Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Fear not

My son, Dominic, is a little on the timid side. He gets startled and frightened easily. Loud noises, like the horn at a basketball game, or a "dunder-storm" scare him...which I'm sure is typical for a two year old. Of course, I try to be compassionate and understanding. I tell him "it's OK, you're OK, it can't hurt you" or "I'm here and I'll keep you safe" or something like that. I try to help him see that he doesn't have to be afraid. It's hard to see him afraid. But, at times, it's humorous. Like when he screams and covers his mouth every time he sees a fly. I guess I shouldn't have sang him the song, "There was an old lady who swallowed a fly".

Jesus tells us "Be not afraid!" I heard once that, in the Bible, God tells us to fear not 365 times - one for each day of the year. I'm not sure if that's true. I personally have not gone through the bible and counted...If I had that much free time!!!

I imagine that Our Heavenly Father has compassion for us when He sees us afraid of things. Maybe even sometimes we make Him chuckle. "Ah, my silly children, you don't have to be afraid of things like the future, money, or global warming. I AM here. I will keep you safe. Trust me. You don't understand now, but you will later."

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Body, Mind, and Spirit

Thinking about the human person and He who made us who we are.

We are made up of body, mind, and spirit. I think I could get a couple of people to agree with me there.

As a Catholic, we mean the same thing, we just have a little different language for it. In His great mercy, God gave us each of these capacities: a Body, or "the flesh" that will rise again and live forever in Heaven or Hell, an Intellect, and a Will.

After original sin, we, as human beings, were no longer working in harmony as one: body, mind, and soul together. From personal experience, I can attest to the disunity. The body goes against the mind, being obstinate to what we want to do. The mind goes against the heart is telling me one thing and my mind is telling me another. And the spirit is sometimes trapped in a broken body.

But God brings about good from every situation. He does not waste one second of suffering, but uses each and every situation to effect good, whether or not we realize it or see the results in this life.

So, I was thinking about all three faculties of the human person and wondering how they all fit into God's plan for my life. He didn't create us to be in constant disharmony, but He created us for peace and happiness.

I know my spirit is weak. I often feel very betrayed by my emotions. I've learned to not trust my feelings all the time. My feelings come and go like the weather and I have little or no control over them.

My mind sometimes fails me too. I doubt, over-analyze, worry, doubt some more, question, assume, etcetera, etcetera.

What do I do, then, when both my soul AND my mind are working against my greater good?

I think this may be why habits are so important. ("Duh!" you say. Well, I'm a slow learner.)

My body goes through habits and rituals each day. I wake up, I check my phone to see the time, I get up, I bless myself with holy water, I make my bed, and, my favorite part, I drink a cup of highly caffeinated, deliciously sweetened, perfectly brewed coffee. I hardly think about this things anymore. My body just goes through the motions with my mind and soul barely even being present.

I used to think these kind of actions weren't good. I thought I had to present for every moment. But, I'm thinking differently now. Perhaps, our mindless habits are our saving grace. Perhaps, they are a good thing that God gave us to help us overcome the disunity of our "self".

We should use the times of a joyful spirit, when our hearts feel the Love of God, to establish a solid, realistic, prayer routine. So, when the time comes, because it will come, when we have dark nights of the soul and our mind is full of doubt, we can trust our bodies to carry us through the motions, even if our hearts aren't fully present. Then, when the time comes, because it will come, when we feel consolations again and feel the peace of the Lord, we haven't gone astray but have tried our hardest to keep on running the race. I sense this is how we form a deep and lasting friendship with Our Lord, instead of just "starting over" again and again.

When I have a healthy mind, when I rejoice in the Lord and I am thankful for His good works in my life, I'll try to establish a habit of positive thinking. And, even still, I'll work on the habit of praying and ordering my whole life to serve God in whatever way He calls me to do. Can I get a "True Freedom!!!"? Oh, don't get me started on the meaning of "freedom". Another time, another time...

Where was I?

Alas! When times are good, I am always tempted to skip prayer...and forget about God. Why? Because I don't feel like I need Him? Because I'm too confident in my own abilities? Because I'm too distracted with making my life HERE comfortable? "D" all of the above.

Something like, the squeaky wheel gets the oil, or whatever that saying is. If my internal strife is not loudly beckoning me to do something, the noise of everything else seem more important: my kids screaming, the piles of dishes by the sink, my frizzy hair.

I'm a slave to whatever seems most important at the time, whatever is the loudest. Hmmm...

Sunday, May 14, 2017

A Day to Recognize Mothers

I have a white board calendar that I update each month. Appointments, Birthdays, Holidays, To-do lists, Bills due, Trash out on Thursday evenings, etc. For today, I did not write in Mother's Day. Not that I forgot about it, I just didn't want to.

This year, I have not felt like I've done a good job at all. I don't want to be acknowledged for all the things I am not proud of. Can't we skim past this Hallmark holiday just this once?

Before becoming a mom, I would have admitted that I was a somewhat virtuous person, kind, thoughtful, and patience, with no temper. Yet, in these past few years, I've discovered that I'm severely lacking in virtue. I have very little patience and a lot of anger when I haven't had a lot of sleep. I am also way more selfish than I would have thought.

Being a mom has pushed me way past my breaking point. And just when I think I have spent it all, I am asked to give a little more.

Like in "The Horse and His Boy", part of the Narnia series by C.S. Lewis, when the horse and his boy are being chased by a lion. The horse thought he was running his fastest, until the lion gained on him and he found he had more speed to give.

We don't realize what we are capable of until faced with adversity. We are our biggest obstacles. And we become complacent in times of peace and happiness. We grow greater and stronger when confronted with trials.

Looking back, I will admit that I am amazed at what I have done. But it is not an amazement of myself. I am in awe of how much God has helped me overcome myself. Kicking and screaming, He has had to drag me through this year. I did not want to do it. I still don't want to. I want to sleep for three days straight. Yet, I am eternally grateful that He pulled me along, despite my protests. I know He loves me because He could have just left me for the vultures.

Now that I realize that I am being carried on the shoulders of Christ, like a sheep and a shepherd, I am comforted. I don't want to do it without God's help anymore.

Carry me through the rest of my life, Lord. If my suffering goes away, will I still remember you, Lord? Don't take away my suffering if it means I will not be united to You.

I'm sure I won't be happy every day about sacrificing...but, at least for today, I am thankful.