The folly of humanity, and me chief among those humans, is forgetting that the devil does not desire peace. He sows discord and chaos. It occurred to me this morning that I’ve been falling right into his trap. I mean, it wasn’t intentional. Life is just a clown fiesta sometimes. I’ll be honest, the words I wanted to use there were closer synonyms to “feces festival” than the ones I chose, ha?
A friend I hadn’t spoken to in several weeks checked in yesterday. She shared about her life and family and I began drifting off as she wound down. You see, I knew this good woman well. I was cool as a cucumber, energetic and sunny while she was updating me on her life—the positives and the negatives. But, I knew what was next. She was about to turn my way and drill down to find out how I was doing. I panicked. My life suddenly became an interior slide show.
Should I tell her that I haven’t had a working oven since Thanksgiving? Maybe I could share that I’m down two toilets and can’t get a plumber to call me back? Leading with the end stage cancer of my father-in-law seems like a downer. No, not that. Ditto goes for the tears I have been shedding for my friend, Chris, the rock star tennis coach who happens to be in the hospital (again) as he fights brain cancer. There’s the dreadful sadness that washes over me because I haven’t seen my sister or nieces in over a year, mom’s knee refuses to heal, dad’s heart is sketchy and Uncle Don just had his kidney removed. Sigh. Hmm…well, maybe… I can tell her about how my house is covered with a nice layer of spackle from Drew removing most of the drywall in large chunks as he brought his “free” couch from the basement to take to Purdue. Yes, that could be funny if delivered well! I’ll go with that! Or, I could tell her about my corneas being infected. I mean she wanted to know why I had glasses on anyway….
I guess you get the idea. We’re all carrying crosses and have laundry lists of worries, big and small. However, I am a woman of faith and I have more than momentarily fallen for the devil and his tricks of late. He’s after all of us that work against him. It’s true. There is no doubt I am working against him with all my might, so why was I caught so off guard? I’m human. That’s why. Suddenly in my head were the words of Padre Pio. “Joy, with peace, is the sister of charity. Serve the Lord with laughter.”
So, I straightened up my crown and went to tell on him to my (heavenly) mom, like any right-thinking child would do in the middle of a minor tantrum. After all, she’s the freaking Queen of Heaven and earth! I silently asked Mary to stomp on the devil’s ugly head, right after I said a quick Memorare. She did it too. My friend and I had a nice talk and I left her remembering how much I value authentic friends. We giggled about the antics of our children and how I become even louder and sillier after only one glass of sangria. We discussed how we both like our coffee to taste more like a milkshake. Treasured friends, and their badassery in my life are a gift from the Lord.
There will always be brokenness, chaos, and rejection. For some of the folks around me, the higher than usual amount of division caused by politics, media, coronaviruses, culture, religion…it has made them turn their backs on the Lord just like I did by focusing on all that was not going my way. It’s hard to see Him from that angle, friends. TURN AROUND. He’s right here with us!!
So, after I turned to St. Padre Pio and the Blessed Mother to find my joy…guess what? It was like I had been driving through a terrible rainstorm and suddenly the windshield wipers started to work. It was still raining, but abruptly, I could see.
I’d like to run it back on my week. What does it look like if I shine the light of Christ on the mayhem? Let me tell you! In my week, there was a beautiful rosary service, led by the GC tennis team for their coach. Dozens of folks showed up with little advance notice at the GC grotto. It was a heartwarming experience I had forgotten when I was running my black cloud slide show.
What else? My oldest son, Nick, drove home from Cincinnati to help pack up his brother, Drew, and move him into his apartment for his last year at Purdue. Six hours of driving plus all the sweating and heavy lifting was how he chose to love his family. Something went very right with those boys. That event happened the very same day as Zach’s first tennis match of the season. GC might have lost to Fishers that day, but Z and his partner, Ty Harrington, won their match. Both Thieme brothers, along with Z’s grandparents were there for the tennis. In the stands next to them were a whole pile of supportive Harringtons, including one brand new brother-in-law. In front of them all, there was that ornery coach I love so much. He sat with his knees nearly touching the fence courtside while he watched their every shot, despite the fact that he felt pretty miserable. All of the love in one place was so powerful that one could not miss the presence of the Lord. My niece, Katie, finished basic training at West Point. Her strength, patriotism, and strong faith give me hope for the future. Also, I attended the first all school mass at Guerin Catholic in over a year today. The joyfulness was palpable, and the loud, glorious praise music lifted the souls of all present!
Additionally, my dear friend Renee? She lugged a huge, heavy toaster oven to that mass in her car. She found out about my months long oven crisis and wanted me to have something besides a poorly working crockpot with which to feed my family and my father-in-law. How thoughtful and kind!! That’s called being the face of Jesus!
Here’s my point. The Lord loves each of us more than we love our own children, or our most beloved friends and family. That’s because He’s God, and we are not. I plead with you to not turn your back on your faith or the Lord. We need to remember the rock of the Church, Peter. He so loved the Lord that he literally knew he could walk on water at the word of Christ. He was doing it, too…until he took his eyes off Jesus. KEEP YOUR EYES ON JESUS!! Don’t look somewhere else or walk away. Walk away to what? You want to live your clown festival without Jesus? Umm, hard pass for me. There will always be brokenness in our lives and the lives around us. I’m firmly on team Jesus for the duration.
My prayers will continue. They’ll be for all of us—you and me. As we withstand the wiles of evil, let’s remember why we are here and where we are going. Maybe that’s why God has me here in this spot at this moment in time with the struggles and blessings I have been given. Maybe you and I can step in and be His face to someone who needs us to say, “I see you.” That’s not so hard. I can make eye contact, see people. Acknowledge them. I hope I always show up with the damn toaster oven like Renee did, instead of ignoring or stonewalling others. I want to meet your gaze, greet you, see you. The very least we can do to love is make eye contact—see others with the eyes of Christ. Heaven is our home. He sees you. You are loved.
“Deep within us—no matter who we are—there lives a feeling of wanting to be lovable, of wanting to be the kind of person that others like to be with. And the greatest thing we can do is let people know that they are loved and capable of loving.” –Fred Rogers