May the Lord bless you all and give you strength and courage to persevere.
I would like to share with you all a struggle that I had, and the victory that the Lord has won for me while I was in Germany. And also how the Cloud of Witnesses accompanies a soul and aids her, as well.
Upon arriving in Germany, I began to sense a certain air of heaviness and hardiness around the atmosphere. Therefore the fear of men and their thoughts, plus the unknown heaviness in the air, eventually restrained me for 5 months. I wore my habit when arriving at Frankfurt airport and had no problem coming with it on my way to Sister’s apartment. Well, being midnight, nobody saw me actually. But when people eventually began to see me around, the devil would bounce on me insinuating, “They are eyeing you! A nun in this place? And she wears a normal civilian jacket and tennis shoes? What kind of nun is that? A joke!? A worldly one?” “Why is she here? A fish out of the water?!”
My heart would skip a beat when someone would pass by the balcony with the possibility of having been seen by them. I would pull the curtains right then and there and slide to the side if I happened to wear my priestly stole. At most times I avoided going out alone to throw out the trash, even if the trash containers were 3 minutes away from me. I did not wish to go out to, “Take a walk with Me,” as the Lord would say it in a Rhema. Stressing that eyes would be on me for having a black veil and a habit. Seemingly out of place.
Four months passed, and one day Father Ezekiel calls me. During our conversation, I end up breaking down and he came to know about my situation. And eventually, Mother Elisha came to know about it, that I broke down before him. And Father Ezekiel told her to pass onto me his words. She tells me, “If the oppression is that hard, to the point that you cannot go out and take a walk freely, then let her have her normal clothes on and go outside.” Mother Elisha agreeing, she told me that since I go by “obedience” as my personal superior, she grants me full permission to wear normal clothes and to go outside until I gain confidence to wear the habit in public again.
On the following day, Sister and I, we went to the store to prepare for the arrival of two members from the Mountain, who would be lodging with us for some days. On that day, I took the counsel Father and Mother Elisha gave me and put it into action. And, the only thing I noticed as being positive about wearing the normal clothing, was that eyes were not on me, and nobody knew a thing that I was a Franciscan Sister. But on the other hand, it felt off. Something was missing, as I could feel it in my gut.
On the following day we go out again, and this time I give it a try with the habit. Oh, the joy of my soul!! It felt like, “Now that’s more like it!” feeling in my right shoes. Feeling in my right self. It did not bother me right there what the thoughts of people were. I left them in the hands of the Holy Spirit, as I would say, “I leave them into Your hands, Holy Spirit.” For Him to deal with them, to guide whatever thoughts they would have about me, upon seeing me like that.
I remember, days before I had asked for help from some Saints, to aid me in some specific areas of my life that I was struggling with. And Father Seraphim of Savor — the one with the big bear, — he was to help me throw out the trash, and not to be afraid to be seen by people. And as I was undergoing the experiment, I would dialogue with Saint Francis here and there about my feeling and thoughts about this experiment. Since he is the one who would boldly walk around in the habit without a worry in the world, whatever place he might go. And since, also, I am a little child of his in this Franciscan family, I spoke with him as we moved into those stores.
I included the Cloud of Witnesses into this and asked for their help and for their presence to be with me. …And it was comforting! And their prayers greatly helped.
Part of my insecurity was that I felt alone. That I was the only one wearing it even though I had another Sister with me. But due to some personal reasons, she did not wear the habit full-time, yet. So, I found myself wishing she would wear it along with me, so I would not feel a single fish out of water. [Chuckle]
However, after those 2 days of challenge, the two members from the Mountain arrived at our place, and seeing how they came in wearing their habit and not being really fearful, at all, not ashamed, or insecure. Them, being two, bearing life together should-to-shoulder…—it encouraged me somehow. Soon on another day, another Sister who was staying in Germany also, joined us, coming to visit us all. And having gone to the city to tend to some things, we were now a band of 4 Franciscans on German streets [Chuckle], which people doubtlessly wondered about as they saw us passing by. But I left the thoughts of the people into the Holy Spirit’s hands and we just kept going, just being there.
And now 5 months later, I found myself going to the balcony with my veil and habit on, tending to some flowers, and I perceive…I perceived I am not so much disturbed by the presence of people passing by anymore. Obviously, the battle still goes here and there, but it lessened a lot compared to how strong it was 4-5 months ago when I initially arrived in Germany. Having gone to take a walk near a river with the Sister who came to visit us — it also helped! Being out in two, helped, encouraged, and strengthened me. Now if I am alone again, is not the same as before anymore. The Lord is winning the battle for me.
There will always eyes on us. With anyone who walks the walk with the Lord, and follows the way He has for us. But the Lord guides their hearts. We just keep going and stand on the path He called us to walk in. This is a beautiful walk because, it brings us to confront fears and insecurities. That’s for sure! To grow and see how He wins the victory for us. Along with whole family members in heaven who cheer us on and help on the way.
And that is how the Lord began to win the battle and gain the victory over the ground of fear about me wearing the habit in public, or about the opinions of men. May the Lord give you all the strength you need to walk with Him. To be courageous, and detached, from the world’s point of view. Amen.