By Megan Lowes
In today’s Gospel, Jesus gives us the Beatitudes--attitudes for us to have in which we ought to live our lives.
I was in fourth grade when I first learned about the Beatitudes. When I heard them for the first time, I honestly thought they were only for those who were less fortunate or for those who were fighting for justice within our world. When I heard the words, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven”
how could I not think that you had to be poor?
I could not come to the understanding that Beatitudes were for everyone, no matter what kind of lives we lived. As a fourth grader, I felt that I would never be able to achieve God’s blessings in this way. I also felt that God was giving us an undesirable task to work towards achieving. After all, I didn’t want to be poor.
Fast forward to my high school and college years, my faith life was a wild roller coaster ride. At the start of high school, I developed a General Anxiety Disorder and spent several months receiving counseling. I was frustrated with God for my struggles with making new friends and getting perfect grades in school. During my sophomore year, my dad was diagnosed with cancer and two of my grandparents passed away. I was upset at God for hurting and taking away the ones I love. After attending the Kairos retreat my Junior Year of High School, my faith in God was renewed and I felt like a pretty good Catholic.
When I started college, my life completely changed.
Within the first few months, a great mentor of mine was arrested for having an inappropriate relationship with a student and was sent to jail, which crushed me. I broke up with my high school boyfriend of nearly two years after coming to realization that I was in an abusive relationship. Because of all of the trauma ensured in the first few months of college, my grades suffered greatly and I never was able to become the great student I once was. I was upset with God for making me believe in the ones I love, yet realizing they were bad people.
It was not until within the last year that the Beatitudes took on a whole new meaning for me.
While undergoing a radical transformation, I read the Beatitudes over and realized they weren’t referring to someone who was poor or gave up all material possession. They were talking about me and my attitude.
Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of God.
During the times I was struggling with my faith in high school and college I was “poor in spirit.” I struggled with my relationship with God, but even through that struggle, God still loved me.
Blessed are they who mourn, for they will be comforted.
Watching my dad’s battle with cancer, as well as watching my grandparents die was difficult. However, I had wonderful friends, teachers and others in my life who were there for me when I needed to talk or simply cry. They helped carry me through this difficult period in my life.
Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.
I was greatly upset when I learned the truth about my mentor. I was even more upset when I came to the realization that my ex-boyfriend was abusing me emotionally, mentally, physically and spiritually. I feel like I lost my faith in humanity. It took me many years before forgiving either of them for the hurt they brought into my life. Holding onto that anger and hurt kept me from being my true authentic self, as well as the best person that I could be. When the day finally came when I realized I forgave my ex-boyfriend and my mentor, I felt free.
To me, the Beatitudes are eight simple reminders that no one is perfect. When faith is lost, when struggles are faced and when there is hurt, God is there with His blessings.
I have a major attitude and I forget this at times. However, when I come to re-recognize this, I remember, God always loves me and is with me.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Megan is a 2009 graduate of Saint Joseph Academy. After graduating from SJA, she attended John Carroll University and earned her Bachelors of Science in Business Administration in May 2013. Since graduating from John Carroll, Megan has spent the last three years working within ministry in the Diocese of Cleveland. Since October 2015, she has served as the Pastoral Associate at Saint Clarence Parish in North Olmsted. Additionally, Megan completed her Masters of Nonprofit Administration in May 2016 from John Carroll University. In her free time, Megan enjoys spending time with family and friends, doing arts and crafts, exercising and spending time in nature.