One little bump and I go from calm and collected to, “This plane is going to crash, and I’m too young to die!”
Yes, I’m that dramatic, sometimes.
I think of all the things that I want to still do with my life, things that I want to accomplish, places I wanted to go; I think of children and enjoying the benefits of becoming an old man who sits on his front porch drinking lemonade and yelling at kids to get off his lawn (face it, you know that is going to be awesome).
Fear will grip me the rest of that flight. I can’t focus on anything – not the weird in-flight movie or awkward conversation I am having with the person next to me. I’m gripping the armrest like it will actually steer the plane for the rest of the flight.
I have a hard time taking care of myself. It isn’t that I don’t want to care for myself. I just always think there are more important things to do. When did life get so busy? Running into spiritual direction, the truth smacked me in the face like a 2 by 4. After 45 minutes of sharing my busy and over committed schedule, my director said: “Mary, we are mind, body and soul. You are exhausted! If you don’t learn to care for yourself first, or you will never be spiritually healthy.” Wait, Read more [...]
There’s a very popular saying: “God loves us just the way we are, but He loves us far too much to let us stay that way.” To move us, and to draw us to Him, sometimes God must withdraw so that we can grow. God wants us to enter the Kingdom of Heaven, and to do that we have to choose the path of Christ. Sometimes we are consoled and we feel so close to Jesus. Other times, maybe not so much. Just remember . . . when God feels far away, He is simply calling us to Him and He wants you to come along.
If I could get a ripped, NBA body by sitting in front of the TV an hour a day watching Mythbusters, you bet I’d never miss an episode. In fact, if getting in shape was that easy we’d all be walking around looking like Tony Horton and Jillian Michaels (fitness gurus to the uninitiated). But it’s not that easy. And there are so many things I’d rather do than exercise for an hour a day — like watch reruns of Mythbusters. Things that are good for my body are rarely ever Read more [...]
Let’s take a little trip down the country road with Hunter Hayes. I was recently listening to “Wanted.” I know . . . so last year . . . but you know what never fades with time, our desire to be “wanted” . . . so HA! As I listened to this song I often picture myself dramatically belting the chorus into a microphone as a country singer star. While, in all actuality, I am just sitting at my desk bobbing my head and swaying to the music (desks are rather inhibiting to any other type Read more [...]
As a high schooler, I was a scrawny, ghost-white toothpick with very little strength but a lot of stamina. (Oh, wait . . . I’m still like that.) I loved to play sports and I certainly had the genes for it. Unfortunately, my build made it easy for the opposing team to crack me in half before the referee had any time to notice what happened. Good thing I was fast.
It’s fair to say that my driving is always an adventure full of surprises, disappointments, and apologies to my passengers.
Whether you’re directionally challenged like me or not, life is pretty tough to navigate. Everyone has moments where we are unsure of who we are, where we’re headed, and if there is a voice that we can trust to get us there. Even prayer can be frustrating as we go through different periods where God may seem close or distant, loud or silent.
Our faith, however, is not based on hollow rituals or oppressive rules. It’s based on an encounter with the person of Jesus, who changes everything. Our relationship with Christ connects us with the origin of our life and the meaning of where we are going. He desires us not to be weighed down but rather to live life to its fullest potential (John 10:10).
When He calls us to live a holy life, it’s because he knows what we are capable of and is drawing our potential out of us like any good sports coach does.
This is how we can grow in holiness in everyday life. Every day gives us new opportunities for our selfish, superior part to die and for us to grow in love. Maybe we do the dishes without grumbling about it, help someone with school work even if we’d rather be doing something else, or take time to hang out with our siblings.
I’d probably be on my way home, too. Because, in a way, I have felt like they felt. Maybe you have, too.
We’ve been on the great retreats, attended the amazing youth conferences, heard the killer homilies, felt the graces of Confession, gotten into the power of the Triduum. We’ve heard His voice and felt His presence. Everything is working according to plan.
And then, a little time goes by . . . a couple hours, a couple days, a couple weeks. And the feelings are gone. And it feels like Jesus is gone, too.
If I want to live, there are things in me that need to die. My selfishness, my lust, my greed, my grudges, and my sin have got to go.
Each day we’re faced with this choice: will I live for myself or will I lay my life down? Is my life focused on success or sacrifice?
When we walk into a church, we are confronted with the radical call to die. When we see the baptismal font, we are reminded that it’s only through death that we can rise with Christ. And when we dip our fingers into the Holy Water, we trace the sign of the cross to say, “God, drown whatever needs to be drowned in my heart. I want to live with you, so I’m willing to die like you.”
There’s no room for that kind of wishy-washy-ness when it comes down to deciding where you want to spend eternity. Saying “I do” during those baptismal promises was a powerful moment for me. It meant I was recommitting to giving my life over to my bridegoom, Jesus Christ, and His Church (Ephesians 5).
It was annoying. It was irritating. It was frustrating.
These are not major things. They are tiny, annoying things that piled up one after another. There are greater tragedies in the world, for sure, but that doesn’t mean that I still didn’t feel like throwing my hands up and wallowing in my own misery.
Sometimes light reveals things that we don’t want to see. Lent has a way of doing that. It causes a little bit of pressure and stress, and shows us just how weak we can be sometimes. In my case, sitting in the sun revealed some things in me that I needed to work on. Had I gone and escaped into the shade, I may have missed out on the chance to improve myself.
Sometimes God seems far from us. Sometimes it seems as if He’s forsaken us completely.
When I was sixteen, my dad died from lung cancer. Both during his illness and after his death, I felt very alone, both in a worldly sense – none of my friends had lost a parent—and in a spiritual sense. Part of me believed that God let my dad die, and that he’d left me alone to suffer and grieve.
It’s true! For a long time, even though I knew that Christ offered me forgiveness, I got tired of asking to be forgiven because I knew that no matter how hard I tried, I kept falling into the same sins. Even for sins that I committed once, I had a hard time receiving His forgiveness because I didn’t feel worthy of being forgiven. Even after going to confession, I still felt guilty and ashamed for what I had done because I didn’t believe enough in His mercy.
So often I grasp for more and more. Things are good but I want them to be better. I have so much . . . why do I always want more?
This week has taught me to slow down and receive what God is giving me, and not complain that I want more or less. He knows what I can and can’t handle today. And He won’t give me more than I can handle – with His grace.
You see, more isn’t always better. I used to always focus on achieving, but now I want to focus on receiving. Our Lord is the Giver of all good gifts.
I want a lot of things out of life. I want to be happy. I want to feel like I have purpose. I want to be loved. I want to make a difference. I want to live a life I’m proud of. I want to be a saint. I want chocolate and tacos but not at the same time.
But I don’t know where to find those vague and lofty desires. Are they only talked about in poems and songs? Because so many people around me aren’t happy with their lives, or haven’t found their purpose, or are settling for counterfeit love and a bottle of booze.
Instead of going into the chapel and pouring out my thoughts or trying really hard to hear Him, I’m just sitting in the silence. His calm, gentle, strong voice always comes to me if I submit to the sacred silence in the chapel.
If I can’t make it to the chapel, I can sit in silence with God in my room. My reflection this week on my silent time has flowed nicely with my reflections on not speeding.
What I’ve learned this week is this: I don’t always have to set the pace. Whether it be in the car, in the hallway, or in the chapel – I can take my time. I can slow down. I can breathe. I can listen to His heartbeat, and strive to live my life to the rhythm of that heart beat. Let God set the rhythm, and experience the freedom that it offers.