Enjoy the Journey

I recently saw The Shack.  It is a wonderful, beautiful movie with so many pearls of wisdom, so many moments that make things seem so clear.  I am sure that there are different parts of that movie that speak to people in different ways, depending on their circumstances and their life experiences.  For me, the part of the movie that pierced my heart was so hidden, but so powerful.

The Father, Son and Holy Spirit are taking Mac to a beautiful destination.  As they are walking, Mac asks, “So where are we going?”  Papa immediately says, “Take a look around  and enjoy the journey.”  That line took my breath away because it hit so close to home.  This is a lesson that has taken me seven years to learn…and I am still struggling with.  It was a lesson that began with having to leave everything I had planned and many people I love. To leave a place I thought I would be at forever and to take a job I knew nothing about.  I look back on that, on before the move when I kept asking God to help me in this new journey…always using the word journey.  And then coming here and my first retreat was focused on our journey.  And then I became involved in running and through running I kept learning to enjoy the journey of running and not to get so caught up in the race.  And yet still, still I struggle constantly with wanting to know my destination.  Constantly I ask God to show me what it is I’m supposed to be doing, where I’m supposed to be going.  I want to plan my future.  I am always looking ahead.

But God is not ahead.  And God is not behind.  God is now.  God is here.  How many times must God be whispering to us that we are precisely where we are meant to be?  How many times must He be trying to tell us to stop focusing on where we are going and instead to live, to love, to trust right where we are?  Who is in control?  Is it you…or is it Him?

That line in that movie, “Take a look around and enjoy the journey”, was a beautiful reminder of what my Father is probably whispering to me every day.  He is right where we are–we only need to let go of constantly looking for the destination and instead look to Him and enjoy the incredible journey He is on with us.

 

What We Are Called To Do

Sometimes God puts prayers in my heart to say in very particular ways.

Before my family and I made a very big move out of state, away from all of our family, I kept praying that God would help us on our journey.  In those words, always using the word journey.  That became a prayer that I prayed for months before, during and even after our move.  Amazingly, when I went to the first retreat at the new school I was working at, we were told that our theme for that year would be The Journey and that we were all on the Journey together.  Of course, I realized immediately that this was no coincidence.  This was God letting me know that indeed, this was the Journey He wanted me to be on.

Something very similar just recently happened.  For about a year now I have been praying that God show me what He wants me to do vocation wise.  I just haven’t felt very passionate or motivated by what I am currently doing in my job and I just felt like there had to be more or something else that I was supposed to be doing.  I just didn’t have any idea of what that was!  Within the past few weeks, as I have been praying about it, I have felt God telling me to stop worrying so much about what’s next.  He showed me that this is something I have been doing for a long time.  Always searching for “what’s next”.  I felt God telling me that I am exactly where I am meant to be.  I am where I am.  He has told me that the important thing is what I am supposed to be doing where I am.  And that is that I need to be Christ to others.  Through my actions, words, thoughts and deeds He wants me to show others who He is.  He wants me to love with a Christ-like love so that others will see Him through me.  That message suddenly became very clear to me, almost like an epiphany.  And I embraced it immediately.  I began praying about this, asking God to help me, through my words, actions, thoughts and deeds, to show others who He is.  And not to be afraid.

Yesterday, at now my fifth retreat at my school, I was reaffirmed of my prayer, once again.  I know this, because the priest’s homily was (and these were his words) how our words and actions show others who God is.  He repeated “our words and actions” quite a few times…the same words I have been using lately in my prayer.  The moment he said it, I knew that what I had been feeling in my heart was truly God’s message to me.

And thinking about it, isn’t that His message to everyone?  We are all so busy searching for “what’s next” that we fail to do the most important thing we are called to do right where we are.  And that is to love.  To love all of those around us, all of the time.  At first, when I heard this message from God, all I could think was how simple that is.  Really?  That’s it?  That’s my purpose?  But right after that retreat, when I felt empowered and gung- ho about starting this mission from God, I learned that to love with a Christlike love was not going to be a simple task.  I had received an unkind email shortly after the retreat that immediately made my blood boil and I couldn’t wait to email something equally as unkind back.  However, God, in His grace, whispered to me, “Love”.  I did calm down after a few hours and did not respond to the email until the next day, when I had a chance to let God help me with this and I could respond in a loving manner.  At that moment, I realized that this would not be an easy task, but it was a mission, a calling, that I knew God had given me and I am determined to carry it out.

I hope that all of us can, at some point, hear that very same calling from God. I believe it is what we are called to do, wherever we are.  Because the important thing is not where we are.  It’s what we are doing while we are there.

Lost and Found

Sometimes I feel lost.

From an early age, I had control of my future. I knew early on that I wanted to be a teacher. I became a teacher right after graduating from college and after more than ten years of teaching, I knew I wanted to get my Masters Degree and become a principal. I got my Masters Degree and then, suddenly, I lost control of the direction of my life. Suddenly, my life took a turn I was not planning or expecting. Suddenly, I was far away from family in a new state, in a new school, doing a job that I had not planned on doing. Now, going on five years later, I am still at that school, still at the job I had never envisioned myself doing. There are things about it that I like, but there are things about it I don’t like as well. Often times, I get the feeling that my job has little purpose…or rather, that I have little purpose in the job I am doing. I have prayed and prayed that God show me what He wants me to do and the scariest part is, when I think about what I would want to do, for the first time in my life, I have no idea…I have no direction…I have no plan. Nothing sounds exciting, nothing ignites a fire. I often times just feel lost.

Last night, as I fell asleep, I remember asking St. Anthony to help me find myself. He is the finder of lost things and I felt as though I had lost…myself. Who was I? What was my purpose? What am I supposed to be doing? As I drifted off to sleep, I just kept repeating, “Help me find myself”.

I’m sure everyone, at some point, has these feelings of being lost. But this is scary to me. I think it’s because I have never lived feeling lost. I have always had a purpose, a goal, a plan. I was always in control. I know that God is teaching me to give up my control and give it to Him, to trust in His plan for me–in my heart I know that. But after five years, you’d think He would start showing me what that plan is–or at least give me a glimpse. But no, I am exactly where I was five years ago–still searching, still wondering…still lost.

Today in Adoration, I told him how lost I felt. I prayed that He would show me the way. I prayed for a long time. Then I decided to spend a few minutes reading a book that I’ve been reading during Adoration, but had not read in the last 2 weeks. I picked up where I had left off in the book and here is what I read today:

“I find that when we’re willing to serve like Jesus did–while we’re on the way–divine appointments…start popping up everywhere.  And if we’ll take the time to stop and listen, we may find our destination, even when we thought we were lost.” (Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World, Joanna Weaver) 

And, “When we surrender ourselves to be used by God, we don’t always get to pick the time, the method, or the place of ministry.  In fact, sometimes, we find ourselves doing nothing at all–except praying and waiting for God’s leading.”  (Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World, Joanna Weaver).

And finally, “…the key is not in our activity, but in our receptivity to God’s voice–and in our willingness to be used in whatever ways he brings to our attention.  When we bring to him our willingness to serve, he’ll always, eventually, point us toward something we can do for him.  And that task will always have something to do with love.” (Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World, Joanna Weaver).

It is no coincidence that this was the section of the book I was on today.  God knew that I needed to hear these words–that I needed reassurance that, while I may feel lost, God has not lost sight of me.  

This is the journey I am on and while I may not understand it or have any control over where it will take me, He does.  Maybe, when we have so much control over the direction of our life, God needs us to lose all control so that we can find Him.  I am always looking for the destination, but  maybe God is trying to teach me that it is what we do on the journey that matters. 

Wherever we are on our journey, we have an opportunity to serve God.   And while we may not know where the road will take us, maybe what really matters is just knowing that we are on the road with Him. 

And He knows where He’s going.