Finding Motivation and the Temptation of Escapism

Something I learned from teaching CCE last night is that when one kid acts like that very annoying squeaky wheel on the shopping cart, chances are that the problem isn’t you, it’s something else. Kids have this tendency to feel like the entire day gets ruined from one bad moment. Unfortunately, adults have this problem, too, myself included. Sometimes we have this tendency to carry over the problems from yesterday or last week, or even years ago that become a chip on our shoulder.

There’s this temptation to just get away from our problems for a little while or try to forget that the chip on our shoulder doesn’t exist. A little escapism now and then isn’t bad, per se, but there’s that temptation to stay in that little place of escapism or wishing that the fantasy we escape into was real. If there’s anything I learned from Season 6 of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, it’s that when you go out of your way to deny your problems, they end up becoming worse.

When it comes to Lent, there comes a point where the motivation to keep our resolutions is just not there. There’s a reason that there’s this imagery of a desert during this time of year. Granted, the closest thing I ever got to the desert was living in San Bernardino Country for a few years, but everyone has periods of metaphorical deserts as well. (And yes, I’ve listened to that Hillsong United song.)

So when times get hard and you need to find motivation, what exactly do you do?

  • Take a step back, but don’t stay in that place of escapism. Meditate on this passage from Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 and remember that there is a time to take a break and get away from the stress and there’s a time to deal with your problems:

There is an appointed time for everything,
    and a time for every affair under the heavens.
A time to give birth, and a time to die;
    a time to plant, and a time to uproot the plant.
A time to kill, and a time to heal;
    a time to tear down, and a time to build.
A time to weep, and a time to laugh;
    a time to mourn, and a time to dance.
A time to scatter stones, and a time to gather them;
    a time to embrace, and a time to be far from embraces.
A time to seek, and a time to lose;
    a time to keep, and a time to cast away.
A time to rend, and a time to sew;
    a time to be silent, and a time to speak.
A time to love, and a time to hate;
    a time of war, and a time of peace.

  • Offer your problems in prayer: going back to what I said about offering it up. This is going to be happening a lot in Lent and in life.
  • Find something that motivates you to move forward. It can be a playlist, a quote that inspires you, or a picture of someone you love or admire. Or in my case, a little apology note from one of my kids:
From my Instagram. Reminds me why I love my kids.

From my Instagram. Reminds me why I love my kids.

It’ll take a while to find the motivation to press on, but as they say in Field of Dreams “If you build it, they will come.” Build up enough motivation and eventually, you’ll get that inspiration.

Lent Day 5: The Marathon to the Finish

Fr. Robert Barron’s Lent Reflection today talks about what the finish line for Lent is: eventually celebrating Christ’s Resurrection. But that’s the finish line and we are only at the start of Lent and it seems like Easter will take forever.

It helps to view Lent not as a race to get to the “happy ending,” but a marathon. My friends Kateri and Rachel compared Lent to spiritual training. The end goal of Lent is that by the time we get to celebrating Christ’s Resurrection, we will have grown closer to God. The fasting, prayer, and almsgiving is part of our training.

Now if you’re like me and the thought of anything relating to athletics makes you feel exhausted, it’s okay. Just think of a 40-day long term project that requires complete and total commitment towards becoming a better person. 

There are times in this marathon that we might fall down, but that’s part of the process. That’s why churches offer Confessions after Stations of the Cross or have Penitential services. There are also retreats, Bible studies, fish fries, and other community-oriented events that take place during this time of year. So even though we are in this marathon, we’re not running alone. 

Keep your eyes on the goal this Lent. This picture of Christ in the form of the Eucharist represents Christ’s presence within our realm and what we are all running towards.