Monthly Archives: March 2012

the straw and the camels back…

I am sure that everyone has heard the phrase “the straw that broke the camel’s back”.  It is a common idiom that is used frequently in conversation.  That was also my exact thought when I started reading today’s Gospel reading!  Today’s Gospel is from John 11: 45-56.   It starts out…

Many of the Jews who had come to Mary and seen what Jesus had done began to believe in him.  But some of them went to the Pharisees and told them what Jesus had done.   So the chief priests and the Pharisees convened the Sanhedrin and said, “What are we going to do?

What they saw that seemed to distress them so much was the raising of Lazarus.  This wasn’t the first person that Jesus brought back from the dead and certainly wasn’t the only miracle that he ever performed.  Rather, it was the straw that broke the camel’s back.  It was when this happened, that the high priest, Caiaphas, prophesied that one man should die to save the whole nation and set the ball in motion for the crucifixion of Jesus.

What in our lives has become that proverbial straw?  I know I experienced one just a little while ago.  I am preparing to go on this diet program that my doctor wants me to do.  It will not be easy as it is a very strict program.  I have talked to my hubby and kids about it and they all have said that they will support me.  Tonight, while we were eating dinner (brats from the grill — I’m not on the diet yet!), someone commented about how I won’t be able to eat brats while I’m on this program.  I agreed and talk continued discussing a Cosby show where Claire is trying to lose weight and Clif is trying to sabotage her.  Then, everyone started talking about all the foods that they were planning to eat while I am on the program that would be off-limits to me.  All of this was done in a teasing mode and I just went along with it.  But, then the conversation took another turn and my hubby started quizzing me on some of the components of the program and whether I had done them today or not.  I explained that I wasn’t on the program yet, that it wouldn’t start until next Saturday after I finished the detox program that the Dr. wanted me to do first.  But, then it was one thing after another, how much water had I drank, had I walked that day, closing up and removing the dip from the table so that I couldn’t eat the dip, and on and on.  At this point, I was very perturbed.  The conversation had gone from being supportive, to teasing, to nagging.  And I decided that enough was enough.  The straw broke the camel’s back.

This isn’t the first time this has happened in our house.  It often happens with the kids who can be playing and laughing one minute while wrestling and then BOOM!  One of them has had enough and it turns into a free for all fight with someone crying (Yes. I have girls.  It ALWAYS ends up with someone crying.)  But, the trick is to keep this from happening, we need to know when the situation turns from being ok and fun, to being a problem.  And that is the tricky part.  As Christian spouses, we need to know when to stop.

That point of when to stop is not the same for every person or for every situation.  But, there are usually some clues.  Jesus saw the clues and as Scripture says, he went off into the region near the desert with his disciples and stayed out of the public eye for a bit.  I also saw the clues (rather felt them with the increased breathing, the higher blood pressure and the louder tone {yes, the kids would call it yelling} of voice that I was using) and decided to go off into the desert for a bit (which means I went for a walk for a bit by myself and then came and cornered myself in my office working on accounts payable and reading the Scriptures until my vitals returned to a somewhat more normal rate).

But, just as the Jews looked for Jesus as they prepared for the Passover, my kids are now looking for me for the nightly rituals.  So, back into the public I go, albeit hopefully with a lot less straw on my back.  Hopefully, my time with Jesus walking, reading, and working has lightened my straw load so that one piece won’t break me again.  So, I’m off to sing, “I’ll love you forever….”

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I AM…

“I am” could start any number of sentences on any different day in my life.  I am tired.  I am busy.  I am hungry.  I am cold.  I am the mother.  I am crazy. (a quote from yesterday LOL) I am (fill in the blank).

Today’s reading includes Jesus using this very same phrase, “I AM”.  But His phrase isn’t quite the same as the ones I use so regularly.  His has so much more punch behind it.  I remember wondering what it actually meant when I was younger.  It never seemed to quite fit the sentence for this phrase “I AM” to be used in the place of a noun.  As I grew older and developed a better understanding of Scripture, I realized that the phrase was an expression of the reality of God.  Beyond full understanding and beyond the need to understand.  It just is.  God is everything.

So, what is the difference between Jesus’ phrase “I AM” and my statement “I am”?  (Besides the very obvious capital versus lowercase letters) The difference is in the focus.  “I AM” highlights the awesomeness of God and how He is everything we could ever need.  “I am” is a very self-centered look at myself.  It is inward looking versus outward looking.  A pretty drastic difference in my eyes and one which I need to remember much more than I do.

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crazy pace of life…

Some days, I wonder whether I am supposed to be coming or going.  Life just seems to get more complicated and more chaotic the longer I live.  Last night, I had the chance to have a nice long talk with my BFF (not that I knew what that abbreviation meant when I met her LOL).  When she and I met as freshmen in high school, little did we know that 30 some years later, we would still be friends.  The kind of friends that can live together and not kill each other.  The kind of friend that can go years without talking and then get together and talk like we just had a sleepover the night before.  God blessed me with this friend who accepts me as I am, warts and all, and with whom I can talk about ANYTHING.  Well, during our conversation, she mentioned to me that she has been reading my Facebook posts and these blog posts and can’t believe that I get everything done that I mention.  She even laughingly said that I must be Wonder Woman.  HA!  We both got a good laugh out of that one because we both know that I’m not even close to being a wonder woman.  All I can do each day is to tackle any task that is in front of me and needs done now.  Period.  In fact, it drives my hubby nuts that I don’t look ahead more often and plan things out for the future more than I do.  There just isn’t time.

Life is chaos.  Life is crazy.  There is no debate in those facts.  Living in the world today, with five children, all of which are girls and homeschooling them on top of it against the advice of many of our friends and family, is crazy.  Agreed!  That is a fact that I will not dispute.  Add to that the fact that we own and run our own business, juggling employees, inventory, schedules, government regulations, and so much more along with the rest of our life just means that life is a chaotic crazy.  BUT, I firmly believe that all God asks of us is to do what we can at any one point in time and to do our best.

In today’s Gospel reading from John 8, I feel for the Jews that Jesus is talking with.  They are living life to the best of their understanding and doing what they know.  Then, Jesus comes along and blows their minds.

“If you remain in my word, you will truly be my disciples,
and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
They answered him, “We are descendants of Abraham
and have never been enslaved to anyone.
How can you say, ‘You will become free’?”

They knew that their ancestors had been enslaved, but that wasn’t their experience.  To their knowledge, they were already free, so why would Jesus come and tell them that they will become free?  Nothing that they knew could explain what Jesus was saying.  What is happening in this passage is really a type of miscommunication.  All of us come to understanding based upon our own perspective.  All that we have and all that we know comes together into our own unique perspective.  No two people will have the same perspective.  This is readily seen when you interview two different people who witnessed the exact same event and you hear two different stories about what happened.  So, Jesus coming from His great understanding of life since He was the Son of God and these Jews who were coming from their limited life experiences and traditions they had been told were coming from two different perspectives and just were not understanding what the other was saying.

This is life.  Living with one husband, 3 teenagers, and 2 younger elementary age children along with a dog and a cat and going about our daily life of schooling and work includes one example after another of this very reality.  I am thankful daily that we have a Tradition and the Scriptures to help us understand what Jesus is saying.  For I am too much like the Jew who is only seeing life from my limited myopic vision.  Sometimes, I am thankful for having that myopic vision as it allows me to tackle all of the different things that I tackle in one day.  By only seeing what is in front of me at any one time, I can focus on that one thing at that moment and not freak out with the to do list.  I do occasionally make a “complete” to do list as I am cleaning off my desk, but it fills pages of a legal tablet and just overwhelms me.  So, I have learned to make notes on each day of what is going on that day and each “area” of my life has a different folder so that I only open the folder being used at any one time.  I do usually also have a post-it note or two (or three…) on my desk of the IMPORTANT tasks that need done and I can’t forget to do.  Through prayer and reflections like this, I put my trust in God that He will guide me to what needs to be my focus.

But, I also know that even I, Wonder Woman :-), have limits.  When the chaotic craziness gets insanely crazy and begins to affect my most important relationships (God, hubby, kids), it is probably time to either say no to a few more things, delegate more things, OR hire another person to take on some of the insanity.  Again, that is where prayer comes in.  Prayer and reflection can help to determine if you are doing too much and need help or if you just need to clear your windshield/perspective up a bit to see a bit clearer at the big picture.  The challenge of course, is to keep our perspective’s windshield free of dirt and bugs so that our view is the same as God’s.  Or at least as close to clean and bug-free as a limited human can get.

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grains of wheat and memories…

…. unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains just a grain of wheat;
but if it dies, it produces much fruit.  

This passage from John 12 is one of the passages that marked a turning point within my life.  Now, let me say that I was baptized into the Catholic Church when I was an infant and attended Mass every Sunday and Holy Day while growing up.  I received the Sacraments along the way and even attended a Catholic grade school through my 3rd grade year.  After leaving the Catholic grade school, I attended religious education (called CCD) for a year or so and then when I was in 8th grade, went again to classes to prepare for the Sacrament of Confirmation.  Once I entered high school, there wasn’t a program for the teens, but I still went to Mass each week.

My life went gliding along like this until one of my roommates (who also happened to be my best friend) decided to attend a retreat through the Newman Center.  Now, remember that I did not ever remember NOT being a Catholic, but when B told me that she was going on this retreat, I thought she was NUTS!  No one I had ever known had ever voluntarily attended a retreat unless they were a nun or a priest!  I remember asking her how she ever thought she would last an entire weekend without talking as that was what I thought a retreat was all about.  I was totally incredulous that this friend that I knew as well as I did, could even consider doing anything like this!

But, time went along and she did go on the retreat – even with all of the dire consequences I told her would happen if she actually went.  When she came back afterwards, she was a changed person.  Honestly, that bothered me and now looking back, I can see that was what I was so afraid of to begin with.  After she came back, she started attending Mass on days BESIDES Sunday!  Can you imagine???  I thought the world was going to end and that we were going to have to admit her into the psych ward for losing her mind!  At the time, the only people who went to Mass on days other than Sundays and Holy Days were really old people who had lots to make up for in their life before they died and then, of course, nuns and priests.

After a period of time, I gradually got used to this new person and realized how much happier she was.  She even convinced me to attend a Wednesday Mass with her group of new friends.  The Mass was really cool, but I did feel out-of-place as I didn’t know anyone there but her.  But, by the end, the experience had re-ignited a thirst for something more within me.  So, with some persuasion from my friend, I decided to attend the next retreat being held.  All I knew was that I was at a pretty low point in my life and was very lost after breaking off my engagement with my childhood sweetheart.  (I’ll tell you that story another time.)  I needed to do something or I knew I would slide into oblivion.  So, I went on this Newman Foundation Koinoinia retreat and it changed my life.

Going into the full story of the retreat and the impact it had on me is a witness talk I have done but not my point here.  But, 2 things, one passage and one phrase stand out from that retreat.  These will always take me back to that weekend, especially to the wonder and awe I felt experiencing Christ’s love and forgiveness in a way that I never had before and to the reality of God’s sacrifice and desire for me to follow Him.  They are:

unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies,
it remains just a grain of wheat;
but if it dies, it produces much fruit.

and

God is counting on YOU!

The reality is that a seed is worth nothing unless it dies just as my life was/is nothing unless I am willing to die so that abundant fruit can come forth.  I need to die to my own vanity, my own selfishness, my own will in order to do His will.  And when the going gets tough, all I need to remember is that He is counting on ME!

So, thank you Lord for giving me this reminder!  Be with me as I hope to remain in You.

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confession…

Amen, amen, I say to you, the hour is coming and is now here
when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God,
and those who hear will live.

Confession.  Penance.  Reconciliation.  Whatever you want to call it, it is the same thing.  A Sacrament and a gift from God.  When we are dead within our soul due to sin, this Sacrament offers us the opportunity to once again hear the voice of God.

I’m not sure why I still have heart palpitations before going to Confession.  For those of you who know me and know my struggles with this Sacrament, you know that I am MUCH better than I was before.  But, it is still one of those things that I ‘know’ I need, truly ‘want’ to do, but still hesitate before doing.  The after effects though are so worth it!!

The other thought I had tonight was on the “how” of confession.  Having gone through instruction on confession in the  early 70’s after Vatican II, I remember being absolutely terrified being in the confessional.  It was a dark, small room with a screen and the slightly muffled voice of the priest coming from behind the screen.  That whole scenario slightly freaked me out, to be totally honest.  So, when I started coming back to the Sacrament during my college years, I always went face to face with the priest.  It just seemed so much more ‘human’.  But, going face to face brings its own issues.  Namely, actually facing a priest and saying things you would normally not tell another living soul.   Hmm, not necessarily a walk in the park!  Over the years, I found very creative ways to actually confess some tough things but in a delicate way so as to avoid a break out of hives in either myself or the priest.  But, I always wondered whether I was being explicit enough and whether my ‘delicate’ wording was really just avoidance.

So, tonight, when I went to confession again, I decided to give that small box and screen another try.  It did not seem quite as dark as my 40 year old memory was AND it didn’t seem nearly as intimidating.  In fact, it was helpful!  Very helpful!  It was so much easier to be completely open and honest and spill it all out with no holds barred when I wasn’t being “watched” (and I know the priest doesn’t ‘watch’ you, but I hope you know what I mean here).  Afterwards, I felt so much better.  I KNOW without a shadow of doubt that there wasn’t any hesitation on my part and no worries about my delicate wording actually avoiding the issue altogether.  Instead, I, the one who was dead, really confessed and was forgiven.  And as Scripture puts it so much better than I can…

the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God,
and those who hear will live.

AMEN!

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the pool of healing

Today’s post has been rolling around in my brain for the last few hours along with several things that happened today.  Hopefully, I can calm and organize my thoughts into a coherent post tonight, but if not — I apologize ahead of time. 🙂

When Jesus saw him lying there
and knew that he had been ill for a long time, he said to him,
“Do you want to be well?”
The sick man answered him,
“Sir, I have no one to put me into the pool
when the water is stirred up;
while I am on my way, someone else gets down there before me.”

This passage is from today’s Gospel reading from John 5:1-16.  This section of the Gospel truly spoke to me today because of several things going on right now.  First of all, I know several people who are sick and are in the hospital or have been in the hospital recently.  I also know of someone who has been having many physical symptoms but with few answers from the doctor as to why.  So, in a very obvious way, this passage is a very appropriate companion to life’s circumstances right now.

But, that easy answer still didn’t settle my thoughts after reading the Gospel.  Instead, it started my thoughts down the path to my own doctor’s visit last week and how he wants to me to try this different protocol for some lingering chronic health issues that I have.  This protocol is not an easy one to follow and will call for a lot of time and effort on my part and of which I don’t have much to spare.  But, my answer to Christ’s question on whether I want to be well or not is a resounding yes.  And as difficult as this protocol might be, it offers the promise of a long term answer versus the short little stop gaps that we have been doing.  The concept of truly being well and healthy and not taking the many pills and supplements that I take every day is very alluring.  So, I have started to prepare myself to follow this new plan.

But, just as my heart came to the acceptance that this is the path to take, the devil had to throw a wrench into my calmness.  I actually talked to someone who has done almost the same protocol that I will be starting and it wasn’t successful for her. *sigh*  So, I now get to battle the internal demons who are saying that I won’t be successful either and it isn’t going to work.  I now wonder whether I really can follow this protocol.  In other words, I am now doubting.  Trying not to, but I am definitely cowering under the onslaught of those doubts now.

It also struck me that this healing that Christ is asking if I am ready for might not only be of the physical nature, but the spiritual nature as well.  That came up when I saw a note that was written to a group of friends.  One of the group was obviously upset over something she heard.  She was being nice in the note, but a feeling of self-justification came over me.  What she had heard was obviously a question followed by a conversation I had with others from our group and she was not happy about the discussion.  But, in reality, all the conversation was about was how I was confused by a post on facebook was asking clarification from someone else as to what exactly was going on.  It seems like she took it badly that I was asking or that she thought I was saying something negatively about the situation.

My first reaction was total frustration.  This particular friend and I haven’t always been on the best of terms and have a tendency to miscommunicate regularly.  My initial thought was why couldn’t she just realize that it isn’t who I am to think that way but that I was generally confused and was just trying to figure out what it all meant because I care.  So, the more I thought about it, the more frustrated I got with her take on all of it.  Hmmm, just the sort of thing that the devil loves!  But, again with some time and reflection, I can see how if what I said wasn’t repeated exactly as I said it and she was hearing about the conversation second-hand, how she probably was frustrated too and replied out of that frustration.

The devil sure is hard at work today making sure there are lots of things taking my mind off of what I should be focusing on.  Sort of like the ill man by the pool who couldn’t quite make it into the healing pool before someone beat him to it.  This is much of what I have been feeling today.  Frustration that as soon as I am getting myself up to go to the healing waters, I am getting sidetracked by someone or something else.  But, thankfully, our Savior is an empathetic savior and willing to step in and help cure us with His love.  I just pray that I am always willing to bask in His love, in His cure.  It is so much nicer than that pool of frustration!

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Jesus and a political rally

“Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?”
But they did not understand what he said to them.

Today is the feast of St. Joseph, Jesus’ foster-father as my kids would say.  For today’s Mass readings, there were two options.  The quote above is from the second option, when Mary and Joseph found Jesus in the temple after he had been lost for 3 days.  I have always loved this passage and all of the connections it has to so many other things.  The most obvious one, of course, is to the death of Christ and then the rising up on the 3rd day.  When he is lost for 3 days to his parents, he is also lost to us after the crucifixion for 3 days.  Just as they were distraught and feeling His loss, so are our feelings of loss during the Triduum.

Tonight, though something else strikes me and it is the second line of the quote above.  “They did not understand what he said to them.”

I just came home from my first, ever political rally.  Rick Santorum happened to be in East Peoria today and there was a rally for him not far from our house.  Hubby and I decided to go and see what was up as neither of us had ever attended anything like that before.  We were both a bit surprised by the obvious preparations for this rally.  Firetrucks, emergency vehicles, police cars, vested officials directing traffic, TV cameras and media vehicles and equipment everywhere.  It was a bit startling for someone who had never been to something like this.

During Rick’s speech, two things struck me (besides of course his speech which was excellent!).  First of all, there was a young man there who pushed his way in front of me in the crowd and then stood right in front of me.  Now, this guy was broader and taller than I was AND it became obvious quickly that he wasn’t there to support Santorum, but to heckle him.  He had an I-pad and kept putting images on there like “occupy the streets” and many other slogans that he kept holding up.  After a period of time, I decided to be polite and ask him to keep his arm down as he was blocking my view of the proceedings.  He said to me that no one could see, so it didn’t really matter.  I said, YES, it did!  In fact, I could see very clearly until he had rudely pushed his way in front of me and then kept blocking the small ‘hole’ I was looking through to see the stage by raising his arm.  When I challenged him on this, he backed down and after a bit, left.    What struck me about this was the rudeness and blatant disregard for anyone else’s right to see what was going on so that he could do his own little political statement.  Here was Santorum speaking on how our country has moved away from the core values that the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence iterated and this young man rudely showed just how far society has moved away from these basic core values of decency and politeness.  It isn’t hard to see that this young man “did not understand what was said to him’ when and if he was ever taught the golden rule.

The second thing that struck me at this rally was the secret service crew.  It struck me that it was truly sad that they even needed to be there.  They were very much “on duty” scanning and watching the crowd (including the rude young man I already mentioned who they watched VERY closely).  I realized that nothing really has changed over the years.  In Jesus’ time, there were those who set out to silence Him, who were afraid of what He was saying.  Just as tonight, there were those present who also wanted to silence the message that Santorum had for those willing to listen.  Whether you believe that Santorum would be a good choice for president or not, the reality is that people nowadays just don’t want to listen.  Tonight, rather than listen to what he had to say, many, like the rude young man mentioned earlier, were doing what they could to disrupt the gathering.  Between signs, shouts, boos, etc – they tried to silence a man trying to share his vision.   Is that what we are called to do as Christians?  Silence those who we disagree with by causing a scene ourselves?  Or should we be respectful of others as we want to be treated?

St. Joseph was a strong, quiet man who did what he was told by God and protected Mary and Jesus with his life.  He was an honorable man.  He was a courageous man.  I especially pray for those like Santorum who are in the political arena.  Being a courageous person, standing up for your beliefs and for what you believe God is calling you to do is not an easy thing.  I pray that St. Joseph guides them – especially the one who will become our new president.

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For God so loved the world…

“Home”.  Some passages in the Bible are so comfortable to us, that they are much like coming home after being away for a period of time.  Soft, comfortable, and familiar.

“God so loved the world that He gave his only Son, that whoever believes in Him may not die but may have eternal life.” —John 3:16

This passage exudes these same characteristics of home, soft, comfortable, and familiar.  Anyone attending any Church has probably heard this passage so many times that it is as familiar as the names and birthdays of those you love.  it seems to be carved indelibly onto our hearts.  And yet, have we really explored this passage to its depths?  Yes, it is comforting to know that God loves us that much and that we have the promise of eternal life.  But, is there more?

God loved us so much that His love and sacrifice demands a reply from us.  It is a gift which demands a response.  So, what is our response?  We have been given free will and it is each person’s choice as to whether to respond to to God’s gift or to turn away.  So, what is your choice?

As I wrote yesterday, letting go and letting God means letting go of our false self, that part of us that we wear as a mask around others so that they don’t see deep into our souls.  It is our protection.  But, to truly follow God, we need to take off our mask and follow our heart.  Vanity and self-righteousness have no part in our reply to God’s sacrifice.  Instead, we are called to be pure.  Pure in our intentions. Pure in our attitudes.  Pure in our actions.  Can we reply in this way?  That is the challenge.

I don’t know about you, but being “home” for any length of time also means needing to do some cleaning.  The more time we spend in any space, the more the dirt accumulates.  I don’t think it is a coincidence that Lent is also in the Spring.  Lent is our time for our spiritual spring cleaning.  Don’t let this time go by without a bit of spit and polish.  For that in itself, is part of our reply.

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Righteousness and offering it up

In today’s Gospel reading, Jesus tells a parable to those convinced of their righteousness.  The parable is of the tax collector and the Pharisee who went to the temple to pray.  The Pharisee prayed in a self-righteous way and the tax collector just prayed for mercy since he was a sinner.  The parable concludes with the “moral of the story” which says that the one who humbles himself will be exalted while the exalted will be humbled.

This brought to my mind a reflection I read from March 15th from the Center for Action and Contemplation.  It’s title was “Letting Go” which snagged my attention, but the actual meditation kept it.  Here is a piece of it:

Real holiness doesn’t feel like holiness; it just feels like you’re dying. It feels like you’re losing it. And you are! You are losing the false self, which you foolishly thought was permanent, important, and you!

To me, what this is describing as this false self would be our own self-righteousness.  Our sense that we are good and have crossed all of our t’s and dotted all of our i’s and DESERVE good stuff to happen.    No matter how much good we do, we are still sinners and need to realize that our “goodness” doesn’t make us holy and sacred.  God makes us holy and sacred.

Later in the meditation, it takes this one step further…

 Many of us were taught to say no without the deep joy of yes. We were trained to put up with all “dying” and just take it on the chin. Saying no to the self does not necessarily please God or please anybody. There is too much resentment and self-pity involved. When God, by love and freedom, can create a joyous yes inside of you—so much so that you can absorb the usual noes—then it is God’s full work. The first might be resentful dieting; the second is a spiritual banquet.

I really like this piece of the reflection.  For when we just “offer it up” all the time without any substance behind that gift, it is just an empty gift.  Saying no to something in our life that we really don’t want to say no to, but is being offered for someone  who needs prayer is so much more satisfying.

I know many people who can “offer it up” very easily but it is done with resentment and self-pity which just weakens the offering.  It is like someone handing you a present of a CD that you have been wanting, but you find when you open the case to listen, it is empty.  These are the people who “fast” for 2 meals and then come in and because they have been “starving” all day, now eat enough food to feed a family for a week.

I don’t know about you, but a banquet (especially a spiritual banquet) sounds good to me vs. the resentful dieting!  How about you?  Are you willing to add some substance to your offering so that it becomes a banquet or are you willing to settle for less?  It doesn’t take much but a lifting of the heart.  Lifting oneself up from the depths frequented by the devils and flying high in the sky with the eternal banquet laid out in front of me is DEFINITELY my idea of a banquet.

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God’s law and life

Today’s readings focus on following God’s law.  We love God’s law, for it reveals to us how to love.  In fact, when my husband and I are doing Theology of the Body presentations, we talk about why we need to follow God’s law.  The goal for any Christian is to totally internalize God’s laws for life so that we don’t even have to think about them to ‘know’ what we are supposed to do in any situation.  Instead of fighting with the Church about whether something should be a law or not, we should be practicing it over and over so that it becomes second nature.  Yes, we all go through periods of questioning, but these should be short periods and should lead us to a deeper understanding of what God is calling us to be and to do.

Understanding this is one thing.  Teaching a child this is something else totally.  Teenagers.  Need I say more?  At this point, technically, I have two in the household.  In reality, the 20-year-old is still very much a teenager, so I still say I have 3 teens.  So, knowing what I do of adolescent psychology as a certified youth minister, you would think that I would understand and be able to guide my own teens through this period of questioning and growth.  HA! If you did, you thunk wrong.

I remember when my children were young.  I remember thinking that if I received a nickel each time that I said “no” or needed to redirect a child’s attention away from something they weren’t supposed to be in, I would be a millionaire.  I thought that I couldn’t wait until this stage passed!  Now, I am dealing primarily (I do still have two pre-teens) with teenagers who can’t see beyond their own mirrors.  Life revolves around them, not the sun.  (Sorry to have kept that one a secret for so long, but I was just needing the 3rd experiment to “prove” my data wasn’t skewed on the first two. *sigh*)  These days I believe that if I got a penny each time I tried to help them realize that there is more to life than what is in their direct circle of experience, I might be able to retire VERY comfortably.

The reality is that children don’t change.  There are seasons to life that we all go through. Watching my now 5th child learning to read, I realize that this is now the 5th time I have waited for that light bulb to go off and to watch her go from being “able to read” to “loving to read”.  From the earlier experiences, I have learned not to worry, but to wait.  It is coming and my worrying won’t make it come any sooner.  Our growth and development is part of the never ending cycle of life.

Life is changing.  I no longer get to hold and snuggle with babies on a daily basis, reconnecting with that bond that only another breastfeeding mother could understand. But, I do get to sit and discuss life with my teens and challenge them to take what they have learned and fly with God into the future.  And when the teens are cut up in their self-focus, I can go to my younger two and create an imaginary castle with knights and princesses who need saved from the bad barbarians and once again be the hero.

Overall, the goal is to keep reiterating those laws.  On my own, I am the teacher from the old Charlie Brown movies.  “Mwa, mwa, mwa, ma, mwa.”  But, with prayer and God’s grace, eventually they will come to understand what we are trying to teach them and internalize these laws.  When the laws are within, what comes out, leads us to sainthood. And what else is there as our goal besides sainthood?

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