Sunday, February 24, 2013

I Gain Nothing

"No," I said to no one in particular as I closed my Bible and set it on the floor.  ...Okay, maybe I was saying it to God...

"No," I said again, "I'm not interested in meditating on You loving and serving us."

Let me back up a minute.  Just before Lent started, I commited to a new method of praying with scripture. I made a list of the major "action" moments of Jesus' life from John's Gospel, and I've been working my way through the list.

Next up on the list: The Washing of the Disciples' Feet.

Now, back to the story...

I realized a couple of days ago that I'm really, totally, and completely kind of mad at God.  I feel like I've honestly given myself to Him.  I know I took a courageous leap of surrender by leaving my 2nd grade teaching job and coming to Springfield.  And even though I had no real expectations for what this journey would bring, I did expect that it would become something.

It doesn't seem like it has. I feel abandoned and forgotten.

This morning, I woke up to a text from a friend happily declaring that God is so good.  The text went on to describe the reasons why. I found myself thinking, "Of course. Because you aren't me, and God is willing to bring good things into your life."

Earlier this afternoon, I got a text from another friend asking for prayers.  My prayer was something along these lines: "God, please bring good things into _____'s life. Don't treat her the way You treat me. Let her be holy and HAPPY."

...did I mention that I'm kind of mad at God?

At one point, I even went so far as to let God know that I think He is taking advantage of the fact that He knows I won't walk away. This God thing - this faithful Catholic life thing- I'm all in.

Here's the truth of the matter though. We have to live the victory.

God does love me.  He does bring good things into my life. He doesn't do everything the way I would, but that is the biggest blessing He gives us.  Because He can see perfectly. His ways are best.

Does that suck sometimes?  Yes.  But only because we are human. 
Does it hurt like crazy sometimes? Yes.  But only because we are being made holy.
Does it look unreasonable and unfair sometimes? Yes.  But only because Satan is constantly clouding our vision.

Today, I'm standing at a crossroads.  I have a choice to make.  I can stand up, trust God to build the Kingdom with my suffering, and LIVE like I'm all in.  Or, I can continue about my life with my arms crossed in stubbornness, pretending like God owes me the life I envision for myself.

What do I want to do?  I want to be stubborn.  I want to wait and try to force God's hand.  I want to throw a mini-temper tantrum until He gives in.

But I gain nothing by holding on.

I gain nothing, but Satan wins.

I don't want to be someone who hands Satan a win.

So what am I going to do?

Well, first of all I'm going to pray that scripture I said no to this morning.  And I'm going to meditate on God made flesh kneeling before His Church -before me- and humbly and lovingly serving.

And I'm going to choose to trust that Jesus.  I will choose to trust that He is building.

Because I gain nothing by holding on.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Learning Lessons

My life doesn't always look the way I think it should. It doesn't always look the way I want it to.

January was a challenging month and a dramatic time to be inside my prayer life.  You see, God isn't giving me something that I thought He would give me.  And He isn't really telling me why He won't give it to me.

He doesn't have to.

But I really, really, really want Him to.

As I've journeyed through this time, I've asked Him a lot of questions.

I've fasted.

I've cried.

I've prayed novenas.

I've kicked and screamed at Heaven.

I've been to daily mass and to Reconciliation.

I've blamed Saints.

I've mediated on Scripture.

I've journaled and journaled and journaled.

I've tried praying through it; I've tried not thinking about it.

I've talked and talked about it.

I've read books. I've painted. I've rearranged furniture. I've made lesson plans. I've cleaned. I've graded papers. I've spent time listening to friends tell me about their lives.

No matter what I've done or intentionally not done, my soul has struggled and my heart has hurt.

I hate when people spill out their personal lives online. I also hate when bloggers are so vague that I'm left super curious about what is happening in their lives.  Here's to me finding a virtuous balance in this post...

There is a person in my life who has undoubtedly brought me closer to God. This person has been there for me in some hard moments and has made me laugh when I've least expected to laugh. The two of us have been through a lot together, and we've been in each others' lives through a lot of individual journeys.

Together, we've worked hard to serve God, argued about theological things, and tried to figure out God's will and how best we can love Him.

And over the years, throughout all of that, we've tried to find the place for each other in our lives.

It's been hard. It's looked like a lot of different things at a lot of different times.

January was all about me learning to accept, once again, that I still don't have it figured out.

What I've learned this time around though, is something that I hope I never forget. Because as so much of my life has been clouded by this confusion, one thing has become more clear, more real, and more present in my life.

God exists.  He is indescribably real and present.

Throughout this time, I've questioned a lot of things and run through countless scenarios. The only thing that has been constant is the reality of who God is.

Somehow, when I look at Him - really look at Him, all of the confusion and turmoil and frustration and absolute annoyance fade ... just enough for me to really know that God loves me.  And that the beauty and simplicity of who He is in my life, of who I am in His eyes, is more than enough to sustain me.

It doesn't take away all that I'm feeling inside.

It doesn't silence all the thoughts and possibilities running through my mind.

Do I like the way this situation looks now? I don't.
Do I understand why it is the way it is?  Do I understand what God is doing? No. Not at all.

But my point is, maybe that's how it's supposed to be right now.  Maybe I'm not in this place to learn a lesson in discernment or in God's ways.

Maybe I'm just supposed to be learning lessons in God.  Maybe I'm just supposed to learn that He is enough.  Not because my life is a perfectly wrapped package.  Not because I've finally found the instruction manual.  Just because He is a constant light. A consistent love. A never-ending source of grace and goodness.

Even when my world is not what I want it to be, when it would be so easy and so natural to just fall away, He is exactly what I need: the Source that sustains me.