I am fully convinced that senioritis is a thing. A real thing. Or so I keep telling myself to explain the lack of motivation I feel as May approaches.
“I never realized how much it rains in Murray during these months….” I think to myself as I sit cross-legged on the World’s Comfiest Couch. I don’t know why I continue to be surprised at the fact that nothing ever follows the imaginary movie scenes that play out in my head when I think about my life. A semester in college = 10 years; or so it feel like. Every six months brings with it a new routine, new schedules, new people, new places. What a bitter sweet feeling to know that this is my very last semester of undergraduate! (I am not really complaining though; just feeling a bit nostalgic)
My best friend is getting married soon; All of my nursing family is about to embark on a new journey, and I AM ALMOST A NURSE/MISSIONARY. Wow wow wow. Life is so crazy and beautiful — a crazy beautiful mess all rolled up and sprinkled with surprises.
As I was sitting in Mass this morning, kinda drifting mid-homily, I had a tiny little revelation. Or rather, two. 1) I do not listen very well. (And here is where people who really know me will either chuckle, roll their eyes or mutter “of course you don’t”). A recent myers-briggs personality (I’m an ENFP!) test helped shed some light on my save-the world, big-ideas, love conquers all mentality and what some of the strengths and weaknesses are that are associated with my particular personality category.
While online personality tests and such are never 100% accurate, this one was preeeetttyyy dang spot on. So spot on that it was rather scary at times. And I realized that I am in my own little world 90% of the time and I process nothing of what is being said to me. So in a way, this could be taken as a public apology for all of you who have repeatedly told me something, only to realize that I actually did not remember that one story you shared with me that one time. But this created a domino effect in my mind and pointed me towards to the underlying dilemma:
I am constantly trying to possess people. (This was revelation number two).
I began to see a pattern in my thoughts, in my actions….the not listening…. the assuming subconsciously that people, friends, are here for MY convenience, for my enjoyment, for my entertainment. And one by one truth bombs just began to be dropped into my heart.
Why do I often feel so alone if no one texts me? If no one puts forth the effort to make plans with me? Invite me to lunch? Recently I have found myself feeling frustrated, abandoned, and unappreciated. I have thrown many a hissy fit at my Heavenly Father (and I’m sure He hit me with this wisdom nugget today because He’s had enough of that).
The reading for today’s gospel was John 3. This passage is probably one of the most, if not the most, well-known biblical passages. I was really tempted to mentally check the “I know this one Jesus, I’ve heard it a million times” box and skip to thinking about what I wanted to order at Panera after church. But God in his great wisdom knew that I needed to hear this, my heart needed to hear this truth to be able to start to untwist some lies I had been falling into. Isn’t it amazing how God can love each one of us so uniquely, and speak to us, each one of us, because we are his children? I still can’t fully grasp that He wants a relationship with me. And you. And each and every person on this planet, and that He seeks and aches for everyone.
Back to the mental Panera food debate. Or lack of debate because as I reread the gospel, I suddenly realized that I had lost the conviction to this truth: “For God so loved the world that He gave.He gave. A gift. A free gift. Not meant to be possessed, but freely accepted. Cherished. Treasured. Revered. Respected. Honored. Displayed. Admired.
This gift of course came in the form of His Son. But I suddenly realized that I was trying to possess something that I could never own: the people in my life. That they are His gifts to me. And that one day, I will have to give them all back. I was seeing people in terms of what they could do for me and how they could make me feel: joyous, loved, cared for, happy. But I was failing to make the key distinction that while they are all given to me, they are not mine.
That I was definitely not admiring them, cherishing them, honoring them. That I wanted them in my life like I wanted my coats: there to pickup when I needed them, and there to leave at my disposal. Izel, you aren’t listening because you don’t realize the great value of the gift before you. You are becoming frustrated because this gift is not yours to own. You can’t keep locked it away, only for you to enjoy when you desire. You can’t even pass it along to someone else. Only I can.
I recently watched the movie Wonder this Friday and everything began to click into place. God wanted me to see that friendships, relationships are literally all we should live for. But in this broken world driven by success, ownership, and money, we fall into the lie of looking for fulfillment in the material things that we can give ourselves, but not in the free gifts of those around us.
But that these gifts require sacrifice. And that many times, we stink at taking care of them. We let them go unnoticed, unappreciated. They require effort and respect. They are one of the many avenues He uses to pour his love out on us. All that feeling unwanted and isolated? Yeah that was a big fat lie from the prime liar himself. And that all it takes to sqush this lie is a little but of silence and reflection (and a big heap of gratitude) to easily see that I have an overabundance of gifts. Mah cup runneth over.
How different would our immediate circle of people look if we chose to honor them instead of objectifying them and using them for our own selfish desires? To cherish them by giving of our time and our attention? To appreciate them by remaining distraction free? To admire them by giving them compliments that name their inner qualities, not just what they look like? You are so intelligent, you are so compassionate, instead of you look so pretty, your hair looks nice. This is not to say that we shouldn’t and can’t give each other compliments on physical qualities. Heck, 99% of the compliments I get come from my hair. But if we are gifts to one another, and we are, we must begin to see more deeply.
And how different would the world look like if we treated one another as a gift?! I loved reading off synonyms for the word cherish: adore, appreciate, embrace, sustain, support, safeguard, hold dear, cultivate, care for….
AND how truly amazing is it that we have so many people entrusted to us, to care for and to love?
“God has given you to me.” As is apparent, these words I heard in my youth were not a mere random remark. God does indeed give people to us; he gives us brothers and sisters in our humanity, beginning with our parents.
Then, as we grow up, he places more and more new people on our life’s path. Every such person, in some way, is a gift for us, and we can say of each: “God has given you to me.” This awareness becomes a source of enrichment for each of us. We would be in grave danger were we to be unable to recognize the richness in each human person. Our humanity would be in peril were we to shut ourselves up only in our own selves and reject the broad horizon that opens out to the eyes of our soul as the years go by.
The word “entrustment” is especially important here. “God wants to give another person to you” means that God wants to entrust that other person to you. And to entrust means that God believes in you, trusts that you are capable of receiving the gift, that you are capable of embracing it with your heart, that you have the capacity to respond to it with a gift of yourself.
– A Meditation On Giveness, John Paul II (You guys should google and read all of this; it’s sooooo good. So good.