Finding my Joy….

Sometimes you are traveling along a road, and you can see clearly ahead of you. You know exactly where you are going. You planned it and you had everything you needed. And then God hits you with a 2 x 4! He slams that doorway so fast, you are literally knocked down.

closeddoors

And that is when He is telling you to seek your Joy elsewhere. And it can take your breath away. You had presumed and assumed so much about what was going to be. What your expectations were. What you had worked towards. What your heart told you that you were called to pursue. Except that God had to show you in a concrete way that your idea, your expectations, your dreams, were not His dreams for you.

The plans I have for you

And so it has become for me. I had an idea of what my future was, where my Joy was to be found. But God had other ideas for me. His plans are far greater and far above what I could even imagine for myself. And He is calling me to pull myself out of this place I was in, to place before me new avenues. New people. New places. Things to discover where I will be better fulfilled and find more, and consistent, Joy. And even though I really hate this trite saying, it does fit: “It’s time to think outside of the box.”  We all place ourselves in a comfortable box. We know the edges of our box. We know where the top will be, and we know where we began, or the bottom of our box. We are in our safety zone. But the Lord calls us to stretch. He wants us to become the best of our potential. And so I am in the process of throwing out my box and being free enough to see that I have so much more available to me; and so much more that I am capable of.

Livingforothers

And I appreciate that oftentimes we get so caught up in pushing forward, pushing ourselves into places we were not meant to be (because it fit into our idea of where we were headed) that we could not be our best self. We could not flourish. We could not find our true Joy, because we were not walking in the Will of God, but were exerting our will into this life. God granted us all free will and it is one of the hardest things to control. To subsume our Will to His Will for us. Subsume is a great word in itself. Knowing that something is being absorbed into something else wholly and perfectly. When we connect with the Will of God in such a way that we are in perfect concert. Somehow you know the decisions you are making are the right ones. He speaks in a whisper and we hear Him.

Godspurpose

And so my pathway has altered greatly. My days and weeks have been changed. My conversations have changed. The things I put into my mouth are changing. The things I use on my body and in my home are changing. The people I associate with are changing. But I am not despondent – I am excited. I am looking forward, in obedience to God’s purposes for me, and I am starting to enjoy this new adventure; this is a process and a journey. I am still learning, still growing and I am not looking back, missing what was or what I thought I was supposed to be doing, but solely moving forward, finding my Joy in new and unexpected places. I am blessed.

finding joygraphic

“…He’s trying to change your heart.”

God is changing your heart

Very introspective today.  Life is just not going smoothly.  And it is not just for us; many of our friends and contemporaries are suffering in many ways, as well.  Today there was a bloodless coup in Egypt.  I have no idea where that situation is going.  Meanwhile we have Syria, who allowed the anarchists to behead a Catholic priest along with two others.  And for whatever reason (something I just do not understand) our country is backing those rebels.  There is unrest here in the USA over our economy, the healthcare plan being forced upon us, and the issues of choice versus pro life.  On and on it goes.  There seems to be no relief in sight.  Recently, I read this little piece online from an Orthodox blogger who stated that as they were incensing their house, their daughter explained to her mom why she avoided the TV set.  She said, “Because of that evil man sitting on top of it.”  The mom agreed that indeed, Satan enters our homes through the TV in oh so many ways.

Don't compare

We are pushed to compare ourselves to those around us. Even though I used the above graphic in my last blog post, it keeps coming up.  People say they are better people of faith because they do this or that, or they do not do this or that.  We need to look to Christ, the reason we proclaim a life of faith in the first place.  The Lord Himself proclaimed to us that He did not come to bring peace; He did not come to unite, but rather to divide. (“Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword.”  Matthew 10:34).

And boy oh boy, do we have divisions!!  There are eastern-rite Christians; there are Latin Rite Christians.  There are Protestants, and Jewish, and Islamic believers.  There are Budhists and Zoarastrians.  There are Republicans and Democrats.  There are also Tea Party members who claim neither political party.  There are law-abiders, and law-breakers.  We have earners and takers in financial realms.  We have givers and takers across all areas of division.  We have that theory of 10% in everything.  What theory?  It says that in almost every organization – schools, companies, cultures, churches, families, groups of friends…that about 10% of that particular group does all the work.  All the work to keep the group intact and functional.  In our country, that 10% is very wealthy, with 90% doing the direct labor, or no labor at all.  There are those in our churches and parishes who are always around, doing everything.  They clean the hall, they mow the lawn, they work in the kitchen, sweep the sanctuary, attend and perhaps even plan, all the events.  Those 10% are the people who always vote; who help out in local politics, who volunteer at organizations across the country.

All of this brings me to the above graphic of comparison…we need to stop comparing and start appreciating.  I understand that some things people do or are involved in are not appreciated (people who bomb to make a point; people who kill or steal, or otherwise harm others…the list is long).  I understand that some belief systems will, and do, clash.  Islam and Christianity have been clashing for centuries and will continue to do so.  The haves and have nots will continue to clash.  Bread lines may start again and those who have may need to assist those who have not.  Witness Egypt today where millions took to the streets to clash with their government.  I understand and know that we cannot appreciate everything; conflict is inevitable.  I am guilty of conflict myself, when my baser instincts take over my better self.  And I seek forgiveness for that all the time.  That being said, I am also pensive and introspective today about all this conflict.  I am digging deeper to try and find that sweet spot of peace I once held so closely. I am clinging to the edge of a chasm of despair.  But the despair is not one of faith; I know God has my back.  It’s all this around me, crashing down on me.  I know that to give in is to admit defeat.  But once in awhile, even the steadfast need a break.

DidacheGod has my back and I know the struggles I have are all from my choices and decisions in life, but are all allowed through Him and His will for my life.  I also think that my grasp is beginning to weaken, and that rope I am clinging to is running out of space to cling.  And still my heart sings when I pray.  When I hear my grandson’s joyous and infectious giggles or when I see the twinkle in my grand daughter’s eye, or when I feel the life of my grand-daughter-in-utero wiggle, I weep with joy.  God has blessed us with an incredible family and incredible life.  It has come down to about as basic a life as it can get. The only way things could be less would be to be homeless.  And when you get down to the nitty-gritty, the basics of life; when the only direction you can go is up, perspective is an interesting component of life.  I look up – the only direction left to me – and I see God.  He is smiling.  He is waiting.  He is there.  For some unfathomable reason at this time in my life, we are all waiting, almost holding our collective breath.  We are waiting for that break, for that one thing to happen that will change all of this.

Breathe todayAs our pastor used to tell us, “You are not guaranteed your next breath.”  Oh Abouna, how right you are!  So today, even though it feels like Chicken Little is running around yelling about the sky falling, I am breathing.  So I am blessed.  And today, even though I swept and mopped floors, the most exciting thing I have accomplished all day, is that I was allowed to breathe.  So I will count my blessings and hang on for another day, breathing one moment to the next, waiting with My Lord, for things to fall into place, just as He has planned for me.  (Inhale) Jesus son of God, (exhale) have mercy on me, a sinner.

Gods plan

“…a whisper of the Divine….”

Warriors of Christ fite best on kneesI love this photo.  Roughly translated it means that the “Warriors of Christ fight best on their knees.”  What a thought!  Someone commented that there is a lot of black in their vestments.  Yes, there is.  But it is worn as a sign of mourning or sadness, during Lent.  And I love how beautiful the entire thing looks.  I long to be there…instead of….

My house!  I am decidedly going crazy right now, with the hectic pace of our moving looming over everything.  My husband has 5 or so days left on his job, then we seriously pack up and move.  We have one room upstairs almost totally empty; our poor son has no dresser or night stand in his room, and his bed is going soon, too.  We have odds and ends to be rid of and we are all about cleaning out to the bare bones.  The hectic, chaotic mess of a house torn apart, well, it really gets to me. I did not realize how much I like having everything in its place. Not necessarily white-glove clean, but neat.  Having to step around and over things is getting to me.  Right now, all my dishes (and I mean all) are on our counter top, waiting to be packed or sold.  I cannot move in my kitchen.  The bathrooms are great, so that is a place to hide away! Ha-Ha!  My office is in total chaos and I still have to either pack or burn all the papers in there.  We are trying to get rid of a large oak roll-top desk, so I need to empty it.  So much in process; much done, but oh so much left to do!

And I find myself looking for solace and peace.  The opening post photo is exemplary of what I need to be doing…fighting this battle on my knees.  All of this is in God’s hands and I need to stop taking it back from him. Surrendering in prayer is what I need more of, not struggling with these things I need to pack, choices I need to make, and space bags to fill and flatten.  I am not disposing myself to complete surrender, to just sit and wiggle my nose like Jeannie on the old TV show, and expect that everything will magically be packed and we will be on our way.  It is more of a surrender to the Will of God in all things.  This move included.  All things.

Elder Sophrony1Spending a few moments in prayer is worth all the chaos that may arise because of being absent to the chronos of life, and spending some kairos time with God.   And those moments when you hear “a whisper of the Divine is glory beyond compare to all the content of a life lived apart from God.” This momentary interruption to having things in their place, and the quiet and contentment of living in your home where you feel like it is your place of solace, are all worth living in the light of God’s Will for us.  Life is not about those years we engrave on our tombstones, but rather about the life in between those dates.  A little chaos now and then makes the peace that much more sublime and rich.  And as my kids keep reminding me, “Keep your eye on the prize.”  Today, I am living that…God’s truly got this!