Why New Year’s resolutions may be Un-Christian of you

Leave, Notes, Paper Ball, Office, Paper, Note, PenIf 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. 

Don’t call yourself a Christian if you can’t yourself forgive

“Start tearing the old man down
Run past the heather and down to the old road
Start turning the grain into the ground Roll a new leaf over”

Omaha- Counting Crows

Forgiveness is not optional. It is not conditional or with parameters. It is not just because we have to, it is because we want to. It is because we have a greater desire to be one with the crucified Christ in order for ourselves to be risen in Spirit. There is no height or width in our forgiveness. It doesn’t look the same for everyone. It is a necessity. It is the entire basis for what we believe.

I’ve heard a lot of “I shouldn’t have to” apologies and “I’m right” and “my pastor says it’s o.k.” I’ve heard every excuse. I have taught a bible study for sexual abuse survivors for which I am one, where I continually preached about our necessity to forgive our abusers. It was gut wrenching and one of the hardest things I have ever had to do. But at the end, oh at the end, it was us that were free.

I have decided to take up Pope Francis’s Year of Mercy as a personal mission. I offer mercy whenever I can. And mercy and forgiveness don’t negate consequences. It only requires we be the love of the Lord, His heart, His hands and his feet. So I sent a reply to a former client who had sent me a Christmas card from prison.

“Believe in Jesus, believe in forgiveness, you can walk with Him even behind those prison walls.”

And an excerpt from his reply:

“I’ve long ago given my life over to Christ. Everyday I grow closer to Him. My journey in this place has been pure hell. But God has always seemed to free me mentally from these walls.”

He hurt someone. He will be in prison until he is a very old man. I tried to help him when he was free. But now I know that he was never free. He was not free until he got to prison. 

There’s nothing you can do or say that will change my mind about Jesus’ teaching on forgiveness. There is no verse you can turn on its head or teaching you could show me that would convince me that Jesus was anything other than forgiveness itself. He was, in the beginning, the word, and in him, there is only life.

Someone hurt my son, and I chose to forgive him. And I chose mercy. I chose to see him through the eyes of Christ. And God forgives me everyday. And so I forgave him. There is nothing to understand except the God that lives inside of me. And although my heart ached, I was at peace… an indescribable peace. And we prayed together for this person. And we talked about God’s forgiveness as a family. And my children learned that God values their pain and the forgiveness that was extended through our hands. And it was impossible to cry when my son said to a grown man, “apology accepted.”

If you’re feeling convicted you should, there’s nothing to be confused about. You can’t call yourself a follower of Jesus if you don’t follow him. 

The crucified Christ lived inside of me today. And He eased my pain. All I felt was His love, for me and for my son. I was Abraham carrying Isaac in obedience to the God I serve. And He, he provided the ram.

I don’t care how you get here, just get here if you can

(Listen while you read)

I am an outcast. I am not like anyone else. I am not accepted in so many places.

I am different and misunderstood and at times challenged.

I have gone against the grain, I have traveled, I have journeyed, I have cried.

I have lost the person I loved the most.

I have lost many, many friends along the way.

I have walked down long winding pathways and through valleys and up and down the tallest of mountains.

I have followed a God I cannot see.

I have continued to follow Him, giving up everything for Him, understood or not.

And the longer I walk, I run, I climb, I pant, I chase after this God I cannot see.

But the longer I chase, the clearer I see, the more I need Him, the more I understand why I was even born.

And I’d walk it all again, get spat at again, lose every friend I ever had just to be in His loving arms.

In the depth of my soul He is more real than any tangible item I have ever touched, His peace the blanket of my soul.

And I can get to him anyway, anytime, anywhere. Eyes closed, open, tearful, mad, cursing Him, loving Him, He’ll never leave.

He is the King of my people, the human race. And I’ll love you and forgive you and show you mercy because it feels good, it feels right to extend the same hand that was extended to me.

And I am ok with all of it. I accept all of it. I take all of it. And so does He.

And my greatest hope is that I’ll get a chance to say I’m sorry to you, to love you the way God loves you, to always have an open hand, an open heart, and to pour out His mercy all over you.

God, the Lord of the Universe, the great I AM. I will follow you on this earth until you call me home, whenever that glorious day is. And I’m scared to die. But I am more scared to know any life without you.

Let my feet keep walking, let my arms stay open, let my tears flow. And let me keep walking in your great and mighty name, in your power and in the hope of the resurrection.

I’m still walking…

Mary