Wait for it?

So my brother and I fell into an interesting conversation this morning as we were commuting into the city of Pittsburgh. The song “Wait for It” from Hamilton came on his Itunes shuffle and my brother asked me, seeing as were both young adult professionals at the start of our respective careers, whether it’s better to be more like the relentlessly ambitious Alexander Hamilton who seizes every opportunity or more like the soloist of the song, the character Aaron Burr, who wonders “if there is a reason [he’s] still alive when so many have died” and is willing to wait to find out what that reason might be.

The answer to that question is tricky.

It’s tricky because it hinges on what you believe to be truth. As a Christian, I believe not only that God “formed my inmost being… [and] knit me in my mother’s womb.” (Psalm 139: 13-14) but also that when He made me He had a specific and eternal plan for my existence that He reveals to me little by little in time and will be revealed in full in Heaven.

It can be hard to cling to that truth in what Fr. Michael Gaitley aptly calls the “darkness of the ordinary” or those days that feel so average they seem insignificant as you go to and from work, interact with your family, run errands etc. Nevertheless, in spite of the easy temptations to doubt that spring up in the midst of ordinary living, I still believe in God’s plan for my life and for yours.    

So, with this truth in mind, I see no problem in waiting to discover what you were born for but it does beg the question what does that look like for the every day?

Our more worldly counterparts usually chime in that this view is the enemy to “progress” and that the only catalyst to change is ACTION, championing causes, writing the congressman, running 5ks, getting lots of followers on social media, etc. The might throw a lot of secular quotes in your face from successful (read: wealthy) people encouraging you to become more like them.

However, I have always had a problem with the “utopia now” set because even if they achieved every social and political cause they took upon themselves to champion, even if the world was overrun with the wealthy, science-minded, culturally-elite, atheistic, innovative collaborators public schools seem to be aimed at creating, even if poverty was eliminated, wars ended, and perfect knowledge achieved still everyone in this dreamy existence would cease to exist. Every single person in utopia would eventually die simply because no one lives forever.

So all these attempts at creating heaven on earth rather than pursuing eternal life in heaven to me seem short-sighted at best. The Hamiltonian idea that greatness consists only in great actions that result in an impressive earthly legacy is one which I reject. I’ve never thought that Alexander Hamilton or George Washington gain any eternal happiness by knowing that they are featured in many statues, town names, and American currency and (as much as I admittedly studied a lot of history and really like George Washington). I believe that as time passes even they will fade into obscurity like the Roman emperors of old who sat on the thrones of empires and were likened to Gods but who myself or the majority of people living today probably couldn’t name.

Living with an eternal perspective lends not only a patience and calm to thinks that might seem otherwise devastating but as a Christian my hope stems from not just a vague idea of paradise or idealistic reflections of justice, but a firm belief that a life of union with God will satisfy my every desire for justice, peace, happiness, love, and mercy. It takes the anxiety, the “now or never,” out of the equation because I do believe I will see this in my lifetime it’s just that I don’t confine that lifetime to include only my temporal life on earth. So until that day, I found my ultimate answer to my brother’s question is that I too am willing to wait for it.

 

 

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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…

Can’t Wait? 

So lately I’m being tempted to judge left and right and it’s really frustrating to have my normally happy internal realm bombarded by temptation. The hallmark of such an internal battle is that I get frustrated and cranky (I know you’re terribly surprised never having heard that from me before…)  and before you know it I’m the one acting precisely as I detest. Christianity is hard. I sincerely believe it’s worth it because I don’t want to be the person I described being in the previous paragraph but the more justified I feel in my frustration (which is pride, I admit) the harder it is for me to let things go.

Recently, I’ve been encountering a lot of difficult people. People who are quick to point out flaws in others rather than love. People who actively seek opportunities to hate and cause pain, whether intentionally or unintentionally I’m honestly not sure. People who offer advice that strikes me as hypocritical. It’s been a lot to process, but what upsets me most of all is that it tempts me to hate, truly and openly, and I find that every shade of unacceptable.

However, the truth is I think the hardest thing about life sometimes is that even when you have a good one there are days where it gets wearisome. And when I’m weary it makes me vulnerable to attitudes and emotions I would normally have the strength and energy to combat. Then, once these emotions get a stronghold my sensitive little personality gets distracted by them, wanting to analyze them in order to get rid of them and return to my happy equilibrium. Yet the worst of it is sometimes I think I forget to separate out the person I am with the person I feel I am in a given moment. For example, when I feel happy and nice I think I’m happy and nice, when I feel all full of hate I think I’m a jerk.

I’m getting better about catching myself doing that. Taking time to refocus my perspective to include the reminder that no suffering lasts forever and remembering that the only way I’ve ever mastered my emotions is by being patient with myself.

And in that spirit I appreciate your patience with this blog post because this particular reflection probably did more for the author than the reader.