Katie’s Testimony

God created us body and soul. This is something that was ingrained in me as a young, homeschooled child who studied the Baltimore Catechism. The essence of the human being is both in the body and in the soul. Even though this was something I “knew”, it has just become something I understood.You see, for almost my entire life, my body served as a stumbling block to my relationship with myself, others, and most importantly, God.

In his first letter to the Corinthians, St. Paul writes: “…do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, which you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you were bought with a price; therefore glorify God in your body.”

I never saw my body as a gift from God, or a temple of the Holy Spirit. I saw it as annoying and stupid and wrong.

I’ve been overweight for as long as I can remember. I’ve had family members make snarky comments about dieting since I was 10, and the librarian at my library used to call me her “cute little chubby girl.”

All of these people who made comments had good intentions, but it became clear to me very quickly that my body wasn’t normal, that it needed fixing, that it wasn’t good.

Then came high school. And I’m sure you know that highschoolers can be merciless. My school had desks in tight rows I could barely fit through. Each time I would try to get to my seat, giggles and whispers surrounded me. I remember hearing words like “fat,” “whale,” “ugly.” It got to the point that I begged my teachers to let me sit in the front row or at the end of a row so I wouldn’t have to deal with the cruel comments.

I felt ugly, and that my body was useless. I swam competitvely, and I remember being so embarrassed of my body that I would stay in my swim suit until I got home while the other girls all changed in the locker room.

It had nothing to do with modesty, and everything to do with how I had come to see my body.

When I was 12, I was diagnosed with Major Depressive Disorder and General Anxiety Disorder. I was put on medications to help manage these illnesses, but there were still times when they became so overwhelming, and I turned to outward ways of coping, including cutting. My body image became more and more warped as I began to have scars and abused it in this way.

Through the grace of God, and with the help of medication and therapy, I eventually stopped cutting, but I was still internally wounded for the way I had hurt myself. My body still felt like a burden.

I remember when I first started college, I was terrified that it would be like high school all over again. I was afraid I would be all alone because I was overweight, and people wouldn’t want to be seen with me. However, God didn’t forsake me. He put people in my life who looked beyond my appearance and insecurities, who loved me despite my extra weight.

Last September, I went on a pilgrimage to Philadelphia to attend Pope Francis’ papal mass during his visit to the United States. During an interest meeting, it was revealed that we would end up walking 10-15 miles throughout the day. I remember looking at my friend in complete horror, telling her that I had to drop the trip because I didn’t think I would be able to handle that much. My friend promised that I could, and told me she’d remain with me the entire day, even if we were miles behind the rest of the group.

And I did it. I walked over ten miles and lived. On the bus ride back to campus, I marveled at what my body was capable, despite all it’s ‘quirks’. It had carried me through through 22 years of life, countless miles, heartbreaks, and illnesses, and my heart still beat. I couldn’t walk the next day because of the pain I was in, but it was the first time I earnestly thanked God for my body.

I began to appreciate my body for what it was – a gift. I began to consciously try to treat myself kindly by exercisng and eating healthy, drinking more water, and trying to stay away from any self-criticism or cruelty.

By this July, I was able to make a pilgrimage to World Youth Day in Krakow, Poland. Over the course of my trip, I walked almost eighty miles, doing over ten miles each on two consecutive days. My body did that. God gifted me with a body that was able to do that.

My feelings towards my body aren’t always all sunshiney. I still am very insecure about my weight, and have random insecurities, like wishing my nose and gap between my teeth were smaller, or that my lips were a little bigger. But the truth is that each of these things are a gift from God. These things I’m insecure about allow me to laugh,to cry, to smile, to speak and to walk with my God.

My body isn’t perfect. But it’s mine. And I’m grateful for a body that will carry me where God calls me.

Katie Freddino graduated From Mount St. Mary’s University in May with a major in English and a minor in Theology. She will be working with the Disney College Program in merchandising (basically a Disney princess)… Katie loves long walks on the beach and all varieties of margaritas. She believes tea and a good book can solve almost any problem and heart to hearts are her jam. Katie wants to change the world by writing. Her blog can be found at: cloudywithachanceofcatholic.blogspot.com

Becca’s Testimony

I’d like to talk to you about patience, which is hard for me, because I’m probably THE most impatient person on the face of the planet. I’d also like to talk to you about love… with a little bit of Jesus.

I’m that girl. I’m the hopeless romantic. I’m the Taylor Swift-loving, Nicholas Sparks-reading, Hallmark commercial-crying girl. And it’s hard. It’s really hard. Because as I loved, I lost the most important man in my life (Jesus, obviously).

The thing was… the love I was looking for wasn’t love at all. It wasn’t sacrificial, it wasn’t pure, it wasn’t what was going to last forever. I trusted too many people and I let too many guys hold my heart. I fell over and over and over again and I didn’t understand what I was doing wrong and why I couldn’t keep these guys in my life. I didn’t know why I wasn’t worth it. Why wouldn’t they stay with me? What was I doing wrong? Why was I pushing people away without knowing what I was doing?

And then in October of 2013, I met him. I fell hard. For the first time in my life, I found someone different. And I actually mean it. He was different. He still is. He always will be.

But there was a problem. You see, I had trained myself to only see my own thoughts. I had forced myself to reconcile with the fact that I wasn’t good enough. I wasn’t pretty enough or smart enough. I didn’t have the right body or the right clothes. I definitely didn’t have the right personality. He’d never want me. So I ruined it. I ran away.

I let the one man who I really, truly ever wanted with a pure love walk away from me. I made a mistake, and I had to live with the consequences.

Here’s the thing. I’m supposed to be talking about Jesus here, right? During this time, he didn’t exist to me. I went to church and I “prayed” on Sundays. But I didn’t know him. I was trying to love and give myself away when I didn’t even have myself to give. I didn’t know myself, because I didn’t let myself know Christ.

Ladies, tell me if you can relate. “I’m not Catholic enough. I know I’ll just sin again, what’s the point of confession? What I’ve done is too terrible for Jesus to forgive. He can’t love me.” That was me, over and over again. I didn’t see the point of trying to make Jesus love me because I’d convinced myself I didn’t need anyone’s love.

So back to the story… here I was lost and heartbroken. Sure, I had some cool friends and a great family. But I knew I had messed up. Just to put this into perspective… I had already spent two months pursuing this boy. And then I just gave up. I had spent two months of my freshman year wanting a boy who wanted me back and then I told myself I didn’t deserve him. I. Was. An. Idiot.

I had a friend at the time who I often accompanied to the Grotto. For me, it was more of a social thing than a prayer thing, but I still went. I sat there silently. I tried to pray sometimes, but it never really worked. One day, she shared a prayer with me that I will remember forever.

 

St. Anthony of Padua’s Be Satisfied With Me:

 

“Everyone longs to give themselves completely to someone,

To have a deep soul relationship with another,

To be loved thoroughly and exclusively.

But to a Christian, God says, “No, not until you are satisfied,

Fulfilled and content with being loved by Me alone,

With giving yourself totally and unreservedly to Me.

With having an intensely personal and unique relationship with Me alone.

Discovering that only in Me is your satisfaction to be found,

Will you be capable of the perfect human relationship,

That I have planned for you.

You will never be united to another

Until you are united with Me.

Exclusive of anyone or anything else.

Exclusive of any other desires or longings.

I want you to stop planning, to stop wishing, and allow Me to give you

The most thrilling plan existing . . . one you cannot imagine.

I want you to have the best. Please allow Me to bring it to you.

You just keep watching Me, expecting the greatest things.

Keep experiencing the satisfaction that I am.

Keep listening and learning the things that I tell you.

Just wait, that’s all. Don’t be anxious, don’t worry

Don’t look around at things others have gotten

Or that I have given them

Don’t look around at the things you think you want,

Just keep looking off and away up to Me,

Or you’ll miss what I want to show you.

And then, when you’re ready, I’ll surprise you with a love

Far more wonderful than you could dream of.

You see, until you are ready, and until the one I have for you is ready,

I am working even at this moment

To have both of you ready at the same time.

Until you are both satisfied exclusively with Me

And the life I prepared for you,

You won’t be able to experience the love that exemplified your relationship with Me.

And this is perfect love.

And dear one, I want you to have this most wonderful love,

I want you to see in the flesh a picture of your relationship with Me.

And to enjoy materially and concretely the everlasting union of beauty,

perfection and love that I offer you with Myself.

Know that I love you utterly. I AM God.

Believe it and be satisfied.”

 

This prayer changed my life. For the first time, I understood. I wasn’t finding a guy because I wasn’t finding Jesus.

Remember when I said I wanted to talk about patience? This was it. It took a month (on top of the two I’d already spent wanting him). While this might not seem like long, it was forever. I prayed that prayer every single day for a month. I prayed to St. Anthony every single day for a month. I begged him to bring that man back into my life. I begged him for love and happiness and promised to pursue Jesus at the same time.

It took a month for Anthony to answer me. Since then, it’s been over 2 and a half years. Funny, isn’t it? The man of my dreams shares the name with the saint I spoke to for what seemed like forever.

Because of this prayer, I know I have a relationship that will last. I pursued Jesus instead of pursuing a boy. I focused on Jesus instead of focusing on a boy. When I had finally made the decision that I didn’t need him anymore, God put him right back in my life. Patience works. God knows your heart, and only God knows when you are actually ready.

I’ve come a long way in my faith life since then, and so has Anthony. Jesus forced me to be patient, showing me that the best things really do come to those who wait. He showed me that He will never give you step 2 before you’ve completed step 1, and as annoying as that can be sometimes, it all makes sense at the end.

Jesus isn’t just someone who I talk about in Theology anymore. I have an actual prayer life. I say the rosary more often now than I ever have. Now, I’m not saying that I found Jesus because I found a boy (quite the opposite, actually). I’ve gone through a million other trials since then. My point is simple: Don’t make your own plans. Make your soul, and your soul will find the way.

Love is patient, remember? (1 Cor. 13). While I became patient in finding love, Jesus was patient in waiting for me to find Him. He didn’t rush me; he didn’t give me an ultimatum. He let me make a few mistakes until I finally begged Him for mercy, and oh boy did mercy come. I will forever be grateful to Jesus and St. Anthony.

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Becca is a rising senior at Mount St. Mary’s University. She is heading to law school in the fall. Becca loves coffee and mountains and one day she is going to change the world.