Patient Trust

i think no need words

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This is a prayer that I found while cleaning out my desk today.  It meant a lot to me to find it, so I felt like sharing it.

“Patient Trust”

Above all, trust in the slow work of God.

We are quite naturally impatient in everything

to reach the end without delay.

We should like to skip the intermediate stages.

We are impatient of being on the way to something

unknown, something new.

And yet it is the law of all progress

that it is made by passing through

some stages of instability–

and that it may take a very long time.

And so I think it is with you.

Your ideas mature gradually–let them grow,

let them shape themselves, without undue haste.

Don’t try to force them on,

As though you could be today what time

(that is to say, grace and circumstances

Acting on your own good will)

Will make of you tomorrow.

Only God could say what this new spirit

Gradually forming within you will be.

Give Our Lord the benefit of believing

That his hand is leading you,

And accept the anxiety of feeling yourself

In suspense and incomplete.

–Pierre Teilhard de Chardin  SJ

Last I heard, I wasn’t 14 anymore… so…

…why am I getting pimples the size of Russia on my face? Hm? I’m just sayin. I thought that was an adolescent thing.  I

thought by the time 22 hit, I would be immune to it.  But nope. Sure enough… there it is… a nasty little bugger, right near the corner of my mouth.  And when I mean size of Russia, I mean… whip out a map and stick this pimple on it, and I’m pretty sure that it would take up the equivalent space on my face as Russia does on said map.  Okay maybe that’s a bit exaggerated. But still. Seriously.

And naturally this happens the day before an important job interview that I am scared out of my pants for.  I’ve had some interviews for jobs I didn’t really care for that I didn’t really prepare for… because lets face it… why would I, a theology major, care about a data entry job for an automotive company?  That’s like asking the Pope to work the drive through at McDonalds.  Not that it’s a bad job… just that well, you know… the Pope is qualified for other things… other more important things.

And I’m terrified of this interview because it actually means something to me.  Granted, it’s not exactly the job I went to college for… but it is still in the general environment which my degree is in (it’s an office assistant position at a Catholic university), and could at least get a foot in the door for another opportunity even more closely suited for whatever the heck I’m supposed to do for the rest of my life. Maybe.  I’m actually preparing for this interview… meaning I am looking at mission statements, I am looking at programs this department in the school offers, I am preparing for questions that I may or may not be asked so I don’t sound like the bumbling idiot I’ve been sounding like for the past three months of my life… shoot,  I am even YouTubing videos on how I should present myself to my potential future employer.  Yesterday, I bought my first big kid suit… I even got the opinions of a couple salesladies before buying it… just to make *sure* I was portraying the correct image.

I’m freakin out.

So this morning, when I said hello to myself in the mirror and found Jupiter on my chin, I was not pleased.  I know I can’t help pimples… but when I see pimples, I think teenagers.  And when I got my big kid suit yesterday, I did not want to look “teenager,” I wanted to look “Catholic intellectual.”

And then I realized… God is trying to teach me something in this moment.  I don’t NEED to be perfect.  I need to be myself.  I need to let my love of theology shine in my interview, not my adultyness.  I need to trust that God will put me where I am needed.  This pimple humbled me a bit.  I mean I know I’m kind of a big deal, as I’m a child of God and all, but I should be willing to go where God leads me, not where I think I deserve to belong.  I’m caught up in this frame of mind that I am a big bad college grad, I spent thousands of dollars for a piece of paper to put me in a job that will earn me more than minimum wage, I have been a good and faithful servant, I DESERVE this job.  But the problem is that my ego might be getting a little too big.  Sure I deserve happiness, but really, the reason I am alive and on this planet is bigger than me.  I could very well work at the drive through at McDonald’s and be exactly where I need to be.

I’m not saying at all that I should disregard my wants and desires… as God designed me with those particular desires to begin with, and those desires are good. However, I have to be careful to not enter the territory of thinking I can do it all on my own, that everything is in my control.  Because it’s not.  Not needing to be in control is a great gift from God.

So I’ve got a zit the size of the sun on my face.  So it’s unexpected and a pain in the kisser. I’ve just got to make my smile bigger, and my personality shine through even brighter.  Because ultimately, a zit isn’t going to keep me from being where I need to be.

Can You Hear Me Now??

Do you remember those commercials for Verizon with the dude walking around on his cell phone saying, “Can you hear me now? Good!”  I do that a lot.  On my Verizon phone.  My phone only sometimes gets good reception.  A lot of the times it straight up lies to me.  It will tell me that I have 5 bars only to drop my call anyway, just because it feels like it. Sometimes the message comes in loud and clear… and other times it gets jumbled and I have to keep asking “What? What did you just say? Can you enunciate??”  I feel like an idiot a lot when I talk on the phone because I keep needing to ask people to repeat themselves.  It’s really beyond my control… obviously.   It’s my stupid phone’s fault for getting the message jumbled up.

I don’t think I ever had that kind of problem with my home phone.  When the phone is directly connected to the wall, it’s not an issue.  But if I have to get some stupid signal to go all the way out into BUFU space, and then expect it to bounce alllll the way back down to the right person, there ain’t no way I’m going to be guaranteed a clear connection.  At least that’s my personal experience with it.

In getting the convenience of a cell phone, we can potentially sacrifice the quality call received and transmitted.  And while cell phones are seriously a blessing when it comes to emergency situations, or being in contact with anyone no matter where he or she is located, it can also be deadly.  There are more opportunities for disaster with cell phones when it comes to things like calling/texting while driving, or walking across a street, or I don’t know, meandering in front of a train or something.  People just get stupid when talking on their cell phones.  And I’m one of them… I’ll be the first to admit it.

And so it got me thinking.  I’ve been waiting for God’s call for you know, 22 years of my life. I always think I may have heard God say something… but actually, I wasn’t hearing right.  Or sometimes I lose the connection.  Sometimes I think I’m in a place with great reception, only to move just a fraction of an inch and lose my contact.  I try to connect with God on my terms.  I try to figure out a way where I can do what I want to do, when I want to do it, how I want to do it… and finagle God in there somewhere, wherever God can fit.  In all of this finagling… I forgot how to listen. I forgot how to create an opportunity for me to simply be still and pay attention.  Or sometimes I focus too much and forget to look at the grander picture unfolding.

I’m trying to connect with God on a shaky cell phone connection.  I’m too busy, I’m too impatient, I’m too set in my own dreams sometimes, and this causes my signal to break up a little.  And then I misinterpret the call, all the while God is on the other line saying, “Sara?? Are you there?? Hello??”  I think I’ll be able to hear God better when I plant myself down to a landline phone… when I remove those other distractions and find a way to focus on just listening with the ear of my heart (as the Benedictines would say!).  Maybe it means reading scripture once in awhile. Maybe it means just taking time to be still.  Maybe it means quit it with telling God what to do, and just be there with the active listening skills.

I think that’s where many of my frustrations with difficult discernment of my calling come into play.  The problem isn’t that God isn’t listening… it’s that I’ve got a crappy connection.

Do you ever feel like that?  In what ways can you create a better connection with God?

Why Bother with the Church?

Last night I went to a backyard Mass at an old friend’s house.  I think that backyard Mass should be almost exactly how regular Sunday Mass should be.

For starters, we were all there because we were personally invited.  The atmosphere was cozy and laid back… there was no pomp and circumstance where pomp and circumstance was not due.  We were at home (literally), surrounded by trees and unexpected guests (raccoons!!).  The people there were neighbors to the most literal sense.  I saw a lot of faces that I haven’t seen in quite some times.  Not everyone there was Catholic.  The homily was open to the community to take part in (which was kind of awkward, and I wished Fr. would have given some kind of structure to it, but oh well).  Nobody sat in the front row… which was funny and oh-so-Catholic.  The entire event was a celebration.  We had name tags to make introductions less awkward (like if I should have known someone because they’ve been my neighbor since I was 5, but naturally, since I never interacted with them, I have no idea who they are, but they know who I am, the name tag helped), there was lots of casual conversation beforehand between everyone, and there was food and drink after and more casual conversation.

It felt like a big family reunion.

And that’s how Mass should be every week.  Even down to the simplicity of the backyard.  Mass doesn’t need to be a Hollywood production.  It needs to be real.  And that… that backyard Mass was the most real Mass I’ve experienced since the days I celebrated daily Mass with the monks at St. John’s.

The topic of the homily revolved around us sharing our experiences with the Church… why we’ve stayed, and why we haven’t, and what drew us back, and what is pushing us away.  I wanted to share, but chickened out because there were just so many people there who know me or who don’t really know me but think they do.

So why have I stuck with the Church?  I almost left the Church a couple times.  It was ultimately guilt that made me go to Mass every Sunday.  I’ve gone to Masses at school sometimes where I felt so suffocated by my questions that I had to leave and be with God out under the stars or near the lake.  I figured as a Theology major, I would grow closer to God (which I’m not denying… I have grown closer to God).  I just never expected such a hard journey with my questions.  The more I learned about the Bible and about my religion, the more unsure I became about what I believed.  I sought confirmation and found more questions.  Ultimately, I realized that I ain’t no quitter, and I made a promise at my confirmation to stick with God through thick and thin, and I made a promise to question and seek real answers and to never give up on the fight.  I stick with the Church because that’s where I belong… that’s where my family is.  I know God is still God even when I don’t think God exists.  I have told God that I don’t think he exists.  I’ve always been proven wrong… whether it’s through my family or my friends, or a book I’m reading or a TV show I’m watching or whatever it is that I’m doing daily.  I bother with the Church because it bothers me.

Do you bother with the Church?  Why? Why not?  If you don’t bother with the Church, what *do* you bother with?

I See London… I See France…

There’s nothing like putting on clean undies.  The optimal situation is clean undies and clean clothes on top of the clean undies… but realistically speaking… sometimes it’s day two on the blue jeans.  So maybe not all of my clothes are squeaky clean, however, the undies always are.  Have you ever noticed how grimy you feel wearing the same undies for more than 24 hours at a time?  It feels like week old Chinese food dunked in sewer water.  It’s awful.  The worst part about dirty undies is that it makes the rest of you feel dirty, even if you aren’t all that unclean.  Undies are the foundation for our clothing choices.  Undies are the first thing we put on in the morning.  Undies are of absolute importance, unless you prefer to go without them, which, for all intents and purposes, is not where this conversation is heading.

On a seemingly un-related note, I hate going to confession.  I can count on one hand the amount of times I have ever been.  The first time I felt horrible after and like the priest could care less about my silly little problems, even though it took me over a month and a half to muster up the courage to go in the first place.  The second time was amazing… the priest was very open and listened intently and was very understanding and even offered me solutions which extended beyond a couple “Hail Marys.”  The third time, it wasn’t awful, but I didn’t walk out on Cloud Nine either.  For the most part, my experiences with confession haven’t exactly been stellar ones.

However, today I had an epiphany in the bathroom. I hopped out of an exceptionally delicious shower and was feeling great all over in my clean undies and clean clothes when I realized… a ha!  So this is what reconciliation is supposed to be like!  I have always struggled with the concept of confession to a priest for a long time.  No matter how many times anyone has ever tried to explain it to me, I’ve never understood the need to have a priest intercede for me and the Big Mac Upstairs… I always figured I could just go straight to Jesus myself.  After all, Jesus said Himself… I’m the Son, God is my Father, the only path through to the Father is through the Son.  Get it?  I got it.  But sometimes I don’t go straight to God.  Sometimes I skirt around the issue.  Sometimes I don’t actually confess what needs confessing.  And sometimes I just need something more… I need something physical… I need a hot shower of absolution with the soap of contrition.  And I need my clean undies. I need to *know* that my soul has been purified.  Otherwise, for all I know… I’m still sitting in year-old sin.  And who wants that?  If day-old undies make me feel gross, it’s no wonder I feel so passionless, so apathetic, so not myself sometimes.  I’ve got a kink in my soul.  I’ve got some dirty undies on my soul that need changing.

When I wear clean undies, I feel clean all over.  I feel like I’m ready to start my day.  I feel like I don’t smell all that bad.  The best way to start building anything is with a firm foundation, and the best way to assemble a great looking outfit for the day is with clean undies.  The same goes for your soul.  If there is something troubling you, that something is going to gnaw on you and affect everything you do, from how you treat others to how much time you give for yourself.  Going to confession is your chance to take a shower and put on some clean undies.  You know you’ll feel a lot better when you do it, and you know that you can do it as often as you want or need to.

So my challenge to you for the week is this:  go to confession.  If that’s too big of a step for you, take some time at the end of the day or at the end of the week and reflect how your day or week has been.  Really be critical of yourself.  Take your actions to heart.  Learn from your experiences.  Try a better way.  It can’t hurt.

Do be do be do…

Greetings, friends out there in the great wide somewhere!  My name is Sara, I am 21-years-old, a senior theology major at a legit Catholic institution of higher learning, and devout Catholic…  and I have a confession to make.

I am a back row Catholic.

There was a time in my life where I sat in the front row.  That time was my freshman year of college, when I was just starting to make my faith my own, and my friends at the time all wanted to sit in the front row to experience Jesus in “IMAX” (up close and personal!).  However, year after year, question after question, I found myself sitting further and further away from the altar until I finally discovered my little nook in the back under a giant cement column in the dark.  I sit there mainly because I like having a giant cement column to lean my head against when I get too bored to pay attention in Mass, or when I want to hide from people, or when I just want to be one of those people who has their unofficial “spot” reserved week after week.

Now don’t get me wrong, I am sincere when I label myself a devout Catholic.  I believe in all of the basic teachings and I have a ton of questions and feelings of confusion and frustration towards my Church, but I don’t run away.  I like to tackle my questions head on.  As a theology major, I love to learn about God and spirituality, and how to apply these other-worldly concepts of God into a very worldly-world.  I love to look for God in the seemingly un-Godliest of places.  I observe, I digest, and I spew forth my abundance of wisdom unto the masses (aka–you, the reader).

This is my journey to seek God in the big and the little things.  Please feel free to comment on any post and offer your thoughts, opinions, philisophical ponderings, and whatever questions you have about the Catholic faith, or my faith, or religion in general.  I’m no expert, but I’d love to try… from one back row Catholic to the next.

Until then… stay safe, be well, and make good choices, friends.

“Yesterday is gone. Tomorrow has not yet come. We have only today. Let us begin.” –Mother Theresa

Love,

Sara