Does Lent feel like a season for frustration and irritation? A time of complaining about all our discomforts, voluntary or otherwise? Do your good intentions feel somehow unappreciated or worthless? Does your extra prayer or acts of service seem empty, aimless or uncertain? If so, you might be focusing on the wrong thing this Lent…
Fr. Al Lauer from Presentation Ministries gave a beautiful meditation on the feast of St. Martha on “busy-ness”. He explained how busyness can be a healthy and beautiful thing if we are called to it, but that the moment it takes us away from Christ and the peace he wants to offer us, then our busyness is no longer godly.
Is there a way to KNOW God loves you? Ever felt like saying “… it’s been such a crappy day/week/month/year/life that it sure doesn’t feel like it”? If we are struggling with the question of lovability, hearing about God’s love for you can almost feel nauseating in its commonality. We can’t even get away from the cheesy emoticon bumper-stickers that say “Smile, God loves you!” and most of the time it feels like people are “just saying that”. Is there a way to get past that?
I am a worrier. I worry about everything. I worry about every single decision I make, from what to make for dinner to whether or not I should spend those $20 extra at the grocery store. I worry about my abilities as a wife and a mother. I worry about my eating habits, my weight, my beauty and my ability to be loved. I worry about my children and their futures. I worry about my husband and his health. I worry about the health of my relationships with friends and family members. I worry about my problems and other people’s problems ’til I can’t sleep at night. But there is one thing I no longer worry about
The first question this obviously leads to is, what is God’s will for us? We think of it as something scary, oppressive, controlling. When we consider following God’s will, we tend to think only of rules and regulations. We think of lines like, “Whomever wants to come after me must take up his cross and follow me” (Mt. 16:24) and of having to do hard things and give up what we are most attached to. We think of having to change. We think of Job, Lazarus and Calvary. How could that possibly make us happy? What’s in it for me if I’m called to “die to myself” (Mk. 8:35, Jn. 12:24, etc)?
How do you feel about the way others see you and the way you see yourself? Did you ever try to put on a front hoping to make someone else see you in a different light than how you see yourself? Have you ever thought about it? There’s a whole new craze of self esteem promos out lately… how are those working out for you? Does repeating a mantra change the way you see yourself? Does it ever make you feel torn between worlds when the way you see yourself, the way others see you and the reality of who you want to be don’t seem to match up? Have you ever asked why?
Do you get frustrated by failure? Do you feel that all too often your best efforts and best laid plans are thwarted by irritating nothings that somehow have the power to ruin everything? I’m pretty sure most human beings can agree that we aren’t the biggest fans of not measuring up to our own standards, or, even worse, to the standards we feel others place on us. As disappointing as it may be, we are all human, and part of being human necessarily entails weakness and imperfection. How can we ever find peace with our reality if we are trying to become something we are not (namely, perfect)? Is there any way to see our weakness in a more positive light?
We are all locked in a love-hate relationship with ourselves. We want so badly to love the person we are but despite our best efforts we so often fall far short of our own expectations. We think that being ourselves happens by doing stuff that “makes you you” and that our worth somehow has to be earned. We fight so hard and so long to have the right job, the right clothes, the right car, phone, relationship, financial or social status so that we can prove to others and ourselves that we deserve respect and admiration… But is all the madness really worth it?