I’ve just completed “Missionary Academy,” where I spent the last month exploring the faith and what it means to be a missionary. What I’ve realized in this time is that, although I originally desired to simply be a tireless servant, this year and my mission is not all about the work. Actually, a lot of what this mission is about is stepping back and allowing God to get to work: work in my heart and in my life. I’ve been told that above all this year is about falling deeper in love with Christ. Oofda, that is rather counter-cultural! I’ve grown up in a culture that is obsessed with work, progress and staying busy. Now, I’ve been blessed with the opportunity just to sit and listen to the Lord and His desire for my life. This lifestyle change reminds me of the story of Mary and her busybody sister, Martha (Read it – Luke 10:38-42). I approached this year with a Martha mentality, “let’s get busy,” but instead God is calling me to be like Mary, content to just sit still and listen.
In my attempts to be more like Mary I have found that sitting still and listening is quite challenging. Everyday I have the opportunity to spend an hour in Adoration. As I sit there in the chapel and attempt to quiet my mind and my heart I am constantly reminded that I’m not very good at this mainly because I have had little practice at this being quiet business. The lifestyle of a 21st century young adult is over-stimulating and busy and I have a hard time thinking of many activities that have prepared to be like Mary.
In fact, when I think of my former life as a student I get a little ashamed of how attached I was to my laptop. My studies required frequent use of it, but my entertainment also became very reliant on my dear ole’ Macbook. I could spend hours wasting time on the internet, with the regular culprits being facebook and youtube. Not only did this fascination with the worldwide web waste some of my valuable study time, it also often competed with my prayer time. When I did find time to pray on my own I found myself distracted and under-stimulated, leaving me spiritually discouraged.
Luckily, in our discussions about missionary spirituality one thing that has really stood out to me is the call to detach. Through detachment of worldly distractions I will be better able to attach to the Divine, creating a heart and mind that is freer to listen for the Father’s attempts to speak to me. Personally, detachment has been most rewarding through disconnecting from my many electronics, something my former life as a college student did not encourage at all.
During the past month of “Missionary Academy” the missionaries were challenged to use our computers intentionally and sparingly. This challenge of disconnecting has really been a pleasant surprise. At the end of the day I’m satisfied with the quality ways I’ve intentionally spent my time and I don’t feel like I wasted my time or God’s time reading status updates. More importantly, my heart and mind are in a better disposition to listen for God’s attempts to communicate with me throughout the day. Because God no longer has to compete with so many distractions I feel like He is reaching me with renewed vibrancy (or maybe it’s just my increased alertness to His constant desire to interact with me). It has been quite beautiful to see the ways that God is revealing things to me, and it’s not only during Adoration but through scripture, during Mass, in conversations or while out enjoying creation. Through this detachment from some of my distractions I can better attach myself to Christ and shed some of my Martha tendencies and strive to be more like Mary. I’m confident if I continue to use my laptop and other electronics sparingly I will soon become more skilled at the art of being still. So, do yourself a favor and log off for a while and give God a chance to do some work on your heart.