Writer’s Block and Burnout

July 16, 2014

You may have noticed that I have not written a post in a while. It isn’t for lack of wanting. Every day I come into work, I look at my computer screen and ponder what I could write about, and every day, the page remains blank. The reason is because I’m going through a period of spiritual burnout.

There are days when this frustrates me to no end, and other days where I realize that I just have to ride the wave and know that “This, too, shall pass.” Of course, it’s easier to tell myself those things than to believe them. Times like this make me question my faith more than when things are going smoothly, and honestly, I appreciate them for what they are, even though they are difficult to go through.

It’s easy to believe in God when things are going well in my life. It’s harder to believe and hold onto hope when I’m feeling down in the dumps. But those are exactly the times when we need to do just that. And not just for us, but for others as well.

There is a quote that I love from 2 Corinthians 1:3-4: “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.” I love this quote because it shows that with all the troubles we go through, God is teaching us compassion so we can share what we learn with others who may go through the same things. How beautiful is that?

Even though things are tough right now, I’m going to try to push forward so one day I can help someone who is struggling push forward as well. What do you think? Have you had an experience that helped you help someone else? Please share!

My Best Friend is An Atheist

June 30, 2014

 

I’ve known my best friend for more than ten years. We’ve worked together, gone on vacations together, and spend nearly every weekend we can together. We like the same movies and music, and television shows and books.

 

There is one big difference, though: My friend is an atheist.

 

While we don’t sit around and talk about religion, faith and beliefs all the time, it does come up. Thankfully, we both listen to each other respectfully—if we didn’t, we wouldn’t last long as best friends.

 

I do know, however, that sometimes I will get questions from her that I don’t have the answers to—questions such as how God could allow evil in the world, for instance.

 

Our differences in a very real way help me to examine my faith more deeply. When she asks me questions I don’t have the answers to it makes me think about why I believe what I do that much more.

 

I hope in some way my faith makes a positive impact on her as well. I pray for her like I do for all my friends, atheist, Jewish, Catholic and other religions. Is my friendship with her different than my friendship with, say, my spiritual Catholic friend? Absolutely, but different doesn’t mean bad or lesser.    

 

Henri Nouwen wrote in “Out of Solitude,” “When we honestly ask ourselves which person in our lives mean the most to us, we often find that it is those who, instead of giving advice, solutions, or cures, have chosen rather to share our pain and touch our wounds with a warm and tender hand. The friend who can be silent with us in a moment of despair or confusion, who can stay with us in an hour of grief and bereavement, who can tolerate not knowing, not curing, not healing and face with us the reality of our powerlessness, that is a friend who cares.”

 

How do you feel about having friends with different beliefs? Do you find it difficult at times? 

Thank You, Readers

June 25, 2014

 

“Footprints on the Journey” won second place in the category for “Best Online Blog-Individual” from the Catholic Press Association at an awards dinner held in North Carolina June 20.

 

photo

 

I wanted to thank you all for visiting this blog and sharing your own faith journey with me through your continual reading and comments.

 

When I think about my own faith journey, a quote from “The Lord of the Rings” comes to mind. J.R.R. Tolkien writes, “It’s a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there’s no knowing where you might be swept off to.”

 

In many ways this blog keeps me grounded in my faith, and for that I am grateful to you, dear readers, as well. The more I write, the more I grow in my faith. I hope that all of you on the other side of this screen feel that these posts help you as well.

 

Let’s keep going and, like Tolkien says, who knows where we might end up!

 

Thank you again for reading.

Singing a New Song

June 18, 2014

 

There is a great song that’s been out for a while now by the band Avicii called “Wake Me Up.” I love the beat of the song and the lyrics. However, there is one part of the chorus that sounds good, but I don’t know if I would want to live that way. The lyrics say, “Wake me up when it’s all over. When I’m wiser and I’m older.”

 

Sounds like a good deal in some respects, right? To wake up whenever hardships, disappointments, rejections, illnesses and troubles are over? I thought so. At least at first. Then I realized that it is those moments that really form our identities as a person, and I wouldn’t want to give them up, even though they are so difficult to get through.

 

St. Paul talks about this in 2 Corinthians 1:4 when he says, “He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us.” How beautiful is that? Sure, no one asks for troubles to be given to them, but with them sometimes come great blessings…like personal courage and empathy for others, for example.

 

I’m still going to sing along when this song is played on the radio because I love it, but for me, at least, I’m going to try to be awake through all that life has to offer…good and bad and in between.

 

Has there been a song that you identify with in some way? Please share!

Trying to Believe

June 16, 2014

Do you ever find a particular Bible verse floating through your head? Today, I’ve had the quote: “Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!” (Mk 9:24) rolling around in my head, always coming back to the front of my mind.

 

I find the quote itself confusing, and have spent a great deal of time thinking about why I would be focusing on this particular saying. I find myself asking a lot of questions from this one sentence…that comes from the mouth of a father whose son is possessed by unclean spirits. He tells Jesus (basically knowing that Jesus can get the spirits out of his child), “Lord, I believe; help my unbelief.”

 

How could he say such two dynamically opposite things?   How can he believe and yet not believe at the same time?

 

But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that this is how my faith goes as well. There are days where I can feel God’s presence in my life so much it’s as if I was wrapped up in it. Then there are other days where God feels so far away it becomes hard to pray, to believe, to have faith. I know that those are the days that I need God the most.

 

I think this is a beautiful prayer to say when faced with doubt or uncertainty in life. It shows that we are human, and that we can both believe in God, and yet, at the same time, feel incredulous or unsure about Him. I know that I do, especially when I feel uncertain about the way my life is going.

 

I hope that when those times do come, this quote comes back to my mind. Have you had a particular Bible verse in your head at any point in your life? Please share. 

Lost and Found

June 13, 2014

During the homily at morning Mass at St. John the Evangelist, the priest there spoke of the saint for today—St. Anthony. He noted that although St. Anthony is known as the finder of lost things, there is so much more to the life of this man.

 

The priest retold how St. Anthony found himself at various points in his life thinking he was going to do one thing, only to be turned around and placed in another direction by God. In one instance, even, his boat was redirected and he landed in Italy instead of his intended destination. The priest said that in all instances, St. Anthony listened to the “still, small voice” of God. I thought about what the life of St. Anthony could teach me about my own life.

 

Sometimes, in my life, I have found that my direction had changed from where I thought I was going as well. The priest this morning said that what we can learn from St. Anthony is to let go of those things that are not that important so that we can find the things that truly matter in our life. When I heard that, it felt as if God had spoken directly to me and punched me in my heart as if to wake me up.

 

At this moment, my family house—the house where I lived for most of my life, and the house where my father had died—has been sold.

house

What once was a permanent fixture in my life is no more. But St. Anthony teaches us through his life that it is not where we find ourselves that is important; it’s what we do wherever we are. He shows us that one thing always remains constant—God. No matter where we are, we can bring the faith “home” by living it out in our lives.

 

Have you ever found yourself having to let go of a person, place or thing that you never thought you’d have to? Please share as it might help others who are going through a similar situation.

Reflections on Collections

June 10, 2014

I like to collect things. I have, for instance, collections of cards of all the baseball team mascots, a collection of different printings and versions of the book “Alice in Wonderland,” and other such things.

 

There is a certain rush of excitement when I find and purchase another item for my collection. It makes me feel like a child again—back when I would collect toys, stickers, comics and trading cards. Right now, I am in the process of collecting stickers for a World Cup album. I love the sound of opening the pack of stickers, and going through them one by one, matching people with their places in the book. It’s a simple joy.

 

But I know that this is not lasting joy. I know that these are just moments in life that bring me happiness but they are not the end-all or be-all of my existence. I don’t live to collect stickers. What I do live for is to possess another kind of happiness—that can only be found in the hope and joy of faith.

 

Sure, faith isn’t something that I can collect and put on my shelf and take out from time to time when I want to look at it. I am not a theologian, but I think that faith is instead something that you build upon as you go through life. And I am pretty sure that faith is the only thing that can fulfill our deepest desires. In “Mere Christianity” C.S. Lewis wrote, “If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world.”

 

Do you have any collections you are particularly proud of? Please share!

Peace Be With You

June 6, 2014

 

I looked up the readings for this Sunday, which is Pentecost Sunday, because I like the story of Jesus entering the locked room where the disciples are staying. I think it’s a great image of the awesomeness of Jesus to be able to bypass all obstacles that may be in the way.

 

This was the first time in all my years reading the Biblical story that I realized Jesus says, “Peace be with you” to the disciples twice. Curious, I looked up some different meanings of the word peace in the dictionary. Two descriptions jumped out on me. Although I am not a linguist or a theologian, I thought I would share what I found with you.

 

According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary peace can mean “a state of tranquility or quiet” and it can also be used as a “to ask for silence or calm or as a greeting or farewell.”

 

I thought both were fitting for the scenario in which Jesus uses the word peace. The disciples were probably scared because Jesus was no longer with them. So for Jesus to tell them to be tranquil makes sense to me. It also makes sense that he would tell them to be quiet. Can you imagine a bunch of fishermen in a room together? I’m sure the noise level was quite high. So when Jesus says peace, it could also mean that he wanted to greet them and also ask them to be quiet so he could then say what he has to about the Holy Spirit.

 

I will never know for sure what exactly Jesus meant when he said to his disciples “peace be with you,” but I do know that in my own life, I am going to try to be more aware of when Jesus wants me to be still and listen to him, calmly and with peace, and try to keep the door to my soul open for him to enter.

Here Comes the Sun

June 5, 2014

 

My walk to work this morning was an abysmal endeavor—the rain was pouring down, the streets were full of puddles, and I forgot my umbrella at home. Needless to say, when my day started, I was wet, cold and miserable.

 

I sat at my desk and combed some of the rainwater out of my hair and hoped that my pants and shoes would dry out soon. As I looked out the window of the 17th floor of my building, I took in the image of a gray, dull sky. My mood matched. But then a funny thing happened. As I started to get into my work, I forgot about my waterlogged clothes and focused on things that were more important—namely, the tasks at hand. I had a job to do, so I got to it even though I was so miserable I didn’t want to do anything.  

 

Later on in the day, the sun came out and dried up all the rain and at the same time it lifted my spirits even more.

 

I was reminded that nasty weather can’t last forever. The same is true in life. When tragedy, obstacles, sickness or the death of a loved one comes about, it can seem as if you’re saturated with sadness and frustration. That’s how I felt this morning. I felt as if the day couldn’t get any better. But I was wrong. Once I took myself out of my own misery and focused on things outside of myself, my day gradually improved.

 

The same is true for our spiritual life when we take the focus away from what is wrong in our lives and focus on the blessings.

 

I think that was a good lesson for me. I often see nothing but the raindrops of my life, so much so that I miss everything else that is going on. I admit it, it makes me a bit self absorbed. St. Paul wrote about this sort of thing when he said, “So I say, let the Holy Spirit guide your lives. Then you won’t be doing what your sinful nature craves” (Galatians 5:16). Sometimes I feel as if my nature generally tends toward the miserable. Perhaps the same is true for you.

 

But that’s not how God wants us to live. He wants us to be happy, and hopeful, and full of joy. 

Picking Up Faith

May 27, 2014

My husband and I brought our car up to the valet at the hospital last week for a routine appointment I had there for my stomach. We dropped the car off as usual, but when we went to pick it up, we got a lot more than our car back.

 

The valet told us that he liked the music we had playing in the car, which happened to be Christian rock. He asked us what it was, so I told him that it was the Christian rock station. He had never heard of it, and was happy to find out that such a station existed. We talked for a few minutes more about Jesus. He shared with us that he was going to see the Christian television speaker and author Joel Osteen in a few weeks. We shared our own faith with him and you could see the excitement in his eyes to have met us, even if it was just for a moment. I could feel the excitement on my face too.

 

The whole experience lifted me up. I realized that for me, the valet made me love my own faith and want to share it. I don’t know if he was Catholic or another denomination, but because he was so open with his love of Jesus, it made me feel the love of Jesus even more. I was completely reinvigorated in my faith after the conversation.

 

As my husband and I drove home, with the music still playing, we talked about how Jesus is all around us and He can especially be found in others.

 

Have you encountered someone who shared his or her faith with you in an unlikely or unexpected circumstance or place? Please share!

 


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 401 other followers

%d bloggers like this: