Have you ever journaled with Jesus? Or spent time writing down the ways His is working in your life? Have you ever gone back and read previous journals to remind yourself of God’s continual presence in your life? It’s a treasure to read back your own words and to realize God’s tremendous faithfulness. Spiritual journaling is not for everyone. For me, there have been seasons in my life when it was my way of dialoguing with Jesus for, I was able to write more than I could interiorly pray with Him.
One St. Valentine’s Day back in college, I found myself searching for meaning and God’s plan for my life. I was on track to graduate with a Theology degree but was struggling deeply to feel God’s presence in my life. It was like something was holding me back or preventing me.
I still clearly remember the profound gift that God gave to me that night as I opened myself up without holding back. I sat before Him in the Blessed Sacrament in a beautiful Adoration chapel. Here are some of the key parts I wrote in my journal of the clear vision Jesus gave me, revealing to me why I was struggling to feel Him:
My heart is surrounded by a hardened outer shell. This shell prevents anything from breaking through and affecting me. But this shell also suffocated the love from my heart from being released and freed. My heart is trapped and dying inside because of this shell. I begin to pray that the Holy Spirit might break me down and that I might surrender my heart to the Lord.
As I am praying, I imagine all of a sudden, this rush of or stream of bright red and strong blood rushed up to my heart. This stream is not forceful but is there to get a job done. When the blood touches the shell around my heart, its gentle force breaks open the shell. The pieces break apart and disappear into the stream. My heart, which has so long been trapped, shows great withering, and there are so many holes. These holes represent injuries I have experienced, but most of them are injuries I have done to my own heart. But the instant that the shell breaks away and the blood touches the heart, the holes are filled, and my heart grows strong and full, no longer withered. It is through these holes that the blood not only heals the outside of my heart but also is able to reach deep within and flow to the core of my heart to heal within. For without these holes or signs of weakness, the strength of the blood would remain only upon the outside. But the blood does not stop at my heart rather it is pumped out to the rest of my weak body, and it gives me strength and enables me to stand up in humble confidence. The change caused by the blood does not only heal my weakness, but it reaches out to heal all those I encounter, for the change has been so complete that the strength of the blood radiates out to all through my very pores. It is too strong to remain inside; it must burst forth to those around me. I understand that this blood is the blood of Jesus Christ poured out for all for healing.
I needed to surrender to the love…The Almighty Father through the Blessed Mother chose to love me more than I could ever imagine. Thank you, Jesus; I have nothing but my broken self to offer to you.
This message is for you, too! How hard has your heart become? What sin, pain, and fear are you trying to hide from Jesus? How have you put a wall around your heart to prevent God from really “seeing” you in your weakness, sin, and failures? Reveal your heart to Him and let Him restore you to a heathy heart of flesh. But be prepared because His love is so amazing that He will surpass your wildest dreams! Not only did I feel peace again for the first time in so long; but God’s love flooded throughout my whole being with a warmth I cannot explain. He was truly present there and reminded me that He would never leave me not for one moment.
The world has commercialized Valentine’s Day for profit when it is the feast of dear friends of God who lost their lives to share God’s love. Take time this St. Valentine’s Day to be with our first True Love – God.
And no one who truly loves for God can ignore the Lovely Lady that is so dear to His Heart – Our Blessed Mother. Unknowingly preparing me months before this experience, Jesus introduced me to His Mother in two amazing pilgrimages to Lourdes the previous fall. Never before did I really understand the depth of Mary’s love for me until I spent time in this special place. Our Lady of Lourdes will always have a special place in my heart. Her healing hand showed me how much I wanted to feel the love of God deeply. Our Blessed Mother never takes us away from her Son but rather draws us with tenderness closer to Jesus than we could get on our own. Her prayers and love for me guided my heart to be open for such an experience of healing and raw vulnerability to Jesus. You do not need to travel to Lourdes to experience Mary’s love. Merely you need to invite her in and allow her embrace to surround you. Her gentle pureness will awaken a new sparkle within your soul; and Her Son, Jesus will make you anew.
Our Lady of Lourdes, pray for us today that we might have the courage to reveal to Jesus and to you our pain and struggles. May we be renewed and have again a heart of flesh filled with remarkable love.
Author: Laura Stephens, FF Sacrament Preparation Catechist