You remind me of the man that lived by the river. He heard a radio report that the river was going to rush up and flood the town, and that the all the residents should evacuate their homes. But the man said, “I’m religious. I pray. God loves me. God will save me.”
The waters rose up. A guy in a rowboat came along and he shouted, “Hey, hey you, you in there. The town is flooding. Let me take you to safety.” But the man shouted back, “I’m religious. I pray. God loves me. God will save me.”
A helicopter was hovering overhead and a guy with a megaphone shouted, “Hey you, you down there. The town is flooding. Let me drop this ladder and I’ll take you to safety.” But the man shouted back that he was religious, that he prayed, that God loved him and that God will take him to safety.
Well… the man drowned.
And standing at the gates of St. Peter he demanded an audience with God. “Lord,” he said, “I’m a religious man, I pray, I thought you loved me. Why did this happen?” God said, “I sent you a radio report, a helicopter and a guy in a rowboat. What the hell are you doing here?”
I really like reflecting. I’m one of those people that makes resolutions, then will do a progress check at the end of the year (blame Teach For America for that). I also tend to create a charge for myself at each birthday. Look, I really like goal-setting, okay?
So, the new year is coming, which (as usual), has been an entire new opportunity for me to reflect on what, frankly, has been kind of a crazy year.
I honestly am a little mind-blown that we’re already here. It’s an old tenet that I have oft-written on here, but time has flown by so quickly since, well, leaving the classroom. Sometimes, I just want to dig my fingers into the the ground and try and slow the moment down so I can breathe for a second. Alas, until time travel exists (#oneday), the best I can do is take the quiet moments of my life to stop, pause, and look back for a moment.
Last year, I was hoping to…
- Find Forgiveness in Anger, and Joy in Pain
- Love Without Fear
- Fail Gloriously, Be Weak When Necessary
Honestly, the only one I can comfortably say I feel successful at is that I fail gloriously. Pretty often. That ALSO means, though, that I’m more willing to talk about it, grow from it, and laugh about it later. I’m also immensely blessed to be at a job that allows for me to, frankly, jump into the fire and see what happens.
In retrospect, I think I’ve made a lot of progress towards number 1. Given the circumstances, actually forgiving a few people in my life will likely be a life-long process. There’s this great moment, in The Descendants, where a character says to another, ”I have to forgive you. Even though I want to hate you.” Is the forgiveness I’ve found without selfishness of needing to forgive someone for my own sake? Nope. But it’s a process.
Then there’s 2. Oh Love. You know what “Loving Without Fear” was all about? It was about “hey-I’m-in-over-my-head-relationship-wise-but-let’s-make-this-work!”. I certainly tried (in my own way) to live this out, but frankly, I think it was misplaced intentions. That’s what happen when you don’t give yourself enough time to think through these things.
You know what I will say? I think the three places I succeeded in this were loving myself a little more (OH, THE CLICHE. IT BURNS SO BRIGHTLY IT STINGS), consistently having a generosity of spirit about other people’s intentions, and at the end of the year, loving my Creator a little more completely (but more on that later).
So, here we are on the cusp of a new year. I’m 25 now, and like I wrote on my birthday, I think my big win of the year is that, for one of the first times in my life, I’m really and truly happy atmy job. I love the organization I work for, and my career-path feels clearer because of it. Considering the amount we read about twentysomething career-discontent, I’m pretty lucky to have found that.
Let’s get down to business. Here’s what I’m challenging myself to do in 2013:
There you have it. There are some other small things too: hopefully (doctor’s-fingers-crossed) complete my fifth marathon (at any pace), get my RYT 200 Yoga Teaching certification (eep!), work my butt off to get back into pre-accident shape, and travel as much as possible.
So, 2013: Game. On.
(me and Penny, my cousin/aunt/uncle’s dog)
There are 20 million reasons to love dogs. They are cute and fuzzy. They take HILARIOUS pictures. They always look great in sweaters.
One of the reasons so many of us love dogs though is because dogs love unabashedly, without question, and without judgement. Dogs don’t really care what you look like, where you went to school, or if you lied to get out of a parking ticket. They just want you to give them snuggles, and they will love you. When you’re having a horrible day, they seem to inherently know that that’s a great time for them to lie on your chest and just love you too.
Babies are a little like that too as, frankly, are most kids. Kids are pretty pure-hearted, especially at an early age. Sure, it’s not a given, but for the most part babies just want you to hold them, feed them, occasionally change them and generally care about them. Not saying it’s not a ton of work, but it’s not like babies are asking you to spell out your beliefs of economic policy to earn their trust.
And that’s how Christ comes to us today, and for the entirety of the Advent season: as a baby.
Pope Benedict XVI • Denouncing same-sex marriage in his annual Christmas speech today. Benedict has long been viewed, dating back to his ascension to the papacy, as a staunch traditionalist on the Catholic Church’s longtime social positions, and his views on homosexuality have proven no exception: “When freedom to be creative becomes the freedom to create oneself, then necessarily the Maker himself is denied and ultimately man too is stripped of his dignity as a creature of God.”source (via shortformblog)
Darnit, Pope Benedict XVI. Is Christmas, when it is time to renew our faith, really the time to spend denouncing things?
Beyond that, the social-issues-struggle of the church is why so many of us (including myself) struggle with our identities as Catholic-Christians. I want so desperately to engage fully with my community in faith, but I can’t accept or stand by when the church perpetuates policies I feel so strongly are just wrong.
For the past hour, I’ve listened to Praise and Worship music.
Yes, that’s unusual for me. That’s VERY unusual for me. As someone that has continually struggled with their faith, going back and listening to a large chunk of music devoted to the faith you left behind is a little strange.
In truth, I felt a little embarrassed. I turned off my Spotify notifications on facebook; I didn’t want people to know what I was listening to. In some ways that might be understandable, but it’s made me feel incredibly…sad. Like I’ve lost a huge part of myself and I don’t know where to find it sometimes.
I was hugely involved with my high school youth group, HAVEN, at Corpus Christi Catholic church when I was younger. I loved it (and still do— the group really lived up to its name and provided me with a haven). Still, the socio-political problems within the church as a larger body make it incredibly difficult to call myself “Catholic.” So, I no longer go to mass. I pray and talk to my Creator, but attending a larger service that shares the beliefs that I do is just hard to come by.
It’s even harder because the stigma that I feel comes along with being associated with a church sometimes. Occasionally, when I catch myself talking about religion, I find that I do it in an almost apologetic manner: I’m sorry you have to know that even though I’m a young, educated woman who likes to go out and party, who identifies as a liberal, and who seeks to be as open-minded as possible, also feels a really deep connection with something greater than this.
And I understand where the stigma comes from, I really do. Because I’ve done it myself. I’ve called people “crazy Christians,” I’ve been angry and complained about the religious right, and, to be fair, there are quite a few people that give Christianity a bad rep sometimes. So I get it. If you saw my recent playlist on Spotify and went “WTF?!” I understand that reaction.
I just wish it didn’t have to be that way sometimes. Yes, I struggle with faith, and I know that the church, that modern Christianity itself, is littered with flaws. I understand that. I AGREE with that. That said, this music not only reminds me that there is something, anything bigger than myself, but also brings back a lot of really fond memories, so everyone BE COOL.
Music was a huge part of my religious connection. I was never hugely connected to music itself, but singing with my youth group was one of the few places where it could (and still can, quite frankly) move me to tears. If I’m perfectly honest with myself, some of the aspects of Christianity and prayer did not always speak to me on a deep level. Personal conversation with a Creator was important to me, yes. Though group prayer never really touched me.
What always made me feel the closest to something transcendent, though, was song. Opening my voice to something other than it “sounding pretty,” and doing it solely because I wanted to thank the universe for a lot of fantastic blessings really forced me to consider the impetus for actions (e.g., am I doing this solely for myself, or for a bigger purpose?). Singing at church really gave me a calming place of solace for however long I did it, and I miss that sometimes.
I know that there is other music that speaks to that, and I like listening to that too. But this was the soundtrack of a really important part of my life. HAVEN was where I first learned to lead other people. It’s where I met a number of close friends that I still really care about. It’s one of the few entities of my life that really pushed me to stop being a selfish, narcissistic, self-involved teen and care about the people around me. Listening to praise and worship music brings back a lot of those peaceful feelings associated with that time.
… I don’t have an ending for this post. It’s Halloween, and despite this red-wine fueled confusion-rant, life is pretty fantastic. I am wholly blessed. I spent the weekend with fantastic folks (and, eep, in my first actually provacative costume, since I figured I don’t know how long I’m going to be in (relatively) decent shape), and even successfully put together a pretty sweet costume. Woo!