Friday, September 9, 2016

Everyday Reminders of What Matters Most

"But do you love God most?" my priest asked me.

"Yes," I replied quickly and the conversation moved on. 

Yet, the question rattled around in my mind. The answer felt too automatic - just giving what I knew was the right answer. The conversation was related to family and God, specifically Abraham's test (Genesis 22:1-13) that had always left me feeling unsettled. Feeling so full of love for my girls, it was hard to fathom how Abraham would be able to kill his own son. Although that day my priest helped me to see that Biblical narrative from a new lens finally bringing a sense of peace with it, his question and my response stuck with me.  

It was at that time that I realized as a 34 year old, I had not given proper focus to one of the most fundamental aspects of life. I started to reflect what does it look like to love God most? Coincidentally, from the start of the year with core as my one little word, I had been focusing on a desire to intentionally align my life to God's will after feeling like my career was consuming too much of my time and energy, leaving me feeling like I was drowning. This layered in perfectly, as the more I learned about God's will, the more I was learning about loving God most. 

This summer, I sat in Confession hearing the advice "if you love God most..." The concept had cycled back through at a different point in my life with a different overall context prompting me to once again draw my attention to the thought, what does it look like to love God most? Separated by a year, with many other moments and pieces of advice in between, I am grateful for my priest continually helping me to process implications for my life as I try to navigate the journey to putting God in the rightful place in my life, the core.

Though initially it felt like shifting my priorities to focus on my Catholic faith was making everything else that I had struggled with for so long related to career-family balance fall into place, it eventually started to feel messy. I had not been expecting conflicts in trying to decide whether I was on track or not with certain areas. I thought I would just know whether or not certain aspects were God's will for me, rather than needing to patiently wait for different aspects to unfold. However, with time I have seen that bit by bit, pieces seem to be untangled as the concept of loving God most helps me to do the next thing.  

Sometimes it is nice to have external reminders that catch our attention during our day to day lives to remind us of what matters most, of who we want to be. Aside from my family photo timeline, I appreciate the underlying meaning behind my rings. I've never been one to be too attached to jewelry or to own many pieces of jewelry. As a matter of fact, I have probably gone more of my married life without wearing my engagement or wedding rings than I have worn them. However, throughout time there have been some rings and necklaces that have special significance that I wear every day, rarely taking them off. 

Last year my priest's rosary ring caught my attention. It resonated with me in relation to my one little word core and knowing that loving God most was vital. Originally, I thought it was only something that priests and religious would wear, but when I mentioned it one time, he let me know that many lay people wear them in India. That sparked my idea to get one and I decided on wearing it with my wedding band. Both are on my ring finger, the place of commitment, but the rosary ring is strategically closer to my heart. Yet, it is right next to my wedding band reminding me to keep God at the core and that as a married woman, living my vocation as a wife and mother well should be at the center of my life.

Because it impacted my ring finger, I talked to my husband about it, seeing how he felt about it. After some months of wearing it, he asked again about the significance. As I told him, I mentioned the intent, along with the reality that just because it is there and something I visibly see multiple times a day, doesn't mean I will be perfect at it. Rather, it prompts me to reflect again and again about those celebrations and areas for growth.

Dear Lord Jesus, Thank you for the visible reminders in my life to draw me back to You, as well as the people who have nurtured my faith development. Please help me to have the strength to navigate the uncertainties in my journey to aligning my life to Your will and to living out my role as wife and mom to help my family with the overall purpose of eternal life. 

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