The Goof 

So there is an instructor who works in my real estate office and loves to give me a hard time about absolutely everything. He literally comes to the office each night when he has a class looking for a chance to sass me (probably because he knows I can’t resist rising to the occasion.) An interesting friendship has developed because it somehow manages to be fun even though we have absolutely nothing else in common.

This backstory is important in order to understand the context of the upcoming confession.

I was waiting for my ride to pick me up from work one night and I saw this same guy’s name and phone number on the whiteboard for his class. I ended up writing “for a good time call” above it purely for my own amusement.

I thought about leaving it there but in the spirit of professionalism erased my addition.

However, that minor moment of silliness was nice to me. I feel like it’s the essence of who I am in my soul coming out. I don’t know why I’m a goof like that but I always have been. Even in those rare moments where I manage actual kindness that glimmer of mischief remains and reflecting on that makes me miss St. Pope John Paul II who also had said glimmer in his eyes.

The only way I can think to describe it is having an inner life much like that of a child because it was this moment which revealed to me that my endeavors to realign myself with the present moment and put down the tantalizing temptation to live in the future (and then put it down again after I pick it up once more swearing it’s the last time) have been successful.

I say this because the fruit of the present moment is joy. In the moment no one knew what I’d done except myself and God and it was a silly moment of being alive in what could have been a dreary moment of waiting after an especially long day of work.

I sometimes get all organized in my prayer life, really trying to discipline myself to do what I know has worked in the past, but lately, I remembered that the root of all my prayer life is just talking to God. Talking to God in the ordinary while I’m waiting. 

And surprisingly I think from our interactions together that God may be a goof too… 

And in that spirit this is for you:   lol.jpg

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The Hiatus

Hello again all.

So I sort of knew I was going to take a hiatus after writing Spiders Don’t Eat Steak and it’s sequel The Problem of Guilt. Sometimes you just get a sense for these things somewhere in the soul that knows it even when your brain hasn’t admitted it yet. I did not expect to take a break from blogging for as long as I did though and I am touched by the few who actually noticed I had stopped writing!

I’m a very unusual person I think, which I’m sure you’ve gathered if you’ve been reading my blog since the beginning. I started this blog in the summer of 2015 on a whim to chronicle something happening deep within that I did not want to lose touch with as I was transitioning into a particularly busy season of life. Blogging was a really fun way for me to express the little pieces of discovery that caught my attention on the day to day, in the midst of a very ordinary life. Things I noticed in society, things I noticed on my commute, things I noticed in debates while somehow becoming a small scale defender of my faith, and most of all the subtle changes I experienced in that place deep within, that place that was developing as I learned and continue to learn how to pray.

I know prayer has a bad reputation in our society as ineffective and a general waste of valuable time to a God who is largely indifferent- if He even exists at all. But that’s the thing about reputations, you can’t dismiss them as completely true or false, accurate or inaccurate until you really know the person, or in this instance the Person. And if you want to know God you have to spend time with Him in prayer; there is no other way.

I want to know God because God is the only Person I ever found that can satisfy that place deep within my soul that was so incredibly restless and always seeking even before I knew exactly what I was searching for and in learning to share that center with God I got some fun blog posts but even better a whole new life in Christ that I honestly wouldn’t trade for anything. And now to finally get to the point, this journey of late has gone from something exterior to something much more interior and the subtle change has been pretty exciting but not exactly easy to put into words. When I write I always try to capture a feeling or experience with words and where I am now, words fail me. So until further notice I wanted to officially confirm that I forsee myself being on hiatus for a little while where posts won’t be as frequent (if they happen at all) but I hope to return when the words finally come rushing back because one day I hope to share even the tiniest piece of my soul’s latest adventure with you so that you can discover it too.

The Littler Way

So as you all can probably imagine I spend more time than I ever dreamed I would arguing with people I’ve never met on the internet. (Believe me it’s embarrassing to admit because I never wanted to be that person.) But as fate would have it I publish a lot of stuff online and when people misunderstand, offer a crappy counter-argument in an arrogant way, or bash something that doesn’t deserve bashing I just feel some inexplicable need to defend it. Anyway, in one such instance I innocently posted my article A New Faith and a guy responded, “the only thing I hate more than people who blame God for their problems are people who give Him credit for their successes.”

I can’t imagine a person needing to begrudge another person their gratitude, and I said as much to this mystery man and I explained how I felt about God and I admitted honestly that “I hope by the end of my life that I take credit for nothing, because I would rather be anything than proud.” And oh my goodness the internet exploded.  Had more people read it the internet might have shut down entirely because people were furious about my attitude and horrified by my religious “brainwashing.” Like I’ve just been so brainwashed by religion that I don’t realize how dumb I am and if I saw my ignorance through their eyes I’d feel sorry for my pathetic self and repent by reading Richard Dawkins.

If you have to be brainwashed by anything, it should be religion, the water of grace, the stuff of the Saints, nothing like truth and solid dogma to refresh your mind. In fact, I would rather be “brainwashed” by religion than the new atheism because I have studied the effects of both and made an informed decision to remain Catholic. Because I think a fantastic measure of truth and sound dogma, that is seriously underutilized in this day and age, is to look at the lives of the people who live their creeds and ask yourself which way you’d prefer.

But before I go too far down an entirely separate tangent I’d like to come back to the purpose of this article, which was to enlighten people to what exactly I meant by my apparently super controversial statement. Because there was a reason it sounded so outlandish to my atheistic and cynical counterparts, to the point where it angered them, and the reason is a sad one. It was because they don’t understand the essence of humility which I believe, in large part, is why they also have so much difficulty having any kind of relationship with God.

To explain, let’s examine the nature of the disagreement. The article I wrote was discussing a gratitude and a new faith I had developed in the past year or so and a confidence that if God could get me through those particular trials then He could get me through anything. The counter was that I had gotten myself through the various trials on my own and that my credit to God was, in a word, stupid. (Or ignorant, if you liked that one better).

Now what I was trying to get this guy to understand was yes I did make some economical decisions that helped me save money and yes I was proactive in searching for jobs while unemployed etc. But to tell my tale of hardship and woe out of the context of my relationship with God would not only render it significantly less interesting but horrifyingly incomplete. My article glossed over the year as a whole, it did not include my daily prayers or take into account the fact that my new faith came second, not first. What these people missed was that with God great things never start off great, they start off small.

To clarify, my big year didn’t begin as a year, it didn’t even begin as a day, it began as a moment. A moment where I was really afraid, intimidated by the future, and unsure of what to do next. So in that moment, I decided to do something new because my old way, the type-A extremely well-organized 5-year plan method, the way of the world that career experts recommend as foolproof, was leaving me in knots and getting me absolutely nowhere. I decided to forgo my careful planning and trust God. In 23 years as a practicing Catholic, I’m not sure I had ever truly and genuinely trusted in God before to actually come through for me in my adult world. I had always kept everything rather compartmentalized, maybe due to my skepticism that God really does have a grand plan for my life and cares about my day to day needs too.  I don’t know I guess I’d always had God as an idea, but certainly an abstract one that I wasn’t sure how to incorporate into my life, and I guess it was time for us to finally get personal.

And get personal we did. Because instead of living in fear I thought I’d dare to be daring. I basically said something to God along the lines of “well God with everything I have going on, with my old plans out the window, it seems a good a time as any to finally start living life like it’s an adventure again instead of a calculated chess game where the object is only to win. And adventures always have a good ending, so I want my final destination to be heaven. Forget the rest of it, forget making a name for myself, or having it all, or living in the suburbs. My goal now is just to go to heaven and enjoy the trip, and I’m going to need You to take care of me each moment until I’m finally there, because I trust in Your mercy and I can’t wait to see it.”  And that was that.  I started sharing each moment with God: the good, the bad, and the ugly crying. And the more I tried it the easier it became and the more I actually enjoyed the little moments of being alive again. I realized that, although extremely informal, this was prayer and as it became more natural to me I was noticeably happier, even though my circumstances hadn’t even changed for the better yet.

So as the time started flying and nearly a year had passed, I wanted to pay tribute to that way, which I affectionately call “the littler way” (because St. Therese had a “Little Way” of offering random acts of kindness to God but since I can’t always be counted on to be kind my way was even littler in that I was going to share the moment with God no matter what it held, whether I was managing kindness or was my usual sassy self.) But after those many months I wanted to give God credit for exceeding my expectations, because as I found out God has a way of making the most insignificant, or even awful, moments of life really beautiful just by being a part of them.

rose

And this littler way, be warned, has a way of making you extremely little too, because with God it wasn’t merely “coping” as they cheer you on to do in the self-help section. It was learning how to live in the present moment in peace, in joy, and with a new faith (hence the title of the original article). And the reason I said I would rather be anything than proud, is because to reframe what I just told you as an empowering story of how I pulled myself up by my bootstraps, made a plan and stuck to it without compromise, and did all of this without help from anyone would not only be self-serving, arrogant, and misleading it would be an outright lie (which I strive never to do). The worst kind of lie too, one that diminishes the light of the truth by blowing the smoke of the world. I mean, it’s impressive how much work has been done already to that effect, because I actually had the intellectuals (and by that I mean those who were not ignorant like me) lecturing me on how “pride is not a bad thing” and “you realize there are different degrees of everything, right?” (i.e. as long as I keep my pride in reasonable check it won’t harm me or others at all, which, interestingly, is the ironic error that Elizabeth Bennet mocks Mr. Darcy for in Pride and Prejudice.) It was certainly something to behold. Ignorance is truly bliss by comparison to this mental game of Twister.

Because when my adventure comes to an end and I finally get to heaven, I hope that when I stand before God I don’t feel the need to brag about a single accomplishment or hand Him my resume. I hope instead that I look Him in the face with one of those thousand-watt smiles and say, “thanks for everything Dad. I loved every minute.”