Joyful Words Blog
Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light for my path.
– Psalm 119:105
– Psalm 119:105
Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might…Ecclesiastes 9:10
Anybody else have a thing or two that just isn’t getting done? It’s crazy how I can look at a pile of papers or the ironing and acknowledge that it needs to be taken care of but yet day after day I can just keep looking at it and say, not yet…I’ll get to it! Shoot, I’ve even been known to move the thing to another spot…not sure if I’m trying to justify that as “working on it” or if I’m just hoping it won’t nag at me in a different spot. In the grand scheme of life I don’t suppose papers and clothes are a huge deal but I read a quote from St. Augustine that made me realize how many times I say “not yet” to God and that is a different thing entirely.
If you remember his story, St. Augustine was quite the colorful character. His early life was about as far from sainthood as you could imagine. His story offers plenty of “blush worthy” adventures but the Father doesn’t give up on anybody. As St. Augustine was beginning to feel the pull of the Father’s unfathomable love, he was curious and longed for a life that was different but he is famously quoted as saying “Oh Lord, give me chastity and continence (self-restraint) but not yet.” When I first read this I thought, “geeze Augustine, are you in or are you out?” No sooner had that thought tumbled through my brain than I thought, humm, “geeze Sheri, are you in or are you out?” Thump right to the nugget compliments of the Holy Spirit! I surprise myself often at how quickly I can sum up somebody elses “stuff” before I clearly study my own!
This quote inspired me to make a list of the physical and more importantly the spiritual stuff I keep saying “not yet” to. I think the Holy Spirit is just being bossy right now because the list is big! I told Him in prayer that my paper was full but yet stuff still keeps poppin into my head. As I was pouting about all the stuff on my spiritual “not yet” list in prayer the other day, this thought jumped right into my head…if any one of these things is getting in the way of my closeness to Christ, is it worth it? Uuuuh…NO it’s not so how do I tackle my “not yet” list. As I looked over my list, I planned to begin with a couple of smaller ones…you know, just ease myself in but one stood out on the page like it was screaming at me and it’s a doozy.
I’m gonna spill something out right here…for more than forty years I’ve had a love/hate (mostly hate) relationship with the scales. Swimsuits and zippers are two of my greatest enemies! I’ve gone from “not yet” to “all in” to “all out” more times than I can count. I’ve been motivated by vanity, pride, and even a skewed notion that God would love me more the smaller the number. There has been guilt, shame, embarrassment, disappointment and 32 dozen other ridiculous emotions and notions. St. Augustine’s quote helped me realize it wasn’t about a size or a bag of Ruffles but a discovery of the root and God’s why. Augustine’s journey points to the fact that our spiritual “not yet” is keeping us at arms length (or further) from the Father’s love. If we run to the “thing” instead of running to the Father or if we use a “thing” to fill us with joy, pleasure, fun or comfort it will never last and it will never offer the satisfaction we’re looking for…only He can do that. So the question is, how do I turn to Him “now” instead of “not yet”. Here are some thoughts…
*Begin each morning with prayer asking specifically for help chipping away at ONE thing from your “not yet” list.
*Get to the root and know God’s why.
*Write down 3 things you are grateful for and focus on those things instead of focusing on how hard it’s gonna be to work on your thing. It’s a little like how a mom mixes a toddlers medicine in with applesauce. One drowns out the other and makes it easier to swallow.
*Find people and resources that have tackled your same “not yet”. As much as technology can be a pebble in my shoe, it’s a wonderful tool for finding stories and videos of people who have won the battle we’re beginning. Augustine had some big “not yet” things on his list and he sought help and support; same goes for us.
* “Not yet” happens with partial effort…”all in” requires first and foremost a desire to be closer to the one who loves us most…if you want that head into it will all your might?
*We can’t muscle our way through it…we have to ask for God’s Grace. My Grandma Thelma used to use the phrase, “But only by the Grace of God” often and man was she spot on! Good things, Godly things only happen because of His grace and it’s free…all we do is ask…there isn’t a punch card or a maximum amount. He gives it in ample supply because he wants us close and he wants us to move past “not yet”. We just have to ask for the grace to be “all in” and want Him more than the thing we’re putting in between us.
*Hope…God can turn our “not yet” into “not ever again” even if we can’t imagine how.
A Seed To Plant: Make your spiritual “not yet” list? After you make your list, sit for a few minutes and imagine what your life would be like if you didn’t have to devote thought and energy to those things again…and what would happen if we shifted all those minutes and all that energy to the Father? How very different our days would be!
Blessings on your day!
Sheri's writing can also be found at Faith Catholic Publications and on CatholicMom.com