Ante & Roberta Skoko
As You Find Me
Updated: Jul 23, 2019
To date I'm 29 weeks and 5 days pregnant, teeing up for summer camp season at the parish, simultaneously preparing mentally and logistically for my mat leave which starts August 23rd. Ante and I have been packing sporadically, preparing for our move to Oakville this Fall, just a few weeks after our September 18th due date. Spiritually I’m working on intensifying my relationship with Christ, trying to form better and deeper habits of prayer and contemplation, Scripture reading, and Rosary praying, cleaning up any remnant of my potty mouth before our son arrives!
Since my reversion to faith almost 10 years ago, I’ve been striving more and more to be who God created me to be, free from vice and worldly views, remembering this passage always: “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—His good, pleasing and perfect will” (Romans 12:2). If you have a Catholic et Cetera card you’ll notice that the verse is referenced; Ante and I aren’t interested in status quo—we want to follow Jesus, and we know that we can’t do it on our own, with our human understanding. As fallen beings, we have too many blind spots, and to think we have it all together would be ridiculous. To think that Jesus is happy with the way of this world is equally ridiculous, which means we have a lot of work to do in terms of learning, understanding, and humbling ourselves so that we can spread His Truth authentically.
This journey of sanctification—being made or becoming holy—is painful. It isn’t fun to recognize my downfalls, and it’s not easy to admit I’m doing wrong even if it seems as harmless as a mild swear. In the past few years I’ve come to understand that my only real fear, or the only real tragedy of my life, would be not to become a Saint. Loved ones will pass, those close to me may disappoint me profoundly, society will frustrate me and persecute me, etc. These pains and trials will pass, but the decision I make eternally—to love or not to love God—will last forever. Our relationship with God should be intense because the life He is calling us to is intense.
This past weekend I swore mildly at a youth conference. I couldn’t stop thinking about it: “Catholic youth minister and woman of God casually swears at youth event.” How many people heard? Were they surprised? Did it make them think that that kind of language is appropriate? What does God think? This may sound silly to you or you may understand completely, but bottom line, I want to be the hands and feet of Jesus, and He wouldn’t have said what I said. The true manifestation of our individuality is sainthood, and there was nothing unique about what I said—it was typical and base. There are other, more articulate words I could have used to express myself and to be a good example of a faithful woman.
Fast forward a few hours, I was obsessing over this incident even after having gone to Confession. This over-thinking made me realize that 1. I’m paranoid, but 2. I’m not quite sure how God sees me. I have been holding back from accepting God’s love because I don’t feel worthy in my imperfections. In my mind I know this is silly because I won’t be perfect until I’m united with Him in Heaven, and He loves me enough as I am that He died for me, but my heart needed some convincing. That evening in Adoration before the Blessed Sacrament, I prayed that God would guide me, showing me how he sees me. I knelt down, and the way I was situated left Ante standing in front of me. It crossed my mind that if he turned for whatever reason, he could easily trip and fall on me. In that moment I knew that I’d have superhuman strength to push him away—probably across the room, ha ha—to protect my baby. I would do anything to protect my child… Anything. Then I thought of our little one growing up, realizing that he will do many imperfect things that I don’t necessarily like. Will it change my deep love for him? Not even for a second. I will lay my life down for this child each day, and there is nothing he could do to make me love him less, or sacrifice less. I already love him so much it hurts…
It clicked: God loves me in the same way. He’s not always pleased with every single thing I do or say, but there is nothing I could do that will ever separate me from His love; my mere existence is eternally precious to Him. As He delights in me, nothing pleases God more than when I return to Him asking for mercy, letting Him hold me as I promise to sin no more. How many times will He forgive? An infinite number. How many hairs on my head? I don’t know, but He does. He knows and loves every single thing about me. This is why He hurts when I turn to sin: He knows it hurts my soul. When I sin ignorantly or justify my nonsense, I’m not seeing clearly—I’m missing the mark. It’s when I feel shame and turn back to Him for freedom that He celebrates.
God has given us the free will to love Him because without our free will we’d be puppets, and the love wouldn’t be real. God will always forgive and rejoice when we return to Him, but in the same breath, He will never force us. Many of us are on the path of self-worship and pride, and while God may see us on a path to destruction, He will not take away our free will. With that said, may we all ask ourselves each day: Where I am falling short? Where is my pain? Where are my blind spots? Where I am being disobedient to Christ and His Church? May we ask these things so that we are united to the saving and transformative power of God, becoming the people we are meant to be.
This past weekend Ante and I realized that while we are happy with one another on so many levels, we can go deeper and love one another stronger… But we can’t do it without God. God the key to understanding the pain of and impediments from the past which affect us now, revealing the gifts and strengths we have and how He wants us to use them, shaping and refining us to live His light more fully as individuals, in our marriage, families, and in the world around us. Join us as we dig deeper into prayer and self-understanding, walking fearlessly toward Heaven together, remembering that God loves us too much to keep us the way we are.
“And I know I don't deserve this kind of love
Somehow this kind of love is who You are
It's a grace I could never add up
To be somebody You still want
You love me as You find me
And Your love's too good to leave me here"
(As You Find Me, Hillsong United)
God Bless you,