Things Great and Small

Lately, I’ve been having a lot of fun at my job. Ironically, it hasn’t been because I have an especially fun work environment, it has been because my work environment sometimes feels like the ER but with crises of a housing variety and I’m the one who coordinates all the staff, among other things.

No, the reason I’ve been having fun is because in those moments where I’m being contacted many different ways simultaneously and doing a thousand things in immediate succession, things that would not normally strike me as that big deal seem like the end of the world. So, instead of dealing with them immediately and/or being a jerk about these things to my coworkers (and dealing with the subsequent guilt of that) I decided to do something new.

Since I confess on this blog frequently about what an impatient person I am, I decided to wait. Instead of doing things in the heat of the moment I make a note and wait to do it until later once my emotions or frustrations have blown over. I take a break when I need to and do other basic things to take care of myself on the job (which is easy for some people but not always so easy for me).

And the funny part is how a lot of my “crises” take care of themselves. This little method has been shaking me out of my own perfectionism, which creeps up on me more than I care to admit. I do what I can with the tools I have and sort of go with the flow. Stepping away is helpful. While this all probably sounds rather obvious it’s not something that I see easily or frequently put into practice in the schools I attended or the places I’ve worked. With the speed and interconnectivity of everything it’s harder to get away, things are more easily blown out of proportion and most of all we live in a society that worships the act of doing.

It’s kind of a bold claim but I can point to many instances where prayer is majorly criticized by secular society because it is not seen as enough of an action. And I would go so far as to argue that it doesn’t matter what we do or how well it works in accomplishing our objective so long as it appears we are “doing” something. It’s the calm, the inaction that really offends because it shakes off that sense of urgency and importance and, as in my case, reveals that humbling and humorous truth that the world is a lot bigger than we are, and stretches far beyond the little problems and difficulties that we encounter in our day.

Even the larger scale problems that affect not one, but many, lose that sense of doom when I remember to have a perspective that stretches beyond myself and my limited abilities to include frequent prayer and trust in God to do even what feels impossible. To be glad that God is bigger than me and believe that He works everything out for good in its time.  Maybe the trick is just being willing to wait for it; to stay in tune with the graces He gives only in the present moment as we live it together.

This is what I think I like the most about prayer not that it changes God but that it changes me.

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God Isn’t Fixing This

Today I found myself pondering the mystery of why anyone would actually read the Daily News. Nonetheless, I presume people buy it because somehow the glorified gossip magazine continues to operate.

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My thinly veiled displeasure at most major “news” outlets aside, the above article was brought to my attention when I came across Patheos’ Top Ten Atheist News Stories of 2015 and found the link to the now infamous article written in response to the San Bernardino shootings. The article is essentially an accusation that Christians hide behind prayer and don’t do enough in the face of such atrocities followed by a premise that prayer is a waste of our time because God either:

  1. doesn’t care
  2. doesn’t do anything
  3. doesn’t even exist

I’m really glad this article made the list because if this is the best atheists have then I feel reinforced in my decision to practice Catholicism. Because the author totally missed the boat on this one, and this article should be an embarrassment to committed atheists everywhere, not a rallying point.

It’s embarrassing because this article comes across more like the rant of an angsty teenager against uncool parents than a sound philosophical argument. Because my Catholic faith represents truth and atheism doesn’t represent anything except a negation of the truth my religion proclaims. You may not like everything Dad has to say, but you do not disprove the existence of Dad by merely claiming that he sucks. And the article really highlights this flawed reasoning in a most delightful way. 

Because what the title of the article should have been was this:

“GOD ISN’T FIXING THIS MY WAY”

This reasoning, I would argue, is the most sincere divide between theists and atheists because it is the prime issue encountered when examining one’s beliefs as it is the essence of faith. The Christians (the most popular theists to bash) who were called out in this article were called out because they committed the secular sin of being audacious enough to believe that God exists AND retain the faith that even in the darkest of circumstances He reigns supreme. This attitude really pisses people off. If you don’t believe me, read The Littler Way

Because there is a great temptation, a human pride, that leads us to believe that if there is a God He should operate the way we do. We wonder how a God who presumably loves us can let us experience pain? Why a God who rules the universe allows such tragedy? Especially if He has the power to stop it. And I think there is a prevailing stereotype of Christians as either unbelievably ignorant white trash or the ultra preppy Bible study type who is always smiling and LOVES JESUS. And people say that “they have faith because they just don’t get it. They are not as smart as we are and if they were they also would no longer believe.”

But the truth is I continue to believe in God because I do not, nor will I ever, presume to believe that I am as smart as God or that my understandings come anywhere near His own. God by His very essence does not have the same human limitations that I do, even when He took the form of a human Himself. No, God is infinite and while there are many things about His nature I feel I am coming to understand as I mature in my relationship with God, I simply could never grasp the infinite. Not for lack of intellect or because God doesn’t love me or even that God is some jerk who enjoys being smarter than everyone else (not possible because God has no pride), but because I am still confined to time and infinite things are, by their very nature, outside of time. And in the lapse between my earthly life and my death which I do believe will plunge me into eternity, I chose to have faith not from an ignorant refusal to see what is in front of me, but rather an ignorance of what I cannot yet see in front of me. My faith is my admission that while there is much I do not know, I do know in my heart that I love God, which means that even when I don’t understand God or His ways or my trials, I trust Him. That is what confounds, angers, and upsets those who love the world and have rejected or neglected the presence of God in their hearts.

Admittedly, I was given the tools to nurture my faith through the blessing of being able to grow up among a different sort of Christian than the unflattering media narrative they parade across all “news” outlets. The kind of Christian that gets no notice from the world. The Christian who chooses love in order to please no one except their God, because their God first loves them and from that experience they have been drawn to love and serve others. And you won’t find these people just in churches, you’ll find them in hospitals, offices, charities, schools, grocery stores, bus stops, and even on playgrounds. The unspoken witnesses to the love that makes the world go round, the little acts of love and kindness that go unnoticed to the masses, meant only for those who were meant to see them, as God leads us all both to Himself and towards one another.

So tell your atheistic and cynical counterparts to calm down. We may be confined to time, but God is not and He will finish what He began in this world in a more glorious way than you or I can yet imagine. All that’s left to do now is leave you with the wise words of my powerhouse of a confirmation Saint, Theresa of Avila: