Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Word for 2014

Do you ever choose a word to define your direction for the coming year?  Last year's word was "seek."  I did do some seeking.  Can't exactly say I did much finding, sigh.  But I have found that between the openmindedness of 2012 and the search for the truth in 2013, I have in fact learned a lot.  My opinions aren't always as simple, but they seem more honest.  With time, I have shed ideas that I just picked up by osmosis and never considered, and replaced them with a few things that I really am sure of.

When I look at my faith life, I don't feel I've made much progress.  I still am plagued by the same doubts I was a year ago.  But in one respect I've grown, and it's this: I have stopped holding back because of doubt, thinking I can't do anything until I'm more sure.  Instead I have been actively seeking truth -- and that means actual reading and praying.  I haven't been letting doubt be an excuse for apathy.  And I do feel good about that.

It didn't take me long to choose my word for 2014.  It never does -- every year I've done this, there is one word that comes straight to my mind, and there is never any other word that seems right.  When I closed my eyes and asked myself, "What is the word?" the answer was instant:


It's strange, last year was more active than previously, and I thought maybe this year I'd "close" a little more and have a word with more answers attached.  But "wait" feels right.

It first occurred to me from thinking about the kids.  The number one thing I want to do better as a mother is to yell less.  I get caught by surprise by a disaster -- oatmeal poured on the floor, milk spilled on the couch -- and before I even know what I'm doing, I'm yelling at everybody.  It's like I feel the need to react instantly.  I need to remember that unless someone is bleeding, it's always okay to wait until I am calm before trying to act.  To bite back the first two or three things that come to my mouth and wait till I have something kind to say.  So this meaning of "wait" is just about patience, being patient with my children.

But with faith as well, I think it's time to wait.  Someone pointed out (it was probably Enbrethiliel) that faith is a gift.  I got upset, because I thought, "Is the only reason I struggle to believe because God refuses to give me a gift he's given so many other people?"

Then I remembered that I am 27 years old.  I don't know how many years I will live, but God does.  I don't think he intends to leave me hanging forever.  I think he has a path in mind for me to come to him, and if I draw as close to him as I can and wait for his response, he will come to me.  All I have to do is be there, to stay where he can find me, doing my part, but without imagining it all depends on me.  God's way of finding me, my way of finding him, is unique and maybe it's going to take time.

"With an anvil-ding
     And with fire in him forge thy will
Or rather, rather then, stealing as spring
     Through him, melt him but master him still:
  Whether at once, as once at a crash Paul,
     Or as Austin, a lingering-out sweet skill,
  Make mercy out of all of us, out of us all
Mastery, but be adored, but be adored King."
                        (Gerard Manley Hopkins, of course)

The third thing that is troubling me right now is impatience.  How badly I want to have a farm.  How little progress it seems like we're making.  We can't get out of here until we've paid down our debt (or raised our income by a lot), and the progress is so slow.  It seems I'll never have my dream, not even a tiny bit of it.

But every single month, we have less debt.  It may be a tiny bit, but we are moving.  Despite all the setbacks, the car repairs and the inflation and the grocery bill that's double what we spent a few short years ago, we are making progress.  All I have to do is wait.  God willing, we'll get a raise or a better job and be able to make faster progress, but even if we don't, that debt will be gone someday.  I need to stop complaining.

Last of all, I need to deal with my worries for the future.  When I think about the future lately, I start to panic.  What if inflation really does spiral completely out of control, what will we do if John loses his job, how do I know things will be okay?  And the answer to that, too, is wait.  I can't solve tomorrow's problems today.  All I can solve (if I'm lucky) are today's problems.  Sufficient for a day is its own evil.

Do you have a word for 2014?


Thomasin said...

I just discovered your blog -- perhaps via a link on Pinterest. I've read a few entries here and there, as well as your series regarding your experiences in RC.

I just want to say how much I admire you. You're so incredibly brave and thoughtful, and goodhearted.

I have been looking for young Catholic bloggers to follow for a while (I am 25), because I am converting, but my experience hasn't been that great so far (and it's been even worse in terms of looking at forums and trying to connect to others that way). I keep thinking maybe I am going crazy. That I am wrong and bad for my thoughts, and trying to figure out how to resolve it all with my commitment to God and his Church. I just don't know. Some days I am fine; others I am sure I just do not measure up, and I need to leave : / But I desperately do not want to leave.

All this is to say, my journey is very different from yours, since I am not a cradle Catholic, but a lot of what you have said in this post (and others) about wrestling with doubt is something that resonates with me greatly.

Thanks for sharing your life. Going through all that you have written has really been cathartic for me, since my whole life seems like it has basically been one spiritual crisis after another.

Sheila said...

Thanks for commenting, Thomasin. Something I've been thinking a lot lately is that for us, as humans, to have a relationship with a divine being so very different from us, is HARD. Some people seem to have it easy, for whatever reason .... their upbringing, a naturally spiritual temperament, a gift of faith. And others have it hard. Many saints had a difficult time coming to believe, or continuing to believe. Mother Teresa suffered doubts all her life.

What I mean to say is, faith sometimes is a struggle. That doesn't make it of less value .... it may be it makes it have more value. I like to think God appreciates the way I stagger from crisis to crisis .... keeping on going because I do love him, despite how hard it all is.

I hope you find some peace ... and that I do, too. We're in this together.

Anna B said...

"For thus said the Lord GOD, the Holy One of Israel: By waiting and by calm you shall be saved, in quiet and in trust your strength lies. But this you did not wish.
"No," you said, "Upon horses we will flee." - Very well, flee! "Upon swift steeds we will ride." - Not so swift as your pursuers.
A thousand shall tremble at the threat of one; if five threaten you, you shall flee, Until you are left like a flagstaff on the mountaintop, like a flag on the hill.
Yet the LORD is waiting to show you favor, and he rises to pity you; For the LORD is a God of justice: blessed are all who wait for him!
O people of Zion, who dwell in Jerusalem, no more will you weep; He will be gracious to you when you cry out, as soon as he hears he will answer you.
The Lord will give you the bread you need and the water for which you thirst. No longer will your Teacher hide himself, but with your own eyes you shall see your Teacher,
While from behind, a voice shall sound in your ears: "This is the way; walk in it," when you would turn to the right or to the left."
(Isaiah 30:15-21)

Enbrethiliel said...


"Wait" is a good word! =) I've been delaying commenting because I'm working on a post about my own word for 2014. It's not the word I thought it would be a couple of months ago!

Heather C. said...

Thanks for writing a post about your word for this year. I remember you introducing me to the concept last year and it was a refreshing one.

This year, my word is "patience," which I suppose is a form of "wait." I'd also like to "do," as a partner word. I'll have to write up a post of my own about all this. It's nice to be reminded that other people, many of whom are close to me, such as yourself, are also on their own journeys. It's comforting!

On another note, this post made me think of these words from Rainier Marie Rilke:

"Be patient toward all that is unsolved
in your heart and...
try to love the questions themselves....
Do not now seek the answers, which
cannot be given to you
because you would not be able to live them.
And the point is, to live everything.
Live the questions now.
Perhaps you will gradually, without noticing it,
live along some distant day into the answer."

Sheila said...

I love that quote!

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