In our day and age, you hear countless people repeat or come up with different sayings that can be applicable to our lives. These sayings can lead us to a deeper understanding of ourselves and how we are called to live. The biggest obstacle that we face when we read or listen to these sayings is being able to open our minds in hearts in a way that we can allow ourselves to positively be impacted by those sayings that are rooted in truth, beauty, and goodness. By being open to these three characteristics, they will, in turn, lead us closer to God. Throughout my own life, I have heard sayings that have stayed with me and made a profound impact. One, in particular, has stayed with me throughout the past few months that I would like to share with you.
This quote is by the famous Catholic writer, J.R.R Tolkien. In the Return of the King, Tolkien’s character Legolas says, “do not spoil the wonder with haste!” This quote is said in the context of a discussion regarding an opportunity for part of the company to visit caves in the mountains. However, they do not have time to enjoy the beauty of the caves fully. Legolas instead would rather come back on a later date to take the necessary time to appreciate the beauty of the cave. By rushing the exploratory process, it takes away from experience one has of seeing it for the first time.
Our lives are so dependent on time. We are constantly scheduling, rescheduling, or cramming our lives with unnecessary distractions that take away from the beauty of what our lives are called to be. Oftentimes, we find ourselves so caught up in things that are so unnecessary because the world teaches us that we must always be working or doing something to occupy the time.
From my own experience, some of life’s most significant events occur when you stop and let God lead you. We feel the need to constantly have everything in our life planned out because we have been raised in a culture that teaches us that it is the only way to live.
From my personal experience, the questions that I dread the most are those that beg the question of what I may be doing in the future. The problem with plans or answers to these particular questions is that God may have another idea for you in mind. We try so hard to develop the plans for our life so quickly that we forget to enjoy the time that God has given us at the moment in which we are in right now. Yes, it doesn’t hurt to have a plan in mind, but we must ensure we recognize that God is in complete control of the outcome. Instead of being hasty and taking the time to map out what your future may look like ten years from now, take the time to enjoy the world around you that will not look the same tomorrow or in ten years.
The wonder of the world around us has been given to us by God, and this creation is the evidence of his love for us. These are things that are rooted in truth, beauty, and goodness. Each and every day, the sun rises and sets just like the day before, but what is different between yesterday, today, and tomorrow is the way the sky looks. Some days it can be orange, and another day it can be a bright pink color, but the one thing to remember is that the sky will never look the same way twice. Every day is a new creation and a gift from God as a symbol of his love for us, and this why it is essential to not “spoil the wonder with haste.” God may have a plan already established for you that is unlike your own, or he may have a new sight for you to see, but whatever it may be, open your heart up to the possibility of God bringing joy and wonder into your life. I pray that you don’t spend your days in the future but rather in anticipation of whatever God may have in store for you. Because even in darkness, one may still be able to see stars, and even after a storm, there may come a rainbow.
This reflection is a long time coming… two years and five months to be exact. On that day, I left the corporate world and started my journey as a stay-at-home mother and homemaker.
“Love and sacrifice are closely linked, like the sun and the light. We cannot love without suffering, and we cannot suffer without love.”
Ironically, this quote, which I find inspirational, was said by a working physician, wife, and mother, St. Giana.
I am not going to promote an opinion of stay at home vs. working parents. So many factors went into the discernment and decision for my husband and me. Also, I cannot begin to pretend to know what is right for every family situation. All I can speak to is what I discerned God was telling me and how I have grown from it these past years.
Since graduating from college in 2009 with a Bachelor of Business in Supply Chain Management, I have been incredibly blessed in my work. I have held several corporate jobs, never gone unemployed, received excellent benefits and bonuses, and at the age of 22, my gross annual income was greater than 100K. I do not say this to boast, but rather to give an accurate picture of what I struggled so hard to walk away from 8 years later when my daughter was born.
Control is often a reoccurring vice of mine. For as long as I can control my bank account, career, future, etc. I would be content. But, happiness does not come from this false sense of control. For many years, I have tried to control every aspect of my life, and I have found it takes my focus away from God and only leads me into anxiety and sin. Although money, benefits, responsibility, reliability are essential and realistic parts of society and adult life, I was not happy. I would leave for work in a bad mental place, come home with a bad attitude, and feel overwhelming guilt and anxiety hearing every day how my child did not sleep at daycare and was too needy for the daycare providers to handle.
Eventually, I reached my breaking point. The love and desire I had to be with my daughter these short years before school versus the sacrifice of two incomes won out. The decision was terrifying. Through spiritual direction, prayer, and conversations with my spouse, I decided to leave my income and stay home with my daughter. This was immediately a fight against cultural norms and even some of my own immediate family, telling me I should be doing otherwise. “God will provide”, became my constant prayer. I said this to myself daily and still do. I have never been let down. God has always provided in his own way, and often in ways that it has taken years for me to understand. I’ve struggled with other issues since being a full-time homemaker, and I still have stress in my life, of course. The evil one has put ideas into my head that I am a worthless member of society who does not contribute anything good for the community. But God has shown me this path, and motherhood has made me braver, so I say...
“As for me and my household, we will serve the LORD.”
My love language is quality time. Thus, it is no surprise that all this time I am spending at home with my daughter and literally side by side with my husband in all his endeavors has been worth this and any other sacrifice that Christ will ask of me. So much angst and prayer went into this decision, but once it was made, my vision was clear, my heart was full, and my prayers uttered thanks every day for being able to live my vocation to the fullest. These consolations have helped me understand that I made the right decision, but not of my own accord. This choice now becomes a daily choice to serve my family as a homemaker. I can only bear this burden with the help of grace, the guidance of the Holy Spirit, the example of the Holy Family, and a husband who supports me and provides in absolutely every way for our family. Grace is always available to us if we ask for it, and I see now that it has been present in my life so often.
Another quote from one of my favorite working mothers and mother of St. Thérèse of Lisieux:
“When we had our children, our ideas changed somewhat. We lived only for them. They were all our happiness and we never found any except in them. In short, nothing was too difficult and the world was no longer a burden for us. For me, our children were a great compensation, so I wanted to have a lot of them in order to raise them for Heaven.”
This is my invitation to you today: To serve the Lord by discerning his will for your life even if this conflicts with your vision of yourself, cultural norms, or family pressure. Give control of your life to our Lord and Master. If we allow him to change our hearts, then the world is no longer a burden.
Very often, I find myself over-complicating simple tasks. Sometimes I put off a small chore for no good reason at all, only to eventually get around to it and find that it took half the amount of time I had anticipated. Still, I don’t ever seem to learn my lesson. If I don’t do something right away, I will almost always struggle to motivate myself to get it done anytime soon. I suppose this could simply be ascribed to laziness, which is perhaps fair. Although I think that this habit might be closely related to another weakness of which I am often guilty, namely a sort of obstinance that prevents me from seeking out the assistance of others, even when it might be significantly to my or their advantage.
In my professional life, I am not slow to admit my shortcomings. I feel I have a pretty good understanding of those areas in which others working on a project might serve better than I and when I ought to take a back seat or assisting role. There have been many times when I have realized that I was ill-equipped to address a particular dilemma when planning a lesson or to draft a letter, subsequently seek out advice from my coworker. I am confident that my work has profited from my recognition and reliance on the gifts of others.
For whatever reason, this receptivity does not seem to transfer to my personal experiences outside of work. When those close to me try to alleviate whatever burden I happen to be carrying, I am often reluctant to share my struggles with them at all, let alone listen to their words of advice or consolation. I suppose it is a sort of stubbornness that prevents me from listening to my friends’ input when it comes to my daily life, a little act of defiance to prove to myself or them that I know what is best.
All of this indicates a failure to trust my loved ones and a failure to trust in God and His Providence. It is a struggle that I think is probably not uncommon. Still, when we take every burden upon ourselves and try to fix everything alone, it will always end in failure. Our capacities for reason are so vastly limited that trying and navigating each every day-to-day obstacle without help is beyond foolish. We are told in Proverbs 3:5-6 :
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, on your own intelligence do not rely; in all your ways be mindful of him, and he will make straight your paths” (NRSVCE).
When we refuse to trust God, we turn inward. When we turn inward, we push out the other people in our lives as well. We must make room for God in our considerations of the decisions we make every day, from the trivial to the significant. I am finding that it takes practice (and lots of it) to break down the walls I put up over time and allow God’s voice to come through more clearly. Even so, I can see the positive difference it makes when I put forth an effort to become less stubborn and more open to discernment.
He will make straight our paths. It is easy to believe ourselves capable of overcoming anything through the strength of our individual will; it takes far more extraordinary courage to leave it to God and allow Him to be in control. There is great peace to be had in this teaching, and I hope to no
longer take it for granted.
It’s rather odd the way we despise the things that we desire. We love a good night’s sleep but despise our bedtime when it actually comes ’round. We love finishing a project early but tend to procrastinate. Truthfully, the reason for these conundrums is our distaste for discipline.
“But to the wicked God says:
In my own spiritual journey, I’ve had my moments of despising the Cross. I prefer binges on Netflix, video games, and food to my work, prayer, or relationships. Yet every time I gave full force to these temptations and pursued only selfish pleasures, I’d find myself in an earthly kind of hell. A place where I was comfortable, pleased, and had everything I wanted, yet felt dead. I would be distant from God, others, and myself. Although Love is what my heart desired, I’d learned to trade it in for simple pleasures. This is the story of every sinner, addict, and stoic.
“What I do, I do not understand. For I do not do what I want, but I do what I hate.” –
What a blessing then discipline, i.e. suffering, can be for us. Running out of money and food isn’t something we’d consider a “blessing”. But, for the Prodigal Son it forced him to come to his senses and return to Love. Imagine if his life remained luxurious: he likely would’ve missed out on Love. To pull a quote from my current favorite sci-fi show, Debris: “You can spend a lifetime hiding from yourself what you truly want.” And it’s all too easy for us to hide from the Love of God because we prefer to avoid discipline. We become the Perpetually Prodigal Son. Let us FIGHT against this temptation. Let’s not be like that. It’s not worth it.
This, then, is the wonderful, challenging, baffling, and beautiful paradox of Christ. He calls us to lose our lives to find it; to die in order to live.
“Unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains just a grain of wheat; but if it dies, it produces much fruit.”
This is a message that sin doesn’t understand, but the repentant sinner does. A life filled with selfish pleasure is devoid of all peace. A life focused on personal gratification, seeking personal pleasure, is a life unsatisfied. A life of service to our beloved Lord is our true heart’s desire. A life of self-gift is the only path to happiness.
What’s the first thing you should go discipline yourself?
When my pursuit of sin has left me bruised and battered, it is Silence that has soothed my wounds. And yea, silent communication seems like another paradox, but lovers understand the power of a kiss. And you need to stop talking in order to do so! Silence is the kiss of the Holy Spirit. It is the language of God in your heart. Silence is needed from film, video games, friends, and family. We must have silent time with Christ in order to hear his voice.
Like all disciplines, it may be tough at times, but it yields the sweetest of fruit: communion with the Trinity. Turn everything off and chill with God every day. Start small like a child, and let God mature you in Silence. And let’s help each other to this end.
“If I could prescribe only one remedy for all the ills of the modern world, I would prescribe silence.”