Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Getting Ahead of the Game

I received an insight during my Rosary meditation a few days ago that I thought I would share. On the last of the Joyful Mysteries, it occurred to me what Jesus was doing teaching the elders in the Temple at age 12. He was proclaiming the kingdom -- fulfilling His mission as He had been sent here to do.

But it wasn't the right time. At age 13, a Jewish boy reached the age of maturity and took on the responsibilities of an adult member of the community. But it was not until age 30 that a Levite became an active member of the Temple roster. In other words, a man became a priest at age 30. (There's double symbolism in the fact that Jesus wasn't of the tribe of Levi, though his cousin John the Baptist was, but instead of the tribe of Judah who were traditionally the kings and leaders of the Hebrews. So Jesus was both Priest and King, God and Sacrifice.) The Levites were teachers and explained the Torah when it was publicly read. Jesus began his ministry at an age when He would be respected. He was fully God from the start of His life, and knew the mysteries of the universe as well as His future. He must have been eager to do God's will, to get out there and preach to the lost flock of Israel.

But it wasn't the right time. God sent His parents, especially His mother, Mary, to
remind Him that He was still a child under their direction. When they took Him from the Temple, "Then he went down to Nazareth with them and was obedient to them." (Luke 2:51)

He waited for the right time. That's what I need to do, too. I can't rush things because I want them now, even if I want them for the "right" reasons. All things happen in their proper time. I must trust that God knows best and follow Him. I must take direction from the people in my life whom God has gifted me as guides and partners.

I'm hearing very clearly from several sides: Not now. I'm hearing clearly: Trust Me.

I want to cry "Then when?" but that's not the right response. My response must be to return home (to God) and be obedient. Strengthen me, oh Lord, and guide me.

Picture credit.

Sunday, July 13, 2008


I have been MIA these past months from a combination of writer's block, emotional frustration and personal crises. Everyone is mostly healthy now (my son broke his arm in early May and has been sick since mid-June with a nasty stomach bug that just won't.go.away and which everyone else has shared) and we're past all the big events that have taken so much of my time (trips to visit family, planning my son's 5th birthday party, and houseguests.)

My heart has been stilted for a while now. I'm trying to keep busy so I don't think about the constraints that keep me from acting as I wish to, but every now and then something reminds me and I'm upset all over again. On Thursday evening I was making dinner when the phone rang. Our alma mater was calling to thank us for the generous gift we gave them.

I said, "Oh. Sure, no problem." and then asked my husband if we had given them something. Yep. $20. I know it's not much, but according to his arguments, we can't afford ANYTHING for charity right now. I wish I could say I accepted the news with grace, went off and prayed about it, then respectfully discussed the matter with him a few days later. But instead I snapped, "Then you won't mind if I give $20 to our Church building fund, will you?"

I still wonder if I'm doing the right thing by doing nothing. There's always another financial setback (our insurance company just raised our deductible from $300 per person to $4,000 because of all our trips to the ER in the last couple months) and it just doesn't seem to me that my husband has any incentive to change his thinking. We are further from being able to adopt and give to charity than we were when I began this blog a year ago, yet I've been praying daily, offering up my Masses and sacrificing my own principles for the sake of our marriage.

Trust. The theme of every message I've gotten recently comes down to one simple fact: I am not trusting God to perform a miracle for me. I still think there's something I need to be doing, or saying, to convince my husband to my position. It might take years for his heart to be softened, and in the meantime I absolutely cannot be nagging, prodding, complaining or whining.

I just wish that it didn't hurt so much. That I didn't start crying any time someone even so much as says "Africa." That passing the empty basket at Church didn't cause me physical pain. That I didn't have to throw out every envelope from Save the Children, St. Jude's Hospital, Save Darfur, Samaritan's Purse...

In conversation with a friend the other day, it became clear that God is asking me for concrete sacrifices dedicated to my husband's conversion. I'm incredibly self-indulgent. When my alarm goes off in the morning, I press snooze for half an hour. I snack constantly. I'm on the computer a hundred times a day. I sometimes skip prayer to watch TV. I wallow in self-pity and bad moods, show all my emotions as soon as they appear, rant and complain more than I care to admit, and generally indulge every whim.

I'm willing to make sacrifices for the poor. Why not for God and my husband?

I've decided to start small. Getting up when my alarm goes off. (I call it "Sit up for Jesus!" and that's what I say silently to myself every morning. "Sit up for Jesus, Tienne. Sit up!") Fasting from one meal a week. Limiting myself to one serving size of desert after a meal.

I'm hopeful these little sacrifices will strengthen my will and fit me for the trials to come. Conventional wisdom says things will get worse before they get better. Mary, my model, be with me and guide me. Shower me, God, with strength. Amen.