Thursday, May 13, 2010

The Challenge

Today I feel properly humbled.
First, I decided to pick up and read a little of Br. Lawrence's classic The Practice of the Presence of God. Then my husband sent me a link to an article I needed to listen to.

Going backwards - the article.
It talks about the bad habit some of us moms have of comparing ourselves to "others" and falling short. The "others" being those that always seem to be put together, so perfect. How this leads to despair.

It rings so true. My life is a testimony to imperfection. My house - always a mess. My laundry - never done. My patience - always thin. My plans for those fun, lively lessons usually fall apart and end with me shouting and dreaming I was alone, in Hawaii, with a cool drink and a bowl of M&M's. There are a few blogs that I have found that are beautiful. The pictures are so lovely, the ideas and crafts are amazing, the words are inspiring. I read them and weep. I weep because I cannot measure up. I weep because I am such a failure, a traitor to the ideal.

I have learned that as lovely as those women probably are in real life, I cannot pay attention. When I do, I am miserable.

Same thing with writing. I love to write. I find life in it. I actually have potential. I have a few small things published. Yet it has been 2 1/2 years since I have written anything for publication. I took a long break and am now feeling the itch to get back to work.

But what if I fail? What if I stink? What if I have nothing to say and yet say it terribly anyway?

My biggest fear in life is to have no purpose or meaning to my life beyond boring, menial tasks.

Enter Br. Lawrence.

The Practice of the Presence of God is a very, very small work. Its size is deceptive. Every word is packed full of meaning. Br. Lawrence's message is very similar to the words of the Little Flower and Mother Teresa. Love, love, love. Above all, love in small things, in small ways. Abandonment to love to such a degree that all things are done in love. That most classic message of the Little Flower is echoed in the thought of Br. Lawrence - the way to true life, to Love, is in living love at all times, in small ways. Nothing is too small or menial to offer to God.

Do you realize how scary this line of thought is? Do you know how far against popular thought this goes?

It is terrifying!

In a world where we feel validation when we are noticed, in a time where celebrity is success (whether that be being known by power, wealth, knowledge, accomplishments, or appearance), Br. Lawrence dares to challenge us to find fulfillment in our lives, as they are now, imperfect and messy.

"That our sanctification depended not upon changing our works but in doing for God what we ordinarily do for ourselves. That it was a pity to see how many people always mistake the means for the end, attaching great importance to certain works that they do imperfectly for reasons of human respect.
     That he found the best way of reaching God was by doing ordinary tasks, which he was obliged to perform under obedience, entirely for the love of God and not for the human attitude toward them." (Fourth Conversation)

  Doing ordinary tasks? In quiet? Not even drawing attention to the fact that we are being HOLY, dammit!

We have people in our lives who I am sure are well-meaning, who feel like every thing they send us or our children must be religious in nature. ArtGuy and I wonder if they think we are pagan or not religious enough, and we need help.  They must not realize that even small, everyday things are sanctified through love. Even something as mundane (gasp!).
When we live our lives in love, for Love, everything around us becomes transformed by that love. That love is a truth-magnifier and will show us what passes the test of worthiness in our lives and what crumbles into unimportant dust.

So today begins with a challenge - to love. To offer all things in love, even if I want to wail and gnash my teeth. To offer the best of who I am. This is not perfection. The challenge is to do this knowing it will not be perfect. Can I offer my small duties in love, even when I feel like I amount to nothing important in life?

I am ready, Thursday - bring it on!


patty said...

LOVE it! At my finest moments, I'm ready to launch, in my house, on my broomstick! LOL

Camille said...

Amen, sister! :)

Chris said...

"Nothing is too small or menial to offer to God."

Kinda made me think of Blake ...

To see a world in a grain of sand,
And a heaven in a wild flower,
Hold infinity in the palm of your hand,
And eternity in an hour.