"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 well...at 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.