How Much Can You Give?

How Much Can You Give?

By Mariah Mulderink

I have a pair of beige heels.  They’re a little scuffed up and super simple, but I absolutely love them.  They go with a lot of different outfits and they’re fairly comfortable for a pair of heels.  However, the main reason I love them has nothing to do with how they look or fit.  The main reason I love them is because they were given to me by a good friend before she left to join the religious order called the Sisters of Life.  Whenever I put on this pair of heels, I am filled with joy as I think of her, her vocation, and our friendship.  These heels also give me a little reminder:  Sometimes you have to give something up in order to grow in love.  Let me explain.

When my friend left for the convent, I honestly was not filled with a ton of joy.  She had explained to me that once she entered the convent, her communication with friends and even family would be very limited.  In her second year at the convent, she would only be allowed to write letters back to friends twice. We might get to see her once a year if she had time when coming home to visit her family.  So, when she left for the convent, I felt like I was losing my friend.  In fact, I felt a little sorry for myself.  Then one day, I was looking at the beige pair of heels my friend had given to me before she left.  Looking at the heels made me think about how my friend had had to give away everything she owned before entering the convent.  Her clothes, her shoes, so many things!  She literally went through and purged herself of all material things.  I love to purge.  I love to go through my closet and find all the things I no longer use or wear and donate them.  However, there is a difference between my purging and my friend’s.  After about one Target run, I fill the space I created by purging with new clothes, scarves, shoes, etc.  My friend?  The space she created was filled by the Lord.  I now understood!  My friend leaving, her limited communication, all of it was not some sort of cruelty.  No!  It was creating space, an opportunity, for deeper relationship with the Lord.

It is now the third day of Lent.  I know, it feels like the third week.  But I want to give you some hope, a little push of motivation.  Whatever sacrifice you are making this Lent is not just to make you suffer.  Yes, part of it is to help us draw closer to Christ in His suffering.  But another purpose of it is to make space.  Lent is meant to help us empty ourselves of those things we do not need so that we can make room for Christ.  

This Lent, I am giving up watching shows or movies whenever I am alone.  I am doing because it will be hard and I know it is going to make room for deepening my relationship with Christ.  By taking out the time I spend watching TV, I am making time for prayer, my husband, reading, exercise, writing.  So yes, your Lenten sacrifice should not be easy.  It should be a sacrifice.  However, it should also be leading you towards something better.  It should be helping you draw closer to Christ and grow in holiness.

Hopefully, you have figured out your sacrifice this Lent, and if you haven’t there is still time.  But what I ask is that you look beyond your sacrifice.  Figure out how your sacrifice can bring you to God.  In what way is your sacrifice emptying you so that you can be filled with Christ?  Think of the widow who gave all she had.  No, she didn’t have much, but still gave it all.  Christ placed significant value on her small sacrifice.  This is what He asks of us.  Whether we have a lot to give or only a little, He wants us to give it away.  By giving all we have, we make room for Him.

My friend has now been in the convent for five and a half years.  We write letters back and forth and I have been fortunate enough to see her a couple of times when she has visited home and even at some Catholic conferences.  To witness the result of her sacrifice is one of the most inspiring and beautiful things I have ever seen.  Her witness is one of the greatest blessings in my life.  Her love for Jesus Christ is so bare, authentic, and life giving.  All that she has is her love for God and, friends, it's not just enough....it is EVERYTHING.


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