Thursday, August 20, 2015

Work in Progress: On the Continuum

My spiritual life looks drastically different today than it has at any other point in my life. While my faith life was fairly strong at different points, in recent years it became more of a struggle. The closest I got to feeling like I had a strong beyond Sunday routine in recent years was when I would read my Living Faith daily reflection and then the daily readings from the light of my Kindle while pregnant with Camila. I continued the routine when she was born but then it slipped away when we moved and I started back to work.

When she was about a year old, as part of my One Little Word reflections, I wrote, "Filling out my April monthly card, I knew that the words I wanted to use to capture this point in time was feeling so busy. Then those same words caught my eyes. They were already stated in January and March. I know that February was not much different. I am realizing again and again that sense of feeling like I am drowning from time to time. Though I am getting better with the mental side of busy, today I have been feeling like the word to describe it is coping. Yet, I want to go beyond coping. [...] When life feels like this, it seems that nutrition and exercise often take the back burner as I grasp for air or dog paddle, depending on the moment."

Then about 5 months later, last September,  I wrote, "It feels like there is always one thing that if I can just get past it, I will be able to focus on [goals]. [...] And yet, I want to do so much more than just 'get through'. [...] I feel like there is so much going on, I can't focus too much on anything related to my word other than my general mindset and coping in order to minimize stress."

When Ali Edwards prompted us to write letters to ourselves in October of 2014 as part of her class, I noted, "This year has been a busy one - not unlike recent years. There always seems to be some big change or event that takes up so much time and energy. As you look forward to November and beyond, you hope for a change in the rhythms of your life. [...] You will need courage Amanda, to continue on this path of not allowing the pressure of some to overrule the decisions you have made about your own priorities."

Then that month is when it felt like so much was set into place and the momentum has built.

Realizing that evangelization is a part of my life's purpose is closely linked with a natural pull to impact the lives of others. As I think of ideas and implement different aspects here and there in implicit and explicit ways, the concept of a continuum came to mind. If someone would have told me last year that even though I felt like I was drowning, right now part of my core routines would include: re-engaging daily Bible readings and reflections at the start of the day; a daily rosary; daily Mass; and weekly adoration, I would have felt exasperated and stressed out. I probably would have been defensive, inclined to say I really didn't know how that would be possible.

Yet, here I am. So what changed? What was the catalyst? How did these different pieces click into place as the core to be prioritized, that once in place would help me to feel more at peace and provide guidance for my decisions and priorities in other aspects of my life?

Those questions provide me with a lot to untangle, but what I know for sure is, back then, I just wasn't ready yet. Instead, I was led to have a thirst for something different, something more. In the swirl of gratitude and business and reflection, I was prompted to take steps that would lay the groundwork for where I am now. I was living life experiences that would provide a rationale based on contrast so that I could value these core aspects of my life more.

Knowing what I know about my faith journey in recent years, when trying to positively impact others, I want to keep reminding myself that others are also on their own continuums. If it doesn't seem like my words and actions are prompting shifts that I would like to inspire, I will still persevere knowing that there's always a lot going on under the surface. I will remember that maybe some people just aren't quite ready yet. Maybe the foundation is building.

Today I received a letter that Matthew Kelly sent to Dynamic Catholic Ambassadors, in which he stated, "When I first got started in this ministry in the early 90s, a holy priest took me aside one day and said, 'Never get discouraged. You will only ever see 1% of the impact you have.'" These words spoke to me, reaffirming thoughts that were already swirling in my mind.

Where are you at on your own continuum? How can you honor where others are at on their continuums? How can you learn from others? How can you teach others?

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