Finding a Secure Emotional Home: breaking free from emotional dependency

Do you find yourself isolated and longing for emotional intimacy? Do you prefer friendships with the opposite sex? Are you afraid to be vulnerable? Do you have a heard time opening up? Do you have an exclusive and, even, secretive relationship in which their is jealousy and distrust and constant highs and lows?

If you’ve answered yes to these questions, you are prone to finding yourself in an emotionally dependent relationship. In short, emotional dependency is when your emotional life depends on another person. As soon as you meet the one person with whom you are able to open up, your heart quickly jumps out of you and spiritually, physically, mentally, and emotionally enters into this person. This person becomes your emotional home, and, each day, your emotions are shaped by how you are pleasing or how you are being pleased by this person. It’s easy to imagine the volatility of this kind of relationship as emotions are constantly changing. This human, i.e. fallen, broken, and in- need-of-a-Redeemer, emotional home will never provide your heart the stability and security for which it longs. Never. No matter how amazing this person is.

Saying things like “I could never live without this person,” might feel like but is not love, it’s a dependency. In an emotionally dependent relationship, the thing sought after is a sense of attachment and not the unique individuality of this person. In fact, often times emotionally dependent relationships are birthed so quickly that the other person is barely even known.

Emotional dependency is a self-perpetuating vicious cycle. The more I depend on another person to make me feel complete, the more likely I will be disappointed. This failure creates even more of a need in me, pushing me to grasp and demand even more. This grasping suffocates and drains the other, causing them to distance themselves emotionally and even physically leave the volatile and painful situation. In my desperation and devastation, what feels like being on the verge of an emotional death, I desperately grasp more and more intensely. My fear of being abandoned, deprived, unwanted, neglected, and separated feed my feelings of loneliness, anxiety, and emptiness as I desperately seek safety, security, and affirmation. And so instead of finding myself in my new emotional home, I lose myself in this other person.

Since my entire well being depends on my connection with this person, I feel okay when the relationship is constant, loving, secure, and warm. When everything is “perfect.” I’m not okay when, in any way, the relationship is threatened. I’m in crisis. In my desperation, I become defensive. I try to force, manipulate, coerce, and, in romantic relationships, even seduce the other person to rid myself of this separation anxiety. If I truly analyze my situation, I’m not desperate for this person, but for the attachment.

Why am I so desperate for this attachment? This desperate need to be attached to another is likely fueled by childhood brokenness during which I did not receive emotional intimacy, acceptance, security, or stability. Were “I love you” three rare words? Were tears catalysts for “toughen up.” Or were there too many tears already on others’ faces that I had no room to express my own brokenness? Was I afraid to share my deepest struggles for fear of being misunderstood, rejected, made fun of, or bullied? Did I develop emotional insecurity at a young age? Have I been looking for emotional security all of my life? Have I gone from relationship to relationship, from broken home to broken home, finding myself even more emotionally insecure? I’m not in a hopeless situation.

God wants to heal my unhealthy attachments. God is merciful and compassionate. I trust in God that He wants to give me what my heart longs for. I have faith. I have hope. I have love. And I pray for an increase in all of them. God tells me that I don’t need to look outside of myself for a secure and loving emotional home.

When Jesus told Mary to stop clinging to Him, He was not telling her to stop loving Him. Rather, He was telling her to stop clinging to flesh. Christ did not want her joy or her sadness to depend on sensing something outside of herself. Christ wanted her emotional life to finds its home inside of herself. The Resurrected Lord gives us peace of mind and peace of heart, a gift the world cannot give, no matter how “perfect” someone seems to be. Our emotionally dependent relationships can be healed, but neither person can be its redeemer.

Christ needed to ascend to the Father so that the Holy Spirit could descend into our hearts. The Holy Spirit comforts and heals us. Only the Holy Spirit can offers us the security and intimacy that our hearts long for. Christ’s wants to set our hearts free from our emotional bondage. The Holy Spirit will teach us how to relearn to love. Enslaving dependence is a cheap counterfeit for freeing love. We cannot make an idol out of a broken vessel, but we can be each others’ companions as we seek healing from the Redeemer.

O Heavenly King, the Comforter, the Spirit of Truth, everywhere present and filling all things, the Treasury of blessing and the Giver of Life, come and dwell within us and cleanse us from every blemish and save our souls O Blessed One.

Listen to “Broken Together” by Casting Crowns

Image result for mary magdalene christ icon





Joyful Service

This Great Lent let us be thankful as we serve joyfully without complaint.

Jesus’ visit to the home of Martha and Mary in Bethany teaches us a great deal about joyful service and the power of our thoughts, whether positive or negative, to shape our day. In this Gospel account, we learn that we can give glory to God in the little things we do for one another. In this encounter, Jesus invites Martha to renew her mind (Ephesians 4:23-24), taxed with negative thinking, and illuminate her thoughts with the thought of Him by rejoicing, praying, and giving thanks to God for the opportunity to serve her Lord. 

Martha felt alone, unheard, and unappreciated. She was distracted with much serving and was worried and troubled about many things while her sister Mary sat at Christ’s feet and heard His word. Martha cried out to the Lord for helpThe Gospel tells us that  Martha approached Jesus and asked Him if He didn’t care that her sister had left her alone to serve. She begged Jesus to tell Mary to get up from His feet and help her. Jesus answered, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things. But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen the better part, which will not be taken away from her.” (Luke 10:41-42) What is this better part Mary chose? Was it wrong for Martha to be focused on completing her household responsibilities while Jesus was visiting? What do these two sisters and their encounter with Christ teach us?

Jesus said that He came to serve and not to be served. (Matthew 20:28) Therefore, the wrong Martha committed could not have been with serving as such. Rather, as Martha was setting the table, pouring the water, mending the food, sweeping the floor, and welcoming guests- all beautiful and necessary things by the way- her mind was worried and her heart was troubled. Mary chose the better part because she was present to Christ, but Martha could have chosen the best part by being present to Christ whilst seeing her tasks as her divine calling and sacred service.

Instead of complaining, Martha could have completed the duties of each moment in the presence of Christ by rejoicing, praying without ceasing, and giving thanks (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18). Our little tasks, our housework, then, can be elevated to spiritual work when we do it in the presence of Christ. Thus, nothing is mundane when we invite Christ and serve Him through what we are doing.

(1) Rejoicing: We can pour joy into our tasks when our secret ingredient is love. We can sing and dance as we work and put an extra touch into whatever it is that we are doing for our spouse or our child.  For example, maybe our spouse really appreciates it when we fold their clothes a certain way or when we bring them a cup of coffee in the morning as they are getting ready for the day. It’s amazing how an act of service pouring over with love and given with a smile can cheer up a little boy or a little girl who had a rough day by simply saying, “here, I was thinking about you and made this just for you.” Amidst all of our housework there are so many opportunities to heal broken hearts, bind up wounds (Psalm 147), and lighten up someone’s burden by freshening the weary and satisfying the faint (Jeremiah 31:25).

(2) PrayingWe don’t need to see housework as an obstacle to doing spiritual work. If we remember God as we work, our housework can be our prayer. As St. Benedict teaches, ora et labora, pray and work. The Church gives us a powerful and beautiful method to achieve this unity of prayer and work: the Prayer of the Heart. The Prayer of the Heart or the Jesus Prayer (“Lord, Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, the sinner” or, simply, “Lord, have mercy”) can be recited while we complete our tasks as a way to invite Christ into our presence. Hence, the Jesus Prayer invites us to to place ourselves before the feet of our Lord like Mary while we continue to serve like Martha. Instead of troubling our minds or worrying our hearts as our bodies are already getting taxed, the Jesus prayer is a way to cast all of our troubles and our worries to the Lord as we ask Him for mercy. As St. Peter invites us, “Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you.” (1 Peter 5:7)

(3) Giving ThanksInstead of seeing our housework as mundane tasks we need to simply get over with, we can see them as sacred and salvific service offered to God to benefit our household and our guests. Our day to day life is full of opportunities to bring glory to God. We can be hermits, monastic, martyrs, confessors, evangelists, apostles, healers, priests, prophets, kings, holy men and women by simply fulfilling our duty of the moment, our housework, with love in the presence of Christ by being Mary and Martha at once. As we begin each week with the Divine Liturgy, we can continue to commune with our Lord’s Eucharistic presence throughout the week by coming before each duty of the moment with thanksgiving, which is precisely what the word Eucharist means.  We can see, taste, hear, touch, and smell God’s mercy and compassion all at once in a simple cup of coffee. We must be attentive and thankful for the subtle gifts God blesses us with throughout the day. And when worries and troubles make us forget the presence of Christ may we pray: “Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God. I will yet praise Him, my Savior and my God.” (Psalm 42)  

Let us thank God for the opportunity to serve Him by loving our brothers and sisters as we joyfully serve them without complaint and without expectation to be thanked or helped. Of course, if and when we are thanked or helped, we should receive it gracefully giving all glory to God.

“The Lord is my helper”(Hebrews 13:6) and  “I can do all things through [Christ] who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13). During this Great Fast, may we die with Christ that we may indeed rise with Him and receive His gift of peace: “I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid” (John 14:27) And so, Christ says to us, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and upset about many things… Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God” ((Luke 10:41, Philippians 4:6).

(This article was published in the website “Family Life Ministry“)

Image result for woman doing laundry



From Roommates to Family: Transforming your home into an intentional community

This New Year, God is inviting you to be a family on purpose. This invitation goes out to all households, no matter the size, age, or blood relation of its members. God wants to remind you that He didn’t bring you together to simply be roommates who happen to share the same address. Rather, He brought you together to be a family, to be living icons of God’s inner Trinitarian life.

The family is called to to be the source and origin of Love. She is called to be the heartbeat of society. For it is the mercy and compassion, or lack thereof, that  husband and wife and brother and sister show to one another, that flows into society. The home pours life giving blood to the organism that is society, and if the heart is broken, or, worse yet, if it stops beating, then what hope is there for community life in our parish or office?

As a family, we are called to participate in the divine dance of the Lover and the Beloved. We are called to give and to receive freely, totally, faithfully, and fruitfully without keeping tabs.

One of the biggest obstacles to establishing this intentional community is keeping tabs. We see our life in this building that we call a house as a chore and our connection to its people as a task force. Checklist A. Checklist B. Checklist C. Like Martha, we cry out, “Lord, do You not care that [insert name] has left me to serve alone? Therefore tell [him/her] to help me.”

Practical Steps:

To be a family on purpose, you need to intentionally come together. But with so many commitments and distractions, you need super glue. So what is this super glue that will bring you all together? Hint: it will be this same glue that will keep you together even when you are physically apart- when your spouse goes on a business trip or when your kids go off to college.

For most families, this glue is food. Sadly, once our kids grow up, daily dinner turns into an annual dinner on Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter, and, if you’re lucky, birthdays. It seems that food, no matter how tasty, is not enough to bring and keep our families together.

What, then, can serve as this super glue? Allow me to share a story of a family that inspires me so much. At my previous parish, there was a family with eleven children under the age of fifteen. This family, despite its size, and despite the fact that its military father is gone several months out of the year, is glued together by prayer. No matter where in the world the father is, he always calls at 7 p.m. EST to say his evening prayers with his family. Prayer: this is the super glue we need to go from being roommates to being a family.

I want to invite you to allow prayer to set the rhythm of your home life. Prayer, not food, shows, video games, or anything else, should summon all the household’s members together. By forming a habit of morning and evening prayer, you’ve already made the first step toward establishing an intentional community. Once you have this down, the second step can be to add another intentional gathering time to read the Scriptures together. This can involve choosing a book in the Bible and reading a section or a chapter together after a specific meal time. Every member can then share their light from what has just been read. By holding this intentional gathering at the same time and place every day, you will help lift your family’s conversation to what St. Paul calls the “true, noble, right, pure, lovely, and admirable” (Philippians 4:8). Going to Church on Sundays and Feast days, of course, should be a given, so that your family may nourish your parish family and vice versa.

Beyond prayer, which is the super glue of any intentional community rooted in God, there are other glues that the Holy Spirit will inspire in your heart as you place this intention- of being a family on purpose- before God. These can include fun ideas like family game nights, bring-a-friend-to-dinner night, outings with mom and dad, etc.

We can’t forget, however, other important aspects of being a family on purpose, and these include the necessary tasks that make a household work. These are duties, such as cleaning, cooking, taking the trash out, and changing light bulbs, that we should accomplish responsibly and lovingly for the glory of God. These duties should not be seen as “chores” nor should they be seen as “mundane.”

We can gain so much insight by contemplating on the Holy Family’s hidden life in Nazareth, where, day in and day out, regular household duties were transformed into Sacred Service. Unlike in Bethany, in Nazareth, “Mary” and “Martha,” what they represent, were not at odds. The apostle, the doer, and the mystic, the be-er, were one. All of the Holy Family’s sacred duties were completed whilst contemplating the Face of God and being present always to Christ.

As we set off to make our homes intentional communities, we should not divorce Mary and Martha. If we forget God, if we forget prayer, then sacred service turns into a list of chores and family turns into a task force. The heart of the family should not be a taskmaster, nor should she make family members bitter or embarrass them with how they complete their duties to the household. Rather, the heart of the family should invite its members into an intentional rhythm and encourage them to contribute to the household responsibly out of love.

This New Year, may we establish intentional communities in our homes so that we may be families on purpose by remembering to pray, to have fun, and to work hard all to the glory of God.

(This article was published in the website “Family Life Ministry”)

MaryMartha Email

“Girl Crushes” and “Bromances”

Our society, so over sexualized, wants to limit what it means to “fall in love” to the sexual sphere. This is a mistake.

In Christ, we can fall in love and should allow ourselves to fall in love with God’s creations, who were made in His image and likeness. 

And so, we can fall in love with our spouses, with our children, with our parents, with our siblings, with our friends, and, even with strangers (“friends we just hadn’t met before,” as there is no stranger in Christ). But, because of our overly sexualized culture, we are afraid to admit this love before not only others but our very selves. 

I believe this is especially the case with female/female and male/male friendships. When they are “too close” according to society, they need to take on a sexual label: they have a “girl crush” on one another or they have a “bromance.” And if the joke turns into a confusing tug in your heart, you start believing that because “yes, I truly am in love with this person” it needs to be sexual since only this expression of “being in love” is legitimized by society.

In the face of a judgmental culture, we become uncomfortable with being a comfort within the intimacy of a profound friendship. We need to cast out immature and fear based judgments and lies out of our hearts and minds.

If we are to be spiritual mothers (and spiritual fathers) to one another, we need to embrace each other! You need only meditate on the icon of Mary and Elizabeth or Peter and Paul to understand falling in love in, with, and through Christ.

Peter_and_Paul_A__06498.1377818928.1000.1200_grande.jpeg M07 (1)

Our bodies are not the prison of our souls. Our bodies are the temples of the Holy Spirit. Our bodies are good. Affection is good. In Christ, may God transform and purify our affections. May we not fear falling in love with one another and expressing this love both spiritually and physically without believing the twisted perversion secularism wants us to believe.

We can have intimacy that is not sexual and we most certainly can and should allow ourselves to fall in love with God’s icons, the men and the women in our lives who reveal to us the Face of God.



Starting Over: Resurrecting Relationships

Do you ever wish you could meet someone for the first time again and start over? Do you ever ask yourself, how did we get to this ugly place? How did distance come bet ween us, who were so close? Or, you might ask yourself, how come I’ve known you for so long and we’ve never broken the ice, this ice that prevents us from truly opening our hearts to one another? How can we break the ice if an Ice Age is all we’ve come to know or have ever known?

I want to clarify that I’m not here speaking solely about a significant other, but also about our children, our siblings, our parents, our friends…

So maybe you were really close to someone, someone with whom you shared not only your pains but also that silly and quirky side no one else seems to understand. Or maybe you’ve always wanted to get close to someone but you can’t seem to cover topics beyond “how’s the weather?.” I realize these are two very different situations, but they include the same heart’s desire: can we just start over?

God is merciful and compassionate. He is the Resurrection. In Christ, we learn the mystery of Redemption. If you are willing to invite Christ into your heart, He will teach you how to die to your old self and be born into a new person. He will also guide you to place your relationship at the foot of the Cross, where you will witness the reality of the paradox “through death comes life.” God, Who is all loving, hears your cry and desires to resurrect all of your relationships.

When someone goes through a major life change, a resurrection, we can be hesitant and uncomfortable to trust in the truth of their heart’s conversion. We need to stop judging and believe once more in the power of grace. After all, we don’t want people to see us under a judgmental light and see our “conversion” and our “new ways” as us being self-righteous…this is very hard. No, this is a time  to fall before God in our weakness and to rise before God in His strength, to pray for our death and our resurrection, for the death of our old ugly ways and for the birth of our new beautiful ways. And, at the same time, pray for that person, who right now is piercing your heart, to also be transformed by His grace. And, we must be grateful for His grace, for this is the grace that allows us and this person to become new, the grace that is allowing us to slowly change our ways, the grace that allows us to be patient, kind, and vulnerable to one another as we are dying before one another, and for the grace  to hold on to the hope of the resurrection.

God, you are merciful and compassionate, increase our faith, hope, and love in You, our Father and our Mother. Help us die before we die that we may live in eternity right now, always living and breathing, thinking, speaking, and doing before Your Presence. Help us to see all things and all people in Your merciful and compassionate Light. Help us to forgive one another, to let go and let God. And, finally, help us to break the ice when all we’ve known or come to know is the Ice Age.

As always, feel free to comment with your own experience or message me privately. I would love to learn from you about the feminine genius’ power to forgive and vulnerable willingness to start over.

Lord, have mercy. Lord, have mercy. Lord, have mercy.

Praise be to You,  the Most High God, for You are very good. You are the healer and You hear our cry.

O Heavenly King, the Comforter, the Spirit of Truth, everywhere present and filling all things, the Treasury of Blessing, and the Giver of Life, come and dwell within us and cleanse us from every blemish and save our souls O Good One.

Holy God, Holy Mighty One, Holy Immortal One, have mercy on us!

Holy God, Holy Mighty One, Holy Immortal One, have mercy on us!

Holy God, Holy Mighty One, Holy Immortal One, have mercy on us!


Hormones, P.M.S., and Holiness

I woke up the other morning feeling very irritable. It’s that time of the month again. When I was a teen, I had absolutely no control over the surge of hormones that rushed to every inch of my body, aggressively flooding my flesh with cravings and aggravations.

I’m an adult woman now. I need to stop using P.M.S. as an excuse for eating junk and speaking harshly. I need to take responsibility over my hormones, and, instead of being swayed by them, master them. Easier said than done…

God is merciful and compassionate, and, in His wisdom, He gives us a relatively predictable cycle, with all sorts of signs to help us understand our sacred, mysterious, and beautiful bodies. This means, that I can actually predict, or at least, diagnose my irritability along with my insatiable hunger.

So, that morning, I decided that it was not going to be a repeat of the last month, and, let’s be honest, every month since I was 13. I got up, kissed my baby good morning, changed his diaper, fed him breakfast, read him a book, and- thankfully it was the weekend- passed him unto my husband. I told my husband exactly how I was feeling and why. I told him that I did not want to lash out at him for him practicing his scales on the guitar or at our son for being his playful self.

I knew all I needed was an hour to myself, to pray, to breath, to rest in the serenity and solitude of silence… This short hour nourished me so much so that I actually emerged from the basement in good spirits ready to listen to the song my husband had been working on, which an hour before was causing me great irritation.

I learned that experiencing P.M.S. can be an opportunity for spiritual growth. I absolutely do not have to allow hormones to get the best of me. These hormones do not have to push all my virtues and graces out the window for the next few days.

From my own experience, it has really helped me to become conscious of P.M.S. and to predict and diagnose it before it gets out of hand. I pay extra attention to my breath and am also extra gentle with myself.

My advice: do everything slowly. Be slow to think, to speak, and to do. Go inside of yourself and don’t let anyone or anything, no matter how annoying and irritating, get you to come out.

Re-think the silent treatment. Instead of giving it to others, give it to yourself. Be like Mary, she kept all things in her heart. Her silence was empty of bitterness and poured over in sweetness. As Psalm 4 entreats us, “Be angry but sin not, commune in your hearts on your own bed and be silent” (Psalm 4). Don’t leave your metaphorical bed. Be kind to yourself. Take it easy. As Jesus says, although our spirit is willing, our flesh is weak. By God’s grace, may our spirit become more willing and may our flesh become less weak.

And men, if you happen to be reading this article about P.M.S. (God bless you!), please be extra patient with your wives, daughters, and any other woman in your life. And women, be honest, be vulnerable, be soft: let those that live with you know that you are struggling today. Let them know that you are feeling irritable and that you need time to yourself and to please go buy you chocolate (actually, try to avoid sugar!). Stay within yourself. This is not a time for expression. This is a time for introspection, for purification. May this blessed time be spiritually edifying and sanctifying. Praise God for our feminine genius. I love being a woman.