27 December 2014

The Nativity of Jesus

One thing I really love about Christmas is how universal it is. It is the ultimate Christian thing. No matter your ethnicity, economic situation, age, or denomination, the joy of Christmas is palpable this time of year.

I love how Christian a lot of Christmas music is. People don't get into arguments about the minutiae of Christmas, they just celebrate. It seems like the one day each year that we can agree on something, the Catholics and the Protestants.

Midnight Mass, I have decided as of this year, is my favorite Mass of the entire year. I love new beginnings. The days leading up to Easter weigh so heavily on my heart that Easter comes more as a relief to me than anything. Leading up to Christmas is eager anticipation and excitement.

This year at Midnight Mass, I sat next to some Christians who, I think, had never been to Mass before. At first when they sat down and the mom was drinking coffee in the pew I was super scandalized and shocked. I had to calm myself down and realize that they weren't Catholic so that I could focus on the Mass. Mostly I was just mad at myself for judging them. I kept thinking about what if I would have said something in my initial shock. I could have turned them away from the Church forever. (I'm not writing that because I think I'm so influential that I could put a wedge between them and the Truth, but rather because it's these little actions or thoughts that can have a huge impact.)

I used to not be very self aware. Sometimes I'm still not. Because of this, I can recognize well when  others aren't self aware, I think. That's another story.

I was praying about niceness during the Mass. I've often said that I'm not a very nice person, and I believe this to be true. I love people for the most part, but there are a handful of people whom I just do not like. Because I don't like them, I avoid them. I convince myself that it's more beneficial for me to say nothing to them than to be fake or to talk with them and then drag out my thoughts about how I don't like them. Honestly it's all bullshit. I don't think there's anything holy about avoiding someone. And it's hard to reconcile my dislike of anyone with my Christian faith. I wonder: can I really love my brothers and sisters if I don't like them?

I'm not very good at this, still.

One of my colleagues told me I was the most religious person he knows, but that I'm not very nice. He's right. I need to work on it. I need to be nicer to people.

Mary, Queen of Angels, pray for me.

20 December 2014

Left Undone

It's a weird feeling when someone else says the words you've written in your mind a thousand times but could never communicate.

13 December 2014

The Real Deal

The year I was a missionary at Auburn was probably the best year of my life so far. My relationship with Jesus was better than it ever had been or has been since, really. I was also comfortable which is rare and also probably not great for a missionary.

The whole time I was a missionary, whenever I would go visit other missionaries or they would come visit me, I always felt like they were real missionaries and I wasn't. I'm not sure why. During regional gatherings we'd discuss best practices in Bible Studies or Discipleships and I would always have something to contribute to the conversation, but I still always thought the other missionaries were so admirable/holy/good at their jobs and I was just trying to keep my head above water. I wonder if other missionaries felt this way too, but I never asked them.

The other day, my colleague Kevin was talking to one of his clients. He sits right next to me so I hear him talk to his clients all day everyday, but for some reason something he said made my mind go there again. I thought, "wow, Kevin is a real advisor." What's interesting is Kevin is newer than I am and, according to almost every metric that we use to determine performance, I am better than he is.

I wonder why I think of myself as not being a real _____. (Whatever it is I'm doing at the time.) Maybe part of it is that I don't feel like I'm grown up enough to be doing these things- in a lot of ways I still think of myself as a student, which was my identity for 17 years of my life. I guess it's hard to mentally make the switch sometimes.

I wonder if, when I'm in my vocation, I'll have the same thoughts about the people around me.

St. Lucy, pray for us.

09 December 2014

I really really like my job.

I'm writing this post today to remind myself in case my sentiments change.

It is so much fun to go to work every day when you like your job. It's easy to like your job when you're good at your job.

When I first took this job, I was nervous that my one year stint in this role would be a little glimpse of purgatory. I've said before on this blog that my department is the "hazing" department. You're not quite tenured/skilled enough to be considered upper level, but you're getting there... you're still easily replaceable to the company (read: you don't make the big bucks), but you're working your way up.

We're comp'd based on quarterly results, and seeing as I was in training for the new job most of Q3, this is my first full quarter in the role. Quarter to date, (there are 3 weeks left in the quarter including this week) I am in the top 6% in the nation. My department has about 390 people in the country (about 65 at my office). I'm 4th in my office and top 25 in the country. IT IS AWESOME.

I know that I will have a bad month or a bad quarter and I just wanted to write this post so that I can come back to it and encourage myself when that time comes. In this particular job, the highs seem higher and the lows seem way lower than in any job I've had to this point. There's not much in the middle.

I was in the office for about ten hours today and I completed about 19% of my monthly goal.

What's more important than all of that is that I get to help people plan for the things that are most important to them. If you think about almost any important thing in your life, there has to be money to pay for it. Life isn't cheap. And I get to help, even in a small way, make my client's dreams become realities.

02 December 2014

One Day in Your Courts

So last week one day I was driving home from work listening to the radio. Carrie Underwood's new song "Something in the Water" came on. I'd heard it before but it hit home that time for some reason. If you haven't heard the song, it starts off with a guy telling a girl about Jesus, and in the process he tells the story of how someone introduced him to Jesus. "Somebody said what I'm saying to you, opened my eyes, and told me the Truth, he said just a little faith, it will all get better, so I followed that preacher man down to the river and now I'm changed, now I'm stronger.. there must have been something in the water."

I love the song, and I love country radio for playing it. I thought about the song every day for almost a week. The thing I kept coming back to was how instantaneously the man in the song's life is changed. The next verse is the girl's first prayer (a few days after the encounter with the man) which is "God if you're there, come and rescue me."

One thing I love about a typically protestant understanding of faith is their emphasis on how your life changes after you meet Jesus. Looking back through the Gospels we see so many instances of people who physically met Jesus and made a decision to change their lives forever: John the Baptist, Peter, Andrew, all of the apostles, the woman at the well, the cripple at the temple gates, the righteous sinner on the cross next to Christ.... even Pontius Pilate, I think.

One nod of the heart towards the Lord and he meets us exactly where we are. (Cue Matt Maher's song Turn Around, "if you're scared that you don't matter, if you're lost and you need to be found, if you're looking for a Savior, all you gotta do is turn around.")

Something that the protestant understanding of the faith is lacking (in most cases) is the need for habitual repentance and conversion. Just because your life is changed forever once you meet Jesus doesn't mean that you're perfect and you'll never sin again. He knows we're fallen, He knows we need continual grace.

In Mass this weekend (yes, I go to the Lifeteen Mass, and yes, it's because I can't wake up in time for the others.), the communion song was an oldie but a goodie, "Better is One Day." It says, on repeat for about twenty minutes, "Better is one day in Your courts than thousands elsewhere." To be blatantly honest, I have no idea what it means. If anyone does, feel free to chime in. As I was praying through the song though, I was thinking of the "courts of the Lord" in terms of all of the "rules" of the Church and all the ways that we break them.

I'm so often told that the Catholic Church oppresses my sexuality, my femininity, my modernity.. my whole life really. But I don't feel oppressed or even burdened in the least bit by any of the commands of the Lord, because I have the joy of knowing Jesus and knowing that He loves me enough to come down from Heaven just for a shot at spending eternity with me in the arms of the Father. When you know a Love like that, those rules are just life long guidelines for maintaining that Love. One day with that Love, even if His commands were multiplied one hundred fold, is still better than a thousand days anywhere else.

His yoke is easy, and His burden is light.

May the God who raises sinners from the dead have mercy on us.