Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Yea, though I walk through the valley of cardboard boxes...

We are moving this week.  This is also my last week of work.  My boss has been in England for the past two weeks.  My mind is a wreck.  I try to remind myself that this moving experience will not necessarily be a repeat of the horrors of last year's move.

I am certainly praying that everything goes smoothly with this move.  More importantly, though, I pray that no matter what happens, my husband and I will use each moment to act in love.  We cannot control what the coming days will bring.  We are, however, free to decide how we react to whatever ridiculousness lands on our heads.  Time does not care about little old me.  This time next week, we will no longer be living in our apartment.  Everything will be done on that front.  I fervently pray that I remember this experience as one in which our love grew and was made stronger.  I pray for the grace not to despair and worry.  I pray that I never forget that God is with me and that He gave me a wonderful husband to guide me to Him.

I know that this is a tiny cross to bear compared to the suffering of others.  But I am just a little girl who cries a lot, and God will have to carry me through this.

So, if I am still all in one piece next week, and my husband is not giving me the concerned sideways glance, I accomplished none of it on my own.  If you see any good, any strength in me, you look upon God's grace.  Please pray that I say yes to this grace and make room for it in my heart.  I will pray the same for you, and I cannot wait to see what beautiful things He creates with your help.

Mary, help of Christians, pray for us, that we may say with you: Behold, I am the handmaiden of the Lord.  Be it done unto me according to your word.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Friday, where have you been all my life?

I laugh way too hard at this.  It gets funnier the longer you look at it.  Happy Friday, everyone.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Cast your nets

I am re-reading St. Therese's autobiography, A Story of a Soul.  I highly recommend this book to all.  St. Therese has a wonderful way of reminding us that we are all called to be saints.  We need not perform great deeds or be big and important in the world.  Even the littlest ones of us can bring immense joy to Jesus' heart.

At one point, she references a Gospel passage I had heard hundreds of times.  The apostles had been fishing all night and caught nothing.  Jesus, standing on the shore, calls out to them to cast their nets one more time.  The apostles assure Him they have tried that already, and they are tired.  Jesus persists, so they give it a shot.  This time, to their great surprise, their net is bursting with fish.

google images

Therese discusses how this applies to each of our lives.  When we have spent all we have to give, we need only say yes to God's grace for miracles to happen.

Perhaps I have been forgetting this lately.  I keep asking, "Again, God?  Really?  Didn't you see what happened last time?  Not sure I want to go through all that one more time."  Yet, here is evidence that if these promptings to act truly come from God, I will certainly miss out if I refuse.  I must consider what God desires.  According to this and other stories, it is not to heap burdens upon us for no reason.  God, ever the gentleman, forces nothing on us.  He patiently waits for us to say yes to His invitation.  Then He floods our hearts with blessings we cannot even imagine.

I say all this like I actually practice it.  I know all this in an intellectual sense, but do I truly, faithfully believe it?  I want to believe it.  I want to abandon myself completely to God's beautiful grace.  For some reason, I continue to hold back that last little part of myself, just to be safe.  I pray that I may no longer desire this false sense of security, but the immeasurable grace that my Lord waits so patiently to shower all over me.

“Aslan is a lion- the Lion, the great Lion." "Ooh" said Susan. "I'd thought he was a man. Is he-quite safe? I shall feel rather nervous about meeting a lion"..."Safe?" said Mr Beaver ..."Who said anything about safe? 'Course he isn't safe. But he's good. He's the King, I tell you.”

-C.S. Lewis, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe

Friday, June 6, 2014

Freedom from ALL THE THINGS!

Thank you for your prayers concerning my last post.  I found my phone.  It was right where I knew it had to be.  As it often goes when I lose belongings, I experienced a series of emotions.  Regardless of whether I find the lost item, the ordeal invariably ends with me contemplating my high level of attachment to inanimate objects.

What confounds me is that I have always felt this way.  When I was two years old, my dad used an engine hoist to lift a sewer grate so he could retrieve my cheap plastic one-inch-tall red barrel of apples.  Why?  Because I was HYSTERICAL over losing it...and my dad likes using engine hoists.  When I was nine, someone stole my awesome hand-me-down patchwork denim jacket out of our wagon at the zoo.  I still feel sad about that sometimes.  Why?!

Part of my trouble comes from a lifelong battle with obsessive compulsive disorder.  I have healed so much since finally being treated for this condition when I was in college.  However, one symptom that still bothers me is the presence of unwanted thoughts.  I can be minding my own business, and suddenly terrible things flash in my mind.  Sometimes these thoughts are memories.  Other times, they are awful things my crazy brain makes up.  Some days they run in my head non-stop all day long.  On good days, I am able to neutralize them and move on promptly.

This mental struggle often prevents me from being able to remember happy or even ordinary events.  However, if I look at a photograph or object connected to such an event, I am able to remember it perfectly.  Thus, when I lose these items, I feel as if I am losing memories.  Additionally, I sometimes feel as if I need to frantically memorize happy times so I do not lose them too.

There are other, deeper, reasons for my attachment to worldly things.  Those have more to do with my upbringing, and I do not have any wine handy right now to be able to go into detail.

I often consider how I would feel if my house suddenly went up in flames and everything inside were destroyed.  Would I be ok?  Yes.  Then why does losing individual belongings bother me so?

I tried to remedy these feelings by saying more prayers of thanksgiving for what I do have and letting God know that I would give up all of it if He asked me to.  This plan kind of backfired, though.  I began to feel like God might be disappointed with me If I were not constantly oohing and aahhing over His gifts.  In this way, I focused more on the feeling of the experiences than on God's presence.  Not bueno.

I have been praying and working on this for many years, and I have seen some improvement.  Recently, however, I had a bit of an epiphany.  I was reading Pope St. John Paul II's theology of the body.  In this work, the pope says that acts of love are eternal - irrevocable, even.  When we love God and one another, we are not simply doing something nice.  We are participating in eternity.

How does this help me not freak out when I lose or forget things?  Any good I encounter is from God.  God is love.  Love is eternal.  I may lose worldly possessions without hope of their return.  However, I need not worry that the love attached to those items is gone as well.  It cannot go away.  Even if I have trouble remembering it sometimes, God holds each act of love in His heart forever.

This realization has given me such peace.  So often, I cling to possessions or experiences, terrified of losing them and their meanings.  Remember that part where I have trouble trusting God?  Yeah, still working on that.  I always thought of the eternal nature of love in a general sense.  Realizing that God forever holds and rejoices in each tiny act of love means I am free.  I need not cling to anything in the world.  I certainly have not perfected myself in this way, but I am so thankful for this healing grace.