Tell me what you want what you really, really want

I have a new computer and noticed at the top center is an icon of a little light bulb that reads, “Tell me what you want to do.”  Maybe it’s because I had a perpetually messy room as a child and watched too many episodes of “I Dream of Jeannie,” but I’ve been looking for a light bulb like that my entire life.

My son drew this picture of Jesus of the Eucharist when he was 11-year old.  It hangs in my hallway.

Haven’t we all?  How much simpler life would be if we could just get what we want, what we think we need, what we know will finally fill that persistent ache of our humanity.  When I look at my life, the things I wished for as a child, the vows of certainty I made as a teenager, the ambitious plans I made as a young adult, and the middle-age accumulation of decades of yearnings, efforts, achievements, and disappointments, I wonder why I long for anything.  It hasn’t been a ‘your wish is my command’ experience, but it has been magical, even if that magic felt black at times.

I know both the joy and vulnerability of childhood, the discoveries and confusion of the teen years, the naivete of young adulthood and the knowledge I learned from my mistakes, the exhilaration and exhaustion of motherhood, and, now, the balance between improving myself and accepting who I am.  I’ve learned every stage has challenges, triumphs, and part of the answer of what God calls us to do.  The sufferings I lamented, resented, and mourned have shaped me into a wiser, stronger, and more resilient person.  They’ve also taught me to surrender, be softer, and stand firm.

I bring the waves of vacillation that shape my life to the altar during the Eucharist as a plea, “Tell me what you want me to do, God.”  I feel more connected to him at this moment than any other.  I feel both surrender and strength.  Sometimes it feels scary like a dare.  Will I do what he asks?  Will I obey?  Other times my plea feels like a brave truth.  l trust in his mercy, have faith in his plan, and feel love so genuine that I know it will bridge the difference between truth and dare.

“Tell me what you want to do” has evolved from being a means to get what I want to a way to give what he wills.  I don’t know what the years ahead hold or if I am promised any.  But I know that the trajectory of my life, with all the roads that sometimes felt too narrow, too fast, too winding, and too dark, led me to him.  It hasn’t been as simple as the light bulb icon on the computer screen promises, but it has illuminated the darkest parts of my life, not by giving into my commands, but by teaching me the right questions to ask.

God, tell me what you want me to do.

 

Read last week’s post here. 

Are you someone who trusts in God’s will?  When you look back at your life can you see the ways he was at work?  

 

 

Stillness — the action of finding God

Be Still. God knows I heard this often as a child.  I remember one time my mom promising me a new doll if I would just sit still for ten minutes.  When you are a kid, ten minutes is an impossibility, a lifetime, a duration that exists in fairytales along with “happily ever after.”

Stillness remains a challenge for me.  By far, the hardest part of writing is getting myself to sit down.  I reheat my coffee, let the dog out, tell the cats they are pretty, stuff my face with white cheddar popcorn, nibble chocolate, check email, Facebook, scoop kitty litter, and reheat curdled coffee again.  Then, I sit, twitch, and fidget for a bit before I succumb to the stillness that begets words. It’s like an exorcism.

“Be still and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10).

I am part of a group of women at my church who will be hosting a retreat this month, and we chose this as our theme.  It’s not a message we hear often, and it is certainly counter to what society encourages. Stillness is a renegade concept, a weapon that destroys the inauthentic notions of life.  I associate it more with someone like Yoda in a galaxy far, far away than I do anyone on our planet.

Our world teaches us our value is tied to busyness.  Go faster, be efficient, do more, be more, make more, and have more.  But for heaven’s sake, don’t be still.  Don’t stop and smell the roses.  Get them in the ground and check it off your list. Or better yet, pay someone to do it.  Your time is too valuable.  You need to be producing.

The message is clear, if you are still, the world will pass you by.  You will be considered slovenly.   You will miss out.  You will fail to measure up. You might as well be a concrete statue for pigeons to stoop (and poop) on.

When we believe these messages, eventually our motion spins out of control.  We lose touch with who we are called to be, the things we enjoy, and who matters most. We get lost and dizzy from all our spinning.  And tired.  So many of us are tired.

Last year for Lent, I challenged myself to spend ten minutes a day in stillness with God.  I was terrified.  I didn’t want to commit to such an endeavor and not honor it.  Usually, the things we need most are the hardest to do, the least appealing, and met by the most resistance.  But I decided to be brave and embrace the stillness that always eluded me.

And you know what?  I didn’t turn green like Yoda or get soiled by pigeons.  I didn’t even feel like demons were being dispelled from my body like I do when I sit to write.  I didn’t miss a single day of my commitment.

Contrary to what we may think about motion, the real action begins with stillness.  I was more calm, aware of myself, closer to God, and felt a genuine sense of peace.  It was so much more of an intentional way to pray.  I even read scripture before I started my timer so I felt more deliberate about my conversation with God.

I continued my habit for a while after Lent and then slowly traded the stillness for the unregulated motion that’s so much easier to fall into.  Like a child, I resist.  But I know that stillness waits for me, wants for me, and will embrace me anytime I am willing to surrender to its calm.

And the reward for stillness is far greater than a new toy.  It is a chance to sit with the knowing that is God.

Want more to help you on your Lenten journey read this.  

Road Rage: Peace Out

I got flagged off the other day – not with an actual flag, but with a finger. I don’t know if it was road rage but it was unpleasant.

I didn’t really think people did that anymore. I guess it’s been a long time since anyone showed me their tallest finger.

I was picking up my older son from his first day at a new school and was trying to navigate all the construction and traffic on I-95. I realized I needed to get over one lane and no one would oblige the blinking request of my turn signal. Read more