Lately I feel like I lose my spirituality the moment I walk in the door at work. I go to daily mass and love the silence, intimacy and contemplation that comes with receiving the Eucharist and then praying the rosary. I wish I could hold on to that peace all day but when I walked into work this morning I was bombarded with a passive aggressive note from the boss, a phone ringing off the hook, difficult personalities barging in to start their day, and I wanted my silence back. I was even resentful that I didn’t get it. I worked really hard in one area only to be reprimanded for not working in another. And my pride doesn’t bounce back from that sort of thing the way I wish it would. It lingers in the frustration. And I’m left blogging at the end of the day wondering how I find Jesus in these moments that are stressful. In these moments that fly by so fast. In these moments where I am impatient with everything and everyone who doesn’t see things my way. In these moments where I am so unlike Jesus who is still within me, still communing with me.
I’m hoping that His love will make all the difference. I’m hoping I’ll learn how to find Him even in the midst of an ordinary life with its ordinary stresses. I’m hoping that His love will be worth it not just in the end but here in my neediness while I’m begging for it in the middle.
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.
One summer several years ago I had just finished my freshman year of college and was waiting to hear back from an internship I’d applied to. To make some money in the interim I did some housekeeping work for the Bed and Breakfast where my mom worked.
One afternoon I was in a particularly beautiful suite cleaning the bathroom where there was a tub so huge I actually had to get inside it in order to clean it. I confess I was having a moment of bitterness because while my friends were off having fun and going on vacation I was stuck working hard. Instead of being grateful I chose to be frustrated. As I was cleaning this ridiculously luxurious tub I complained to God something along the lines of, “I should live to see the day where I can afford to soak in a tub like this.” Preoccupied with my own thoughts and taking out my frustration on my scrubbing I bumped the water handle which somehow turned on the showerhead and covered my clothes with water. I quickly turned off the faucet but had to laugh because as it turned out I would get soaked in that tub a lot sooner than I had anticipated.
I am forever grateful for God’s sense of humor in that moment because the encounter shook me out of my head and returned me to the mystery and adventure of the present. It’s a reminder I always need because I am so prone to missing the present by thinking about the future and the plans that I have instead of accepting each moment with gratitude as it comes.
I know that essentially what it boils down to is the eternal struggle for surrender, the fight to let go of control of my life and let myself be led by God. It requires a trust and a patience that I do not have by nature but that I hope to have one day by grace. And in the interim, all I can hope is that I do a little better with it today than I did the day before, knowing that regardless of whether I succeed or fail I’ll be one day closer to heaven.