Sunday, November 27, 2016

Thanksgiving, Advent... and making room to notice God

I've been feeling overwhelmed this school year in so many ways. I added one new prep, which shouldn't have been that much more work, but I also revamped how I was teaching my classes this year. So much that now I'm scarcely doing what I started and trying to bridge back with the old and meld the two together. The kids are learning... but I'm struggling because it's not how I wanted class to go this year. 

I'm also struggling with my schedule to get to church as often as I was able to in the past. Oddly enough, I knew that would be the case one of these days. Everyday for the last few years when I didn't feel like rolling out of bed early enough to make it to mass, or wanted to head home after school instead of to the church to pray and stay for mass, I heard a quiet voice in my head saying "what's your excuse? You have an opportunity now you might not always have... make the most of it." And so I did, 99% of the time. I'd go an spend my quiet time in God's presence... sometimes talking to Him but usually just sitting in the silence. And I would leave feeling recharged. Or I would battle the entire time to stay awake, but would keep battling.

That's the real problem right now. I don't feel like I'm "staying awake" in my spiritual life. Over the last year, I went from being able to go to adoration once a week and Mass 5 or 6 days a week to no adoration and usually just Sunday Mass. And I've been struggling with that. 

But the struggle has made me realize several things. Firstly, I've realized I was relying way too much on my "actions" and these special gifts, and not focusing on the hard work of really focusing on learning to converse and spend time with God. 

It's hard to focus on Him when I'm feeling tired and not receiving the spiritual consolations I had apparently growing on. But that's the thing. They weren't meant to supplant my faith, but to strengthen it and give it the firm foundation from which to grow.

I've felt a few times this year like at work I'm as stressed as I was my first year. I also feel like I'm battling with very routine, basic and small spiritual issues.  Like that super basic thing of putting my heart in God's hands and giving myself to Him each day.

I've been blessed the last couple weeks with sermons calling me out of this lukewarmness I'm finding myself trapped in. So Advent this year is a time for me to do just that. Which is why I'm trying to fast from a variety of distractions... to make space for me to notice God's presence more deeply.

Hopefully then this Christmas I can greet Him with a heart more full of love. More eager to please Him. And most importantly this year, one that better recognizes Him in my daily life, outside the walls of the church.

Advent is a time of preparation. So, for me that means eliminating those things I've been using to distract myself from God. So I'll be giving up my favorite foods... so that I can thank Him better for the gift of life and honor the gift of my health. And I'll be giving up staying late.. so I can rise each morning to thank Him for a night of rest and the start of another blessed day, and be well rested to greet my students each day and do my best to serve Him through my work. And I'll be giving up Facebook... so that I can thank Him for the gifts of so many dear ones in my life, and so that I can focus on them more deeply. 

Come, Emmanuel. Help me ready my heart to receive You.

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