The most obnoxious pair of oversized sunglasses couldn’t mask the tears that fell down my face as I cried my way through the Spring/early Summer of 2022. “We would just be sitting at the pool with our kids, and I would look over and Michelle would be crying,” my dear friend laughed with me recently as I shared my radical story of healing from the dumpster fire that was a major portion of this last year. You see, I’ve been a Catholic all my life. I’ve encountered the Lord and had a relationship with Him, but apparently I hadn’t let Him all the way in. Last March a somewhat insignificant experience unleashed every insecurity I have ever felt…EVER.
It felt like a pot of boiling water desperately needing to boil over and I just kept pushing the lid down onto as hard as I could, “Everything’s fine here, folks!” And for a while, I believed it. I couldn’t hear or see the water boiling – out of sight, out of mind. Maybe it will just evaporate, I thought – but not this water. I slipped my grip for one minute on that lid and the whole thing exploded. Water everywhere, burning me in the process. Any control I once had, gone.
Thoughts I had buried were brought to the light – the biggest one of all, “I find my worth in what other people think of me.” That thought wasn’t really working out, but I didn’t know any other way. I should correct myself. I did know intellectually that Jesus was, or should be the only source of my worth. I would even tell other people about that Truth, but for the first time in my life I was admitting that I didn’t believe it. I did not believe that the Lord could heal me, could be the source of my identity.
The pot boiled over and I was left with a mess. I began searching for anything that would help me clean it up and offer me a taste of relief. In a matter of four months I saw three different therapists, talked with my doctor, and purchased more self-help books and memberships than I care to admit. Oh, and I cried. Everyday. All the time. Therapy was helpful, and I had brought my trauma to Jesus and experienced Him there with me in it – healing it. Touching my wounds. It was beautiful to process all of that. So why was I still so stuck?
Enter Metanoia Catholic. I was #influenced on social media (again) and thought I would try one more “self-help” membership – bonus points for this one because it was Catholic. I bought the Metanoia Catholic Journal and, pretty quickly, the Holy Spirit used this community to “change my life.” This sounds so simple, and as an English major it pains me to use such common hyperbole, but I’ll make an exception when it is actually the truth – my life is changed. Jesus healed me. I have a testimony. I believe it now – I can’t stop shouting it from the rooftops!
Before Metanoia Catholic, Jesus had been let into my wounds, but I refused to take his hand and let Him lead me forward. I just wanted to sit in my ick. As a teacher, I was constantly helping my students “show, not tell” in their writing. Show me what a beautiful sunrise looks like, don’t just tell me it’s beautiful. The same applied here. I had been craving for someone to show me what “taking every thought captive to Christ” looked like. I had only been told to do it. No one had ever discipled me in it, that is until the Lord brought me to this beautiful community and journal.
I started bringing Him everything, and I learned how to reason through my thoughts with His grace. This journal taught me how I could be my own objective jury for all the madness that went on in my head. I could find evidence for the truth, and I could choose to believe it. I learned that Jesus wanted to meet me in my ugly thoughts, not after I had them cleaned up. White knuckling my way to healing wasn’t going to work. This process was painful, but it was finally worth the pain because I had hope. I started running to Jesus through my journaling because I knew every toxic thought could be brought to His light and transformed.
If only I could go give last summer’s hot-mess-express of a woman (a.k.a me) a huge hug and tell her that, “It’s all worth it.” Tell her that in 2023 my gratitudes in Exercise #2 of the journal would include Jesus allowing me to hit rock bottom because it led to my transformation. I truly believe that was the only way he could reach my heart. It was the only way he could show me how much He loves me. Oh, how that must have broken His heart to allow me to go through such pain, but He knew what awaited me on the other side.
Oh, how he loves me. Oh, how he loves you. There’s hope for everyone.
About the Author
About the Author
Hi! My name is Michelle Zuhlke, and I reside in a small town in Northeast Nebraska where my husband and I raise our kids, pigs, and corn. My degree is in English Education, but I have spent the last seven years at home with my children while helping spread the mission of the New Evangelization in our parish and archdiocese. I stumbled upon Metanoia Catholic during the summer of 2022, and my heart has been burning to share their message with everyone I meet ever since. I would love to connect — especially if you want to brainstorm about how to bring this mission more fully to your archdiocese/parish. You can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org.