Facing the Bogus Burden

Halee Cross

I once knew about a single women’s group that had started in my diocese.

I heard about it at parish mass announcements, during a phase in my life when my idea of happiness correlated with the number of drinks that I was able to get guys to buy for me.

At first it was easy to avoid the idea that joining these women would be good in both a present and eternal reality. It became more difficult when I recognized that their cars were filing onto the streets only two away from my own each Monday night. I looked away for as long as I could, but each time I noticed them there, I had to face the guilt of the life I was leading.

With the conviction that there was indeed truth at the center of the Catholic faith in which I was raised, I still made it to mass each Sunday. Whether or not I was in any state to understand or participate was another question. But when I would see the cars of the women gathering at the neighbor’s house, I reminded myself (under the nasty influence of Satan’s lies) that I wasn’t good enough to be there. In any event, I wasn’t convinced that I was missing much. Work and my social life were exhausting enough as it was - I certainly could not afford to be spending a couple hours sitting around sharing what little was left of my faith.

I can hardly begin to count the number of times that I have groaned in the anticipation of doing something that was good and true. How difficult it sometimes seems after a long day away from the house, joyful or otherwise, to make a serious moment for prayer before crashing onto my pillow. Other times, God has asked things of me that seemed more jarring. I remember the confusion I felt when I was prompted to be more generous in my tithe during the exact moment when my college boss cut one third of my hours.

In the face God’s call, I have often been worried by the burden of what He will ask of me, or even too attached to my own burdens to lay them down and go to Him.

However, John declares in his first epistle that the love of God is “that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome.” How countercultural. How worth repeating. God’s love and His commandments are not burdensome.

The world is telling us that we should be free to act as we please, while at the same time crushing us with its expectations. Yet, a cursory glance at the world reveals hearts burdened by bills and busy schedules. We’re struck with addiction and slavery to our sin.

Women can fall prey to many distinct burdens. We feel the pressure to be composed, super women in every facet of our lives, even in the practice of our faith. We’re also pained by the people who are not able to love us perfectly.

To what, then, do we owe our allusion? Why can it be so difficult to stop and to meet our Lord in prayer? Why was it so difficult for me to finally show up at the doorstep of my neighbor’s house, which in turn, led to the radical conversion of my life?

The irony of these situations is that we are not running any risk in revealing our love to God. He loved us first! Or much more profoundly, He both sustains our breath and shares in the pain of every weight we carry. The problem isn’t so much that our opportunity to respond is a burden - because the raw truth is, it isn’t. While I cannot think of any woman who is currently dreaming of extra pressure on her life, I can think of plenty of moments when we would rather try to fix our problem than take the time to approach God. Thus, we begin to idolize our burdens over our trust in God’s will.

He knows this about us. The unique situations that we face in the world are new in their presentation, but this cycle certainly isn’t. Since the fall “man, tempted by the devil, let his trust in his Creator die in his heart” (Catechism 397). Fortunately, our God has just come to us as a child. Even as we leave this season of Christmas, God in His infinity is always available to us in His infancy. As we draw near to him, He cares so little about how much of a sinner we are. The baby is delighted to see all those who come to love him. In His company, let us look to our hearts and be generous to reveal whatever we have been holding back from Him.

No one is more excited to have us know Christ than His mother. May she, whose response to God is always one of trust, be our strength as we come to trust Him more fully with our lives and every concern that burdens them. Neither her love nor His will be outdone in generosity. Let us set aside our excuses and move forward in living out the beauty of our call as Catholic women. 

Topics: Faith , Personal Growth , Prayer , Reflections , Young Women

Halee is a native of Texas, where she graduated from West Texas A&M University with a degree in English and mysteriously acquired a Wisconsin accent. She is a recent alumnus of Christ in the City where through service to the homeless, she first began to learn to live the integral faith of mind, heart, and action. Through trust that this is where God wants her to be, Colorado is starting to feel a little bit like home.

View all articles by Halee Cross

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