I have been fighting the last few weeks with an insistent desire to wallow in self pity. I am wanting attention, you see, and not getting any. Or at least not getting the attention that I think I deserve. I am angry that my phone doesn’t ring, that I don’t have deeper relationships with the girls at work, that my family and really all the random people I know are focused on themselves and not me. Oh, the humanity.
Seriously, I have been feeling a bit lonely and lost. A lot, I think, because I let my new job shift my priorities away from God. Part of that was done on purpose. I was afraid I was also trying to hard with religion, getting ahead of myself, so instead of letting God lead, I decided to let the secular world take the reins.
Good news, I am amazed how empty I feel with out more God in my world. (Mind you, He is still there, tugging and tugging and tugging. Thank God!) I am also amazed at how thin and unsatisfying the places I normally turn to solace have become. It;s a vicious cycle really, because I keep turning to them and they’re giving me no love whatsoever. Let’s take a look at those old friends.
- Wine. Wine has long moved past social and has become a habit. I have convinced myself that when I work long hours it is a necessary item to unwind, relax. The reality? When I think back at all the things I regret — being too loud, eating too much, saying the wrong thing, embarrassing my family in some way — alcohol was in the picture. It pulls me away from God. It pulls me away from good judgement. It pulls me away.
- Depression. Not the clinical kind, the selfish kind. . . When I get busy with life I feel I have the God-given right to shut down, get depressed, stop exercising, and wallow a little. I mean, I am a mom, a full time boss, a house cleaner, a gardener, you name it. I jump into activity and jump away from what’s right. I am looking for sympathy. What I get is lazy, angry and fat.
- Gossip. When I feel isolated, I become desperate to make a connection. So seek company and conversation. Inevitably, however, conversations turn to talking about others, especially at work. Like a drowning man, I reach out to my would be rescuer and take them down with me.
- Self-rule. I have always been jealous of the people comfortable in their own skin. They smile so easy, know themselves so casually, and bear themselves so beautifully. Unfortunately, trying to become one of these people — trying to will it — just doesn’t happen. This is one of the wonderful paradoxes of the Lord. He has come so we can live abundantly. Surrender brings with it happiness and shining perfection. But if you are ruling over yourself, then you surrender to yourself. The oven door opened, and the souffle just folded in on itself.
- Facebook. When Facebook first came out, I thought it was an amazing social equalizer. All the kids from high school that I could never measure up to were now friending me, Yes Me! And I was suddenly their peer. I relished in their “friendship” but really, I was still seeking their approval. I find I still turn there, to Facebook, looking for something — companionship? Conversation? — and it falls flat. In the interim, I ignore the ones that matter most — God and family.
Then yesterday the prayer of St. Francis appeared at my doorstep, and His message could not be mistaken:
O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek
to be consoled as to console;
to be understood as to understand;
to be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive;
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life. Amen
And today, I opened Facebook seeking friendship, and I found more messages from God. First, there was a great article by Father Robert Barron, who is just wonderful. But then I ran into this little piece on Integrated Catholic Life. . . Memories of a Misfit. And it contained the message I needed to hear. It reminded me that I am not alone. And it showed me the hope of Jesus Christ, a shining sun.
Because, you see, here’s the amazing part: When the crowd inches forward – the young and the beautiful, the tanned and the talented – I detect among them the frightened and the flawed. And when the priest raises the Host and says “The Body of Christ,” the misfits reply with their hopeful “Amen,” just like the normal folks do.
What a miracle that the Lord God Almighty makes himself small enough for us to consume, to love, and to house in our souls. What a miracle that bread becomes flesh, wine becomes blood – and in a moment of great mystery, our hurts dissolve, our broken memories fade – and the misfits find their place, finally, in His heart. – Lorraine V. Murray, Memories of a Misfit, Integrated Catholic Life.