“Nothing complicated about it”

When thinking about how we move through the day, I’m more likely to imagine a digital clock ticking the minutes and hours away as we scurry from home to school to work to lessons and sports to home to bed. So much of our day is guided by appointments and obligations, most that make our lifestyle possible and others that make our lives enriched, and we consider ourselves privileged to do all this.

Then I come across something like this, reading out of a book I happened upon in our church lending library:

“In ancient times people found it natural and important to seek God’s will. With little spiritual guidance and in utter simplicity, they heard from God. There was nothing complicated about it. They understood that every moment of every day presented an opportunity for faith to fulfill a responsibility to God. They moved through the day like the hand of a clock. Minute after minute they were consciously and unconsciously guided by God.” -Jean-Pierre de Caussade in Abandonment to Divine Providence*

I confess that I do not in every moment think first about how my next move will “fulfill a responsibility to God.” While I may occasionally think, “God, what would you have me do?”, it doesn’t often enter my mind when I am making my daily rounds around the house or through our city’s streets. I’m more likely to be caught up in my own thoughts about what I have or haven’t accomplished on my unwritten to-do list. We are creatures of habit, and my routine is about what I need to do next, what I’m expected to do. It shouldn’t be a surprise that our society is primarily full of egocentric people, taking care of ourselves before everyone else because our primary thoughts are typically about ourselves. It’s natural for us to put #1 first, whether that be me, my family, my country, etc.

What would it be like if it were “natural and important to seek God’s will,” to hear from God, to move through our day “minute after minute . . . consciously and unconsciously guided by God”? De Caussade has a way with words (even in the translation) that points both toward a simple yet profound beauty. This beauty comes to me even as I see photos of the horror of the Syrian refugees and read the clamor of American citizens advocating for rights to marry or to live without fear.

The guidance of God contrasts sharply to the suffering and oppression at hand. Any action that is born of hatred and violence, of fear and anger, does not align with what I understand to be God’s will, that we love God and our neighbor. Christians aren’t the only ones who believe this, either.

Perhaps that’s why there’s nothing really complicated about it. If we let God’s will guide our next move, we move in compassion. If we believe in God, in God’s unconditional love for us, it is our faithful responsibility to share this love with others, including ourselves. This means that we surrender to the will of God: we surrender to experience the tremendous freedom that is found in the power of unconditional love. It’s not popular. It’s risky and counter-cultural. It makes us vulnerable because we open our hearts and become an easy target. I think God knows this kind of love well.

I’m going to replace the battery in my watch, the watch my husband gave me as a gift. I cannot promise that every time the minute-hand moves that I will first be thinking of God, but de Caussade said we can be “consciously and unconsciously guided by God.” When I fail to ask for guidance, may my faith guide me even when I’m unaware.

*As found in Nearer to the Heart of God: Daily Readings with the Christian Mystics, Bernard Bangley, ed., 2005

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What Stands in Your Way?

If we can be completely honest with ourselves, we might find that living our dreams is only as far away as we let them be.  Whether it’s losing weight, starting your own business, being able to stay home with kids, publish a book, or remodel the house, I am beginning to believe the biggest stumbling block is our own self.  We throw the flags, put up the walls . . . we set the limits to our own potential.

Because isn’t it true that we all have incredible potential?  Isn’t it true that where there’s a will, there’s a way?

A fellow mother in the area lost 50 pounds in a year and five months, using determination, exercise and a modified diet.  She kissed being unhealthy goodbye and loves being ten sizes smaller.  She feels like she can fly.

My sister-in-law has jumped whole-heartedly into developing her own handmade clothing shop,  Baby Seraphim.  Life throws us hard knocks sometimes, but we can choose whether we will do what it takes to survive.  Or, we can take a leap and do that which we love, bring our talents together, and see what happens.  I’m a strong believer in trying and having no regrets for giving it a shot, so long as we do our best.

For myself, I realize I’m not trying my best.  I have excuses, good ones, too.  I find that I have yet to put all my energy into one effort.  Even if my one effort includes many different tasks, I don’t feel like I’ve channeled my energy well, which might help explain the fatigue, restlessness, and going in circles.

Here’s to admitting the problem, one of the first steps in recovery, right?  Here’s to no excuses.

Here’s to jumping in with both feet.  And on these dog days of summer, that sounds pretty good.

I can hear my kids now:  “Cannonball!”

Continue Reading

What Stands in Your Way?

If we can be completely honest with ourselves, we might find that living our dreams is only as far away as we let them be.  Whether it’s losing weight, starting your own business, being able to stay home with kids, publish a book, or remodel the house, I am beginning to believe the biggest stumbling block is our own self.  We throw the flags, put up the walls . . . we set the limits to our own potential.

Because isn’t it true that we all have incredible potential?  Isn’t it true that where there’s a will, there’s a way?

A fellow mother in the area lost 50 pounds in a year and five months, using determination, exercise and a modified diet.  She kissed being unhealthy goodbye and loves being ten sizes smaller.  She feels like she can fly.

My sister-in-law has jumped whole-heartedly into developing her own handmade clothing shop, Seraphim Baby.  Life throws us hard knocks sometimes, but we can choose whether we will do what it takes to survive.  Or, we can take a leap and do that which we love, bring our talents together, and see what happens.  I’m a strong believer in trying and having no regrets for giving it a shot, so long as we do our best.

For myself, I realize I’m not trying my best.  I have excuses, good ones, too.  I find that I have yet to put all my energy into one effort.  Even if my one effort includes many different tasks, I don’t feel like I’ve channeled my energy well, which might help explain the fatigue, restlessness, and going in circles.

Here’s to admitting the problem, one of the first steps in recovery, right?  Here’s to no excuses.

Here’s to jumping in with both feet.  And on these dog days of summer, that sounds pretty good.

I can hear my kids now:  “Cannonball!”

Continue Reading