Recently, I gained a greater awareness of how our attachments, actions, words, and thoughts reflect the voices we use to describe the world and the relationships we have with others and ourselves. In looking back on the last few years, I have been telling myself the following “untruths:”

- I am limited in what I can do and how I can love.
- I disappoint others often.
- If it is hard, I will suffer. I am not strong enough to endure suffering. 
- I am unlovable in a state of suffering, whether or not I have a choice in it. 

Anytime I had experiences telling me otherwise, I felt a deep sense of gratitude… "Thank you for proving my thoughts wrong." In gaining a deeper awareness of what I tell myself, or what the false spirit tells me, I slowly reconnected to what is true. What is true about the world, others, and myself comes from God. What I have been telling myself over the last few years, and many times since my childhood, was not from God. I see this by the way I use words, such as "I" and "suffer." My sense of truth was limited to the Cross and a very narrow horizon beyond it. 

Today’s Gospel helped to understand the journey towards embracing God’s truth. The Gospel explains how Jesus leads his inner circle, Peter, James, and John, up Mount Tabor where they experience the Transfiguration.
 
“And he was transfigured before them, and his clothes became dazzling white, such as no fuller
on earth could bleach them. Then Elijah appeared to them along with Moses, and they were
conversing with Jesus.”
Mark 9:2-4

At this moment, Peter, James, and John get a glimpse of God's glory to come and are reminded of His belovedness. The apostles left the mountain not fully understanding what happened or what was to come, but they had a greater sense of trust and hope. This past year had many “Transfiguration” moments where God gave me glimpses of His light and reminded me of my belovedness. 

On September 20, 2017, my husband, who was my fiancé at the time, was injured at work by a drunk driver. Gus had three surgeries on his leg, was in the hospital for nine days, and then six months of recovery at home. This happened with a little over three months before our wedding day on December 30, 2018. During this period, the suffering and recovery became the focus of our lives. It was only through our family and our different communities that were able to connect to what is true, that Gus and all will endure because God is with us. God was present during the visits to the hospitals and at home, the F4 family who carried him up the stairs to the apartment, the meals shared through food delivery apps, a gourmet home-cooked dinner with rib eye steak and cocktails after a tough day, our family and friends who stayed with Gus while I was at work, Gus’ persistence in his recovery, and everyone’s thoughts and prayers. Gus and I were in awe of how our communities came together to remind us of our belovedness and to give us a glimpse of what was to come. Our awareness and attentiveness to these graces continued consistently leading up to our beautiful wedding day and beyond.

Around the time of our wedding, Gus and I had a conversation about our gifts and fears of leadership. This conversation left me thinking about what I had been telling myself for a long time. I am limited in what I can do and how I can love. I disappoint others often. If it is hard, I will suffer. I am not strong enough to endure suffering. The deeper awareness of God’s presence through the words and actions of others and myself from that day in September up until the day of our wedding communicated different truths:

- We are God’s beloved. 
- With God and others, there are no limits to love.
- We disappoint others sometimes, but that is not who we are.
- If it is hard, we might suffer, but we can endure it because we are not alone. 

God’s Truth became louder in my mind than the “untruths” of the false self. A fruit of this grace led to my application and acceptance to the Mary Ann Remick Leadership program for a masters degree in Educational Leadership at the University of Notre Dame, which requires me to be on campus for the month of July for the next few summers. Leading up to my first summer in the program, the “untruths” came back with a vengeance! The week before, I had a meltdown at work, which my boss so graciously handled. The night before my first day of classes, I cried myself to sleep telling myself, “I could be back at home with my husband and our “kitty khat,” watching Hulu or Netflix in my pajamas. What was I thinking?!” The following month was physically exhausting, intellectually challenging, and emotionally draining. However, I was not alone. My cohort, instructors, family, friends, and husband were there to walk together with me and to share their struggles. The “untruths” had no chance against the power of my identity as God’s beloved and His presence within community. 

Reconnecting with what is true came as a result of saying yes to encounter, or "going up the mountain," with God and others, even when I feared or felt unworthy of it. I returned from this graduate program a week ago with a greater, more expansive hope and a deeper gratitude for community. Like Peter, James, and John, I feel as if I came down from the mountain not fully understanding but with greater confidence and trust in what lies ahead. 

Karisa Denis

Karisa and Gus 287.jpg

Lauren Daigle’s song, “You Say,” is a song I listen to in prayer to reconnect to what God says, instead of the world and the false self.

You Say

I keep fighting voices in my mind that say I’m not enough
Every single lie that tells me I will never measure up
Am I more than just the sum of every high and every low?
Remind me once again just who I am, because I need to know (ooh oh)
 
You say I am loved when I can’t feel a thing
You say I am strong when I think I am weak
You say I am held when I am falling short
When I don’t belong, oh You say that I am Yours
And I believe (I), oh I believe (I)
What You say of me (I)
I believe
 
The only thing that matters now is everything You think of me
In You I find my worth, in You I find my identity, (ooh oh)
 
You say I am loved when I can’t feel a thing
You say I am strong when I think I am weak
And You say I am held when I am falling short
When I don’t belong, oh You say that I am Yours
And I believe (I), oh I believe (I)
What You say of me (I)
Oh, I believe
Taking all I have and now I'm laying it at Your feet
You have every failure God, and You'll have every victory, (ooh oh)
 
You say I am loved when I can’t feel a thing
You say I am strong when I think I am weak
You say I am held when I am falling short
When I don’t belong, oh You say that I am Yours
And I believe (I), oh I believe (I)
What You say of me (I)
I believe
 
Oh I believe (I), yes I believe (I)
What You say of me (I)
Oh I believe (oh)

Songwriters: Paul Mabury / Lauren Daigle / Jason Ingram
You Say lyrics © Capitol Christian Music Group

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