Walking With Ambiguity During Lent

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I said at the beginning of the year that my word for 2016 is “Love.” My friend Stef Ofhs said “Love encompasses all things.” Sometimes loving God means accepting the ambiguities of life. That’s part of what it means to go out into the desert.

I am really proud of all the emotional growth I’ve done in the past few years. But there are a lot of things in my life that are still left up in the air. There have been no major exterior changes in my life yet. Instead, my progress has consisted of a lot of small things. I keep losing sight of what’s important because I want so many things.

Recently, I celebrated first Friday Mass. But on the way there, I kept hitting a constant stream of red lights. In spite of the constant stops, I was still able to get to Mass on time.

I think Lent is a lot like that. It’s not a chance to go to extremes in the name of holiness. It’s rather a time to slow down and change the process of life for a little while. For me, I feel like God is calling me to walk by faith, like it says in Second Corinthians:

2 Corinthians 5:6-10

 So we are always courageous, although we know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord, for we walk by faith, not by sight. Yet we are courageous, and we would rather leave the body and go home to the Lord. Therefore, we aspire to please him, whether we are at home or away. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive recompense, according to what he did in the body, whether good or evil.

I am so used to working towards a tangible goal. It’s easy to have faith when you’re not sure how to get there but you know that you will. Right now,though, God is calling me to trust Him in spite of this ambiguity, to walk by faith with Him, even though I don’t know where I’m gonna go next. I have some goals that I am working towards, but my vocation? Not clear yet.

Which brings me to the question every Catholic gets:

What am I gonna do this Lent?

  1. Take the Heroic Minute Challenge. Arleen Spenceley and Leah Darrow have challenged their readers to get up at 5:30AM every morning. According to the last time I tweeted Leah Darrow, they haven’t stopped.
  2. Limit my internet time. I installed StayFocusd on my Chrome and limited my time spent on certain websites to only one hour a day. I’m not sure how I can use this time-limit on my mobile devices, but keeping myself from being on the computer all day is at least a start.
  3. Read. A Lot. I plan to use my time offline to read more. I’ll be sharing reflections from the Heart of Mary Women’s Fellowship’s Lenten Bible Study here. Also keep an eye out for a series on Catholic Dating Problems and the Theology of the Body. There’s more to come!
  4. Mass Journaling: When I attended Mass last Sunday, I really loved the homily I heard. Unfortunately, all I had to write on was the back of a flyer for the upcoming parish fish fry. I want to learn as much as I can this Lent, to be able to listen to God as much as talk to Him.

I hope that you will join me as I walk by faith this Lent.

Are We Out of the Woods Yet?

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One quote from Buffy the Vampire the Slayer that resonates with me comes from the Season 5 finale “The Gift”:

The hardest thing in this world is to live in it. Be brave. Live.

Season 6 of Buffy was themed around the idea of life becoming the Big Bad. As angsty and heartwrenching as it sounds, Whedon got it right. Going to extremes feels easy because of the high-risk, high-reward gamble. We all jump at the chance to do the extraordinary. We live for the celebration of special occasions.

But ordinary life? Ordinary Time? The daily grind, especially when faced with an uncertain future? That’s hard. It’s hard to just live from day to day if your life is surrounded by uncertainty or sadness or anxiety. There are times in life where it feels like you’re driving down a highway at night with just the headlights showing the next 200 feet. Or you’re wandering around the woods and the trees look like monsters. Or you feel like there’s nothing but fog and rain and no sunlight at all. How do you find your way out?

“We walk by faith and not by sight.” – 2 Corinthians 5:7

There will be times in your life that God calls us to completely surrender yourselves, your lives, and everything in it to Him. Your faith will be tested. It’s during these times that you need to fully rely on God. It’s not an easy thing to do. I know it’s not for me, given that there are a million things in this life that I don’t know for sure.

What I know for sure is that if I didn’t have my faith in God and if I didn’t trust him,  I would just be an empty shell of the woman I am now. In spite of the darkness, the woods, and the fog, God is always with us, leading us out. But sometimes, as I’ve been learning in Vacation Bible School, he just wants us to hold on. As in hold on to Him. Rely on Him. Fully surrender ourselves to Him.

There are so many songs that talk about walking by faith, but one of my favorites is Audrey Assad’s “Lead Kindly Light,” based on a prayer by John Henry Newman.

I pray that no matter what’s going on in your life today, you are taking that first step in faith, trusting in God, and handing everything over to Him.