TAKING THE NEXT STEP

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By: Jessica Mendez

  

My dear brothers and sisters in Christ, among you and the great ministers here at AFM, I am the least.  I am slow in learning, slow in listening, quick to take offense, arrogant, prideful, and have the least experience, but yet, despite all of my sinfulness and imperfections God the Father and Our Blessed Mother have still chosen me to be a part of this ministry.


Have you ever felt that perhaps God made a mistake in choosing you for a certain calling?  Have you ever felt that you do not have the necessary tools or experience to carry out the task that God has called of you? What is your response to these feelings?  Do you listen to the doubt and convince yourself to quit? Or do you press on, trusting that God will either provide grace or give you a way out?  I would like to say that I always trust God, but that would not be accurate.


The question is, how can I, how can you, how can we begin to see ourselves as God sees us without allowing our egos to get in the way?  How can humility come in when there is so much self-pity? This is the struggle that is with me on a daily basis.  I am continuing to battle against pride and arrogance only to be overtaken by unworthiness and inadequacy. I believe I put my whole heart into something, but when it is criticized or rejected, then I question whether this was something that I was ever supposed to do.


Have you ever seen a baby learning to walk?  Usually, you see the baby struggle to stand up, while a parent stands in front of them with hands stretched out trying to convince baby that it is safe to take steps. Then, the baby takes a few clumsy steps and falls, so the parent walks over, stands them back up and encourages the baby to try again.  Sometimes baby will try again; sometimes baby will sit back down and cry because they just want to be carried.  When we are trying something new, or even continuing to do something we have done for a while, we are like a baby learning to walk. Unfortunately, I’m more like the baby that just wants to be carried.


God, Our Father, knows what steps we need to take, and just as a parent who is teaching their child to walk has to let go of their hand so that the baby can walk towards them, so God to let go of our hand at times.  He doesn’t let go because He has abandoned us, he lets go because he wants us to come after Him, He wants us to seek Him all the more. Jesus says in John 15:5, “I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.”  This is the key, my dear brothers and sisters. When we, I, begin to do everything for God's glory and in obedience to Him, then that is when we can continue to press on. We can endure trials, and criticism because we know that God has a purpose for it all. When we put our focus on Him and not what WE have done, is when everything that we do, whether perfect or not, becomes perfected in Him!


Psalms 36:2 “In their own eyes they flatter themselves too much to detect or hate their sin.”  Our egos and need for affirmation blinds us to our own sin and causes to feel that we are being singled out and that everyone is against us.  Our own blindness leads us to needing to be right and does not allow us to listen to the wisdom and experience of others.  To answer the question, “How can we remain humble without allowing our egos to take over or self-pity to overtake us?”  That is to always be ready to serve and to place the needs of others above our own.  “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many,” Mark 10:45. In order to remain humble as Christ did we must first be grateful for the calling God has given, for if He calls it from us, we can trust that He will provide the grace as long as we ask and are open to receiving it.


Often times, I have chosen to allow my ego to get in the way of learning and have allowed my self-pity to get in the way of stepping out of my comfort zone.  My dear brothers and sisters, I pray that as you take steps towards Christ that you would keep in mind the image of a baby walking to his Father and remember that He is always right in front of you, encouraging you to take that next step in faith and trust that He will be there to catch you when you fall.  With this in mind, I encourage you to attend our upcoming retreat, The Resurrection of the Self-Image, which is really the Resurrecting of God’s image in us.  Whether you have been following God for a long time or a little while, we all have hidden God's image to a certain extent; I pray that you would hear Mama's calling and answer.


For now, my brothers and sisters, I thank you for taking time to read what has been placed in my heart to share.  I leave you with this private meditation and a prayer.  I pray that the Blessed Mother would cover you in her mantle and reveal to you the areas that God is calling you to trust Him and take the next step.


The following is a mediation on the Queen of Mercy by Mary Constancio: “I have called you, each one of you. This weekend, this time here is no mistake. This time learning about God, about my son and his ways is a turning point for your life. There is Grace for everyone. There is enough forgiveness, Enough Love, Enough Mercy for everything you bring me tonight. My sons, whatever you have been looking for, you can find here, you will find my son. For he is your everything and your all.


My children, do not be afraid to open your hearts: do not be afraid, you will not be rejected. You will only be loved to your capacity. You will only be asked to do what has been given to you through Grace.


My sons, young and old come to me as your mother, and I will prepare you for salvation, for eternity.


Peace. Peace. Peace of Jesus be with you. Thank you for being here with me. Again, I invite you to my celebration of the feast. I cannot defend you unless you drop your defenses. God cannot be in control unless you give your control over to him.”