I’ve always been an all or nothing person. I will put in everything I have – my time, my heart, my attention, my energy — into one thing at the expense of everything else to succeed. The thought of being called lazy, inefficient, slow, or average, cuts like a knife. And I am not very forgiving of those who do not subscribe to this intensity.
So in college, I wanted to be thin and did nothing but eat lettuce sandwiches (mmm, mmm, tasty) and work out. Note: When you eat a saltine and it tastes “fatty” you have really gone off the deep end. I graduate 4th in my class — because that’s what I was there for, and it was easy for me to do. I spent years, literally years, existing on coffee and getting Jim Morrison-puffy on free airline liquor as I pushed hard through my career as a superstar, leaving the family and my soul behind.
Even the small things. If I read a book I don’t put it down till its done. As a kid, I read Stephen King’s ‘It” in one sitting. And the bad things. If I drink, it’s not one glass, it’s a bottle of wine. When I smoked, I could go all day without one, then inhale a half a pack or more just on the 35 minute ride home from work.
Conversely, if I see something as not worth my time, or perhaps too challenging, I will shut down and walk away before I fail. And if I give something my all and it doesn’t work, I am devastated.
I bring this all up because I have been wrapped pretty tight mentally the last two weeks. I feel like I am slogging through my spiritual journey right at the time I shouldn’t be. The looming job and lack of free time is throwing me in a panic. So I am doing everything I can to “get the most” out of my time off and overdosing on all things God. And it’s backfiring.
I haven’t had one focused thought in a week or more. I have hundreds swirling in my head, leaving me confused and empty.
Through God, I have been slowly realizing the root causes of my current state, my misguided motivations. Obsession is fueled pride and vanity. I am looking to be measured on my terms in the eyes of peers — not in God’s terms in the eyes of the Lord, rendering my pursuits ( even the spiritual one’s if they become obsessions) base, and small, and broken and wrong.
The past few days I have been thinking about how to best determine the difference between God’s will and my own, between judging and being truthful, when to turn the other cheek and when to stand and fight and realized it will always be hard if I approach it as something to master.
And God reminded me of something else. That this spiritual journey is not a race. When I began, I did nothing but say the Rosary and read the Gospels. And that was enough. I knew very little about the Catholic faith. I still know little. But I knew that the Rosary was soothing and loving and made me want to pray for other people. And I knew that within the Gospels were some of the most remarkable lessons I have ever learned.
Bottom line. God started my journey not me. God set the pace. God opened my heart. Mary and the Holy Spirit guided me, gently, slowly and deliberately.
Over the past month, I switched the balance of power and put myself in charge of how much God I was going to consume each day. And I use the word consume purposely, because I fear my relationship with the Lord was turning into a commodity I felt I could trade (see previous post on Hoarding Grace). So I began setting the agenda. I was in charge.
Yeah, how’s that working out for me?
I think I will struggle with this the rest of my life, or until I can completely surrender to God — something I long to do theoretically, but, if I am truthful, still cling to the old me, the old sins (including the problems and weaknesses outlined here). But I am grateful that I am more aware of it.
So today, I go back to basics. Bite-size portions of Scripture I can mediate on. The Rosary. God’s love and patience. The awakening of the Holy Spirit. The guidance of Mary. I know God will be there with me all along the way.
And I look to St. Paul for a bit of guidance, as this passage has been floating around the back of my head the last two weeks, looking for a place to land.
Finally, beloved, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think aboutthese things. Keep on doing the things that you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, and the God of peace will be with you. Philippians 4:8-9