The Surrender

I confess I have a love-hate relationship with my desk at work. It’s very modern: thin, sleek and totally white (think “just had my teeth whitened” white). You can very much tell that it, like all our other office furniture, comes from Ikea.

The advantage is that it really brightens up my tiny office.

The disadvantage is it shows every speck of dirt and for a neat freak like me this is sometimes challenging.

And I realized the weird paradox that some days when I notice that the cleaning crew has neglected to actually clean (this happens a bit we are in the process of replacing them) I wish that my desk was black or gray or wood or some other darker, more standard looking office desk so that I could be blissfully unaware of the dirt because there is only so much I can do with a Clorox wipe (I am totally that person) and now that it’s older, purchased very near my start date almost two years ago,  it almost never looks totally clean to me.

As I’ve been in the midst of the season of Easter I was hoping to coast off the discipline of Lent into Easter joy. However, I’m finding that the same feeling of dogged perseverance as if I stumbled over rather than walked across the finish line continues, namely because my quest for holiness continues. Rather than coast in Easter joy, I’ve been fighting off the temptation of feeling like a lousy return on everything Jesus died to give me (completely overlooking His selflessness which demands no return in the process).

And with a wry and weary smile this afternoon as I was scrubbing the stains off my desk I realized that in a way I’m a lot like my desk because those sins and weaknesses that cling to my soul the way the smudges and other marks cling to my desk don’t blend in. It is clear that when the messiness of life happens both the desk and my soul ought to be restored to their original glory rather than conform to the imperfect state of uncleanliness simply by virtue of how they each were designed to be bright.

In my ongoing quest for holiness, I’ve gotten to the point where I feel like the light of God’s love is so deep within that it’s actually casting out all my weaknesses and making me new. It’s not that this love is transforming me into an unrecognizable person but rather that the more I accept God’s love the more I feel like myself and the more I experience a greater freedom to love the way I desire to love. As hard as this stretching process can be, as much as it sometimes feels like I’m fighting against my own habits and personality, as much as in my impatience I get tempted to rely on my willpower rather than God’s grace I feel like the greatest growth in the spiritual life, at least for me, comes not just from success but in learning how to successfully fail.

Because it is from failing so frequently that I must practice how to gracefully surrender (which is the antithesis of my natural personality in case that wasn’t clear).

I have to surrender my sin and weakness to the mercy and love of God which is humbling, I have to surrender what I can’t control to God’s providence which is hope, I have to surrender my own understanding which is faith, I have to surrender my aspirations and my past in order to live in the present moment which is communion with God.

As much as I sometimes want the challenges that necessitate this surrender to go away, I realize without them there wouldn’t be the same opportunity to surrender to God in order to know His love better, to decrease that He might increase, that I’m trying to embrace it which I admit feels like the strangest, most counter-cultural thing I’ve ever done (and I’m a pretty strange person).

So just like you can tell that my desk comes from Ikea I hope you see from my life, even if it’s just from the struggles and my failures and my poorly titled blog posts about them, that my home is in Heaven and that’s where I hope to return someday.

Until then pray for me!

 

If I Won a Billion Dollars

Lately, I’ve been a little tempted to doubt the goodness and mercy of God in the light of my many weaknesses and things I continue to struggle with in spite of firm resolutions to change for the better.

And I realized so often I lack an understanding of the infinite nature of God’s love. If I was to win a million dollars in the lottery I might invest it or save it (with a few splurges here and there), but if I won a billion dollars I’d spend with abandon on myself and others because no matter how lavishly I tried to spend it I’d still have more than enough.

Sometimes I’m tempted to view God and His love as if He’d be stingy with it in my sin or as if He could run out in the face of my misery. However, the truth is that His love is so great and so infinite that it can never be spent, never runs out, and is always available not just to the saints or ones who seem like they deserve it but to poor sinners like me.

I hope this brief reflection helps you trust Jesus a little bit more as you remember His awesome love for you.

Wishing you a blessed Divine Mercy Sunday!

The Quest

Do you ever feel like you fight the same battles over and over again?

Whatever the battle itself happens to be, I’ve found that it can be completely aggravating and easy to lose patience with oneself. However, at the same time, I’m really grateful for the struggle because I know that struggle is the one thing in my life that forces me to change.

It is struggle that often reveals to me I’m not as strong as I thought I was and reminds me of my infinite need to draw closer to God. It forces me to confront my fears with courage, to believe that God can do the impossible with me if I ask Him because He loves me and wants me in Heaven even more than I want to be there myself.

It almost feels like magic sometimes, to contemplate that, but even better and more concrete than any sort of magic. It’s the truth behind the fairy tales, the happily ever after that so far exceeds the imagination.

In short, I find in times of struggle I have to admit that I’ve grown up too much, that I’ve tried to do much on my own, and that in my heart I’m still a child. But it is in finding myself as helpless as a child that I truly know what it means to be a child of God. And it is this experience of the ever faithful and entirely undeserved love of God the Father that takes Heaven from a lofty and far off destination and brings it to the center of my heart.

In spite of my many weaknesses and struggles, in spite of myself, it is so much easier to chase after Heaven when it feels so near at hand.