By Jourdan Reynolds
As we return to our homes and jobs after Christmas, it’s a good time to reflect upon the festivities and all that took place. It’s wonderful to spend time with friends and family, catching up on current happenings and retelling stories from the past. But, we always need to keep in mind that Jesus is the “reason for the season.” If not for his coming as God made man, there would be no Christmas, Easter or Christianity. No forgiveness of sins, no redemptive suffering, no nothing. Jesus is the greatest gift of all and we are so fortunate to call Jesus our Savior and Lord. Sometimes though, I try to save myself and others; I need to be reminded that this is not my role, but his alone.
For as long as I can remember, I’ve been a perfectionist. I liked to have everything just so, and if everything wasn’t completely in order, I was an internal mess. My desire to make things perfect went beyond mere possessions. My weaknesses and faults caused me much depression and anxiety. Even the brokenness of humanity and the problems of others caused me more pain than it should.
Both positive and negative consequences surfaced. I came to Jesus, broken and alone, asking for help and to accept him as my savior. I believed he could heal me. However, a constant struggle existed within. I tried to fix things myself, falling into the deception that I wasn’t worth God’s grace, nor his attention and love.
I remember thinking I had to be “perfect” in order to win God’s approval so that I would be “saved.” What a disaster I was in! Through constant trial and error, mistakes and falls, self-forgiveness and, finally, surrender of myself to Christ, I overcame this deep emotional abuse I was putting myself in. Thank God, Jesus is my savior!
Beyond my struggles with self-redemption, I fell into the habit of placing the fault of others upon myself. Being filled with the Holy Spirit will cause people to go out and evangelize the masses, which is a spectacular grace. However, I had the temptation to think of myself as “righteous” and viewed those who don’t practice Catholicism or any religion as “less than that.”
Any failed attempts at sharing the faith would leave me with feelings of guilt. I worried about other’s happiness and spiritual well-being. I ended up placing their choices upon myself, which only created more problems. One day, I came across an article that said blaming yourself for another’s action/inaction was egotistic. The article went on to say that you are not responsible for “saving” someone’s soul. That responsibility goes to the individual and to God.
The article asked questions such as, “Are you God? Are you that important in determining someone’s fate and eternal salvation?” I was in shock and disbelief. In my attempts at helping my fellow brothers and sisters in Christ, I got carried away with the idea that I was more than human, unblemished and without sin, believing that I had the sole power to save others while disregarding their free will. No wonder I was so depressed!
I was carrying the weight of myself and others when Jesus was right there to take it. “Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart” (Matthew 11:28-29). Thank God, Jesus is my savior! I truly am blessed.
(Jourdan Reynolds is the secretary and bookkeeper at St. Mary of the Visitation Parish in Ottumwa.)