Monday, November 26, 2012

Day Nine – Says Who?

{Photo taken by Me:)}
Ever since I was little, I’ve created rules for myself.
Some of these rules are good.
Some are not-so-good.

Recently, I’ve started to question those rules.

Are they really necessary?
When did I start living that way?
Why do I feel the need to have so many rules?

Some of my rules are:
When reading a book, you have to finish a chapter before you can take a break.
Thou shall not leave clothes on the floor.
You have to finish your cup of coffee, no matter how cold it is.
Every food item you buy has to have a purpose in a recipe.
You are never allowed to sleep in.
You are not allowed to take a shower unless you exercise first.

Of those rules above, not a single one has major consequences.

Yet, I find I’m living by many guidelines like those that have nothing to do the real meaning of life.

During the course of a day, if I broke too many rules, I would subconsciously feel like a failure.  But, once I started to recognize that this is absolutely ridiculous, I started to feel much better about myself.

The rules that matter the most are the rules that are God given.  If I can’t find the rule in the Catechism, then it is not important enough to make me feel bad if I break it.

Do you live by any unnecessary rules?  How old were you when you made that rule?  What is the real reason you created it?

Rule: You must have turkey on Christmas Day.
Reality: Says who?  Eating turkey will not give you a “get-into-Heaven-free pass”.

Rule: You have to buy all your loved ones a gift for Christmas.
Reality: Says who?  It is way more important that they know you love them.  So say it.  Say “I love you” to the ones you love.

If you find that you are getting stressed because you are trying to live by many rules, take a deep breath, think about whether or not you really need to fulfill those expectations, and take another deep breath.

Christmas Peace will not come from cooking a picture perfect meal.  Christmas Joy will not come from dressing your family like a picture on a magazine cover.  True peace and joy are gifts from God.  We can only receive those gifts by giving up the control and completely giving ourselves up as a supreme gift to God.  (My Christmas interpretation of #24 of the Encyclical, Gaudium et Spes, "This likeness reveals that man, who is the only creature on earth which God willed for itself, cannot fully find himself except through a sincere gift of himself.")

I needed rules in the past because I needed to know that I was doing the right thing.  If I could control it, then I could relax.  But that is such a lie.  God already has the control and I was trying to take something that wasn't mine to take.  What I really need to do is to trust God.  I need to let go and give it all up to Him.  These other rules are distracting me from God.  It is a smoke and mirror show that is drawing my attention away from what is really happening.  My rules were superficial and taking me away from what was really important.

Challenge:  This Holiday Season, figure out the rules you live by and determine if they are really important or not.  You will be amazed at how much more  peace and joy you will experience by throwing out the rule book.

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