Over and over again, Shauna Niequist nails it. This time, it was her post Less. Do yourself a favorite and go read it, immediately.
Did you read it?
Good. Glad you're back.
What I love about Shauna Niequiest and her writing is in the most eloquent, yet simple way, she speaks words that are vulnerable, beautiful, and exactly what I need to hear.
My theme this year has been More Jesus, Less Stuff. And as we enter the halfway point of June, I think it's time to evaluate my progress.
I gave up TV for lent because I wanted more space for community and for Jesus. Instead what I allowed to creep in that space was a gaping loneliness, that left me lying in bed alone, fighting back tears of isolation while I was with other people, and a lingering sadness that would hiss lies in my ear about being unloved and uncared for.
I am used to a full life. In college, I scheduled myself 24-hours a day with class, activities, events to plan, people to see, and meetings (on meetings on meetings) to attend. As a missionary, I ran around conforming my schedule to be present in the lives of 8+ women on a weekly basis, and trying to have a fulfilling team life with relationships with 9 other missionaries and their families.
And now, when I am living in the wake of "less stuff," I see how this emptiness and dark can be unbearable. It seems that I have run full speed ahead with "Less Stuff," but have forgotten to fill it with "More Jesus."
And somehow, in the midst of all this, I remember a phrase that has stuck with me since Christine shared it on our 11PM drive from Ft. Myers to Ave Maria whilst taking a Divergent Factions Placement quiz (in case you are wondering, I am Amity & Christine is DIVERGENT!!!): Everything is God's Mercy.
I believe that everything is within God's will. Yet somewhere along the road the connotation of that phrase was twisted in my heart to picture an angry, heartless God forcing me to feel miserable for a little bit because it pleased Him. The idea of God's will being a part of His Divine Mercy somehow sits better with my heart.
Mercy allows me to see the other things He is protecting me from. Mercy allows me to see Him constantly calling out to me, doing everything He can to keep me on the path that leads to Him. Mercy inspires me to crawl out of the confessional, dust myself off, and to start again.
As I am remembering that everything is God's Mercy, and that I need to focus more on putting "More Jesus" into my life, I am already down here at FOCUS Summer Training for a full month where I am being presented with the opportunity to choose "More Jesus" at every moment. Whether that's attending prayer and scripture classes in my spare time, choosing kindness in my meetings and management style, or choosing daily Mass & prayer, the opportunities for "More Jesus" are readily available. Everything is God's Mercy. He knows what He's doing.
Never would I have chosen a season of emptiness and loneliness, but because that has been my year, I now get to choose to return to Him in a way is real and relevant to our relationship. And who knows what's down the road - maybe this season of less will be a way my heart has been prepared to minister to others, or maybe it will propel me deeper into my relationship with Christ.
So as Shauna continues along in her season of less, I will enter into a season of More (Jesus), all the while remembering every moment of my day is His Mercy.