Friday, February 25, 2011

Hope for the Hopelessly Confused

"Grace builds upon nature, it does not destroy it."          St. Thomas Aquinas

In my last post I wrote about being "confused, disorganized, and scatterbrained", and if I'm being honest, there are a number of other seemingly less than wonderful traits that can be applied to me. I'm shy, introspective, anxious and fearful about many things. As a matter of fact, I am a "non-people person" who deeply loves people in general - I just am not overly fond of speaking much. Unless the subject is God. I would be perfectly happy in life if everyone on earth spoke about God constantly and if I ,myself, were allowed to do this. Unfortunately for me, such is not the case.

 (I've always wanted to use the words "Alas!" and "Alack!" and I'm not one to miss an opportunity like this one so here they come.)

ALAS and ALACK! Why do so few people want to talk about Jesus?

 I'm a pro at sneaking our Lord into a conversation. Don't sneeze around me if you aren't interested in God, because I can assure you - I'll take that "God bless you" and set off on a God spiel that would put St. Paul to shame ( you can add "mildly irreverent" to my list of less than desirable traits). I don't do this to be obnoxious. It's simply because - God is my favorite subject  and He is always on my mind. I mention this because it is this very gift (to me, it's a gift) that swallows up those many less than desirable traits that I have and that others may have. When I first came back to the Lord I think I assumed that God would rid me of certain aspects of my nature, but He never did. He took the very traits that I, and so many others, look down upon and used them for good. Is there anything positive about being confused, disorganized, or scatterbrained? How about being shy and anxious (and these are just the tip of the iceberg)?

These traits keep me VERY dependant on God. And not only that:

I have a tendency toward scrupulosity, though it has gotten much better over the years. At one point my scrupulosity got so bad that I would have panic attacks. What was it that helped me in this area? The confusion, disorganization, and the scatterbrainedness (by the way, those who are scatterbrained get to make up their own words and no one bats an eyelash). These traits also helped me with my fear and anxiety. Can you see where I'm going with this? I mentioned in my last posts about being unable to follow the "Rules" of the saints because of the traits I mentioned above. Here's the odd thing: When a scrupulous, fearful, and anxious person reads and tries to follow books like these....all hell breaks loose. The confusion, disorganization, and absentmindedness kept the scrupulosity from playing havoc with my psyche. The Lord certainly doesn't want on overly scrupulous person to put more rules into place so He confounds them to a degree and allows them to be baffled to protect them from the worse flaw of scrupulosity. The point,I guess, being that my inability to follow "Rules" is a blessing in disguise. The  confusion and disorganization kept me from putting these things into action, thereby saving me from doing a long list of things out of fear and helping me do small things out of love instead. Scrupulosity, as those who have suffered from it know, can make ones life a living hell. Love is a far better means of getting to know God.

So how can those who are disorganized and confused  have a productive spiritual life? By asking God to fill their hearts and minds with Him and by bringing Him into their everyday lives. You cook with him, clean with him, read with him, drive with him, breathe with him. You make, with God's grace, the present moment holy. I wrote about this in A Living Alleluia and a number of other posts. Compartmentalizing God and separating your life into periods of time for God and periods for yourself just doesn't work all that least not for those who are confused, disorganized, and scatterbrained. Bringing God into the things that you DO is better than ruminating on all the stuff that you DON'T do. This is helpful for those who suffer from depression or anxiety, too. Besides, God isn't with you in the stuff that you don't do, is He?

An example of this would be:
Doing dishes - this is something that has to be done every single day. I unite it with Jesus' work on earth and to make it more enjoyable I often sing psalms or prayers and offer the task and prayers for the souls in purgatory.
Vacuuming - I often offer this up to obtain extra help for those whose souls need a lot of cleaning up.
Listening to music - I change the lyrics to popular songs and I offer the new "remade" version of it up to obtain graces for those who sing the originals.
Brushing my teeth - I offer this one up for those with foul mouths of course (grin)!

The list goes on and on and I'm sure you get my drift. As silly as all this might sound to a theologian, God seems immensely pleased by things like this.

I hope this post has been a bit helpful to others who suffer from similar problems to mine. My main point here is to show that we don't have to be "fancy" to please the Lord. He is very easy to please. One doesn't have to build huge monasteries to please him - building a sand castle on the beach to bring joy into the heart of a child works just as well.

The words that have often been coming to mind during prayer lately are these - simplicity and authenticity. Keep it simple and be authentic.


  1. Great posts Mary- this one and the last one which I didn't get around to commenting on :( I forget which of the saints said this- perhaps either Teresa of Avila or Therese of Liseux- "There's grace in the pots and pans." I do know that St Paul said "all things work unto good for those who love God..." He will work with what He has given us so long as we cooperate with Him. You summed it up beautifully- keep it simple and authentic.
    Thanks again and God bless!

  2. Mary...enjoyed and can relate...following the Rule in Carmel has helped me with my scatteredness and grounds me. Practicing the Presence is key as you mentioned. I did a similar post on prayers during daily tasks:
    Oh...don't forget...St. Teresa of Jesus (of Avila) was very scattered : ) And St. Therese very are in good company!!

  3. Thanks Karin :) Great quote! We probably will never quite understand on earth just how "big" those little things are to God.

    St Paul's words are beautiful and full of hope. I always like to note that He doesn't say "some things" but "all things". God is good!

  4. Teresa of Avila said at one point she was only good for laying flowers in front of statues, but she did it with love.

    Mary, were you reading my blog when my guardian angel gave me four rules?
    1) love God
    2) Do the work God gives me to do
    3) forgive my enemies
    4) find the image of God inside everyone else and love that

    #2 is hard for scrupulous persons because that could easily roll out into infinity, but I like having it laid out nicely like that. #4 is nearly impossible for me, but you've had experiences such that it's probably possible for you.

    (the blog post is here, btw:

  5. Theresa,
    Many people have been tremendously blessed following Rules - I'm glad they helped you. God may eventually get me to a point where I can do this too but most likely he'll wait until it's good for me to do so. Scrupulosity is a funny thing. Reading St Ignatius still gives me a bit of trouble. When I first came back to the Church certain books were simply too much for me while others drew me right in. The writings of St Teresa, St. Therese and Brother Lawrence are some of my favorites :)
    St Teresa is my patron saint and I love her "scatterbrainedness". Doesn't mean her castles aren't a bit much for me though!

  6. Jane,
    St. Teresa is my kind of lady!

    These rules are right up my alley! I don't think I was on Blogger yet when you wrote about this. Oddly enough, number 4 is something that DOES come fairly easy to me and it's a rule I follow all the time. Thanks for the link!

  7. Jane,
    Yes, I DID read that post last year when I was poking around in your archives! Great post! I just read it again!

  8. Mary, I love your last two posts!! I often fear I have left every spiritual task and rule incomplete or poorly done and this sometimes builds a sense of looming dread in me which can make me so terrified, I almost hate approaching anything religious at times. It's why I leave blogger now and again, having read about other's accomplishments and measuring my own poor results. I can then seek relief from this awful fear and lack of peace in people, places and things (eg alcohol) which are temporary solutions bringing their own problems by the heaps!
    On and on it goes. Your post is like being given a chance to breath and self accept myself. Just for a time even. I have read some great posts this week on blogger, that have directly touched my fear(FULL) heart. I sense a small confidence emerging.
    I too chat to Jesus and Our Lady through the day, even when I am not at peace, but I am gladto know the saints did too.

    Some of the more strict Catholic bloggers do unwittingly, by their words, put me under extreme condemnation of spirit. Another trigger for seeking relief outside of my safety zones.

    Easy does it, but do it, I think, is my best bet.

    I also like to have a joke with Jesus and Our Lady and wonder what certain more traditional Catholics would make of that, but it's what God thinks in the end, isn't it?

    God bless you Mary and thanks for all your encouragement and faith over the months.

  9. Ros,
    I'm glad my last 2 posts were helpful to you. I can very much relate to your comment - I know that feeling of looming dread well!

    There's nothing wrong with a good joke among family, is there? I'm certain that Jesus and Our Lady both have a great sense of humor!

    Easy does it, but do it, is a very good way to approach things I think :) God bless you, Ros!

  10. Your last two posts are very informative and wonderful to read. God Bless you Mary, he loves you and your wonderful blog as you reach out to help so many. Ros is so special to me but even more special to God. Sometimes I think we should remember that God loves the murderer as much as he loves the Saints....he loves and knows all of us, we just have to accept his love and follow him, much easier said than done I know. Love ya

  11. Love this post. You are right on target. We all have our faults and tendencies to do evil. Our very strengths are our weaknesses. But if we seek God in everything, He slowly transforms us into what He desires us to be. Just think. When we get to heaven, we will all be the same unique creatures we are here on earth, only glorified. Is that not wonderful? And we will say to each other, "I'm so glad you mentioned that. It helped me over come _____." We are always a work in progress until our last breath. Keep on truckin', Mary.

  12. Thank you, Bernie :) Yes, He loves each one of us. He may not always love some of the things we DO but He certainly loves every person dearly.
    Hugs to you too, Bernie!

  13. Hi Barb,
    Great comment! It's hard to imagine ourselves glorified, isn't it?! I look forward to that day!

  14. I NEVER thought about offering up such mundane tasks for others. But you have given me some great examples - and you so cleverly tied the task to the prayer.

    God Bless you for being such a great example for us.

  15. Michael,
    It makes the tasks easier to do, also. Thank you for your kind comment :)