Tag Archives: God

Losing Lent

Oh, the season of Lent.  The most important season of the year next to Easter.  The season of fasting, penance, and almsgiving.  Or in the case of me, the most important season of the Christian calendar when I fall seriously down on my job as an adopted daughter of God.  Why oh why does Lent always fall during the busiest time of my family’s calendar?  I know that I have no say in the matter, but it always brings me down.  Advent, that I can do – albeit half-way.  Lent?  It falls during – dare I say it out loud – spring sports season where my entire family lives in a state of constant and utter chaos.  (Please forgive me – yet again – Lord.)

Does God want me in a state of constant chaos?  He does not.  He wants and hopes that I stay in the holy season of Lent.  He wants me to give my mind, heart and soul to this holy season and all that it offers me as a person.  It offers me such growth – such promise.  And then life takes over, and I get taken away in a fast current of track meets, lacrosse games, stinky laundry, and meals at 10:00 p.m.  Oh yeah, I also have dogs and a spouse.  I lose Lent.  It loses me.

So, I head to my parish’s Penance Service last Monday with my “memo card of sins.”  It is my turn, and I am face to face with the kindest face I’ve seen in a long time.  The priest is a jolly, older Irish man, and when he sees my “memo card of sins,” he jokes, “Is that the litany of Saints?”.  Phew.  I got a good one.

I know that reconciliation is full of graces that I will never fully comprehend.  Sometimes I leave feeling worse than when I walked in, but most of the time I feel the compassion and mercy of my heavenly Father, the sacred heart of my brother Jesus who walks my same roads, and the Holy Spirit who guides me through my crazy, 2017 life.   Most of the time, I leave armed with the armor of God – ready to do battle.

This time (and please forgive me for oversharing), but I confessed that I have not done a good job of holding onto my Lenten promise.  And let’s be clear – my Lenten promise is something that I should be doing anyway.  It wasn’t something above and beyond the pale.

This kind, sweet, loving old priest said to me, “Jesus himself fell beneath the weight of the sins of the world three times.  Even though he knew Calvary was ahead of him, he got up – three times.  When you fall, just get back up.”

I cannot begin to tell you what that simple message said to me.  “Just get back up.”   When you mess up once, don’t berate yourself.  Just get back up.  Do the next right thing.  When you make that mistake that you always make – you know the one – try not to make it again the next time.  Use positive self-talk telling yourself that you want to be the best version of yourself.  Pray to the Holy Spirit to redirect your thoughts and actions.  Ask forgiveness.  Again.

The priest said to me that we are close to Easter, but there is still plenty of time to work toward my Lenten promise.  Just get back up.  Here’s to getting back up.  We are all in this together.

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Let Go, Let God – Yes, We’ve Heard it Before

Some parents were laughing at the lacrosse game last night about “control freak tendencies” that we all have to some degree.  There was a stadium sign a bit askew, and one of the moms wanted to run down and adjust it.  I think we can all agree that we try and control things in our lives at one time or another.

This past holiday weekend, I had everything under control.  And I mean everything.  Itinerary for college visits printed?  Check.  Appointment for MRI and surgeon visit confirmed?  Check.  Animals accounted for?  Check.  Son with appropriate supervision?  Let’s hope so.  102 fever when I woke up Sunday morning to leave on our trip?  Not on the list.

I have heard it said that, “We plan; God laughs.”  That’s not to say that it is bad to plan or that God does not want us to think ahead and plan for our lives, but our lives are just not entirely in our control.  They are in God’s control, and as much as we would like to play God and control everything ourselves, we need sometimes to simply be ourselves, and let God be God.  It’s OK to be needy, and it’s OK to ask for help.  Especially if we are needy and helpless in front of God.  As Americans, we like to be proud and self-sufficient – not needing to ask for help, even if we desperately need it.  However, there is a reason that we are all given different gifts and talents.  We cannot do it alone.  We need one another.  We need to be needy in front of our Father.

I am doing a Bible study on the Book of John, and we are currently talking about “Jesus, Our Peace.”  If we let God be in control instead of trying to handle it all ourselves, it will bring us increasing peace.  In the study, there is a great quote:

“Do not look ahead to what may happen tomorrow.  The same everlasting Father who cares for you today will care for you tomorrow and every day.  Either He will shield you from suffering or He will give you His unwavering strength that you may bear it.  Be at peace, then, and set aside all anxious thoughts and worries.” – St. Francis de Sales

There is a Laura Story song called “I Can Just Be Me.”  It talks about being yourself, and not trying to be God.  Not trying to be in control all the time.  Let God be in control, so you can just be you – the you He created you to be.

“I Can Just Be Me”

I’ve been doing all that I can

To hold it all together

Piece by piece.

I’ve been feeling like a failure,
Trying to be braver
Than I could ever be.
It’s just not me.

So be my healer, be my comfort, be my peace.
Cause I can be broken, I can be needy,
Lord I need You now to be,
Be my God, so I can just be me.

I’ve been living like an orphan,

Trying to belong here,

But it’s just not my home.

I’ve been holding on so tightly,

To all the things that I think
Could satisfy my soul.
But I’m letting go

So be my father, my mighty warrior, be my king.
Cause I can be scattered, frail and shattered,
Lord I need You now to be,
Be my God, so I can just be me.

Cause I was lost in this dark world
Until I was finally found in You
So now I’m needing, desperately pleading
Oh Lord, be all to me

And be my savior, be my lifeline, won’t You be my everything.
Cause I’m so tired of trying to be someone
I was never meant to be

Be my God
Please be my God
Be my God
So I can just be me
So I can just be me
I can just be me.

Songwriters: Jason Ingram / Laura Story – I Can Just Be Me lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC

See the video here:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0VRUU8UBXCk

“Be anxious about nothing.  But in all things, with prayer and supplication, with acts of thanksgiving, let your petitions be made known to God.  And so shall the peace of God, which exceeds all understanding, guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” – Philippians 4:6-7.

 

Hello 2017 – Nice to Know You!

Everyone rings in the new year in different ways – some quietly with family, some spending fun times with friends, some with hardly a nod to the fact that the date has even changed.  My family had a fun cookout with another Marist family (in Florida of all places) before watching TV as the fireworks were going off outside to mark midnight.

On the one hand, part of me is so relieved to say “arrivederce” to 2016.  I have been more than ready to close the door on this year.  It was even a little frustrating to hear at Mass on January 1st that just because the year changes, it does not mean that this year will not have its share of heartaches, disappointments and challenges.  Intellectually, I know this.  I just always want to believe that there are better days around the corner.  I want to have hope in 2017.

Somewhere in the last week I read, “Your year may change, but God remains the same.”  It was comforting to know that no matter what this year brings – happiness, peace, sadness, family challenges – that God does not change, only my circumstances do.  God is with me in the hardest of times, bringing me peace or helping me to cope.  God is with me in my happiest moments, celebrating along with me and reminding me that He is good and all good things come from Him.  God is with me as I make continued attempts to change for the better – you know, those darn New Year’s Resolutions.  Or Lenten resolutions.  Or July resolutions.  God is always with me, and wants to see me become a better version of myself.

I have been blessed to know Fr. Josh Allen, who heads up Georgia Tech’s Catholic Center.  He had some interesting thoughts about resolutions that he posted to Facebook (and I paraphrased a bit):  “Friends, if you are thinking about resolutions for the new year, don’t bother.  If you’re serious, you’ll start whatever it is today without delay — this very moment even.  If you’re waiting for an arbitrary point of the earth rounding the sun to make a change in your life, you’re not gonna make it.  Want to be a better person?  Do it now.  When our Lord calls, he does not tarry with delay.  Each of us can change with God’s grace.  Even the most profound changes.  But we can’t schedule an appointment with God’s grace sometime in the future.  The only moment that matters is now.”

I usually have far more resolutions than any mere mortal can be expected to follow through on.  This year, I’m going to consider this one:  I will recognize that God is truly with me at every moment, and to try my hardest to act in accordance with that truth – to trust more and to have more hope.

Time and Trust

My family and I were very blessed this past weekend to spend our first Sunday of Advent in St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City. Our celebrant and homilist was Cardinal Timothy Dolan (woo hoo!). He was warm, welcoming, and inviting, and his homily hit very close to home for my husband and me. I know I cannot do it justice in my own words, but I’ll give it a go.

Cardinal Dolan talked about Advent as a time of “patient waiting.” He talked about how the Israelites – the chosen people of God – waited 400 years for the coming of their Savior. He then mentioned how you and I can be impatient in our waiting. We can be impatient with others (an elderly family member, waiting at the checkout at the grocery store, or even getting out of the parking lot after Mass) or with ourselves (just when am I going to finally lose this weight?). He then talked about God’s time. Not my time, not your time. God’s perfect timing. We as humans are like microwave ovens – “I want my pizza heated, and I want it now.” God, however, is more like a crock pot – thinking in millennia – not months. When we as humans pray for an answer, we may pray for months, years, even decades. God answers in his perfect time.

God’s timing leads then to the concept of trust. If my timing is not being met, then I suppose I have to trust that God’s timing and God’s plan is perfect. I must trust in Him, and not in myself and my little plan for my life and the life of my family. Instead of, “Me, me, me,” it should be, “Him, Him, Him!”

My very feeble life experience has shown me that God’s plan is always better than anything that I can imagine. I’ve also been told that God answers prayers in three ways:

  • “Yes”
  • “Not Yet”
  • “I’ve got a much better idea.”

So I continue to try to trust. And my husband continues to try to trust. We wait (and wait) for God’s perfect timing. We currently and patiently wait for the feast of Christmas – when God’s perfect plan for the world came to life and brought the Good News to us all.