If we are living in communion with Jesus, we understand that we are not living on our own, or at least we are not supposed to anyway. I find that sometimes in my haste and attempt to find the easy way out that I set goals. What I want, what I need. I don’t invite God in, I just simply have ideas in my mind and sometimes begin to work towards them. Until I am making phone calls and setting time aside and joining activities only to realize that I never asked God for his opinion…
Even though God is infused in my life, in my being, I still make the mistake of thinking that it’s my road. I may be walking on it, but he is the paver. And sometimes I find myself echoing HELLO! in the desert with no return response. Ever been there? You’re laughing. Of course you haven’t…
I’ve been making a lot of decisions lately. Decisions about my career, my kids, my schedule and what my priorities are. I am not an addict of illegal substances but an addict when it comes to self-help instruments and the many promises they make. I can do it all, be it all. I can make and achieve any goal that I set my mind to. I can hear the cheerleaders on the pages as I turn them, until I am reminded it is the Lord that sustains my life (Psalm 54:6)
So I sat back down to think about all of the things I am trying to accomplish (cough cough CONTROL) and the fact that Jesus was never invited to the table. I don’t want to be an attorney anymore, heck I never wanted to be an attorney in the first place. But I have never asked God if that’s what he wanted for me. My overwhelming desire to be a mom with a flexible schedule has overridden my desire to let God in. Why? Well, because I’m afraid of what He might say.
The catechism talks about man seeking to attain his own goal apart from God. This is discussed in the context of the fall. These are the subtle ways the enemy gets us, “Surely you will not die.” This idea of making goals apart from God, trying to achieve things without asking, moving in a worldly direction without seeking biblical advice. Lucky for me God doesn’t just shut doors, he slams them in my face.
The Holy Spirit is our compass, leading us to where we need to be. The Lord has placed directions there that are illuminated through His son. Prayer brings us step by step to the places we need to be, with fewer detours. Places we should have been in the first place.
I encourage you to take those goals you’ve made and ask the Lord about them. Ask Him to guide you and bless you, and slam doors in your face if necessary. I encourage you to include those goals in your intentions as you pray the rosary. I encourage you to write them down and pray through them, specifically, each one. If He does not answer you one word, you’ll know.
“Every grain offering that you shall present to the Lord shall be unleavened, for you shall not burn any leaven or honey as an oblation to the Lord.” Leviticus 2:11
“Come as you are, ” Holy Spirit
I find the world to be spoiled by the burden of busyness. There was a time in my life I gave into that, even as a Christian. I couldn’t say no and always said yes. From after school activities to volunteering to ministry, there was no place you couldn’t find me. I didn’t have a sense of priority or more than that, I didn’t even think to come to God to ask Him what it was He wanted me to do. It was a slow process for me to come before the Lord on this issue, and even harder when I had to begin to leave the activities and groups He hadn’t chosen for me.
There is much written in both the secular and Christian spheres about the burden of busyness. The advice I have found is simplistic at best. Secular blogs celebrate the mom that is able to do it all, the working mom, the single mom, the overburdened mom. Christian bloggers seem focused on the general concept of trusting God or the concept of dealing with busyness in general. And although I appreciate and garner something from everything I read, I must say that none of it presented any real and concrete answers. That was until I read a book by Pastor Bill Hybels that changed my life.
I am a big proponent of supporting the work that has helped me in my own life. Towards the beginning of my Christian journey, this book was it. Simplify was just what I needed at that particular stage in my life, and I have recommended it to all kinds of people, since the message is wholly universal.
Being a full-time working mom myself to twins that are six and a five-year old, people often ask me how I do it. I have to tell you the ultimate answer is through my relationship with Christ, and the wisdom He has so graciously bestowed on me. The book Simplify was an early gift that God gave me, and saved me from falling into the world’s snares. There is one principle that I have stuck with since reading the book so long ago, and it is my “secret” weapon to all things busyness.
Pastor Hybels talks about having a day for everyone. What I mean by that is that everyone in the family has their one day of activity, to do what they choose and love. He suggests writing it out and sticking to it so it looks something like this:
Monday- Johnny- Soccer
Tuesday- Mom- bible study
Wednesday- Hayley- dance
And so on and so forth. The activities and days of course change over time, but the overall schedule cannot be changed. Everyone has their own day, their own time. And when you set your Sabbath day, that’s it.
I used this concept along with prayer and have been doing so for the last two years. When things come along that are outside of that “one a day” concept, I pray and ask God if this is what He wants. I can tell you that for two years, any time I have broken this “one a day” pattern, I have had some serious scheduling issues, burn out and stress.
I remembered this today while praying about an invitation for an additional group. It sounded so good. But I know better, and brought it to God. And God, as He always does gave me the answer I needed.
Busyness can overburden us and I find that we create our own busyness; we only have ourselves to blame. If you don’t know where to start, I highly suggest getting this book which will provide you a great compass. I am also here if you need ideas, as it was over time that I found my center and peace.
Sometimes the hard conversations are the ones that we need to have. We avoid them, run from them or sometimes completely ignore them. The longer I walk with Jesus, the more I realize that although he has changed my mind and my heart in drastic ways, I am still me. Although for a long time, I didn’t think it was o.k. to be me. Like today. Until I realized, I am exactly who he made me to be.
There are many people who have opinions on a variety of topics. Suffice it to say I wouldn’t go to a pediatrician to get an opinion on my criminal case. As smart as I am with the brains God has given me, I am smart enough to know I don’t know everything. But what I do know is the system, in all of its ebbs and flows, trials and tribulations, behind the scenes intensity and the story behind the story. I read a lot of commentary on the beast we call our court system. Most major news stories draw tons of commentary on the various opinions of the various people around the world. But if you don’t work there, if you’ve never been on the inside, it’s hard to offer anything but personal or emotion based commentary on the things you have no daily dealings with. I have seen it play out time and time again as I am in the middle of working on a case and am intimately familiar with the details, but the public who is not is able to formulate an opinion without knowing the whole story.
I mistakenly thought that when I came to Christ, everyone was a Christian. But I have found on my journey with Jesus that there are more atheists that are Christians than Christians. They may not know they are Christians, but many of them are. We are not living in the four corners and depths of their hearts. Sitting in a pew may make the seat warm, but most times, doesn’t do much more than that.
I am pushing against an uncomfortable current and God is calling me to do the things He has planned for me long ago in the way that I have been operating in the world for most, if not all of my adult life. Having the toughest cases, taking the most unpopular positions, fighting the big guy, calling out liars, defending the poor and the oppressed, standing up when others sit down, representing the people the public may hate the most. Nothing about that has changed. But to be a Christian and do those types of things is so much more difficult, to be judged by your own. Such a big part of me wants to walk away from this blog, and if it was mine, I would have. Who knows, maybe I will. But for now, in the midst of my discernment, I’ve decided to be me, well because He told me to. I find it monotonous to read pieces of people’s minds that seem regurgitated over and over again like a broken record. There are few people I admire in my line of work and fewer Christians than that. It’s not because they agree with me, in fact most of the time they do not. It’s because they stand their ground without getting emotional, they stand for something, and they can have a conversation about it without telling me they’re right. They don’t have to. I usually discover that through the way God uses them.
So when I started to read the book, Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson, the tears couldn’t come out of my eyes fast enough. It was a glimpse into my own feelings and struggles with the system, my current struggle to keep up with a system that devours most people and an honest look about fighting for something, that is so much bigger than you could ever be.
Bryan Stevenson is a young black Harvard law graduate who went on to found Equal Justice Initiative, a non-profit devoted to defending poor people on death row in the heart of Alabama. I saw Bryan’s professor Tony Campolo from Eastern Bible College speak at a local event I was writing for, and his story changed my life. Months later I ran head first into this book and remembered the story of a young black attorney from a small bible college who went on to Harvard law. But he didn’t choose to work for a posh firm in New York where he could have made millions. He chose to start his organization in Alabama, defending the most hated men on the planet, because he believed in God and he believed in mercy. People hated him for what he did but he did it anyway, and many innocent men were exonerated and their lives spared as a result of his selfless work.
A quote early on in the book caught my attention and has been sitting in the very pit of my stomach. Bryan’s grandmother told him, “You can’t understand most of the important things from a distance Bryan. You have to get close.” And that set the tone for the book, and for this stage of my life, where often I find myself closer than I ever would want to be.
The book quotes Thomas Merton as saying, “We are bodies of broken bones.” And Bryan asks a poignant and turning point question, “Why do we want to kill all the broken people?” It means more than it says if you take the time to read between the lines.
You need to get and read the book if you are on a search for truth, which is what the book is about. It will change you. It changed me. Bryan gives us so much to think about while showing mercy in a way that I have never seen captured before. He didn’t talk about being Christian in the book, except a few places here and there where he mentions growing up in church and speaking sometimes at churches, but he didn’t have to, Jesus was bleeding all over those pages.
If we’re gonna be real out here, we need to be honest, and start having some honest dialogue. Maybe I’ll stay, maybe I’ll go. I’m gonna do Christianity the way Jesus is showing me, the only way I know how- real, honest and transparent, being refined in the fire, hurting along the way, but knowing there is someone out there who reads these words and knows they’ve found the truth.
I hope you’ll stay with me on this rocky leg of my journey, as I find myself in the uncharted waters in the boat Jesus is sleeping in. What’s the point of being out here if we’re not exposed? There’s room in the boat for you too if you’re willing to come with me, and maybe take some people with you that you’ve never thought of bringing before.