I've started jogging again in preparation for the Run for the Little Flowers 5K (see my previous post). It's wonderful, really, because it gives me a lot of time to ponder my life and just notice all the little things I usually miss (people in Mt. Lebanon throw out a TON of great stuff, there is a $1999 all-inclusive sale on plots at the cemetery near St. Bernard, that sort of thing).
It also helps me to process some of the things that I hear and see in the 24-48 hours preceding my run. I usually end up at the tabernacle at St. B's, which is my very favorite part...mostly giving thanks that I did not drop dead in the previous 45 minutes ;0)
This week, I've been thinking about giving up our lives to God. The previous post about defending the unborn, "even if they KILL you" and Sunday's Gospel from Luke 14:
wife and children, brothers and sisters,
and even his own life,
he cannot be my disciple.
Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after me
cannot be my disciple.
That one is particularly sticky for me, since I have been blessed so much in this life. More than I can fathom or understand.
So, when I run, I think...do I give all that I can? My last 5 miles of pondering...
We tithe. As with most things, it's a personal decision, it's just something we've chosen to do. It means fewer (not no) vacations, no cable (well, I think we pay $10/month), no fancy cars, no shiny new house in suburbia, etc. When I left the freezer door open and lost $300 worth of meat, it means lots of pasta for the next few months. It's a lifestyle but, considering I'm a convert to it, it's easier than I had originally imagined.
We are open to all the new life God chooses to give. That's an easy one for us. We are old and who doesn't love babies? Today #2 said, "what if God gives us 10 total babies (meaning 5 more)?" I tried to explain the logistics but ended up saying, "we'll just love them, I guess." Having done this for some time now, being truly open to God's will, I realize just how in control He is and how truly blessed we are to play a role. As I said, we're old. I am amazed by the women I know in their '20s that follow the same path. That is discipleship!
We give time and talent to our parish and to our community. I would love to do more but, with all these little people, time can be tight. We try to choose activities, friends, and events that are in agreement with our faith beliefs...not the easiest thing in society. We home school now because it's important to us that we teach our "class" the fundamentals of our family and faith before sending them out to defend them. We can't do that when we see them 4 hours a day.
I'm not going to get into all the stuff I don't do or do wrong because, well, the post would be too long and I've already kind of digressed. Clearly there is much I could still be doing to further the Kingdom of God. The point of this post is, what do I have to be willing to give up...after all, that's the "hating" part, right? It's not "hating" in an emotional way but making sure that we don't connect ourselves more to our family, our possessions, our status, than we do to God, who should come first in all things.
Then I run more and think, what could I not give back to God if he asked?
Family of Origin? Nope (don't take that wrong, I love them all dearly). My dad is already in Heaven ( I wrestled with God a while on that one...it made my faith SO much deeper in the end), my Mom is my mom, not my best friend, etc...I love my family but they, each and every one, will die one day and whether it is before or after me, it will be their time and I'm good with that. (I know my sibs are reading this and shaking their heads...luckily they already know I'm that crazy religious lady)
My babies? No. That was with more hesitation. I could definitely not (I'm pretty sure) do the Abraham and Isaac thing. That was the kind of faith I definitely lack. If one of them (or many of them) died today, I would grieve for a very, very long time. Still, I know where they are going and I would look forward to meeting them (hopefully) again in Heaven one day.
My house/car/diamond ring (my sole valuable possession)? You know, it's about once a year (when the Little Sisters of the Poor collect after Mass) that I seriously consider dropping that ring in their basket. I love it SO much but, truly, it's not a deal breaker. Worse, it opens me up for people making judgments..."oh, have you seen her ring, of course she's living a certain way, blah, blah, blah". I do the same thing sometimes (see pride below) so I know others do it to me. Lately, I've been wearing it much less. It was a sign that my husband-to-be loved me a great deal (because he would part with so many dollars) but my wedding ring means so much more after ten years. My car and house? Have you seen them? Do I need to explain? (see the post about getting rid of my Cabrio...that was a bit of a struggle).
My husband. Ahh. That is a tough one. Any time I start feeling like I'm so with the faith thing and doing everything right (which is almost never, by the way, but pride is there at certain moments...I've been known to judge people without merit. gasp.) I imagine my life without him. Actually it's done for me during weeks like this, when he is gone from our house for business. This is it. Truly. When I think, "what could God ask from me that I would have a very, very, extremely hard time giving?" It's him. He is my world, for better or worse. He is what makes this whole train run. He is my partner in all things. Being without him for the rest of my life is not something I can easily comprehend.
So, when I finish my run and go to the tabernacle, I am always thankful first for the gifts that I have been given, the blessings of my children and marriage, the abundance of my life. Then, often tearfully, I ask Mary (have you made the consecration? It is truly worth your while. It's not worshiping Mary, btw...just making her your intercessor to Jesus. What a wonderful help to have!). Anyway, I ask Mary to take everything I have (I make a list in case she thinks I'm not really serious) and use it/them to bring me closer to her Son. I do believe my children and husband have been put into my life to draw me closer to Heaven. I still worry, though. My beloved's father died only a few years older than he is right now. Life happens. God's ways are not our ways. Sometimes we can scream "but I WANT it!" as loudly as we can (I know 'cause I have) and still, like a loving father, He will refuse to yield because of the good He knows will follow. I think, if we keep in mind that His will is the right one, always, we will be able to continue, even in the midst of the most earth-shaking difficulty. God is always with us. That must be more than a little comfort.
We are blessed. Remember that.