God has reached into all areas of my life to show me in great detail that He loves me and He’d really like me to simply accept it without inserting my human exceptions. “He loves me only when I…” or “He must not love me as much now, not when I feel this way.” or “He can’t possibly love me when I’ve…” or “Why do I deserve His love?”, and I can add many more ‘exceptions’ that I’ve listened to instead of simply receiving His love.

I wasn’t even aware that I made these exceptions for years. I’ve known God’s love. I’ve felt His intentions and blessings any given day and I have learned how important internal dialogue can be to cipher between the ‘lies’ we hear and the ‘truth’.

It wasn’t until I began to look into going deeper in my human relationships I realized how much I failed to see God’s love through the ones I love.

Many years back, I’ll never forget, I went to reconciliation and made a comment to the priest that I needed to find my true Joy again. That somewhere along the way I lost the ability to accept true Joy. To recall this is a touch heartbreaking as I will declare with righteous and holy pride that God has since healed me in this, but for decades I lived joyless.  I refused the Joy that came along with an achievement or accomplishment because I convinced myself that a certain level of Joy was not for me to ever experience.

Sad, right? I mean, why shouldn’t I accept Joy when it’s specifically mine to receive?

What I’ve found is that I couldn’t receive that Joy because I had not fully allowed myself to acknowledge God’s true, sincere, unconditional love for me. If I couldn’t receive His love then how could I possibly receive it from others fully, or Joy from an accomplishment or achievement?

My ‘penance’ after that reconciliation was to sit in prayer and ask God to tell me how I could be open to receive His love. 

A few days later I went to a Mother/Son Mass for the Immaculate Conception with my boys at St. Thomas High School. Cardinal DiNardo presided and gave the most moving homily. He began with the first reading, which was Genesis and the story of Adam and Eve. He explained how we were a ‘wounded’ people that immediately felt because of this ‘wound’ we needed to ‘hide from God’. He said clearly, “Don’t run from Him. We are a wounded mess elevated by the grace and salvation of Christ.”

I wish I could say I remembered his entire Homily but I chose to write a few things I had honed from his message because it was validating the message I’d received through Reconciliation. He is loud and clear when we choose to listen!

Finally, this was the kicker, Cardinal DiNardo ended with,  “Walking through the door of mercy is walking through the door of acceptance.

Could God be any louder?

Now I am in a moment of life where I can accept in great humbleness the true Joy God is offering.  I showed up in the message He gave me so many years ago, and I vowed to overcome the lies, and to accept the Lord’s love in His entirety.  

This Lenten Season, what message is God giving you? I implore you to listen to the homilies and take notes! Find a good Lenten devotional and take the five minutes out of your day to sit in prayer.  God is speaking to you.  You can’t hide from Him.  He sees you.  He knows you. He desires to embrace you. You are loved.