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Lara Patangan looks back on old journals and discovers that all she ever wanted was the answer to everything.

I’ve never journaled much because I figured if I wrote down my most vulnerable thoughts it would someday be used to commit me into a sanitarium where I would spend the rest of my days eating green Jell-O wondering how full life could have been if I only used my Holly Hobbie journal to draw pictures of cats instead of depictions of insanity. 

But the reality is, I was never crazy. I was human. And, where the line occasionally blurs between the two, looking back at the few journals I sporadically kept over the years, the problem becomes clear. Regardless of what stage of life I was in, whether it was as a newlywed in my twenties, or as a mother of young children in my thirties, or during an existential crisis in my forties, the commonality between the pages inked in these decades was a quest to figure everything out. It wasn’t so much wisdom I sought, but the clarity of a crystal ball. I wanted the yellow-brick-road version of life so that all I had to do was follow the path to Oz.  




So often I worried about missing out or messing up. I was scared of failing and falling behind. I was certain that there were right answers and a right way, and if I was only smart enough or less directionally challenged, I would know how to do this thing called life. But what I understand now is that the unknown path isn’t something to fear. It isn’t a trap to tiptoe around. It isn’t static or straight, and it won’t save you from loneliness or loss or any of the other uncomfortable feelings of our humanity.  It isn’t something to figure out as much as it is something to discover. 

All of those questions hidden in the intermittent passages of old journals never had the answers I sought. There was never one right way that was going to make life sensible nor one clear path that was going to keep me from making mistakes, from being hurt, or that would dull that desperate ache of our inherent yearning for Christ. If there was indeed a universal answer that one could plug in as a resolution to any question, it would be love. And could there be anything more illogical than that?  




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It wasn’t so much wisdom I sought, but the clarity of a crystal ball. #CatholicMom

Love is the most insane thing in existence. It has power to both heal and hurt us. It has strength to both unite and untether us. It has gentleness that is both tender and tenacious. The abundance it gives and the emptiness of its loss encompass life’s greatest joys and most profound sorrows. Considering love’s paradoxes and heady passions, it’s no wonder we aren’t all feasting on green Jell-O. Yet, for all of its insanity, love is the truest thing we may know.  

Love is the closest path any of us will have to the yellow brick road, and no one embodied this more than Jesus. He showed us compassion and care for our neighbor. He showed us that love involves sacrifice. It seeks to forgive. It challenges us to think of others needs more than our own. This is the path we are called to follow. Love is a direction that leads us where we need to go. It is the great hope of our humanity that will take us from being skeptical of our neighbor to being certain that all that really matters about them is that we treat them with the same love and mercy God has shown us.    

There will always be more questions than there are answers on this side of the living, but if you were to only know one, may you know love.   



Copyright 2023 Lara Patangan
Images: Canva