… All things through Christ Who strengthens me, but I don’t have to do ALL things

We live in a world where multi-tasking is an admired and coveted skill. I mean, why shouldn’t it be? The ability to take on multiple tasks at one time and seeing them to completion is nothing to frown at, but maybe it shouldn’t be idolized as much as it is. Think about it, if one of the tasks falls through, everything is thrown off balance and ultimately falls through with maybe one surviving task. Or nothing can be given the time and effort it deserves because our effort has to be spread out amongst many different things, so instead of having one really good product or completed project, you have a few okay-but-could-be-better results.

In a way, this way of working, if it’s the only way you ever work, robs you of a certain joy. You weren’t allowed to get lost in something and produce something you are truly proud of. Your work, though good, wasn’t the passionate undertaking it was capable of being, something that makes you feel alive.

This way of working, in a sense, is a prayer. It is a gift of yourself to those around you and, more importantly, to the Father. He so loves when we get excited and really into our work. That joy, that light in our eyes and excitement, is a lifestyle He wants for us.

Yes, sometimes we need to get things done in a timely manner for our jobs or upcoming events. Multi-tasking is always going to be a way of doing things. Quantity over quality sometimes is the only way to get things done. But I think there should be more of those projects that make us come alive and serve as prayer for us than otherwise. Because if we undertake every task just to cross out our to-do list, we’re going to get burnt out real quick.

Just like we can’t do everything all at once, we can’t possibly choose every good option that comes our way. Whether it’s a job that we know will be good work, a trip that will take us somewhere new, or spending time with people in our lives, we can’t do it all. The sooner we accept that, the less heartache we’ll feel and cause for others. This inability to do it all should not make us feel like we are less of a person or less of whatever God is calling us to be. On the contrary, this liberates us and keeps us healthy. I can do all things through Christ Who strengthens me… but I don’t have to do ALL things. Discernment is a beautiful thing because, through discernment, God can guide us to the thing that will bring us closer to Him, the thing that will give us His peace. And I think that’s what we need more of in this world: more peaceful people instead of SuperMans and WonderWomans.

We should never give of ourselves to the point that we lose ourselves. Nothing is worth that. We are called to be so many things to other people, but we are not called to be their Savior. They already have one of those, and we’re not Him. No, Jesus took on all of that pressure on the cross. He would never put that on me or anyone else.

Praise God.

-Megan

An Attitude of Gratitude

Last summer I read an interesting article about something called a gratitude journal. It was on a writer’s website, and the purpose of the journal was to come up with topics and subjects for your writing. I really liked this idea, but I tried it for a different reason.

I had just moved home from an almost year-long internship in Florida, and I was having a hard time adjusting back to life here. I was facing the most terrifying question: “Now what?” The goal of grade school was to get to college. The goal of college was to get my degree and get to this internship. My entire life, I felt, had led up to that. There wasn’t really a plan for after that (let’s be real: there STILL isn’t a plan for after that), and I kind of fell into a rut that would take months to get out of. So I decided to try this gratitude journal.

Some days this journal served as my only prayer because praying from the rut was hard. As we’ve all heard at some point, there’s always something to be thankful for in each day. The big and little things that made me smile during the day were brought to God before I went to bed, and I filled up a small notebook after a few months of loyally writing about songs, encounters with others, food, etc.

It helped. Boy, did it help. In today’s world so many people are looking at the negative things going on in their lives, be it on a global scale or that one idiot who cut you off while driving to get frozen custard. I know I fall into the habit sometimes of complaining and playing the victim when work gets to be too much or when I have the moments of frustration that come with single young adulthood and these aches and desires that aren’t going to be fulfilled in this stage of my life. The roots and commitments I long for aren’t here yet. But that doesn’t mean that I have nothing in this period of my life.

On the contrary, I have SO much: people who care, a support system that believes in me even when I don’t see much worth looking at, an education, opportunities to better myself and love those around me. Things are good in spite of the negative things that sneak into my everyday life. They can’t consume me. God doesn’t let them touch me. He doesn’t give me more than I can handle. If I’d think about that instead of what color to use for the table clothes at my “woe is me” pity parties, I’d probably have a lot less anxiety. I’d be more joyful. When I’m joyful, I’m more myself than anything else. And, as Blessed Mother Teresa once said, “Joy is strength.”

Joy is strength to keep moving forward when things get tough. Joy is strength to grow into the person God is calling you to be. Joy is strength to be there for others.

Joy is strength.

There’s always going to be something that brings us down and tries to steal our peace, but there is also always going to be something that gives us hope that life is indeed beautiful. We’re not in Heaven yet, people, and following/choosing God doesn’t magically make things easy; instead it makes things worth it. God is good like that.

Here are some things that I’m thankful for in this moment:

-The sky was SO blue yesterday and again today!

-Reading a good book (I’m only like 60 pages in right now, but read Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children).

-My supportive family and getting to do everything and nothing with them.

-Good friends who call me to be better and who love me in that process.

-Being able to witness a new community of Catholic youth coming together.

-My Guardian Angel being so good at his/her job of protecting me. You the real MVP.

-Plantation tours and wildlife preserves.

-A best friend coming to visit for a whole week.

-The possibility of new possibilities.

-Cameras. Like actual, real, not-your-cellphone cameras.

-St. Philomena.

-The Divine Mercy Chaplet.

-Hearing your favorite song on the radio.

 

I think I’m going to start another gratitude journal, and I have the perfect notebook for it (thanks, Sharon!).

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What are you thankful for?

-Megan

Pens and Palms

So confession… I requested to write the blog post for this week. I wanted this week because yesterday (March 19) was the five year anniversary of when I allowed God to enter my mess and brokenness following years of closing myself off due to depression. It’s a big deal for me because that began the journey into who I am today.

For a really long time I was fixated on that moment. It was MY story. It was the story I would share at retreats or when I found myself in a vulnerable situation with someone. But after my story/moment didn’t feel the same after telling it at a young women’s retreat I worked once, I was puzzled. I honestly didn’t think it had the same effect on people, because sharing it didn’t have the same effect on me. Then I realized: maybe that’s not my story anymore. It was a defining moment in my life; there’s no denying that. But it wasn’t the end all, be all on my journey to and with Christ.

Instead, it was the beginning of my story, because, well, all stories need a beginning. Mine just happened to feature an ugly cry during two hours of silence on one of the first retreats I ever went on (way to break me in, guys). So when I found myself sobbing in a courtyard on March 19, 2011, I like to think that that is the moment I turned over the pen of my story to a God Who has not ceased in His faithfulness.

I’m a writer.

I’m a writer because I’ve always been obsessed with storytelling. I truly see it as an art form. I guess that’s why I can appreciate a good movie (and, yes, eight times out of ten it’s probably a Disney movie) or book. If they know how to tell a story in a way that is visually appealing, in a way where the words flow in the only way they seem to know how to, AND it pulls at your heartstrings in some way, it’s guaranteed that I’m going to be obsessed with it soon.

I think that’s how God works in our own stories. But whereas any movie has its end credits and any book its “About the Author,” our stories are never-ending, and they’re constantly changing. Nothing is clean cut and finalized because mercy is always coming for us in whatever capacity we find ourselves needing it.

THANK GOD.

Just think: if I was still getting only the mercies and graces that I received at an earlier time in my life, say freshman year of college, I wouldn’t have continued to grow as a person, as a Christian, and I probably wouldn’t be able to handle the things life is presently throwing my way.

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I know, Jimmy.

So today we celebrate Palm Sunday. Jesus is welcomed into Jerusalem like the King that He is. He humbly rides into the city on the back of a donkey, and the crowd lays down their cloaks and palms along the road in welcome. It’s a beautiful story, but it’s just the next step on Jesus’s journey to fulfilling His earthly mission. If we don’t have Palm Sunday, then we don’t have the Crucifixion or, more importantly, the Resurrection.

If we think the story stops when we accept and acknowledge God as King… There’s no Crucifixion, no suffering that has any worth in our lives, and there’s also no Resurrection in the areas of our lives where we desperately need it but feel we least deserve it.

The weight of the cross is a story. His cross, our partaking in His cross, they’re both two beautifully interwoven stories that bring real change into our world.

Our stories don’t happen without His, and our stories ARE His. He guides us through our stories by directing us back to His own. There is not one heartache that Jesus does not understand. There is not one wound that He cannot heal. He has not faltered, and I don’t think He’s going to. He’s been pretty consistent.

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-Megan

What is love? Baby, don’t hurt me.

It’s Valentine’s Day. There, I said it. It’s Valentine’s Day, or, as some of my fellow single people and I know it, Singles Awareness Day (that’s right, celebrating Han SOLO style, minus the Falcon and the Wookie).

han solo i know

Even though I do somewhat, sort of, kind of, maybe celebrate Valentine’s Day by spoiling my biological and spiritual sisters, I can’t help but wonder about more than the chocolates and roses. I mean, why do we celebrate love?

I think it’s a simple answer. We were made by God, Who is love itself, to love and to be loved. One of my sisters has the most beautiful response when you tell her that you love her. Sometimes she comes back with, “Love is you.” God is love, and we are made in His image and likeness; therefore we = love. We celebrate love because we ARE love. Told you it was simple. Love others even when it’s hard and we may not see the good that it does. Love people who are broken while we too are broken. Love, sometimes that mountaintop high feeling and other times that heart-wrenching pain that makes it hard to breathe, reminds us that we are alive. St. Teresa of Avila said that “It is love alone that gives worth to all things.” That beautiful, breathtaking, comforting, heartbreaking, life-changing love lets us know that we are alive, and refusing to feel and experience love’s highs and lows is refusing to live.

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But wait. Heart-wrenching pain caused by love? Love is rainbows and smiles and your favorite kind of ice cream all rolled up into person form, right? Nope. Mother Teresa once said that “Love, to be real, it must cost—it must hurt—it must empty us of self.”

I want a love like that.

With my family. With my friends. With the things that make me come alive. With every little insignificant detail of my life. And one day, yes, with my husband and children of my own. I want a love that makes me question my beliefs in a way that ultimately instills them even more. I want a love that challenges me to grow into the person God is calling me to be, a love that welcomes me home and is a safe place in this crazy world.

Love is work. Love is cost. Love is a process and choice every single day. We rejoice the most and find the most satisfaction after a process, when it requires work and toil and sacrifice to meet the end goal. Love is the most beautiful example of what this process can be.

I once stumbled upon a book at the Catholic Student Center at my college (St. Albert, you are my anchor) that talked about the spiritualities of multiple holy women and saints. One of the passages that spoke of Beatrice of Nazareth struck me that day and continues to drop my jaw when I read it:

The Goad of Love

“For the more the soul is given from above, the more she desires, and the more that is revealed to her, the more she is seized by a desire to draw near to the light of truth, of purity, of sanctity, and of love’s delight. And thus she is driven and goaded on more and more and knows no peace or satisfaction; for the very thing that tortures her and gives her the greatest suffering, makes her whole, and what wounds her most deeply, is the source of her greatest relief.”

*Boom*

So if love is so great, why do we only celebrate love one day of the year? Why don’t we celebrate love every single day? Is everyday love, without the glitter and red and pink hearts, just too hard? Instead of one lousy calendar day, love should be celebrated 365 days a year (366 this year).

And here’s the lovely thing… love IS celebrated every single day, in every single country, every hour, every time a mass is celebrated and the priest echoes the words of Jesus at the Last Supper: “This is my body which will be given up for you… Do this in memory of me.” That’s love that costs. That’s the love we were made to experience.

So Happy Valentine’s Day. Bake cookies for your guy or your grandma. Annoy your pets by following them around trying to hold them. Listen to Taylor Swift (there’s definitely some song to fit your status today, whatever it may be… I’m in an optimistic “How You Get the Girl” kind of mood myself). Thank God for His love and the love of those around you. Tell people that you love them, even if they accuse you of saying it too much (which I personally think is impossible).

“The world needs to hear two things with strength and power: God loves you and I love you.” – Mother Angelica

The message those words promise is truly priceless.

-Megan