It starts here, it starts now

May 13, 2009 | Conversion, Daily Spirituality | 26 comments

It is easy to love the people far away. It is not always easy to love those close to us. It is easier to give a cup of rice to relieve hunger than to relieve the loneliness and pain of someone unloved in our own home. Bring love into your home, for this is where our love for each other must start.

– Mother Teresa

Have you seen the new Bible study blog by Antique Mommy and her friend Jennifer? What a great idea. The theme of it, “What happens when women say yes to God, ” got me thinking about a lesson I learned early on in the conversion process that I still struggle with implementing.

The simple lesson was this: surrendering your life to God starts right here, right now.

This is probably an incredibly obvious statement to those of you who are lifelong believers, but to me it actually wasn’t. You see, I thought of renouncing my own will and putting my life in God’s hand as an entirely future-oriented proposition. “It will be so exciting to see what God will call me to do!” I would think, and promptly pour tons of mental energy into trying to discern what adventure God would send me on in the future…and then someone would interrupt my concentration and I’d snap at them and get angry.

I eventually came to the painful realization that, while it’s true that God would likely call me to make radical changes in the future, the biggest and most difficult thing I could do in terms of living for God would be to start by dealing gracefully with those little daily frustrations that were in front of me right now. Gulp. That’s not fun. It has none of the exhilaration of discerning that you might be called to do something exotic like go be a missionary in another country, none of the thrill being called to do something radical like start a new charity.

And, as I quickly found, it’s hard. Really hard.

It only took about a day of trying this to realize that I’d rather volunteer in a soup kitchen for ten weekends then respond with humility when a relative gives me pointed unsolicited advice about parenting; I’d rather write fifty articles about dying to self than gracefully accept an unexpected pregnancy; I’d rather go on a grueling mission to a third-world country than not wallow in anger about the person driving slow in the left lane in front of me.

One afternoon when I found myself shifting uncomfortably an inwardly rolling my eyes when a neighbor was talking my ear off during the time I had planned to go read the Bible and see what God’s will was for me, something finally clicked: I had felt like God’s will for me would be something big and dramatic; I was right about that, though the details were not what I would have ever imagined. The biggest, most dramatic thing I could do would be to simply shine the light of Christ to the world around me, starting in the immediate, mundane circumstances of being caught on my front porch with a loquacious neighbor. Real surrender, I realized, is not something that only begins after a lengthy discernment process. It starts right here, right now.

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26 Comments

  1. KAM

    Humility and humbleness are two of the many keys to help us to attain what we all strive for; that is, the filling of our entire being with Our Lord God. For me, right now, the heady excitment of Easter is over, we’ve returned from our mission to Jamaica, now, in the everyday march of work, home, kids etc., now is when we truly practice our faith, to show the Face of Jesus at all times, especially when the secular world is pushing in on us. “Pray constantly.” The Jesus Prayer. A decade or two of the Rosary. A quick stop into the Church, a prayer at the Tabernacle.

  2. izhilzha

    Oh, yes, indeed. Also–it may be more obvious to those of us who grew up in the faith, but it still takes a long time to clue into. I made a choice to put my faith in Christ at age 7, but it wasn’t till I was about 15 or 16 that I figured out how much our calling and vocation was simply to be Christ where we are. What’s that? 8 years? ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. rootofjesse2

    And real surrender will continue. You will have to keep surrendering, and keep surrendering, sorta like the Energizer Bunny keeps going and going…Look me up at rootofjesse2.wordpress.com sometime…God bless you.

  4. Margaret

    I have a tendency to daydream about future possibilities and spend an inordinate amount of time trying to convince God of how great my plans would be. But what He is really saying to me is to focus on NOW and do my work that He has put in front of me NOW. Thank you for this post.

  5. Antique Mommy

    Right here, right now indeed.

    Most of us are NOT called to be Christian rock stars or speak to stadiums or to mesmerize the blogsophere or to do things on the Richter scale.

    All of us are called to be His ambassador in our own sphere of influence, to be Christ to others in our own small world. Sometimes it is quiet and boring and even tedious and usually goes unnoticed.

    Christianity is not all that glamorous in the right here and right now.

    Love your blog and the way you think about things.

  6. Flexo

    It starts right here, right now.

    While we are sharing Blessed Mother Teresa quotes, here is an applicable one —

    โ€œCharity begins today. Today somebody is suffering, today somebody is in the street, today somebody is hungry. Our work is for today, yesterday has gone, tomorrow has not yet come โ€”- today, we have only today to make Jesus known, loved, served, fed, clothed, sheltered, etc. Today โ€”- do not to wait for tomorrow. Tomorrow might not come. Tomorrow we will not have them if we do not feed them today.โ€

  7. Lucy

    I think if I had a blog, I would simply be linking to your blog all the time.

    I find a spend so much more time thinking and reading about God than actually *being* with God. I’m a much better thinker than doer. I have to remind myself often that eternity is now. Which I suppose is why I read you – you help me remember to actually do stuf. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Great post and so true!

  8. 'Becca

    I’ve been doing that thing you recommended of praying before church to hear one thing that will really speak to you. This week, mine was, “Here is water. Why should I not be baptized now?” It’s so tempting to wait for the perfect moment, but the resources you really need for spiritual progress are always there!

  9. Anonymous

    I love your quote. I am in the discussion Group with Antique Mommy. I’m having a hard time with it. I don’t think the same as the others. I have a hard time with the day to day. They seem on a level above me BUT I have never tried a bible study on any level so I LOVE this experience. I enjoy your blog. I take what I find from it and wish you well on your journey. It shows me there is a better way to try.

  10. Emily

    So, so true. Nice post.
    It’s the whole “living in the world, but not OF the world.” Preaching without words, etc. Being nice when we don’t want to be. Smiling when we don’t want to. It can be so hard. But that’s how we can live our vocation. Amazing to think that little things like this can get us to Heaven!

  11. tootie

    This post really struck a chord with me. And I love the Mother Teresa quote!

  12. anna

    “and then someone would interrupt my concentration and I’d snap at them and get angry.” cracked me up!! how true this is. if only i would realize that right here, right now my husband, children, extended family and neighbors need God’s love, not some distant day in the future.

  13. Anonymous

    One of the saints that really drives this message home for me is Saint Therese of Liseux. Have you happened to read her biography?

  14. tinkerbell the bipolar faery

    God’s will is not a destination, it is the road map. And that road map includes every little village, tributary and lonely gravel road along we pass as we travel the route of that road map.

    Humility is a type of surrender, just as forgiveness is also. And, yes, surrender of this sort is difficult. I suppose we have to remind ourselves often that we are not the masters, we are the servants. And God’s will does not equal our will. And bliss is not what we think it should be … it just IS.

  15. Dawn

    Thank you for this post. It is so true.

  16. bronzedshoe

    You have a knack of articulating my thoughts for me! I totally agree, but I struggle very much with putting this into practice. Continual process of conversion!

  17. blissful_e

    Thank you for sharing this just before my in-laws arrive!! Oh, how I need the reminder.

  18. Beth (A Mom's Life)

    You always have a way of kicking me in the rear right when I need it! Wonderful post and so very timely. I know that God speaks to people through you and your blog and today he is speaking to me!

  19. Heather

    Oh, I needed to read this post! Thank you so much.

  20. Creative Clayer

    This is exactly what I’m dealing with right now. Living in the present and giving back the gifts God has given me *now*. To the people closest to me. I started a novena to St. Therese two days ago and have prayed the prayer about a gazillion times to help keep myself on track. And I’ll probably fail miserably again and again at it. But at least I’m trying, right?

  21. Nancy (n.o.e.)

    Great message! My favorite Mother Teresa quote is “We can do no great things, just small things with great love.”

  22. Laura

    I hear you on this one! It is usually after the “situation” when I realize that God WANTED me to be doing what I was just wishing I didn’t have to be doing. And it is at that point that I would wish I could go back and do it all over again. Maybe I’ll catch on eventually!
    God Bless

  23. Melissa

    Even for this lifelong believer, the “here and now” is a hard concept. I constantly find myself thinking that my life will really begin once I lose the extra weight, or I get my house clean, or …

    Thanks for reminding me what I need to keep working on.

  24. Leslie Linda

    True. Charity begins at home, as what Charles Dickens had said. How often I too forgotten that my family members are in need of my attention too.Most of us take things for granted, especially things that have been with us for so long. Thanks for this post. Really encouraging! Have a great day ahead!

  25. Therese Z

    Somebody famous somewhere pointed out that, even as Jesus was falling for the third time on the road to Calvary, He stopped to console patiently the women of Jerusalem.

    Bearing patiently with those around me, Lord, how often I fail!

  26. Anonymous

    My daughter in law led me to this website and it feels like home. Thank you! Every day is a chance to love someone in our own unique way. With God, all things are possible. Trust Him absolutely. Know that He will do the very best for you. Be ready and willing for His will to be done. None ever sought His presence in vain. None ever sought His help in vain. A breath of desire and His spirit is there – to replenish and renew.

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