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…

Don’t Give Up

So the other day I got some bad news. It wasn’t new news, per se, but I’ve been having all kinds of minor health problems lately that have me being bounced around like a ping-pong ball between different specialists as they try to pinpoint which cause is responsible for which symptom.

It’s a frustrating process, not in the least because I sincerely worry that my boss will stop believing me the more I repeatedly ask to take off work to go to the next doctor who, of course, will also want a follow-up appointment.

I wouldn’t mind it so much if I didn’t have to ask permission to join something that I really want to join, something which I’m not sure will accept me as a candidate even though I feel truly called to do it. And that’s hard. Because obviously I won’t know their answer until after I apply, which won’t be in the immediate future. And in the gap that waiting always brings there is much room for doubt.

But it’s funny, even in the midst of some very reasonable objections I could see brought against me, I was surprised when my extremely practical family members looked me right in the eye and said “don’t give up.”

In the right context, those words can be quite powerful.

Because even though I was expecting my family to say “yeah it’s unlikely” or “yeah don’t set your heart on it, keep your options open” they instead believed in two people that I sometimes struggle to believe in, myself and God. They believed that in spite of resistance I might face that God is truly calling me to do it and that, if that is the case, neither hell nor high water will stand in my way. And I was touched because I know the reason they believe I can do it is because they have witnessed the strong interior conversion I described having, the one that inspired this blog in the first place, and the one that has carried me through many storms and placed me back on my feet on the other side to walk along brand new shores. And I’m sure I’m a better person for it.

And as I reach my one year anniversary of being a medical enigma, I also approach my one year anniversary of my littler way, a practice of living in the present moment with God. A process I will describe more in detail come the new year. A process that took the sting out of my bad news because, from the relationship that developed there, when push came to shove and I had to ask myself that tough question: “do I really trust God to take care of me, to get me through this and accomplish His Will for my life even in the face of potentially serious opposition?” My answer was a genuine “yes, I do.” Because God likes to accomplish the utterly impossible for me, it’s kind of our thing. I blame myself really because the truth is, as Miss Piggy pointed out in The Great Muppet Caper, “you wanted excitement!”

So I renew the promise I made when I began my consecration to the Blessed Mother, “No matter what happens, I won’t give up.”

Because in spite of everything I still have my new faith, and it really does make all the difference.