the devil is talking

“What the bleepity bleep are you doing you ugly bleepity bleep bleeper?! You are bleepity bleepin’ UGLY!”

A few weeks ago, as I was getting off the bus on my commute home, a man randomly yelled words I would not want Grace to hear and called me names a woman should never be called. He also called me ugly, multiple times, while shouting and staring me down. The experience was absolutely rattling. It came on suddenly and without being provoked, and, of course, no one should be treated that way in the first place. While it was certainly hurtful and scary (I started crying as I walked away), I paid little heed to his insults of being called ugly. If he had told me I didn’t have a thigh gap or that he could see the blackheads on my nose, maybe I would have felt truly insulted, and gone home to obsess over those “imperfections,” because those comments are true. However, I do not believe that I am ugly, so those words of his did not affect me. 

On the other hand, as I was thinking about publishing this journal, there were many moments I felt scared, inadequate, and timid. A voice stirred in me, threatening, people won’t like your writing, or this journal won’t resonate with people. On many occasions, I doubted the vision I had for this journal, thus coming to the momentary conclusion that I should not go through with it. This was not a scary man yelling in my face; this was a voice in my own head. Yet, this voice frightened me one hundred fold more than my encounter with that unkind stranger. This was the devil talking.

My spiritual director, Fr. John Kartje, once told me that the devil does not bother attacking us at our strengths, but rather he attacks our weak points. The devil tempts us where he knows he has a chance to win; he does not want to waste his energy. The devil is a cocktail to an alcoholic, it’s just one drink, you’ll be fine, no one will know, it whispersHe speaks through our vices, our weaknesses. Personally, I tend to get overly concerned about validation from others (maybe because I am a words of affirmation person) rather than being secure in my value as a child of God. The devil knows that, and uses that fact to his advantage. Recall the words that the voice in my headthe devilused to tempt me: people will not like my writing, it will not resonate with people. He speaks precisely to our weaknesses. Similarly, when I get overly concerned with my body image, the voice in my head is not questioning whether I am healthy (I know I am!), but rather my appearance and body typesomething inherently related to the validation of others. Conversely, the devil does not bother tempting me where I am confident and strong. The devil does not tell me that I cannot persevere or work hard enough for a task, for in that I am confident. Likewise, he does not tempt me with lies or provoke anxiety about my marriage, for he knows in that I am securestrong and protected, like a fortress.

While the devil produces anxiety, Jesus instills peace. Shortly before releasing this journal, I went to Eucharistic adoration with the fears and doubts the devil had instilled in me regarding its release to the public. I came to Jesus, in His presence, bearing these insecurities and temptations. I left with a sense of peace and confidence, and soon stumbled upon this quote from Pope John Paul II, “It is Jesus who stirs in you the desire to do something great with your lives, the will to follow an ideal, the refusal to allow yourselves to be grounded down by mediocrity, the courage to commit yourselves humbly and patiently to improving yourselves and society, making the world more human and more fraternal.” This perfectly described my motivation behind With A Little Grace and this, as JPII says, was all ignited by Jesus! Jesus inspired the vision and mission of this journal. So, it makes sense that the devil would vehemently try to oppose my mission. But I could not let the devil win this battle; I published With A Little Grace the next day! 

In the places where the devil stirs up doubts, in the wounds where he whispers lies, in our weaknesses where he tempts us, Jesus encourages us. It is precisely in those dark places where Jesus wants to bring His light. Jesus eagerly awaits for us to come to Him in our weakness, with our open wounds, and to ask for His strength and healing there: "My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is perfected in your weakness” (Corinthians 12:9). Reflect on where the devil is talking in your life. We all have weaknesses, doubts, and vulnerabilities where the devil festers. While it is easier to keep our wounds hidden, Jesus longs for us to reveal them to Him, so he can heal with his saving grace.

With a little grace,


40 Days Without Makeup: How I Discovered the Best Foundation

In case it snuck up on you like it snuck up on me—Lent starts tomorrow (what?!). Especially in the years in which the Lenten season comes early, it can be tempting to choose something familiar to give up in the mad rush before Ash Wednesday. If you, like me, are still unsure what to commit to this year, I encourage you to spend time in prayer about this decision (even if it means starting a few days late). While participating in Lent is a feat in itself, I found that what we commit to can have a lasting impact. Two years ago, as a senior in college, I wrote the following Lenten reflection for my cousins’ blog, Princess Prayer, now Castle. Although reading this piece may be the second time around for some of you, I hope my insight serves as solidarity and inspiration for the question we ponder this time of year,“What should I give up for Lent?” As we pray over our Lenten commitments, may we recognize where we most need God’s grace in our lives and be willing to receive it there.

. . . 

One of the unfortunate aspects of going to a school on the quarter system is having an extra set of finals, as we have three terms per year, rather than two. Finals in college mean several things: late nights, coffee, anxiety, stress…and for me, a glowing breakout of blemishes and pimples. Thank you, stress! While a little acne is certainly nothing new to me, my winter finals—and the inevitable breakout they caused—last month posed a new challenge: no foundation or concealer to cover them up! I had given up makeup for Lent. 

I had acquired the perfect regimen to conceal my usual blemishes (Make Up Forever concealer + a foundation brush, thank you very much!), and of course I loved to add eyeliner or mascara, and lipstick for special occasions (I am totally digging the red lip trend). You might even call me a “beauty junkie”—I love reading about the latest and greatest beauty products and collecting my slew of samples from Sephora. 

But why makeup? Wouldn’t giving up desserts or Facebook for Lent do the job? Well, certainly for me, going without sweets or social media would also require the sacrifice and discipline that Lent calls us to. But when I read about the idea to give up straightening or curling your hair, I knew exactly what God was calling me to sacrifice this Lent. Although I play collegiate field hockey, I also indulge my inner girly-girl: I love to dress up and get all glam. For this reason, I knew going 40 days without makeup would be the perfect Lenten challenge, but there was more. I wanted my Lenten sacrifice to be something that helped me grow in faith and virtue, not solely a sacrifice that strengthened my discipline. 

Especially as women, we expect so much of ourselves. We hold ourselves to a seemingly impossible standard of working out, acing our classes, landing the perfect job, baking a cake for our best friend, and a million other things, all while looking “flawless.” Yet one of the most dangerous things we can do to our spiritual lives is to look like we have it all together. We are human. We are broken. We are sinful. Every one of us. And covering up that frailty, that humanness, allows us to say to Jesus, “I’ve got it, I don’t need you.” Personally, the sins I struggle with most are “sins of the heart,” as my dear friend calls them. Independence from God, righteousness, judgement, jealousy, pride… The sins that we commit on the inside while looking like everything is perfect on the outside. It is easy to “put on a face” (figuratively and literally), and present myself to the world as if everything is okay. Regardless of the brokenness I’m feeling or the sins I’m committing, I can wipe on a smile and fool my friends, family, and certainly strangers. But Jesus is never fooled. Jesus sees right through our foundation and concealer, past our Crest-whitened smiles into the true, broken humans that we are. Yet under society’s pressure to hide our vulnerabilities, weaknesses, and sins, we continue to do so.

Father Manny Dorantes, a priest here at Northwestern, once said that pride—appearing and believing we have it all together—is one of the worst sins we can commit, “For when we are proud, we don’t feel that we need to be saved, and when we don’t need to be saved, we don’t need a savior, and when we don’t need a savior, we don’t need Jesus.” Although the world tells us to be strong, confident, and proud, all relationships require vulnerability in order to form a close connection. Even as little kids we understood this; we told our deepest secrets to only our best friend, “I still watch Barney…don’t tell!” As young adults we continue to do this, as our closest relationships are often those with whom we can share our personal and emotional vulnerabilities. In the same way, accepting Jesus into our lives requires vulnerability on our part. It requires us to look at ourselves and say, “Jesus, I am broken, sinful, and far from perfect.” Jesus died on the cross for our sins, not for the perfect image of ourselves we create. We are made perfect through Jesus’s death and resurrection, as we will commemorate on Good Friday. In order to enter into a relationship with Him, we must first recognize our need for His saving grace. We must feel the urgency of the word, “Hosanna,” which means “Savior, now.”   

For me, it is embarrassingly easy to let go of the urgency and meaning of Hosanna, despite the countless times I have sang it. I build myself up to believe that I don’t need a savior at all, or any help for that matter. Regardless of how I really feel, I like to look like I have it all together, to cover up my vulnerabilities, to dress the part, whatever the role. When I cover up these sins and weaknesses, I convince myself I can do it all on my own. I turn my back to Jesus, and say, “I’ve got this, I don’t need you.” Going au-naturel this Lenten season has been a daily reminder that I don’t have it all together. My “physical vulnerability,” if you will, has allowed me to devote less time to independence and pride, and rely on the fulfillment that Jesus’s healing brings. While makeup is certainly not bad, it is one of the many paths to creating the dangerous image that we have it all together. So, though my spring quarter finals may bring their usual breakout, the foundation I rely on to cover up my blemishes should not be found in a bottle. The foundation that has already covered all of our blemishes was found crucified on the cross.

. . . 

Check out more inspiration to have your #BestLentEver or check out what Pope Francis suggests you give up this year.

With a little grace,