What do you do when you're procrastinating?
When you're scrolling through your newsfeed and a picture pricks your heart with jealousy and you switch to a different app to avoid the pain, what is it that you wanted, that you didn't get?
What is the secret, deep-down desire of what you hope lies in your future?
These are real. Are true and unseen, unattainable as heaven itself (which is to say more attainable than you can imagine.) The things you want, the things you love, the things you have. The things you covet.
God's way of giving them to you is impotency. Absurdity. Ridiculous. Awe-inspiring. Irreverent to human nature. Inefficient and inconvenient, to say the least. Going back for one when there are 99 with you? Fasting for forty days? Was Jesus born without a stomach?
Up is down and down is up. Just another day in God's school of humility.
"The cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God." (1 Corinthians 1:18) It is not common sense, spidey sense or street sense. He is not in any way sensible, detectable or predictable. What God is going to do, you have no way of imagining.
Sorry, Charlie. I don't care how smart you are. To get what you want, you have to learn to get by without it. That's God's modus operandi.
Today's petitions in my Magnificat made me stop, pause, and rewind.
When the good fortune of forgiven sinners disturbs us, Save us O, Lord.
When gossip lures us into judging our neighbors sin, Save us, O Lord.
It'd be nice to see other people's sin and be able to control where they go. It'd be nice to have categories, levels of sin, levels of people, number of times they've repented from the same habitual sin. God's the ultimate artist, the creative genius, He doesn't have to be an engineer with systems and equations because He is the God of order yet His system is our mess. Still, it'd be nice if we could categorize ourselves and know how to advance in His hierarchy to become His favorite, wouldn't it? When God wanted to extend His mercy to everyone, wouldn't it be nice if He secretly meant just you? :)
Maybe you have someone in your life who you just don't understand. You love them so much that you can't abandon them, but all they ever do is make bad choices. They fall for the wrong people. They wake up at the wrong time. They drink the wrong thing. They lack motivation, inspiration, self-control.
What if you could change them? What if you could decide what people or behaviors you would kick out of their life, for their own good? For their well-being and happiness - right? Did you ever stop and wonder what good you really see in that person, if there's so little that you would actually "keep" about who they are? Who do you really love when you look at them? Them - or who they could be if they were more like, I don't know...you?
God's not like that. He doesn't want to just sift out the sin and keep the part that's good. He wants the sin, too. Your bad choices are a part of you, even if you shouldn't repeat them. He doesn't want it to hurt you. But He'll take you - all of it - every bit of you - to keep.
Because up is down. Down is up. Just when you think you're falling through the ice, you land on a bed of crimson roses in the white, white snow.
So where in your life do you feel like you're going backwards? That the Spirit's finger is on rewind, where you want it to be fast forward?
You want to feel accomplished but you keep getting a low grade, a bad evaluation, constant criticism?
Your friend or family's addiction or disordered behavior makes you feel useless, powerless?
Your boss isn't the leader you want them to be?
You're not developing the skill set you want?
The only thing you really you want to do is with Downton Abbey? (ok, maybe I'm self-projecting a little here)
Someone's sick? Someone's not responding? Someone's at it again?
There's a fine fine, a thin veil, between the Worst.Day.Ever and the best thing that has ever happened to you. Defeat determines your victory.
You're sort of like a slingshot, flung forward to knock out a giant. You don't get to pick the direction, but God gives you the desire to land in a certain place.
Fr. Jon Seda often says that you know you're doing God's will when you end up some place you never intended to go. He leads you on a path unwinding.
I always thought I wanted to write books and raise babies. By the grace of God, I get to do that - every day. I don't have anyone calling, "Mommmmyyyy!" in the middle of the night, but I do get the complaints, the questions, the love, the occasional deep gratitude, the neededness. It's as if God is saying to me,
What - did you think to be a leader, you wouldn't be necessary?
Did you think you could be loved, without also being hurt?
Did you think that forgiveness as the way to heaven would make you feel safe and smart and socially acceptable?
Did you think making a world of difference would be convenient for you,
that becoming a martyr would be like eating Jell-O on a couch,
that becoming who I need you to be would require anything else?
When are you going to get it?
And He lovingly reminds me...
You can't build a tower to heaven to understand God's ways.
You can't reason your way out of this or into it.
There are no shortcuts, scapegoats and fail safes.
Love is when you let the Other have their way.
Even though you know your way is right.
Loving Jesus is letting yourself be wrong.
You're where you need to be.
You didn't miss a turn.
You didn't move too slow.
You weren't too impatient, too slow, too demanding, too cold.
You weren't too much.
You're exactly who God wants
for the job that you are doing.
He doesn't just need you. He more than wants you.
His love for you is in the drowning, in the burial, in the deep.
It is on the underside, the stinky life, the edge of town,
the person you don't want people to see.
Where did you think you were going to be,
given the facts and events of your life?
What sort of person did you hope to be - if not exactly who you are now?
How did you think you were going to feel when you made the choice?
Don't doubt what you've done, don't let it own you,
but let it be where you were and not where you are now.
Unity isn't for everyone but you.
Compromise is exactly for those who think they don't have to.
What is it going to take
for you to tip?
This isn't just jumping or setting sail or stepping down.
It's rolling the boat over so everything will fall out.
Riding a donkey into the city of your ancestor.
Establishing a memorial with those who will forget you.
Letting your blood be drawn in a method invented by your enemy.
Wanting something eternal for those who thirst for your end.
Learning from someone who knows less than you.
The people whose life you gave, taking yours from you,
just so you can give it back.
Of course it's not the way it should be. It's the opposite.
Which is exactly why it's the only way.
The only way straight forward
is the cross.