It seems that I am not alone in my desire to step out of my comfort zone a little and serve.
This season of life that I am in right now has my hands literally full. Toddlers, a baby, a heavy diaper bag, a cup of coffee, and a list of appointments, errands, and chores can keep me very focused on myself, my family, and the task at hand. Thankfully, that's how it's supposed to be. God does not expect me to carry things for other people when I'm carrying other people. I need to notice the tears in my children's eyes and tend to them before I reach out to someone else. I need to make sure I am charitable, compassionate, and merciful to the people I live and spend the most time with before I extend myself. This is not to say that I should ignore others - especially when an obvious need is brought to my attention. It just means I have no reason to feel guilty for not doing more for the world.
Yet I feel called to be bold, to stop being afraid, and to live out my Catholic faith in a very tangible way. In particular, there are two things that I have wanted to do for a very long time but I've been afraid to attempt.
The first is to greet people by saying, "Praised be Jesus Christ!" or "Jesus Christ is risen!"
I wouldn't greet everyone this way, of course. I think that I might come off slightly nuts if a waitress approached saying, "How is everyone doing tonight?" and I responded, "Praised be Jesus Christ!" Awkward.
But I would love to greet my friends that way. I think it would be such a wonderful way to set the tone for our conversation and to remind us of who we are (an Easter people) and what our lives are supposed to be about (knowing, loving, and serving God). I know this is not necessarily serving anyone in the common sense of the word, but I do think that it has the possibility of altering attitudes, establishing context, and realigning the day - for myself and those around me.
My second bold move is to pray in the moment.
Usually when someone is tells me about their life - the worries, joys, or sorrows - I tell the person that I will pray for them. Sometimes I remember to do so - to specifically lift up the person and situation to God - but usually I don't. The best that person gets from me is a, "Lord, I give you all the people I promised to pray for." Not that that's bad, but it can be so much better.
Whether the news I hear is good or bad I want to take a moment to say a prayer with the person to whom I am speaking. "You're pregnant after two years of trying? Wow! Praise God! Would you join me in a Glory Be?" "You unexpectedly lost your job? I'm so sorry. Could I pray with you right now?"
I think I will have to really pray for the gift of discernment when it comes to putting this bold new move into action, but I think that a lot of beauty can out of it. I remember a girl I met after a daily Mass in college. As everyone filtered out of the chapel she knelt crying. I had never seen her before but I empathized with her. So instead of leaving the chapel, I said a prayer to the Holy Spirit and knelt next to her. "My name is Bonnie. I saw you and I thought I'd come pray with you. Is that okay?" With her permission I prayed over her, asking God to heal her wounds, bathe her in His mercy, and show her His love. It was a beautiful moment and she later found me and thanked me for helping her through that tough time. It was the only time I've ever done something like that but I can say confidently that I was following the promptings of the Holy Spirit.
Doing these things will definitely be bold moves for me because, quite frankly, I'm afraid to do them. I am afraid of rejection, having my faith look forced, making my faith look stupid, and making myself look stupid. I just try to remember that "God did not give us a spirit of fear but of power and love and self-control" and so I can do these things. I will ease myself into doing them, and probably recruit some people to do them with me. My hope is that once I am comfortable doing these things amongst those who love me I will able to step out of my comfort zone. But don't worry - it'll be awkward to do these things around friends and family at first, too!
What about you? Would you like to join me? Or is there some other way you are being bold? I'd love to hear!
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