As part of the ongoing discernment I know to be life-long necessity for all who try to be open to the promptings of the Holy Spirit, I have been prayerfully listening and making some changes I have felt urged to undergo in how I spend my time, energy, etc. It has been a tremendous gift and encouragement that Kevin has decided going to daily Mass several times during the week would be his Lenten devotion, because there are few things that remind me of God's love and ability to change hearts and minds than sitting and holding hands with my dear husband at Mass.
I've been subbing at school pretty often, still reading a lot (mostly in English but also some French), and Kevin's been doing some odd jobs here and there while still looking for a full-time job with benefits. We're both still praying and waiting for whatever will be the next big thing we undertake, but right now we're content to be serving on really wonderful Cursillo teams and growing closer to the Lord and each other.
I realized in hopping from one blog to the next to try and keep up with what’s going on in the world and the blogosphere, attempting to participate in the right link-ups and get the most visitors to my blog with frequent, timely posts was making my prayer time, faith formation, closest relationships, and my vocation to write (particularly: spiritual reflections, personal letters, and prayers) suffer.
This is why I have not been participating in 7 Quick Takes Friday recently or posting quite as often as I have at other times. I have been getting back to a more regular chunk of time for daily prayer, journaling, writing reflections, letters, and things more often, and it's been good to process things with pen and paper and decide what I will share, if anything, on my blog. Writing because I love to write and am inspired is something I don't want to lose and can too often get away from when I have too many of the how to have a wildly popular blog or what you should be writing about or commenting on things going through my head.
It's more important to me to have an active prayer life, loving relationships in person, and time to listen and reflect on what God is asking of me, than it is to see how much blog traffic I can get. I get caught up in the shoulds and coulds ideas, and suddenly, I find myself stressed out, fragmented, unsettled without enough prayer time, disconnected from loved ones.
Plus, I figure that if I am dedicated to prayer and open to what the Lord wants of me, then what I write will reach the people that would find it helpful to read and ponder whenever and if ever they happen upon my blog.
I stepped back to look at how I have been spending my time by asking and praying about the following:
1. What goals or motivation have influenced my choices the most?
2. Does the Lord come first and my relationship with my husband second before everyone and everything else?
3. What do I need to do differently so that my time, actions, energy, and on what I spend money reflect that God is first and foremost in my life and that our marriage comes before all else?
I know it’s not a coincidence that I’ve been prompted to ask myself these questions when I am more often around people for whom prayer, faith formation, and acts of service are a way of life. Certainly, when surrounded by those who do their best to put Christ first, I am more inclined and challenged to do the same thing. For those reasons, I am incredibly grateful for the local Cursillo community as well as the Christ Renews His Parish contingency from our parish.
Earlier this week I had lunch with my mom, and we had an interesting discussion about how the decisions we make—both big and small, public or private—affect other people, especially those closest to us, whether we want them to or not. I was mentioning how apparent it has been to me that I want and need to be around Christian community who make prayer, ongoing discernment, and faith formation a priority in their lives. Their example inspires, encourages, and motivates me.
The other side of that is also true: the time I spend with the Lord (or don’t) affects every single one of my interactions with other people—not just in terms of their faith and prayer lives, but in every aspect of our lives.
The best thing I can do is God’s Will both for me and for everyone else. To be conformed to God’s Will, I have to spend time in prayer, take part in the Sacraments, and be aware and respectful of His Presence in each person and living thing.
In order to do this, I need to be aware of my own proclivities, downfalls, and sinful inclinations, so that I draw closer to Christ. Once I step into the light of Jesus, He then creates in me a new, more loving, gentle, compassionate, tender, and merciful heart. With a renewed heart and spirit, I am able to be a better, bigger vessel for the Holy Spirit to work in and through.
The more I am open to the Lord and fully present to the people He’s put in my life, especially those physically in my presence, the more God’s love will shine in, through, and around me.
Lord, so often I look around and see what others are doing and determine in my own mind the value of what they’re doing and how they’re doing it, but I’m much more hesitant to observe and be mindful of my own thoughts and actions. If I spend too much time looking inward, I easily become discouraged, depressed, doubtful, sorrowful, and afraid. If I remain focused on You, then love, great mercy, living hope, and compassion will be closer to the surface.
God can and wants to work in and through me to bring others closer to Him. Am I going to rejoice in that and cooperate or resist and refuse to go along?
Truthfully, I’ll likely do some of each. Fortunately, He can bring about good even from my unwillingness and stubbornness in responding to His grace.