Just a few days ago, I realized the reason a certain artist had not been seen in my Twitter feed was because she checked herself into a clinic after having a mental breakdown. Her self-destructive tendencies reached its zenith when she destroyed her studio; including works that had already been purchased, and effectively wiped out everything that would help her continue to make a living. However, she felt hopeful afterward, feeling as though she had been given a second chance. I suppose that depends on what she does with the second chance.
I look at these two developments with the same perspective that has become even more clearer during the past year. And the same phrase keeps playing in my mind:
This is what life looks like without God.
As I knelt in adoration during the consecration of the Holy Eucharist on Easter Sunday, I was greatly moved by the love God had for this world - so much so that He was able to sacrifice His only Son so that we would have salvation. Salvation can easily become one of those words that loses its potency as we use it over and over again without really pondering the meaning. Salvation means saving - but saving from what? Or perhaps whom?
We needed saving. Mankind needed saving. And what was the alternative? It is the alternative that many have chosen - a life without God. Open up your newspaper or your laptop to see today's headlines and most of the more troubling ones can be summed up with this sentence: This is what happens when God is not your priority, your moral compass, your anchor, your life. This is what happens when you spit in the eye of some "crazy" idea of a Higher Power.
There is such hopelessness to a life without God, as the image of this artist haunts me as I sleep. The same can be said of errant youth who are deliberately cruel and destructive, gleefully wreaking violence on unsuspecting passers-by who just happen to be at the wrong place at the wrong time.
During Easter Sunday, the thought that came through to my soul and reverberated throughout my entire being was this: We are worth this much. God believes we are worth dying for, worth sacrificing His Son for, worth coming back for - worth saving. We are worth it. I don't "feel" worth it at times. In fact, I often feel shameful, knowing my pettiness (at best) or downright hatred (at worst) is not the kind of behavior God wants from me. But He knew this about me. He knew I was going to be ungrateful, unloving, unkind - "un" a whole bunch of things quite often in my life but yet He loved me enough to save me and keep saving me.
That knowledge can just rock you inside and out when you really ponder it.
I know there are tons of social programs for those troublesome youth. And there are clinics galore for depressed artists. But what all of them need is to first, get to a confessional, pour out all the blackness that is inside of them to a patiently listening priest, and then start going to church on a regular basis. This war we have with the flesh is not won by going to church once or twice a year. It is a battle that rages on daily and our weapon is the blood of Jesus Christ, that already has been shed for us so that we might live - that we would truly live, not as shells full of hopelessness and destruction - but as worthy human beings filled with the joy of the Lord.
Filled with this joy, we become channels of God's love to the world as He continues to call out to each one of us to abandon our futile attempts to live a life that makes any sense or brings satisfaction. Because those of us who know Him, know that there can be neither without Him.
Contrary to the lies of the enemy, God does not come into our lives bringing handcuffs. Instead, He has come with a very accurate sword of truth that cuts the ropes that bind us. The ropes we ourselves have chosen to keep us in the dark. Praise be to our heavenly Father for His light! No matter how intense society gets, no matter how much civility may break down or evil seems to conquer - we who are His know the truth. We are free - and no prison cell could ever hope to contain us the way a Godless existence can.
Rejoice this day if you live in Christ! There is no other freedom available! Alleluia!