Saved By Grace

On my ankle, I have a tattoo that reads I>˅˄ and it stands for I AM (Yahweh/God) is greater (>) than my highs(^) and my lows (v). It reminds me that no matter where I am in my life, no matter how overwhelmed I feel, God’s plan is greater. Actually, I got this tattoo as a reminder of a time I was so depressed that I had planned to end my own life, but instead chose to turn to my family and God.

I know this is pretty heavy for daily inspiration, but I tell you this because I know that I am not the only one with a history of depression, especially in our society today. Specifically, I tell you this because I am still here for the same reason the widow in today’s First Reading did not commit suicide. You see, when Elijah met the widow, she had already decided to use the last of her flour to bake a cake that would kill both herself and her son. She was convinced that her life of struggle could not go on any longer. She would not put herself, nor her son, through famine and more tragedy.

When I read that the widows was about to “go in and prepare something for myself and my son; when we have eaten it, we shall die,” I immediately wanted to cry. I had been there. I had gotten to that point. For years, I had felt as though my life had no purpose or direction. Yet, God had a plan.

God sent Elijah to this widow because he knew she had planned to die. The widow instead chose to tell Elijah of her internal struggle, and Elijah tells her not to be afraid, citing God’s words in order to remind her that God would provide for her. In a similar way, when I told my parents, they told me that everything would be okay; that God has a plan for me and put people in my life so that I would always be loved and protected.

It was soon after telling my parents about my depression that, through the church bulletin, my mother found a retreat titled, “God’s Plan For Me.” Going to this retreat reminded me that I was not alone. It reminded me that God knew what he was doing by giving me challenges. My life was never meaningless, and struggle was never a reason to give up.

Unfortunately, this newfound hope did not make everything instantly perfect. I still had a harsh reality to deal with. I had just graduated university and had no job lined up, so I moved back home. Being surrounded by my supportive, faith-filled family was a wonderful, yet difficult choice. Quite honestly, I hadn’t planned on living this long and had no idea how I was going to pay my bills, especially in a town with a population of less than 300! But as always, God had a plan.

Within a week of moving home, my hometown parish office called me and asked if I was interested in their part-time position as bulletin editor. I remember saying yes and crying thankful tears of joy when I hung up the phone. Using the bulletin, Our Heavenly Father had not only found a way to remind me that my life was worth living, but had also given me a job and further added purpose to my life.

Once I began working at the parish, I promised myself that wherever I worked next would be a Catholic company so that I could help God’s people the same way he helped me. I wanted to “pay it forward” ten-fold. This is how I ended up moving over a thousand miles for the opportunity to work at Diocesan. Funnily enough, though applying for Catholic jobs across the country, Diocesan was the only bulletin company I applied for. Coincidence? I prefer the term “act of God.”

Our Lord did not create us, his pride and joy, so that he could watch us struggle. He did not create us to be alone and keep our struggles to ourselves. Nor did God did not create you, or me, so that we would lose hope. He created us with everlasting love and undeniable purpose. As my favorite verse, Deuteronomy 31:6 reminds us to “be strong and courageous, do not be afraid or tremble, for the LORD your God is the one who goes with you. He will not fail you or forsake you.” The powerful I AM is greater than our highs and our lows. He is always there, always watching and always ready to remind us that we have purpose and hope. God always has a plan.

Veronica Alvarado is a born and raised Texan currently living in Michigan. Since graduating from Texas A&M University, Veronica has published various articles in the Catholic Diocese of Austin’s official newspaper, the Catholic Spirit, and other local publications. She now works as the Content Specialist in Diocesan’s Web Department.