Striving to Strive

I have a chronic condition, one that will remain with me the rest of my days. It’s treatable but occasionally the suffering is difficult because it is not the type that renders my life unlivable or warrants a rest, rather it is the kind that sometimes exhausts me interiorly and I get impatient.

There was a time pre-diagnosis where the suffering was constant and I was in fighting shape. I read the Bible a ton and I refused to quit, trusting not in what I could see but what I could not yet see. I sought to have an attitude of general surrender and live in the present moment which yielded much fruit (including this blog!).

But as I was diagnosed and began a regimen of medication things returned to normal. I got used to a very ordinary existence with a full-time job and plenty of friends and family commitments to keep me busy. Ironically, I find it harder in a way to keep up that same faith amid the routine of everyday living. It’s so easy to lose sight of one’s eternal destiny, the promise of a heavenly home, as one handles the many things that demand one’s attention.

Overall, I lead a very comfortable life and this comfort is actually part of the problem. Not to say that comfort is bad, simply that the more comfort I experience the more attached I become to it. I say this because I’ve noticed that now when I experience bouts of my illness instead of being willing to fight like a warrior for the end goal I want to whine about what it takes away from me and how it gets in the way of what I want to do.

Whenever I experience the struggle instead of being molded by it to grow and become the type of woman I want to be I get impatient for the struggle to be over and for things to return to my version of normal. I was listening to an ever so brief podcast by Fr. Mike Schmitz this morning who had a really good podcast on waiting on God’s timing that really gets to the heart of the matter. The idea he shared was that the only way God speaks to us is not in the future, not when we reach the goal, but now as we are striving. And the key to striving for anything successfully is the one thing it’s harder to do when suffering: be willing to wait.

So who knows, maybe one day by a serious amount of grace I’ll be a patient person…

Advertisements

Happy One Year Anniversary

So today officially marks the one-year anniversary of this blog!!!!!!!!

How the time flies! I can’t believe it’s been a year already…

Thanks for your subscription, readership, and support! I might have quit if it weren’t for awesome people such as yourselves.

To treat yourselves I think this is a fabulous excuse for you to eat cake, not that one ever needs a reason beyond “cake is delicious.” If I get a cake solely to celebrate this occasion I will post a picture.

Best,

Ellen

Obviously I’m Important

So I don’t know how it works for people who weren’t raised in my Facebook generation, but I am always getting about a million invites to various things, including those auditorium style events where they bring in a well-known speaker whose talk is generated around their extremely generic and inoffensive life advice with the intent of getting you PUMPED about something.

And while there are some speakers I would love to hear, I feel that the introductions always leave something to be desired. The speakers are essentially selling themselves as if they were a product, for example, “come see this award winning, Harvard educated, Olympic silver medalist, gourmet chef, accomplished author, activist, humanitarian, radio-broadcasting, home-schooling mother of 8 who shares her tips on balancing family and career. Act now and enter for your chance to win a free copy of her new book. Lunch is provided.”

It’s a lot to digest (pun intended) because it places these successful people on pedestals
and tries to claim that the pedestal version is the reality. In fact, that lie/intentional smisperception for the purposes of marketing is often meant as the very basis to draw in the crowd, “come see this winner who wins constantly and learn how you can be a winner too.” And because we live in a world that makes success the condition for love people flock to these corny messages in spades. I’ve had honest conversations with intelligent people who come away from these events full of motivation and inspired to “take charge” of their lives. Whatever that means…

I have trouble with these types of events, partially because I subscribe wholeheartedly to Divine love which is unconditional, and partially because I’m a nerdy hipster who can’t allow myself to like anything so mainstream and group-y as a popular speaker. I’m sure that comes across in this blog.

However, my distaste for these things also comes from the fact that I know that there is so much more to be found and shared than the trite life advice of these smug and successful speakers, because back in the day when I used to listen to these types I’d be inspired and/or peaceful for maybe half a second and then I would need more, the restlessness would always come back. But as I pursued a growing faith and sought a deeper bond with God I knew I’d found the way home because I finally stopped searching for satisfaction in other places, as there was no longer a need to. And I would never speak about these experiences by selling myself as a product or brand to happy/balanced/peaceful (insert any buzzword you like) living, because the way I truly believe that goal is accomplished is not my way, it certainly was not my genius that invented it, and it is not just a natural result of good habits, but rather a way that existed long before me and will probably exist long after me and finding any piece of it is truly a gift. A gift I got because I asked for it and God is generous. A gift that anyone can have if they humble themselves for long enough to ask, I only wished more people believed me instead of wasting their money on people arrogant enough to want to inspire the world to become more like themselves.

I controversially chose to remain Catholic in a world hostile to religion not just because I’m edgy and cool like that, but because to me it is the way, the truth, and the life. I firmly believe it and the more I walk down the way, discover the truth, and live the life the more convicted (and more joyful) I am. To share this way is an act of love because I don’t want you to become more like me, in fact that thought is rather frightening, but I do hope you discover everything I have found there and more. And these cheesy speakers with their “transferable” tips from their successful business ventures to your life or their 3 secrets to achieving 10 times more than you (a mere average person) are such a shallow imitation and waste of human energy because often the purpose is to get you to conform to be someone that the world loves in order to gain the love of the world. I would recommend rejecting a love so fickle as that.

Because here’s the thing, every speaker regardless of popularity or topic has one thing in common. They are going to die. They can’t take their many achievements with them and I don’t buy into the lie perpetuated by many of my fawning English professors that notoriety after death is somehow a comfort and/or affirmation to them. I think it’s just a band-aid used to soften the fact that the reality of death scares a lot of people. However, it doesn’t scare me.

Because I’m not looking to achieve, I’m not looking to be better than the person sitting next to me, and I’m not looking to impress by my life or my legacy. I’ve been looking to love and be loved and the road to real love is not temporal or subject to change. It is instead an infinite and eternal gift which eliminates my fear of death, or even my fear of “failure” while alive, because I know that this love is Divine, both perfect and redemptive, and the only real thing to ever fear would be living my life in such a way as to not recognize it when it calls or worse, rejecting it when it is offered because I listened to one too many crappy speakers and believed the lie that the only type of love worth having is the love that I deserve.