Tag Archives: journals

God-transformation-vulnerability

Stepping into the future

I am usually a quick learner when it comes to concrete tasks, but learning abstract things—not so much. I am abstract-challenged. (I am also spatially-challenged, and maybe they go hand-in-­hand.)

When it comes to learning about myself and my emotional/spiritual/psychological self—those abstract characteristics—I have to admit that I am a slow learner. Processing new information about myself can take a long time.

Thankfully, God is very patient and never seems to tire of reminding me of areas where I need to change and grow.

At Mass last Sunday, three heart messages caught my attention. After the third, I wondered if anyone else in the congregation was getting this message or was God mainly speaking to me? I also wondered when I would actually get the message—take it in and make it a part of myself so that God (and I) can move on to something new. God has been inviting me to soften my heart for as long as I can remember.

And there they were last Sunday—three references to the heart, to my heart.God-transformation-vulnerabilityLast weekend, I also did a major house cleaning and clearing out, including journals from the past twenty years. My plan had been to read them one more time and save anything that seemed important, but I could not seem to get started on that project. One day, it occurred to me to just throw them all away. Even thinking that thought made me feel lighter and freer. And when I hauled the contractor-size black trash bag to the curb, I felt a space open up inside me.

I am done with the past; I want to move on into the future. I want a fresh start.God-transformation-vulnerabilityBut there was God reminding me of my heart. If I had taken the time to read my old journals, I know the heart theme would be a thread throughout. Will I ever get the message?  Will I ever make the leap of faith that will move me toward becoming a soft-hearted person?

Open my heart, I pray

To love

To joy

To fun

To happiness—and yes, even to the possibility of pain and sorrow. They go hand in hand.God-transformation-vulnerabilityOpen my heart, I pray. Create fissures where fear can escape and light can get in. Create spaces in my heart, gaps ready to be filled in—with trust, hope and love.God-transformation-vulnerabilityI want love, hope and trust and the blessings they will bring. I want a heart big enough to hold pains and sorrows and still have room for love—a heart that won’t shy away from grief but be pliable enough to hold both loss and hope.God-transformation-vulnerabilityI pray that God reshape my heart into something more closely aligned with his vision for me, a heart able to absorb the pain and sorrow of my life and of the world, able to live with loss—and still see beauty and hope—and to embrace the gift in all of it.

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Living the Questions

My tenth-grade biology teacher told me I would make a good scientist. “You ask a lot of questions,” he said. Hearing criticism in his comment, I apologized. “Don’t apologize,” he responded. “Asking questions,” he said, “is a characteristic of a good scientist.”

A career in science was not in my future, but my inquisitive nature has played a major role in my spiritual life.

In my relationship with God, questions matter. God uses my questions to reveal where I need to grow.

This week, I started rereading old journals, and I find them filled with questions.

Repeatedly in my journals, I ask, “What does this mean for me? What is the lesson? The invitation?” Those questions appear in response to words of scripture, world events, conflicts at work and struggles in relationships. Almost anything can elicit these questions for me—books, movies, nature, a sentence or even one word overheard on a train or in line at a store. God catches my attention in many different ways and invites me to seek insight and meaning, to ask for direction.

In one of the journal entries from the time I was leaving my employment with the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, I reflected that for more than five years, while working with the Sisters, I had been pondering the love of the Sacred Heart. And then I asked, “How am I doing on a love-o-meter? Am I acting out of love? Is love my motivator?”

The image of a “love-o-meter” tickled me. I had forgotten writing that; but the image still works for me, as do the questions.

A few months later, when reflecting on the love of the Sacred Heart, I wrote about “the soft eyes of Jesus—accepting, seeing the best, seeing the potential.” That is what love does. Do I?

I have been reading journals from 2005-2006 and some of the questions I was asking then are still with me today: “Will this matter at the end of the week? In ten years? At the end of my life?”

Asking “will it matter…?” questions gives me perspective and helps me make decisions about where to put my energy. I try not to give too much energy to things that really don’t matter much.

One thing I learned from Jim as he was getting ready to die was that very little of his old life mattered at the end of his life. What mattered most was to be reconciled with the people who were important to him.

The past three years have been very difficult, with Jim’s illness and death and then my move back to Michigan. My old life is gone; God is doing something new with me. In this time of transition, I sometimes feel like I am on shifting sands. Perhaps it is time to resurrect the “love-o-meter” to help me keep on track in this new adventure.