Yes, Virginia, There is a Purgatory

Purgatory – don’t tell me it’s not real. Don’t tell me it’s only for Catholics. Don’t tell me it’s not in the Bible. Because it’s real; and we are in it.

You might not know you’re in purgatory, but you are.

I never thought it was a holding place we go to after we die; rather it is the here and now. It’s where humanity stumbled into after falling out of Eden.

It’s the waiting, it’s the place between really bad and really good. It’s not knowing the outcome. It’s the painful process of living life less perfect than God’s original idea. Yet it’s also the place where diamonds can be formed. It’s the rough. It’s the place where some of us start to understand “that peace” – “that surpasses understanding” and where wisdom is learned.

Right now, more than ever, it feels like we, as a world, are tired of waiting in Purgatory. We are tired of the bad news, we are tired of the natural disasters and struggling relationships. We are tired of the stock market charts. We are tired of innocent people warred against, and children getting leukemia, and houses being foreclosed, and unemployment payments running out, and oil gushing into the sea. We are tired of hearing another prayer request, when ours feel unanswered. We are tired of not being told the truth. We are tired of the band-aid that we flick and pick at that never gets ripped off.

Prolonged suffering. That is purgatory.

Wiki says that Purgatory is the condition or process of purification or temporary punishment in which the souls of those who die in a state of grace are made ready for Heaven.  And when I read that, it really feels like my life, right now… Aren’t we all in a process of purification that gets us ready to cross over that river into the gates of Heaven?

For the most part, I have been lucky blessed enough to have lived a semi-charmed life; but the pending Purgatory just around the corner has always taunted and haunted me. Sometimes Purgatory jumps into my lap unexpectedly, and I must instantly deal with heartache in raw and unbearable ways.  Sometimes I do things that invite Purgatory to become very real and gross in my life like an unwanted dog in my lap that is set on licking my face and humping my leg. 

I used to pray for the Purgatory to go away; for pain to stop and fairytales to return or begin. Then one day, as I looked back on the heartache moments of my life, and times when I really didn’t see a reason for my existence, and times when my prayers for a charmed fairytale life to return fell flat, I realized…these are my stories to live. These are my hardships to bear. These are my moments of learning and gaining the smallest ounces of wisdom. Because I never learn a thing while living a charmed existence. But rather in these intensified times of “purification” I start to learn a thing or two about life that fixes selfish parts of my heart that aren’t very heaven-ready. That aren’t very Jesusy. So now, while I still pray for some relief, my prayers have changed. And all I know to do is to sit still, get meditative, and wait and beg pray for patience and peace while I’m in the bad moments. And that’s all I know to pray for you too.

Looking back, I can see that I’ve come out of every heartache intact. Broken, but wiser and healed; a stronger bigger Willow that can bend in the wind.  Looking back I can see that prayers were answered/unanswered in the right way, I just didn’t know it at the time; and I’m better off having gone through the fire, the hurt, the process.  I can’t believe I’m saying this, because there are band-aids in my life that I want to rip off right now – and I can’t – I have to wait.  And wait.

And when it’s all in your face, it’s hard to remember that it’s really is gonna be alright – it’s part of the process.

I don’t know what you’re going through, but there is a good chance you are going through something that doesn’t feel okay, you are tired of the despair around you, you want need it to go away.  You need some relief right now. But we weren’t promised rose gardens; we are promised peace when asked for while we become diamonds during our stay in Purgatory.  I don’t know how, I really don’t, but it’s gonna be alright – it is part of the process. Just pray for peace, that’s what we’re wisely instructed to do.

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10 thoughts on “Yes, Virginia, There is a Purgatory

  1. Wow! That makes soooo much sense. You’ve given me some answers to some questions I’ve had for a long time . . . thanks so much.

    I have studied many times, the marble which was chiselled for me.
    A boat with a furled sail at rest in a harbour, in truth it pictures not my destination but my life – Edgar Masters

    • Happy Friday David. Well, I’m probably not right, but I’m thinking – maybe, just maybe. I do love the mystery of God and His ways that are not explained to us.

  2. I offer this statement in the kindest, most complimentary manner . . .

    Your mind is like a deep, bottomless cavern holding in it, wisdom, answers, honesty, hurt and healing; each of these floating upward, seeking the light, striving to find its way out so that others may benefit from the insight you offer. Go girlfriend!

    • Compliment taken – thank you Michelle (I often think my brain is a great big scary cavern). Every day is a step towards clarity or more marvelous mystery; both I’m really kinda good with.

  3. Another incredible post – words I need to read every day. And Michelle’s compliment is beautiful!

  4. found your site on del.icio.us today and really liked it.. i bookmarked it and will be back to check it out some more later

  5. Sherry,
    It is always so comforting to see life from your point of view. You are so right that how we deal with difficult times is how we grow. So I guess purgatory is a good thing. Your introspection is so good for all of us – it’s healthy to step back and take a good hard look at ourselves.
    Myles

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