Thursday, February 25, 2016

It's GOOD to be HERE

I thought the reason I haven't written a blog post in awhile was because of a lack of inspiration. However, the Gospel this past Sunday (Matt 17:1-9) shown light on my current place in life. A quote in that reading is one of my favorite. St. Peter says, "Lord, it is good that we are here." Like most of Scripture, there can be different interpretations. The Word is alive and meets us where we are.

Standing on top of the mountain with Jesus, Peter exclaimed that he was right where he is meant to be. He was then reminded that he had to keep moving and can't stay in the same place forever.
These two points are recognized in many of my sessions with clients and realized in my own journey. I like to understand God as both simple and complex. God is simple in that He is God and we are not. His plan always trumps our own.. always! God is complex in that He invites us to walk alongside of Him as we use our freewill to make choices everyday.

Many people seek therapy because 1) they are not happy about where they are at or 2) don't adjust well to change. "Adjustment disorder" is the most common diagnosis many MFTs use for clients. Clients come in sharing a story of some change in their lives in which they are trying to find the words, "it is good that we are here." Depression and/or anxiety enter our lives when we become restless and want to be anywhere or anyone other than where and who we are. The "should demon" whispers lies about how we're not good enough, pleased enough, loved enough, or successful enough and SHOULD be another way. Telling the demon to back off, we see that God carries us right where we are and loves us for exactly who we are and encourages us to have to the courage to move when we hear His voice.

In my own life there are a number of things for which I'm waiting to fall in place. In reality, I'm not saying, 'it is good to be here' with my full heart at times. I'm saying, 'I want my relationship to be this way, my job to be that way, or my daily routine to be this or that way." A friend recently encouraged me to enjoy this time, because it's what I have right now. Rather than focusing on what God wants, I have been anxious about what I want. My experience of the desert is appropriate for Lent and slows me down to seek humility, quiet, and solitude. One of my favorite images is of Jesus in the desert... just sitting... just praying. It's called "In the Wilderness" by Ron DiCianni. Is Jesus sitting and thinking, "I can't wait go out and teach, be surrounded by mobs of people, exhausted by a job that never ends, to be betrayed, to be crucified?" I don't know that, but I am confident that he saw those 40 days in the desert as sacred moments that he needed to move forward in the days ahead.

Peter directs our focus to Christ every time. As I delve deeper into the mystery of God's love for us, it becomes more clear that our only true purpose is to love God and one another. No matter what your job, money, schedule, etc consists of, it is nothing compared to the greatness of God. We can't take anything to heaven with us. Our mission on earth is to walk with Jesus. God created us and knows us better than we know ourselves. I believe he doesn't say "no" to our prayers, but rather "yes," not yet," or "I have something better." With a God who answers like that, how can we not say, "It is GOOD that we are HERE." Often after a period of waiting, people say, "I wouldn't have changed anything. It was right where I needed to be at the time." After hearing that plenty of times, I find myself reminding myself of that phrase when it's hardest to believe.

The journey up the mountain, the experience on the mountain, the journey down the mountain, and the life of ministry down from the mountain were all good for Peter, James, and John. No matter where Peter was, God was there in His heart preparing him for every step of the way. Once I heard that God doesn't reveal our future to us, because it would make it hard for us to wake up today. God prepares us for one step at a time.

This Lent, I have tried my best to give up my phone in my car. Turning the phone on silent, praying, and only listening to Christian music in the car has transformed the day from endless craziness to having pockets of grace to just be held by God in between appointments, Masses, conversations, study times, applications, etc. Commutes in the car can actually be huge opportunities to breathe, to give thanks, to ask for strength, to pray, or to be quiet.

Sometimes we are bummed by things not happening quick enough or the way we had planned. A client recently told her boyfriend in session that "this wasn't my plan, but now I have a new plan with you in it." We may be bummed about not getting a job we thought we wanted, but then astonished to be available to apply for a much better one for us weeks later. We may be bummed about not being busy enough at times, but then recognize how we are available to care for ourselves and others in that time. We may have a hard time when dreams, expectations, or situations change, but God never abandons us, forgets us, or expects us to do it all on our own. "We can do all things THROUGH Christ who strengthens us." (Phil 4:13)

As it is good to be right where we are, God doesn't like us to be too comfortable. God is on the move and we are invited to be follow closely. We can't grip a moment in time too tightly. When we have mountaintop experiences, we say IT IS GOOD TO BE HERE! A great date, retreat, celebration, and the like make us want to pitch a tent and stay awhile like Peter wanted to stay at the site of the Transfiguration. However, grace never runs out and life moves on. As Bebo Norman sings, "We walk down the mountain with your heart held high/ If you offer up your broken cup, You will taste the meaning of this life."

This Lent do you need Jesus to help you say, "it is GOOD to be HERE?" Do you need Jesus just to hold you in the desert? Is Jesus inviting you to let go and walk down the mountain and find the sacred in the journey? Jesus wants to reveal his glory in every moment, every heart, and every time and place. When we thank God for placing us right where we are, we can find light and joy. According to the dictionary, "transfigure" means "to transform into something more beautiful or elevated." How will Christ transfigure you this Lent?

St. Peter, pray for us!