Grayscale Photo of a Statue
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The Mary Diaries | Devotional Series Introduction

Grayscale Photo of a Statue

For lent, I’m feeling called to put myself back out into the world using the art forms and creativity that’s been bestowed upon me. Something that once felt natural: words flowing through my fingertips, light entering my iris as my finger didn’t hesitate to release a shutter–even the simple act of looking at myself, felt suffocating. Years of toxic friendships where I had to contort myself until every fragment of me broke and scattered across the floor, left me afraid to move an inch.

“I don’t want to be looked at.” I sigh to my agent on the other end of a phone call. She’s chipper as always and says, “Maybe next season.”

“Maybe next season.” That was her answer for everything. Kimberly doesn’t believe in no and never, she simply puts up her Miss Frizzle red cascading curls, and says “Try again later.”

“Wait til God gives the go ahead.”

I’m a recovering burnt out type A who can’t be bored for a millisecond or my body swells with anxiety that leaves me shaking on the ground. I can’t wait until God gives the go ahead because I want to move through everything quickly. That is until God gave me the go ahead and It dawned on me that the Sabbath I was growing accustomed to had ended.

Just like the Israelites telling Moses the promise land is filled with giants who’ll destroy them, I’m sitting in a dark corner refusing to make eye contact with God. Refusing to say a novena, or crack open my bible for more than 30 seconds.

For five years I wanted to go at the speed of light. “Give me a checklist and I’ll do it.” I used to cry out, begging for something to do, instead I was told to rest. As the year came to a close, I heard the Lord say “Go.” And I resisted, “Let me double check and pray on it.” I told myself, correction, I kept telling myself.

I kept putting it off, but the nagging feeling in the back of my head grew louder, making me restless. I knew fully what God was calling me to. But I hoped if I ignored it, I wouldn’t have to face it. I would love nothing more in my wildest dreams to chase my wildest dreams and be confronted with the reality that it’s easy. I know everything I want to achieve is easy. But I’m scared shitless of being seen.

I set up camp in the middle of my fears. Called it home and took my long sabbath. I don’t give a damn if the promise land is overflowing with milk and honey, streets paved in gold, and the giants are terrified of me–I genuinely don’t know if I’m beautiful enough to be seen by others. That’s not to say that I don’t think I’m beautiful. But after years of narcissistic and abusive friendships, how I looked was ammunition used against me, and I never really made peace with myself after that.

When God is asking me to go forward now, to be creative, to put out content, he’s asking me to showcase my beauty. He’s asking me to lean into accepting that I am beautiful and the thought of that feels like a slash to my throat. I’ve downplayed myself, my personality, my looks, hidden away my talents, because being seen by others has lead to insecurities getting thrown on me. And I’m terrified that I won’t feel beautiful and others will attempt to destroy me because of my light.

“Go forward.”

“Fucking make me.” I say through gritted teeth, and I can almost hear a laugh in the dead silence.

I know I don’t have a choice. I don’t get to stay in the comfort of the wilderness, I must circle Jericho.

But I’m angry, to say I’m resentful is an understatement. It’s my fourth official lent, not growing up in the faith or really in any faith, after years of stumbling I found myself finding comfort in Catholicism. The beauty of the sacraments, the close intimacy with God and the saints–the girl who never felt like anyone saw her, suddenly had closeness with individuals who not only saw her, but got her. These holy men and women were just as confused and afraid as I was–and finally it wasn’t being swept under the rug. Instead their imperfections and mess were embraced and celebrated. The weight of the world lifted from me and I sighed with relief upon meeting them.

What I love about Catholicism is also what I hate about lent–the increased intimacy with God through the areas of our hurts and seemingly broken promises. Every year God gives me a word and a phrase, a promise to hold onto during lent, and it’s always delivered in ways that I never expected, except one thing. The six year longing of my heart that I feel dangled in front of me like a cat toy.

I’m still resentful that last lent I received heartbreak when I desired the restoration of a relationship.

Last year I was called to release my fears and my worst case scenario thinking, and as someone with an OCD mind, I don’t know how to shut my brain off like that. But my heart broke and I cried so much that I genuinely think I cried all my worst case scenarios out. Each tear felt like shards of glass cutting me as they fell. As I pleaded with God over the course of the year to take my desire for that relationship away, he said “No.” Over and over again. “No.”

So this year, when God said “Go.” I instinctively responded with “Go Fuck yourself.”

Cowering into a corner, gritting my teeth, understanding why Jacob wrestled with God–I prepared myself to fight. Not really the best posture to have during lent. But I’m bitter and trying to guard the little bit of hope I still have.

In the middle of my bitterness, a maternal force drew close to me. I couldn’t handle the closeness and the guilt I felt for being bitter. But most of all, each Hail Mary I uttered stung the cracks of my broken heart. I didn’t want the Blessed Mother anywhere near me. I just wanted to be angry.

Fully knowing that my anger couldn’t change anything but it was what I had left over when the promise shattered. It was mine.

“Go” I kept hearing.

“Let them see you.” The inner feeling urged.

Chances to do anything soon flooded in and I kept getting exposed to others doing things I desired to do, fully knowing I could do so much better with a fraction of my energy. “So do it.” I kept hearing. “Don’t half ass this.”

“I can’t be seen.” I uttered behind tears. “It’s going to hurt too much.”

“So find comfort in the most seen women who ever lived.” The voice echoed through the abyss of my mind and I froze.

You can’t say, “Make me” to that or “Go fuck yourself.” You can only freeze and accept your fate.

There are many things that have been said about the Virgin Mary.

How God was able to create his mother, so he made the most beautiful and perfect being to have ever existed, and then he gave her to us upon his crucifixion. “Behold your mother,” he said with one of his last breaths.

I still can’t but I don’t have much of a choice. That brings us here. This little devotional series, if I could even call it a devotional. In truth, I hate devotionals. They don’t do anything for me or encourage intimacy with the subject matter. I feel as if devotionals are fluff material meant for us to feel a little bit better about our lives and brag to others about how much better we are on the other side of it. That doesn’t feel authentic to me.

Instead, I want to do it my way. I was the kid who memorized encyclopedias and never outgrew my childlike curiosity. When I take on a topic, I dissect everything about it. I want to know why, how and who. I need to place myself into the story and see it from different angles. Ultimately, I need to allow it to become my own and connect with me in whatever season of life I’m in.

I’m going to be looking at the Virgin Mary from different accounts and stories, allowing myself to dive into what Marian Devotions are and hopefully gain whatever comfort the Lord is calling me to receive. I have no idea why I’m sharing this publicly. However I do know the occasion of me writing again will drive my literary agent to celebrate. Maybe that’s enough or maybe five years down the line I’ll be able to connect the dots to why this is so critical that it took me two days to compose.

The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face shine on you and be gracious to you; the Lord turn his face toward you and give you.

xo

DEE

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