When I was four or five my dad would take me to the ocean, where he taught me to swim and ride the waves. My dad loves the ocean and is a phenomenal swimmer. When I made the swim team in college I remember the coach looked at me and said, Where did you learn to swim like that?
I smiled, From my dad.
Do you want me to take you out far? He would say. Oh yes!! I responded, coupled with tremendous excitement and a gigantic smile. He would carry me out past where the waves would break, and when the water was calm he would gently throw me. As my body sank beneath the surface, I knew he would be there, no matter what. I can almost taste the salt, and feel the ocean breeze against my face as I type this, the memories are so vivid.
After I had swallowed enough salt water we would spread our beach towels on the sand and have a picnic dinner. And after we had chased the seagulls and watched the sun set, he would take me out to ice cream. You can get whatever you want. My response was always the same, Can I have mint chip, the green kind in a cone? Those were the best days and my favorite childhood memory.
No matter what happened in my life, I clung to that memory because it was beautiful and peaceful. It sustained me through tremendous darkness. It helped me remember that I was normal. And that’s what I want to challenge you to do? Pick a memory from your childhood that was beautiful and hold on to it when you feel as though you were slighted by God.
As we talked about yesterday, where you have control is to make the choice to see beauty in your suffering. Many situations in life are going to be ugly, painful and hurtful, but you have the power, along with God’s grace to make good from the pain and tears. You have the tools to make the choice to see beauty, seek forgiveness, show mercy and the Father’s love to all of those you meet, even those who have abused you. Where does the power come from? It comes from the Sacraments and spending time with God in Adoration. Speak to our loving Father tonight, ask Him to help you. Ask Him for grace, tell Him your fears, joys and sorrows. Let the Healer hug you. Hold onto Him. Cling to the Cross, for this is where your sanctification rests.
“Although I have lived through much darkness, I have seen enough evidence to be unshakably convinced that no difficulty, no fear is so great that it can completely suffocate the hope that springs eternal in the hearts of the young. Do not let that hope die! Stake your lives on it! We are not the sum of our weaknesses and failures; we are the sum of the Father’s love for us and our real capacity to become the image of His Son.” – Pope John Paul II