You could categorize me as the girl with Dad wounds. This has affected a lot more of my life then I usually care to express. I’ve never been very emotional; there wasn’t time for that when I was a kid. I had to be the strong one, the adult at a very young age. I needed to take care of my siblings when our mom was gone for work and dad decided to let addiction lead him down a destructive path.
When I was a freshman in college my parents were finalizing the long awaited divorce and one night I received some heartbreaking news. I felt like no one would understand. I didn’t know what to do. After my tears ducts stopped leaking I literally ran, in my pj’s to the chapel for prayer in Adoration. I broke, in the soothing presence of the Lord.
One moment I was eye to eye with the Monstrance, the next I was resting in the peace of the Spirit with Jesus. I was looking around, no longer in the chapel, but on a sandy beach. The Lord gives us the desires of our hearts, and I was just beginning to realize this truth, for I love the beach. I’m basically a sunshine child.
As I looked around this beach scene I was startled by beauty. The seasonal fall, crisp, salty wind (my favorite season) was blowing the waves in to crest perfectly, and the greenest grass I had ever seen blew just so. I still had no idea why Jesus wanted to show me this place, so I looked for some sign of a lesson I could learn or take comfort in.
After a moment of seeking, I saw a man and rushed towards him because my heart knew him before I could fully make out who he was, my Beloved, Jesus. Overwhelmingly, joy burst through my soul, by being in the physical presence of the Lord. He just held me in his arms for what felt like forever. We walked along and explored the beach, as the waves sang a lullaby of peace, putting to rest all my worries, helping me to trust in the Lord who was leading me.
I shared my experience with a priest friend of mine because, yes, like you, I know, this seems crazy. I promise you it is real, so stay with me. He just smiled and said, “Ah! You two have a place.” What a delight it was to go to my place with Jesus and talk. Not every prayer time would lead me to rest in the Spirt and go to this place, but sometimes I was given the gift of being with him there.
Fast forward a few months… I went on a retreat to grow in becoming the Beloved’s through a deeper understanding of womanhood. Sitting in Adoration, my place with Jesus kept coming to mind. I had to figure out why. As we walked beyond the beach to an archway that seemed to have no end, outlined by dozens of trees, I asked Jesus. On one look I could tell these trees had been there for a very long time. They had a shade of soft, blush pink leaves that covered the whole sky forming a tunnel of beauty like I had never seen. My favorite color is pink.
As I starred in awe at these trees, Jesus got down on one knee, took my hand into his own, and looked right at me. He said, “Chloe, I love you. I am yours and you are mine… Will you let me be enough for you?” This was his proposal to me as my Beloved, of course I said yes! Then we danced. I stink at dancing, yet love to be a part of the intimacy of a dance; somehow Jesus was the perfect teacher.
In the midst of dancing he whispered, “Chloe, this place, our place- the fall air, the beach with the peaceful waves, the wonderful aged pink leaf trees- where you can always find my presence, is the beauty of your soul. I cried as I realized how the Lord really knows my heart better than I know myself and how he took the time to romance me exactly how I needed to be healed of past wounds.
If it is true that our hearts and soul are made for God, then we starve for beauty.
I heard in a homily once that we are not defined by our own wounds but by the wounds of Christ. This stuck with me as a lot of times in my past, out of anger; I let my wounds define me, but no longer. Just to remind myself of this I even sign my letters/emails with “In His Wounds, Chloe.” I am the Lord’s and I will remain hidden, taking comfort in his wounds rather being crushed by the weight of my own. He makes me whole, new, and beautiful. The things that have broken my heart are actually the ways God shows my unique beauty.
We are all made in His image and likeness, yet our own sin twists and distorts our view of ourselves and others making it difficult to see one another truly in the light of Christ. But this is something we so deeply need to recall in the presence of each human person.
Know that God is revealing himself more and more to you through your daily lives and how wonderfully perfect he is guiding you to discover yourself anew. You are, right now, just as he desires you to be. Hold onto the truth that he has not created a flaw in you, he never leaves you.
People ask me all the time about why I work in the ministry field. My experience lit a fire in me to help others notice just how lovely the Lord sees them. Honestly, I am so drawn to the beauty of the broken souls, through sin, we are all broken souls. At the same time I stand in awe of the healing hand of the Lord in our lives. I love the broken, in that I strive to see Jesus in each of you, and to respond in kind. If I can share and show the loving mercy of God to one person I encounter on this earth; that is when I am doing his will. We all have to keep a stubborn, tenacious faith in the mercy of God; which if we let ourselves, we often see through others around us.
Our calling as authentic men and women is to be beautiful from our souls, reflect the Lord, so that others may know him.
P.S. A common question I have received upon telling this particular story of my faith journey is: are you going to enter the religious life? No, I have discerned, with the Lord, that I am called to the vocation of marriage!!
Chloe is taking an active role in the work of the New Evangelization. She plans to help bring about a Culture of Life and a Civilization of Love. She responded to Saint Pope John Paul II’s call to young people: “Do not be afraid to go out onto the streets and into public places, like the first apostles who preached Christ and the Good News of Salvation.” Chloe graduated from Franciscan University of Steubenville with two degrees, Theology and Catechetics. She made a recent move to work at a Catholic School in Houston, TX and is still adjusting to the heat. She has a new goal of making as many recipes from Pinterest as her boyfriend, Tyler, will willingly eat them.