Broken and Beautiful: Letting Go and Letting God

Image-1 (1)The devil knows me well. He knows my weaknesses, and he knows how to deflate me so much that it affects every aspect of my life. Lately he’s been actively trying to convince me that life is of no value, which is exactly the opposite of what I am fighting for in my pro-life work. Coincidence? I think not.

Satan is so perverted that he is taking the core issue of my mission in life (defending the dignity and value of every human life at every stage), and he is trying to convince me that life has no meaning, beginning with my own. He tells me how worthless, unworthy, shameful, ugly, messed up and imperfect I am. He wants me to believe that I am beyond the power of Christ’s redemption. He is doing everything in his power to blind me of my worth in Christ.

Satan’s self-destructive thoughts spill over to how I view others. Sometimes I can only see people for their imperfections. Sometimes I question why any of us bother in life since we’re just going to fail again. Sometimes I feel completely unmotivated to help others because “they’re not worthy”. How much pain this must cause Christ! I’ve been fed with Christ’s truth before, and, therefore, I know these are damaging lies.

The devil wants nothing more than for me to lose hope. He wants nothing more than to see me suffer in this life and burn in hell for eternity. He’ll do all he can to make me feel so unworthy of Christ so as to stop approaching Him in prayer, in the Eucharist, and seeing Him in others.

There is hope. There is help. Christ Our Lord has sacrificed the ultimate sacrifice in full. There is no redemption that we can possibly win for ourselves. It must hurt Him terribly when we choose to ignore Him and deny His love. What a slap in the face to tell God that He doesn’t know what He’s doing by loving someone so undeserving. He has a love that truly knows no limits. New life in Christ is His gift of love, and when I choose to accept it, I can truly love others more. I can love them for who they are and meet them where they are at, just as Christ has chosen to do for me.

With my experience in doing pro-life work, I have come to see the damaging effects of Satan’s lies. In some cases, it’s not just a question of proving when human life begins. Rather, it is a question of does this life have value? It’s sad to hear people describe a child as a “product of rape” instead of a child.  It’s sad that many hold the idea that a child with a disability would be better to never have been born. It’s sad to hear people prejudge a life by saying that abortion would be better so the child wouldn’t have to experience the same cycle of poverty that he’s born into.

The truth is, we will never know the potential of a human person, and everyone is born with same dignity in Christ. Jesus died for every individual, no matter how imperfect, just the same as he died for you and me. Yes, every one of us is broken, but thanks to Christ, we are broken and beautiful.

If you are struggling with some of the same things that I struggle with, I invite you to say this prayer on letting go and letting God take control.

Let Go and Let God

Dear God,

I let go of my need to be perfect, and I let You fill me with Your perfect love.

I let go of my ideas of fulfillment, and I let You fill me with what I truly desire.

I let go of what I think of myself, and I let You define my worth.

I let go of what others think of me, and I let You tell me who I am to You.

I let go of my appearance, and I let You shine through me.

I let go of my unreasonable standards, and I let You work through me.

I let go of my will for my life, and I let You reveal Your plan for me.

I let go of all of my past sins, and I let You forgive me.

I let go of my reliance on myself, and I let You be my Redeemer.

I let go of how I view others, and I let You love them through me.

7 Ways to Embrace Modesty Through Respect

Modesty, at its core, fosters respect. It has everything to do with recognizing your worth through the eyes of God, for we were made in His image and likeness. So, yes, you are amazing because you are respectfully made. This acknowledgement should be welcomed in every aspect of life and should pour forth a desire to respect other people. But how can we do this? Here are a few tips on how to respect others.

1. Pray. Yes, this seems too obvious, but it’s hard to respect every person that you come across. Some people act like jerks. Some people come across as arrogant and stingy. Some people appear inconsiderate and hurtful. Why should we respect people like that? Don’t we deserve to be treated better because we hold ourselves to higher standards? But, alas, Christ chose to associate with the weak, sinful, and shamed people of His time, and we have so much to learn from his example. We aren’t better than a single person in this world. We are all failures in some way, shape, or form, and Christ still chooses to respect us. The only redeeming factor about us is Christ. He has redeemed us and has created us in His image and likeness. We must see the dignity in others, even when they fail to see it in themselves. Therefore, we must pray to be healed from our pride and pray to see others as Christ sees them.

2. Dress Modestly. It is often said that we should dress modestly to keep our brothers from falling into sin. While this is an important part of modesty, we shouldn’t only try to avoid immodest clothing. I think we should also put some time and effort into our appearance in order to dress in a positive way. Being well dressed is a beautiful form of politeness, and politeness shows respect for others. A spirit of modesty requires that we don’t go to either extreme in form of appearance. For instance, I don’t think we should try to hide in unflattering clothes as if our bodies are bad. Our bodies are temples, for Heaven’s sake! (1 Corinthians 6:19-20 “Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.”) How do we glorify God in our bodies? By dressing in a way that respects ourselves, God, and others. We must, also, avoid the opposite extreme of being so invested in our appearance that our vanity detracts from God and magnifies ourselves. Modesty demands a balanced approach.

3. Be Punctual. I get it, life happens. You aren’t going to make it to every class, event, or scheduled appointment on time. Habitual tardiness, however, is disrespectful. To the one who values time, it is hurtful that you arrive late. Every. Single. Time. Punctuality shows respect and proves that you value the company and time of others. While we’re on the subject, I think Jesus values your time and company as well. Show up to church on time, please! If that means waking up 15 minutes earlier, so be it.

4. Use Manners. Walking down the hallway, you spot a stranger coming from the other direction. In attempt to avoid awkwardness, you look down at your phone and pretend like you are checking your texts. I’m guilty of this scenario. In reality, it is so much more pleasant and less awkward to put your phone down, smile at the stranger, and ask him how his day is going. Or even a simple hello will do. YOUR smile has the capacity to not only brighten the day of others, but to also brighten your own day. Manners show respect, whether it be a smile, a quick greeting, or a simple “please” and “thank you”.

5. Affirm Others. Words are powerful. Be intentional in noticing things about other people and share some words of affirmation. For example, after my boss’s last speech, I told him, “You did a great job of rallying up the kids in your speech. They really seemed enthused after the words you spoke.” These words left him feeling encouraged. Additionally, simple compliments can show your love and respect for others. This morning, my roommate told me, “You look so cute today. I love your sweater.” Such simple words, but such power. Focus on the positive traits of others, and be intentional in your affirming words.

6. Listen. My mind was going to explode as I called my mom on the phone and spilled out whatever was on my mind. She didn’t try to solve the problem right away. She didn’t interrupt and try to relate it to herself. She just listened. Her lending ear proved that she cared about me and that she was there for me. She was very respectful in giving me my own time to share what I was feeling. There was a lot of healing in that.

7. Give. Giving of yourself shows people that you respect and appreciate them. This can be in a letter or card, a little gift, or an act of sacrifice. Mother Teresa said “give, but give until it hurts.” That is exactly what Christ did for us. The cross was His ultimate gift.

Respecting others requires much intentionality, but I promise you, if you pray for humility and respect, intentionally dress modestly, make punctuality a priority, put your manners into practice, use affirmative words, take time to listen, and give until it hurts, you will begin to see the dignity in each person and love more as Christ loves us.

What is Modesty?

photo(3)Typically, when people hear the word “modesty” they view it in the context of fashion. Many think of it as covering up, hiding, or wearing extremely unflattering clothing. Modesty in its original meaning actually refers to a particular virtue, humility; humility in both character and in conduct. Now, this obviously extends to clothing, but it is much, much more.

“…God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” – James 4:6. We should strive for humility in order to magnify something bigger than ourselves; God. Ultimately, He is the one who gives us our worth. Mother Teresa said, “If you are humble, nothing will touch you, neither praise nor disgrace, because you know what you are.” – and what you are is a beloved child of God by His grace! Without Him, you and I are nothing. With Him, our dignity is restored. We must wear an attitude of modesty in order to acknowledge our beautiful worth in Christ.

As I mentioned earlier, modesty does extend to clothing, but it is not limited to outward appearances. The outward expression of modesty in dress should reflect what one is striving for on the inside. 1 Peter 3:3-4 states, “Your adornment should not be an external one: braiding the hair, wearing gold jewelry, or dressing in the fine clothes, but rather the hidden character of the heart, expressed in the imperishable beauty of a gentle and calm disposition, which is precious in the sight of God.” Therefore, the focus is on inward beauty, and dressing modestly is a manifestation of one’s attitude.

Moreover, a modestly dressed woman is showing men that there is so much more to her than a body. There are gifts, talents, interests, desires, goals, and a unique personality. There is actual substance. There is a soul. A modest woman should not dress in order to cover up her body because it is something evil; rather, she is clothing herself in her God-given dignity. She acknowledges that she is made for a love so much greater than what the world has to offer. If she wants a man to respect her, she must first respect herself.

Modesty is often distinguished as a womanly virtue. However, there are concrete ways that men can practice modesty as well. Men are modest when not drawing unnecessary attention to themselves by showing off (muscles, “toys”, wealth, etc.). Moreover, when men choose to respect women through their speech, through their manners, and through their selfless demeanor, they are exemplifying the virtue of modesty. They are honoring a woman’s God-given beauty and honoring themselves and God.Modesty honors beauty article