight over language; whether certain sects of the pro-life movement are too caustic, while others are far too “nice”, and shouldn’t even call themselves pro-life. We fight over who is more Catholic because of A, B, and C. If you believe in Christ, and you believe that He gave absolute authority to the Church as He gave to Peter and the apostles, and you choose to go against what the Church teaches, then you are telling Christ He is wrong and that you know better than Him. If you DON’T believe that He gave the Church absolute authority, then you can’t really call yourself Catholic. It’s as simple as that. Take it or leave it. Stop cherry-picking your faith. It’s not a buffet. Stop bickering with each other over holding hands during the Our Father or wearing a veil to Mass. Stop crying because Susan down the street acts too pious with her homeschooling and not having a TV. Stop crying because Martha down the street acts so flamboyant with letting her kids watch Spongebob and go to public school.

Stop turning the Church into this circus ring of parties that we have in America, republican vs. democrat, liberal vs. conservative. This isn’t black vs. white, male vs. female, old school vs. new age. This is the Church. This is home away from home, and I don’t want confrontational division in my home.

God and Sh***y People

A friend of mine on Facebook (which accounts for about13320958_1325899117437697_8767415371397857641_o 83% of my daily entertainment) shared this tweet a few days back. Now, this person and myself are quite amicable though we stand on polar ends of the religious spectrum. In saying this I mean that he is not religious, and I’m Catholic, which–next to being Muslim or an Orthodox Jew–is about as religious as they come.

I found this little tweet pretty humorous, to be honest. I try to take things in stride. I also try to be understanding in the regards that not everyone digs being a Christian, or a “religious” person in any shape or form. That’s cool. Whatever.

But I do have a comment on this and it begins with a very honest disclosure:

I am a shitty person.

Bottom line.

There are times when I want to punch people in the face. Sometimes I want to punch everyone I meet on a particular day, in the face. Sometimes I want to get out of my car and tell the lady who just honked at me .003 seconds after the light turned green to go ___ herself. (That actually happened today)

I think bad things. All the time. I don’t say that out of some misplaced sense of piousness. And I don’t say this to gain pity or for my friends to say, “omgosh but you’re so nice!”

Yes, I am nice. On the outside.

I’ve always been a brash person. Ask my dad. I insulted his girlfriend when I was like 9 by telling her, “it’s okay, ___, you’ll get boobs like mine one day!” Or something to that effect. You’d think that it was just my youth that had no filter… no, that’s just me to my very atoms. Thanks, dad. Mom says I get that from you.

Anyways. You see, since I started on my journey to becoming Catholic through the RCIA program, I’ve really tried hard not to be a mean person; not to be a back-stabbing a-hole to my friends, to not say hurtful things, to not cuss out people who look at me sideways when I’m having a bad day. And this didn’t and doesn’t stem from my fear of Hell, but rather, from my love for Christ.

Sometimes mean things just pop into my head. Sometimes my anger flares up out of nowhere. These things can’t be helped. What I can help, however, is how I react to these emotions, to these thoughts. Just because something pops into my head, doesn’t mean I have to spit it out of my mouth. As an adult, I have a little more control over those precious micro-seconds between anger and action, or rather REaction.

I do get it, though. Maybe the author behind the tweet feels that people should be nice for kindness’s sake, not because you’ll gain something (or lose something) from it. Which I totally understand, and I agree.

But there are those days when it’s the hardest effing thing not to go Fight-Club-Brad-Pitt style on people. And on these days is when I really do need my love for Christ to carry me through the moment, to help me keep my mouth shut, or to keep my fists at my side–and more importantly, my fingers OFF the keyboard. Because I love Christ, and Christ tells me to love others sans qualifiers, I try to let that love flow through and on to others. Even when I don’t think they deserve it, and even when I think they better deserve my foot up their….

Honestly, at the end of the day, I would rather someone use their love of Christ, or their fear of Hell, to continue striving to be a good person–even if just on the outside–than for them to just be a jack-wagon. Because really, how many people out there keep themselves from murdering someone plainly out of fear of the legal ramifications?