What Stops You From Letting Your Light Shine?

I had the pleasure of reading a book recently by Matthew Kelly, entitled Resisting Happiness. We attended Mass at my mom’s parish after Christmas and it was handed out there. It was excellent! I highly recommend it and I am quite certain that I will refer to it in future blog posts. The book really spoke to me, because I recognize that I give into resistance a lot. I suppose that is why I haven’t posted on this blog since August!

I have things I would like to write about. I know that those things have the potential to help or encourage other people. Yet, I busy myself with so many other things. It’s not that those things aren’t important. Some are – but some aren’t.

Here’s the thing though. I have spent most of my life running from or resisting God – and that holds me back from being the person God created me to be. I do not resist out of lack of love for Him – I do love Him! I don’t resist because I doubt his existence –I know He does. Not even because I think I am better off without Him – I know that I am not.

For years, I resisted his gentle pursuit because I didn’t truly believe in depths of His love and mercy. I  didn’t feel worthy and I was afraid to trust Him with everything. I also didn’t understand how He lavishes grace upon grace (JN 1:16) and allows the Holy Spirit to work through those who call upon Him. It wasn’t until I started reading and meditating on scripture – those God breathed words – that I began to understand a bit more  and to rest in His promises. I began to realize that I don’t always have to know where I am going, because the Lord is in all my days. Also, “God doesn’t call the qualified, he qualifies the called”.

In Chapter 32 of Resisting Happiness, Kelly asks

Are you letting your light shine?

I like to think that I do. I try to always greet people with a smile and to be kind, supportive, and positive. I try to use my knowledge and talents to glorify God. This is not something I have always done, but I really try to think about what I am spending my time doing and make sure that most of what I do aligns with what God asks of me.

Except…except this blog and my writing. Not so much my personal journal writing or the writing I do for my clients – but I know God is calling me to more. So what is stopping me from writing those books I have been thinking about? What stops me from producing the tools I know can help Catholic families connect and strengthen their faith and knowledge? What stops me from writing the many blog post ideas that I have?

Matthew Kelly tells us that God created us to let our light shine and that resistance doesn’t want that to happen. Resistance doesn’t want us to share the light of Christ with others through things we do or say.

I started thinking about this. What stops me from letting my light shine?

I determined that it comes down to a few things. Maybe you can relate.

Fear of Failure

What if I spend all this time on something and I pour myself into it and no one likes it. No one notices it. It doesn’t help even one single soul.

Fear of Rejection

What if I create something and it is met with criticism? What if it isn’t as helpful as I think it will be? What if I write a book, spend hours doing the writing and research necessary, and no one wants to publish it – or read it?

Comparison

There are so many talented individuals out there creating great resources for Catholic families. Sure, I see a need or a hole my content can fill – but it will never be as good as the things I see others doing.

Here’s the thing that I am am realizing and that I must remember. Doing these things is not for me. God created me for His purpose and I have work to do. The things I want to accomplish aren’t meant to make a light shine on me.  What they are meant for, is to share the light of Christ with others. These things I am called to do are not for my glory but for the glory of the Lord. It is all to lead others to Him; who is the way, the truth, and the life. (JN14:6) If it is truly his purpose for me to do something, he will make my path straight and regardless of outcome all efforts will be used for His good.

Don’t look back. St. Paul said, “I press forward.”You and I have work to do and we must do it together. Every man, woman and child must know Jesus. God has created you with a fire, a spirit, to inflame others. You can no longer sit, waiting for something to happen. You make it happen. You’re the only one God has.

-Mother Angelica

Each one of us is here for a unique purpose. How will you use your gifts? How will you multiply God’s Grace? What is stopping you from letting your light shine?

Let Us Love and Encourage One Another!

Yesterday, while picking up a prescription for one of my boys, I overheard an exchange between a Pharmacist and a Pharmacy Tech.

As the Pharmacy Tech was looking up the prescription I needed, she turned to the pharmacist next to her and said, “So what are you doing for your birthday tomorrow? I know your husband isn’t going to do anything for you,” she chuckled, “but how about your mom or your kids are they doing anything?”

“Well, tomorrow is my kids’ end of the year baseball party, so that’s what I’m doing.” She said with a smile, “When you have kids, that’s how you spend your birthday some times.”

With a snarky snort the Pharmacy Tech said, “Yeah! When you have kids, you have no life!”

The Pharmacist paused for a moment and then replied, “I have a life! My kids are my life but I have a life”

“Yeah, your kids are your life.” said the Pharmacy Tech as she moved to the shelf to grab my prescription.

Joy Filled Catholic

Parenting is SO Much More Joyful than You Think it Is! Be positive and tell her, “Spending the day with your family sounds perfect!”

That’s what I wanted to say to the prickly pharmacy tech when she brought my prescription…but I didn’t. The exchange has been running through my mind since yesterday afternoon. I wanted to tell her that kids are a HUGE joy and she should be an encouragement instead of Ms. “Debbie Downer”! I wanted her to know that when a parent says that our kids are our life, that doesn’t mean we don’t exist anymore – our existence is transformed into something much greater.

My children are also my life! If not for them, I believe that my world would look quite different! I know I would be much more selfish and self-centered. I know, because that’s how I lived for many years. My children and my husband are helping me to become a better person.

I think about those many times when I was so tired, and one of my boys would wake in the middle of the night. I would shuffle into their room, praying as I went, for him to fall asleep quickly, so I could go back to bed. I remember so vividly rocking each of my babies back and forth, while humming a song to get them to sleep. I was forced to slow down, to be patient, and to do something for another person who was completely dependent on me.

It was amazing how the frustration and exhaustion would transform. It was still there but as soon as I looked at that sweet face in the glow of the nightlight and kiss those plump soft cheeks, I could feel myself changing! As I gazed down at my child, you might find tears streaming down my face from the mix of exhaustion and JOY.  If not for my children, I would never experience the juxtaposition of these emotions during such a precious moment.

Joy Filled Catholic

I wanted that tech to be an encouragement – but am I? Why do I sometimes assume the worst about people’s lives?

As my mind begins to marinate on the exchange I just described, I imagine that the lady (without kids, I am assuming) has a picture in her mind of how life sucking having children must be. She probably envisions kids running around wild, breaking vases, the mother screaming, while all the kids are shooting each other with silly string.

Meanwhile, I am picturing how lonely her life must be. Sitting in a darkened room that is bouncing with shadows and flashes of light created by the glow of the television. Each night, I imagine, she nestles in her recliner with a TV tray in front of her, while stroking one of her 15 cats and eating Chinese take-out straight from the box.

The truth is, when we don’t know someone’s life, we can only assume what we do not know, until we do – and even then we still don’t really know. What I mean is, that woman can’t possibly know the joy of parenting and all of the precious moments and love it provides and what it means when a parent says that their children are their life – and in turn, I don’t know how fulfilling all the activities and events she experiences without children truly are. After all, not everyone is called to marriage and family, and there can be extraordinary joy and great satisfaction in those vocations as well! I know, because I have seen it happen for people I know and love.

But do we have to know these things to love and encourage others? I don’t think so. We can love people right where they are and if being encouraging doesn’t come to us naturally, we can ask the Lord: “What can I do to be an encouragement to this person?”

So, what can I do? I can start by thinking positively about the person and their intentions, instead of assuming the worst.

Joy Filled Catholic

 

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“God Doesn’t Call the Qualified, He Qualifies the Called!”

My husband gets up early in the morning, so he is usually in bed by 9:30pm. I can’t quite get myself to go to sleep that early, but going up to bed at the same time each night is something that is important to both of us. So while he sleeps, I watch TV or try to get work done from my phone. I should probably be reading instead…I need to start doing that a lot more, actually.

Anyway, I usually turn on Food Network or HGTV. Sometimes I have shows recorded like EWTN’s The Journey Home or At Home with Jim and Joy. However, the other night I decided to turn on the Protestant television channel and up popped a familiar face. I was sure I would only watch for a few moments but the way the woman on the show spoke, really drew me in. Probably because she reminded me a lot of my husband’s Grandma, who I love. No nonsense, kind of serious but throws in some humor every now and again. Her message for the day grabbed me right away and one phrase she repeated a few times, stuck with me:

“God doesn’t call the qualified. He qualifies the called.”

I have heard this saying before, but last night it stuck with me and I started to meditate on what this means for me and my life. The woman’s message resonated with me. The topic was that we may feel very unqualified to do the work that God is calling us to do. We may be filled with the urging of the Holy Spirit, but perhaps we don’t know where to start and what we are even doing.

I feel that way a lot, which is probably why my blog gets so neglected. On one hand I feel like I don’t really have the credentials to speak about what the Church teaches and why someone should be Catholic. So I lose my confidence and just don’t write.

On the other hand, I spend a lot of time reading, doing research, listening to Catholic apologetic podcasts, etc. and I know that this desire to know and learn is building up to something. I think all the time, “I should do a post about that!” and then I don’t – but I usually write the idea down for a later date.

I mean, I know why I am Catholic. I know why I am raising my children in the faith. I have had a lot of life experience, which propels me forward and qualifies me to speak to others who are going through, or have gone through similar situations. These are the things I can be writing about. Even though it is hard for me to share those experiences, I have to remember that it could help encourage others.

For example, I am a child of divorce. While I cannot speak for every child of divorce I can share my experience and why that makes me an avid defender of life and the family. I had a father who’s battle with substance abuse finally overtook him. I also happen to be a recovering alcoholic, who just celebrated 20 years of sobriety this year. While I cannot speak for every child of a drug addict – or every recovering or active alcoholic – I can share my story of struggle and hope with others. So they can say, “Well, if she did it, through the grace of God, so can I!”

I have felt hopeless a lot in my life. I used to wonder “why” about a lot of things. Why can’t anything just be easy for me? Why can’t things go my way just for once? Why is everything such a struggle? I pray, I beg, I cry out in desperation and nothing…nothing…nothing. Does God even care what I want? Is he even listening?

Perhaps, if I had heard the stories of others like me, and how God delivered them, then maybe I wouldn’t have felt so defeated. Maybe I am supposed to be that person for someone else.

Joy Filled Catholic

Those unanswered prayers really did lead me to greater things. My mistakes have helped shape who I am and what I value and believe today. God really can bring so much beauty from the ashes. During all those dark times people came and went from my life to serve a purpose and seeds were being planted. While I sat there feeling like a 5000 piece jigsaw puzzle, completely pulled apart and mixed up, God was working to connect those pieces — and he still is.

I am thankful to now live the life I always dreamed of. Actually, it is even better than I ever dared to imagine. I feel so unworthy of these blessings but I know that I am now called to share my story and experience with others and do as Jesus instructed the Gerasene:

‘Return to your home, and declare how much God has done for you’”
– Luke 8:39

God delivered me from my “demons”, from all the things that were keeping me from hearing his call for my life. I now realize that God has qualified me to do the work he has set before me. He will continue to qualify me as I travel the path of life, so that I may do his will.

Joy Filled Catholic

Journal idea: Are there things in your life that you felt quite unqualified for, but during your journey you gained the experience necessary to qualify you? You could also make a list of the crosses you have had to carry in your life, or mistakes you have made. How has God worked through you, to turn those experiences into something that could help others?

 

 

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