On a Hard Day

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.

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Virtuous Defeat

I read a quote today from St. Catherine of Sienna that essentially said we cannot defeat evil with evil but must defeat evil with virtue. I was struck by how profound that is especially in our modern world where so few strive for holiness and virtue. Where it can feel like the only way to beat evil is with evil. It can be so tempting for me to want to be cruel in return when I have been treated cruelly because it feels like justice and is gratifying only for the faintest moment. Because instead of offering up my sorrows I’ve dragged another down into that mire and it doesn’t change anything except me, and it’s a change for the worse.

To fight evil with virtue is what I want to do in my heart but I confess it’s tempting to see that as ineffective. In a world of self sufficiency and control it can be tempting to believe that if you don’t play by the world’s rules you won’t get what you want in the end, you won’t achieve your goals. With virtue and walking the virtuous path you may face persecution and obstacles but you learn the lesson I am still learning to totally trust in God and where He leads you. To trust that even if you don’t see the fruits of your virtue and if others remain the same He still sees you and will reward you. But I confess to you also that I don’t want to become mercenary about receiving a reward I would like to be virtuous simply because I ought to be. It’s the way God designed me to be and it’s the only way I’ll experience not only true love but true life. Please pray for me!

The Middle

Does anyone ever get the feeling that they are at an important crossroads in their life yet continue to feel desperately unprepared to move forward?

Asking for a friend…

Lately, I’m getting that special feeling that only introverted over-thinkers can truly sympathize with, that feeling of needing a vacation from yourself because you are driving yourself insane.  It’s a feeling that often follows or even accompanies a struggle.

Fortunately, it is also a feeling once shared by St. Paul which makes me feel better since I like him a lot:

I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate... I can will what is right, but I cannot do it. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I do. (Romans 7:15-19) 

I am actually not blogging to write about the particular struggle because I already have.

Rather I’m writing to vent my particular frustration with my own limits. I know I can’t do holiness, certainly not the level that I want and strive for. I know that may sound odd considering the attitudes I’ve expressed in the past regarding holiness, so for the sake of explaining away any perceived inconsistency I’ll briefly add:

I believe that the end for which every person is born is eternal life with God in Heaven and that all are called to be holy even now in time because we have to be holy in order to be in Heaven (good and evil can’t coexist so to be with perfect good all my imperfections have to be left at the door). However, I also believe that this transformation is brought about primarily by the gift of God’s merciful love and the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross which forgives sin rather than our own efforts. I think even wanting to make the effort is a grace.

I know that’s pretty lofty but that’s what makes religion fun and much less confining than a purely material world view.

However lately in spiritual life I’m moving away from things that are difficult for me to things which I already know are impossible to do on my own. I’m having a Carrie Underwood moment where I really need Jesus to take the wheel if I want to keep going (I do) but I’m very afraid to let go. And that fear comes from a sincere lack of trust in God which makes me feel ungrateful. In spite of all that God has done for me my faith feels very small and inadequate compared to the faith I know I need to move ahead. 

Yet I’m past the zone where I can do anything about it. If I want greater faith I have to ask God for it and then wait patiently for Him to answer my prayer, which includes me saying yes to the graces He offers in the moment rather than respond how I would on a natural level. This is hard to do especially when the natural response is so close at hand and so much easier for me.

It’s an important part of the middle of the journey, but I think it’s far from my favorite because I am very undisciplined in sticking with the middle. I look back to the exciting beginning of my life in Christ, I look forward to a future in Heaven, but I struggle to want what I’m getting in the middle which is a steady stream of trials with no immediate end in sight. Yet these trials are so important because they make me the person God is calling me to be, they make me more like Jesus. And I hope it goes without saying why I’d like to be more like Jesus… I’m sure anyone who has a relationship with Him understands what I mean, and if you don’t I’d highly recommend beginning.

Because even though from this post it may sound difficult it is so incredibly worth it. Even though I whine every step of the way in my soul and resist with the stubbornness that is my hallmark, I already know I am going to keep walking….chalk it up to the mystery of love. I also know that the only way I am going to part from these trials is to stop bristling against them and embrace them as the things that are going to rid me of what I’d very much like to be rid of: my pride, my fears, my temper, and my impatience to name a few.

Though I confess it is funny that even though I sometimes tend to hate my weaknesses and lose patience with them as they manifest themselves in myriad surprising ways. However it almost seems like God, rather than wanting me to overcome them with my own strength (my default response) wants me to trust Him to the impossible for me. This is perhaps the hardest thing of all. In order to do it I have to rely not only on God’s grace but I have to remember what I all to often forget the very simple truth that God loves me very much.

And I wrote this post to help me remember that truth as I’m in the middle of the middle, in the hopes that someone else in the middle would remember it too.