The move to Chicago has been, to put it mildly, stressful. The months before were full of doubts, tears and fears. Many times I felt lost and as if I had made a BIG mistake. Pre-move, when people asked me about the move, "Are you excited?", or asserted "I bet you are so excited! You are probably ready to be there already!", I would smile and nod as my eyes gave away my true feeling. Terrified.
Since getting here, each day has brought new blessings from friendly doormen, to new jobs and Chickfilla! PTL!
I want to back up a bit...
Back in May on the return car ride from NOLA, a friend wanted to play a psychology question game. He asked a series of questions, one of which was " describe my favorite place. Where would I want to live? and why?"
That was a tricky question because I love to travel and I really just can not see myself settling one place, at least not yet. I answered that I would like to live at Lake Lure, NC (where Dirty Dancing was filmed!) because it was beautiful, and peaceful. I had sentimental feelings about it from a family wedding years past but had not been in a long time.
My friend said that Lake Lure and all of my accompanying feelings represented my relationship with God, that I felt sentimentally about it and it was a place of comfort, but I had not been in a long time. Those words rang true and it haunted me the rest of the summer. Honestly, I still have a hard time writing it now because the truth is scary, broken and imperfect. I really had not been in a comfortable relationship with the Lord in a while, I was treating our relationship like a distant but cherished memory.
About two weeks ago, I decided that I had to stop waiting for a spiritual high to find me, instead I needed to begin trekking up the mountain. I began to pray with a goal to bring back this daily habit that I had forgotten. I wanted to be in a real, and present relationship with my Father after year of letting Him get lost in the shuffle that was undergraduate student life.
Today I read a chapter of The Church of Mercy by Pope Francis called "Be Guided by the Spirit." The title caught my eye when flipping around and I was hoping to find some insight. Maybe a step by step guide to life? That would be nice, right? Pope Francis begins by telling us that we live in a world skeptical of truth. We hear this everyday as people worry about religion, politics and events, not able to stand strongly on one platform, but rather being swayed by the currents of society. We worry about personal, daily questions as well: what job? who to date? where to live? what should I order at this restaurant? But if the answer bit us or tattooed itself across our arms, we would still be skeptical. We are weak and full of doubt.
But we should not be because the Lord "will guide you into all the truth" (John 16:13), since he himself is "the Spirit of the Truth" (John 14:17). Weekly, many churches recite the apostles creed like little drones. I am reminded of this creed as I read the Popes scriptural references, "Jesus is The Way, The Truth and The Light..." Wow perhaps instead of going through the motions I should take those rituals through deep consideration.
Pope Francis goes onto say that to recognize this Truth we must be led by the Spirit. I learned a new word; Jesus describes the Holy Spirit as a Paraclete.
Jesus promised the Holy Spirit to his disciples (and us!), to help them and guide them. The Holy Spirit will guide us "into all the truth" (John 16:13 again); " not only does He guide us to encounter with Jesus, the fullness of the Truth, but He also guides us "into" the Truth- that is, he makes us enter into an ever-deeper communion with Jesus, giving us knowledge of all things of God. And we can NOT achieve this by our own efforts." (Francis, pg. 44)
Wow, just wow.
This is where I had gone off track. I was lost because I could not find the Truth without the Holy Spirit. Pope Francis ends with a reminder for everyone to pray daily. He wanted his readers to ask themselves if they have really taken steps to know Christ and the Truth? Are we open to the Holy Spirit? What steps our we taking to "ensure the faith governs the whole of our existence?"
The Whole of Our Existence.
Our Whole Self.
This is beyond my comprehension. Just try to think for a second how powerful the Lords calling on our lives would be, how loud and clear it would be, if we listened and sought with Our Whole Self.
When I look back at dessert times, lost and grey, I see my priorities. God was a Sunday thing and a work thing. I did church a lot because it was my job and I felt like I was supposed to be there. On Sundays I go to Church. On Wednesdays I wear pink. The Lord did not get my whole self. I was divided between school, social life, entertainment, commitment, plus that search for "true love" that every good southern church-goin' girl is gripped by.
Yesterday, I was listening to a podcast by The Jealous Curator (I highly recommend *****). She was interviewing an artist and art professor named Mark Bradley-Shoup. He said that his recommendation for all of his students upon graduation was to literally schedule time for their studio work. You must carve time away to work in studio or it will get lost in the shuffle of crazy life and your art will suffer or even cease.
I began thinking about my relationship with God in this way. I needed to make it a vital part of my week. But He is even more important than my studio practice, so really He should be everyday. But really, one step further, Christ wants Our Whole Self, so we should be praying continually. Think "Constant Contact" and how you get so many ridiculous emails and reminders about emails (not saying your prayers our ridiculous...).
I want to end this never ending post, (I hope you read it to the end and did not give up half way. I would have given up half way...) with this thought. Jesus says that if you knock repeatedly the door will be opened to you (Matthew 7:7, Luke 11:5-10), but you must get out of your own little apartment cubby-hole world to knock on that door!