Okay, so I haven't made an original post in awhile...meaning something that isn't a link or what I copied off the internet.
Truth be told, I've been kind of "blah" about life lately. I'm simply existing. I'm managing my life fairly well (or so I think) and have actually managed to "plan" everything out. I became what happens in the utopia in my favorite book, The Giver. I created my own world where I felt no pain, loneliness or sadness. On the flip side, you also lose the happiness, joy, excitement in life too because suffering and joy go hand in hand.
Thankfully, God's always looking out for you. He created me with a heart that LONGS for Him and so I can't stay in this place of consistency for very long. Throughout the last week, I've had several "wake-up" calls as I'd say it from reality begging me to let go of my plans and live life with my eyes wide open.
First and foremost, it is the beautiful season of Advent in my Church tradition. Advent is four weeks of preparation before Christmas designed to be a time of prayer and service as a way to purify your heart for the coming of Jesus at Christmas. My classroom is DECKED OUT this year for the celebration of Advent--there's no way my students could say they don't know what time of year it is or what Advent means for our lives at school.
However, it's amazing to me that those things don't always necessarily carry over into my personal life. I found myself in the last month getting kind of lazy and not taking great care of myself. I'm gaining weight, not going to bed on time, complaining about my job more, not making prayer a priority, etc. I can't really find the cause, other than it was something very subtle because I didn't even see a problem with the way I was living until a week ago!
Well, a few events pulled me out of this crap I was "satisfied" with and made life a little harder. But with these hardships, as Fr. Rick has said to me, can come great fruit. And it's ringing true again.
The first BIGGIE "change your ways event" was something I can't really talk about on a blog! Argh. But, I will say this: I let a friend down in a HUGE way. Huge to the point that it even amazed myself that I could act the way I did. Has this ever happened to anyone else where in the moment you see yourself doing something and inside you're screaming....NOOOO, STOP!...but for some reason, (usually a selfish one) you don't??
Something like this happened in the past week to me to the point that I really had to stop and evaluate (again) what exactly I'm doing with my life. How am I using the gifts God has given me? How am I treating God's creatures and the people He puts in my life? Would I be having such a hard time if I prayed once in awhile? Why have I not felt sadness in three weeks? Why have I not been giddy with excitement in two? What's going on?
Since I started asking those questions (to myself, my friends and most importantly, God) amazing opportunities have been given to me to get to work on this conversion that I just realized I desire.
1. Advent things EVERYWHERE: Prayer services, special talks, discussion groups, personal devotions, etc. Having prayer time with my class at school, learning about the Old Testament with them, etc. Being responsible for the prayer services my school is putting on (which, after complaining about it, am realizing that it's just what God uses to save me...not burden me.)
2. School of Community with CL. OF COURSE these weeks would be filled with discussions on the meaning of suffering and sacrifice and OF COURSE there would be readings on my vocation as a child of God. No coincidences in life, my friends.
3. The witness of a friend: I saw a friend this past weekend who lost 50 pounds just by paying attention to what he was eating and exercising 30 min a day. It seemed simple enough, yet, for me, taking care of my body has really fallen to the waste side. So, I'm on it! I'm counting calories, I'm trying to find time to exercise and just, in general, I'm finding motivation to praise God with the body He's given me by not treating it like crap.
4. Friends. If you don't have friends that you can talk about life seriously with (to the point that they tell you things you may not want to hear about yourself) you are missing out! God has blessed me with some of the best friends, not because they do everything right all the time, but because deep down , they want to never stop desiring the best that life has to offer in the TRUEST way. The best is watching (and living with them) as they deal with the dramas of life to see how they react. I have friends who drive their patients home after work and friends who drive across the country to move someone out of their house. Friends who say, "I'm not doing this for you because you have to learn it yourself." Friends who make dinner for each other every week. Friends who live their hardships with bosses, coworkers, family members, or even personal health saying, "Christ, come to me in this place. Show me your face." For this "safety net" of support, I am truly grateful. Because I can't imagine slipping through the cracks with these friendships that God makes possible for me.
In ALL of this.....God is the reason. He orchestrates all of these things to show me the beauty of the life I have and challenges me to really live---not just micro-manage so nothing hurts. In this past week I've seen myself asking more questions of my vocation, being more patient with my students' infinite questions, and trying to look at those I interact daily with a newness and freshness...because like I've been made new in seven days...It's possible they have been too!