There’s no denying we are facing a lot of anxiety-inducing problems “out there” in our Church and in the world. On a more personal level, I know few young people who don’t face the struggle of feeling inferior to others on social media or in real life. If you have found yourself becoming cynical or discouraged by the world’s problems, or if your Instagram news feed is giving you a complex, then I have something I truly hope will help you.
In this YouTube video I made recently I encouraged women who are struggling to stay chaste to “snuggle up to Jesus’s heart and let him tell you what he thinks of you” instead of seeking validation of worth from men. After I recorded the video I scratched my head. Why did I use the word “snuggle?” It sounded way too casual, as though I was reducing Jesus to a human and not God. I considered other words but couldn’t find a better fit, so I opted for progress over perfection and left “snuggle” in.
Later that day I cracked open St. Faustina’s diary, Divine Mercy in My Soul, which I am loving but crawling through at a snail’s pace. It’s such an incredible read and after each page I have to put it down and digest it slowly. This phrase in which St. Faustina details how she handled her struggles almost made my eyes pop out of my head: “I snuggled closely to the Sacred Heart of Jesus.” Wow! An actual Saint used the exact word that I thought was too familiar…
Jesus must want me to stay closer to him than I even want to let myself imagine.
Now, I’m not an advocate of “buddy Jesus” or anything like that, but I have been meditating on the kind of comfort that snuggling with Jesus brings. You only snuggle in an intimate, trusting relationship. It’s a reassuring, grounding, creature-comfort expression of love. Snuggling can help my babies settle and fall asleep when they are scared or sick. Snuggling induces rest, security, and a feeling of being home.
In my spiritual life I sometimes fall into the trap of thinking that religion is only about sacrifice and discomfort. Maybe it’s because church pews usually aren’t very comfortable and because I am usually tired during mass from trying to wrestle my children into quiet submission. I remember being told in my childhood to offer up my discomfort. Now, I have no problem with the formality of the mass. It’s right and just to dress up and behave with reverence in Church, and pews shouldn’t be made to feel like movie theater recliner seats. And yes, we should offer discomfort up. However, if I don’t have a personal prayer life outside of Sunday mass then I’m only going to associate God with formality and sacrifice. I’d be missing out on the richness and the real home that Jesus wants to be for me in my daily life.
I love the thought of snuggling up to Jesus’s heart the more I think about it. We have the security of an all-loving God whom we can turn to at any time. He wants us to hold out our arms to him so he can pick us up and snuggle us back. (It still didn’t feel entirely natural to write that last sentence, but I’m getting there.)
There is a beautiful 24-hour adoration chapel five minutes from my house. In one of my recent visits there, I closed my eyes and asked Jesus what he wanted to tell me today. When I opened my eyes they immediately fell on an ornate relief sculpture of the Last Supper carved into the altar. My eyes moved over the faces of the Apostles. Each of them expressed some form of disbelief, cynicism, struggle or confusion at what they saw, much like we feel as we struggle to believe that there is an answer to all the world's problems. The Apostles' body language showed them away from Jesus, unable to quite accept or understand yet that he was giving them his body and blood to eat and drink….
…Except St. John the Beloved. I felt a tug on my heart when I saw his form snuggling up to the heart of Christ. There was no other word for it. He was close enough to hear Christ’s heart beating with love. John's face showed tranquility and perfect peace. He was gazing at the bread transubstantiated into Jesus’s body and blood with a look of understanding.
John the Beloved skipped the questioning and cynicism and took a shortcut by taking refuge in Jesus’s heart.
I think the answer to much of our anxiety is super simple. A quick glance at the news shows me the churning political divide in our country and the deep-seated hurt and turmoil in the Catholic Church. I get so frustrated with things that are out of my control. I struggle to not compare myself to other people on social media, aka everyone’s filtered and perfectly-posed highlight reel. What is the answer to these swirling discomforts and difficult questions? Start by snuggling up to the heart of Christ. He wants to show you how he sees the world and how he sees you.
If you struggle to believe what you are reading, then developing a relationship with Christ is the perfect place to start. It will take effort and time, but it is literally the absolute best way to spend your time on this earth. Get off the grid and into Christ's arms! But before you do, share this with someone who feels anxious. I'd be so grateful if you did.
God love you, friend. Oh, wait. He does. You are his heaven :)