The whole world groaned to find itself…

2.24.22

Dear dad,

I’m tired. I’m tired of caring for a world that doesn’t seem to care. I’m tempted by the same apathy I see ravaging the lives of so many. The apathy threatening to take hold of the human spirit. The struggle against it threatening to drown my own spirit in weariness.

I am, foremost, not exempt. I have lived much of my life enslaved to a pride I considered righteous. I thought talent and prestige and perfection and self-empowerment were all I needed. I thought I was all I needed. Surely, I had my flaws but at least they weren’t as bad as those other troublemakers. Addicts, alcoholics, murderers, thieves. My pride blinded me to the reality of my own addictions, murders, and thefts. And it is only by the grace of God I am starting to get a glimpse. I pretended to care about others but only as long as it was convenient to self-interest and self-gain. I didn’t know it, but I was the rich man who asks Jesus what must I do to gain eternal life and feel pretty good about myself when He says follow the commandments because yep, checked all those boxes. I’m good. Until Jesus then says to sell all of my possessions and follow Him. Say again? All of my talent, prestige, high reputation, perfection in the eyes of others, self-empowerment? What will be left of me without those things? What will be worthy of what is left of me?

I am the younger son who takes my inheritance to spend on myself only to find out it runs out. And then what? I am a son who traded my sonship for what? Is it not something of a tragedy to think I can identify myself with no relation to anyone else? Am I not, then, just as the animals? Worse off, maybe, as they at least are compelled by their need for help when they are young.

I am the older son who is resentful and bitter when my younger brother comes home after squandering our father’s inheritance, and my father throws him a party. Is there not some reprimand for his actions? Why is he not saying to my foolish younger brother that he ought to be more like me? I have worked faithfully, while he was off indulging himself in pleasures. Basically giving away our father’s life’s efforts as cheap gains. Where is my party? I cannot bear to be a part of the celebration when my father implores me to join. He doesn’t understand my anger. “All that is mine is yours, my son.” He tells me. How can this be his consolation?

All of the years I figured I was too good for marriage, didn’t need a man, I aborted my femininity. I was apathetic toward my womanhood. I was an elite athlete. I could go without being a daughter. Being a woman. Surely it would only bring down my reputation as a high-performing competitor. And I liked that status better anyway. How would just being a woman make me stand out? Give me any sort of edge? This may be the only plus about being with a man. There was an edge it could give me. Being an elite athlete was desirable in the eyes of others. A man wanting to be with me would add to my desirability.

Now I am living in Europe, and Russia just invaded Ukraine. I am a professional footballer who was working in person when it was almost only the essential frontline medical professionals working in the first summer of covid. Now on the heels of an illness that has been destructive and divisive, Ukrainian people are fleeing their homes from a new foe. Or maybe not so new.

Here I am still playing football. For what? I can’t save those people whose homes are smashed and reduced to rubble in Ukraine playing football. I can’t save the aborted baby who was given a pre-natal diagnosis of Down Syndrome or any of the +90% aborted Down Syndrome babies in countries like England, Iceland, and one I have grown quite fond of, Denmark. I was in my senior year at TCU in 2016, while 133 of the 137 preborn babies diagnosed with Down Syndrome in Denmark were aborted. What were their names? A German teenager with Down Syndrome named Natalie told Chancellor Merkel, “I don’t want to be aborted, I want to be born.” In Germany, babies with Down Syndrome can be aborted shortly before birth (thelocal.de). Praise God we know Natalie’s name. A mother of a child with Down Syndrome called into the Divine Mercy Chaplet on Relevant Radio and asked for prayers for her child, telling Drew Mariani, the host, children with Down Syndrome “may be double the trouble but double the joy.”

My mother, my mother, why have you aborted me?

“The value of the person from the moment of conception is celebrated in the meeting between the Virgin Mary and Elizabeth, and between the two children whom they are carrying in the womb.”

[St. John Paul II]

My own father was a disabled person. Sure it was only physical. Sure he only developed it later in life. I’ll be the first to admit there were many times I thought I would be better off without him. That helping to take care of my own dad was a burden. I barely carried it. My mom showed me what real love looked like. What it means to take vows and be faithful to someone. My dad’s disability blessed our family. And so many others. It has blessed me in ways I never thought possible. I desperately wish now I could put his shoes on for him. Get his feeding tube ready. Be in the living room with him as he sits in his scooter in front of the window as the sun shines through. I couldn’t stand when he used to ask me to file papers for him in the filing cabinet in the basement. How I wish I had all the papers.

UEFA is set to strip Russia of the 2022 Champions League final supposed to be held in Saint Petersburg at the end of May. Football didn’t save the people of Ukraine. It didn’t keep Russia from invading or threatening catastrophic consequences if any other country should get involved.

I love soccer. Just as the world does. It is a beautiful game and brings immense joy. It teaches how to work as a team, how the whole is bigger than the parts. There is no doubt about the richness and treasure this game is. But it can’t save me. All the prestige and clout and status and ability that comes with being a professional soccer player fades as smoke in the wind. It didn’t save my dad. It can’t save us. Covid is not our worst enemy like we once thought it was. Russia is not our worst enemy like we may now think it is. Democrats, Republicans are not your worst enemy. Republicans, Democrats are not your worst enemy. Vaccinated people, unvaccinated people are not your worst enemy. Unvaccinated people, vaccinated people are not your worst enemy. Our worst enemy is ourselves. Our worst enemy is sin, spiritual decay. My friends, we have greatly decayed.

We need the “Way and the Truth and the Life.” We need Jesus, the “Son of the living God” and only He can save us. Only through Him can we be who we were created to be.

My whole career playing soccer (same as football for all my Americans) scrapped knees have been a constant reality. There is just something about making a big sliding tackle to recover the ball again or block a shot. It really is a glorious feeling. However, the consequences can be a bit lengthy. An open wound heals and scabs until the next slide tackle when it then stings and pulses again. Definitely something that makes me think twice about kneeling in Mass or prayer. If I forget, the reminder comes quickly and painfully enough when my knees hit the hard surface of the bench or floor.

I understand wounds can keep us from falling to our knees.

Emotional wounds, physical wounds, spiritual wounds all can make it seem like a very bad idea to put any sort of pressure on them at all. The pain is quick and sharp. But how desperately we need to kneel. When was the last time you kneeled, brother or sister? When was the last time you acknowledged your littleness, your dependence, your inability to control everything, your need for help? The thing is we need God to apply some pressure to heal us. To turn our attention to Him. As only He can because He doesn’t do it out of anything other than love. We ought to rid ourselves of all of our misconceptions of true fatherhood. Of all of our pride in thinking we know it all. We are loved by the Creator of the universe. He loved us first. Is it so difficult to fathom this? Yes, of course, and no, of course not. Someone loves me completely and totally with no initiative of my own. I find myself most aware of being wrapped in this Love when I’m on my knees.

Pride, power, prestige, people-pleasing. None of these require kneeling. They all say stand proud and look pretty. Cover the wounds so nobody sees them. Drew suggested on his show after the Divine Mercy chaplet today that the fruit of abortion could be war. How could this be? We are our own worst enemies. I once aborted femininity and the consequences are lengthy. It is not just once I have fallen to my knees for this wound. It festered and swelled until I repented, until I cried out for grace and God’s forgiveness for giving away His inheritance cheaply. He first called me my name. Before my mom or dad. He first knew me as Daughter. And in this gives me all that I am. Gives me all of Himself as Father. What a tragedy it is to think I can identity myself without this relationship, without Him. We are living this tragedy.

Woman stripping ourselves of motherhood as if a burden or inconvenience. Squandering the precious gift of bearing life.

Men forgoing fatherhood. Skirting the responsibility of leading a woman and children. Of protecting life.

All of us, indifferent toward one another. Surely, it is indifference that has built a temple of tolerance where life is sacrificed for good feelings and relative opinions.

All of us, desperate to kneel but standing proud. Too proud to say we’re wrong. Too proud to admit we can’t do it by ourselves. Too hurt to allow real healing and real Love into our lives.

“God has so much more for us than what we’re settling for.” Father Mark Barron

“He will use everything for your sanctification. This is the one great end: to love God and to please Him. What else matters, My poor little girl!”

“God… When you see Him, how you will want to have served Him, to have loved Him, to have glorified Him without counting the cost, and with all your heart! Don’t be afraid of trials. They only help you to go higher. They make you love Me more. And there I am, waiting for you at the bend in the road. ‘How will she overcome this difficulty? Will she ask Me to help her? Will she give Me her whole confidence at last in a childlike outburst of tenderness?’ Oh, the serenity of the one who has yielded everything to Me.” [He and I?]

“He will provide the way and the means, such as you could never have imagined. Leave it all to Him, let go of yourself, lose yourself on the Cross, and you will find yourself entirely.”

[St. Catherine of Siena]

For thus said the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel, “In returning and rest you shall be saved; in quietness and in trust shall be your strength.” [Isaiah 30:15]

Loving Father, let all return and know Your rest. Amen. Amen.

I love you,

Lauren

PS- title quoted from St. Jerome. “The whole world groaned to find itself Arian.”

larry_saj6Author

"Surely man at his best is a mere breath." -King David I am a mere breath God has graciously gifted to be His daughter first, a daughter and sister, a friend, an athlete, a writer, a coach. I hope to be a full-time professional soccer player, write a book or two, be a lifelong learner, work for a sports and faith ministry, coach college soccer, have a family and maybe even pick up the guitar. My dad died when I was a sophomore in college. Writing became especially important to me after his death, helping me grieve and heal. I find writing letters to him has helped me process deep emotions and pain I didn't really know what to do with. My hope is the letters will share experiences that speak to and shine a light into the lives and stories of others in some way.

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