Last Wednesday, I suggested that we take a week to consider all the things that fill our lives, and then to consider which ones we are willing to empty from our time, our energy, our focus. I invited you to join me in thinking about what might be able to breathe and grow in the space that opens as we eliminate meaningless, or unproductive, or unhealthy, or arrogant behaviors and activities from our schedules.
As those of us who are followers of the Way of Jesus move fully into Holy Week on our way through the Triduum to Easter, we are seeking to live into the deepest truth we know. We are seeking to strip away everything that is not G-d, and to exist in the faith that what is broken does not define us – either individually or corporately. So, it is not enough to invite you to join me in a private exercise where you make note of a few things that you would like to excise from your life and I do the same, and then maybe write them in a journal where no one else will see them. No. Of course, I leave you to make your own decision about sharing or not sharing, but I think it is important that I acknowledge my belief, my truth, that I was conceived in community, born into community, and live most fully when I am most open and transparent in community.
So here are three of the behaviors and activities I am (more than) ready to empty from my life:
* I am going to stop carrying the burden of other people’s decisions.
I have no control over anyone but myself – and even that seems iffy sometimes! – so I really need to use that energy to be the person I was created to be, to make choices that reflect my values, to be responsible and healthy. And, as an added blessing, I notice that provides a lot of space for others to be who they feel called to be without having to worry about what I think or feel.
* I am going to stop using the world’s criteria to judge my worth.
The world’s criteria are designed to convince us we are not good enough. The power of the world accrues to those who successfully get me to collude with them in defining myself as worthless (or needy, or dependent, or a victim of circumstances). That is a never-ending downward spiral into the abyss. In fact, I can opt out of that lie, and I can live “off the grid” of worldly power.
* I’m going to stop believing that something outside myself can “make me” happy.
[And the corollary to that: that happiness is a worthy goal in itself.] Instead, I am going to pay attention to the many things for which I already feel a limitless gratitude: air to breathe, clean water to drink, the sun to warm me, gravity, health, creativity, intelligence, love, the smell of earth in the spring, fresh peas off the vine, laughter. My faithful hope is to use all those for the common good and to make meaning and joy and justice out of the hours allotted to me. Happiness will come from time to time, but it will well up from inside, not be handed to me by someone else.
And, in case you are wondering, giving up those things really does take a lot off my calendar. I can erase, for instance, all the events I attend because I think someone else expects me to be there and/or because I think they will prove that I am a worthwhile person. (I don’t need to see that play I don’t really want to see that everyone is talking about, ditto reading the book that bores me to tears by the end of page one even if it IS on everyone else’s “best of the best” list.)
I can erase all the experiences that are about placating someone who doesn’t really want to be placated .
I can erase all the self-improvement activities that really improve someone else’s idea of what my “self” should look like.
So I am carrying this prayer with me. If it works for you, too, feel free to use it.
Light in the Darkness and Shadow enfolding Brilliance,
I am created in your image.
Let it be enough.
Text © 2014, Andrea La Sonde Anastos
Photo © 2011, Immram Chara, LLC
The Nymans Tower photo is available as a special order card or print from my Etsy shop.