|Con mi familia en Cholula, Puebla|
I heard from a few of you that just reading my previous post made you tired. No kidding! Me too! Writing all of that out was truly an exercise in humility, wondering how in the world it is I do all of those things and reflecting on which of those things, if any, I’m not truly called to be doing.
As I gear up for our school year, typing courses of study and lesson plans, organizing books and materials, my brain is on overload, and I’m feeling a bit overwhelmed. Understatement. We start in a week, and I’m not done. And I’ve committed to attending a moms’ retreat this week, every morning! The devil is definitely trying to get me to cancel that encounter with Christ, but I keep reminding myself to punch him in the face and not listen (thanks for the awesome image, Kelly).
Anyway, it’s abundantly clear that I can’t do it all. I want more than anything for these precious children to be the center of everything I do, and yet, most of my volunteer service really pulls my focus away from them. I love doing it, but I definitely feel guilty that they sometimes get slighted by meetings and emails and events. On the other hand, by my actions, they learn how important it is to serve others and to serve with a generous heart.
So what to do? God has given me two answers this summer.
One came through the challenging words of an honest friend at one of these meetings who reminded me that if I need help, I should ask for it. Therefore, I will repeat to myself over and over as I work on all of my volunteer activities: delegate, delegate, delegate. Let it go! Teach someone else to do it!
Last summer, when I was overwhelmed, it was because my business relied only on me. I couldn’t delegate. I could only do as much as I could do. The rest wasn’t going to get done, and it wasn’t enough to be profitable. So, I closed the business. But, running a non-profit is different! I have wonderful volunteers to whom I can delegate and who truly want to help! I just have to learn to be humble and let go of my illusion of control.
The other answer, mercifully, came today. I was on my way to Mass, by myself, to a Spanish Mass, because it was the only nearby Mass that fit into my one-car crazy schedule for today. My husband’s car speakers were blaring some Matt Maher, and I decided to put it all out there. God, I said, I know you are calling me to do these things, but I know I can’t remain peaceful amidst it all. You’re just calling me to do too much!
Well, I’m not sure if it was more humble or more stupid to contradict God in that way, but as I’m straining to comprehend the Spanish Mass (I did study abroad in Mexico and lived with a lovely family while attending Universidad de las Americas in Puebla*, but that was over 18 years ago!!!), I began to understand the first reading was about Elisha and the bread of God. I froze, because I knew what was coming for the Gospel.
Isn’t our Church amazing? We know what’s coming! And, here is why our God is unbelievably awesome. This summer, our Catholic homeschooling moms’ group studied Sarah Mackenzie’s Teaching from Rest: A Homeschooler’s Guide to Unshakable Peace. In it, Sarah writes about giving God our poor efforts each day, our measly loaves and fishes that cannot possibly feed all the people we are supposed to feed. You know the rest of the story.
So, I’m trying not to cry as the Gospel is read and realizing that God is speaking directly, intimately to me. He does that. Really. Sometimes you can go years and years without hearing Him, but He is knit into our very being. He knows us and loves us and wants to speak to our hearts the words we need to hear at that moment. He is asking me for my loaves and fishes.
Sarah also reminds us in her book to start each day acknowledging that we are going to mess up. At the start of our academic year, I admit, I will mess up. Probably a lot. But I also know that if I offer my insufficient efforts to God every day, He will multiply my efforts and work through me and many others to make beautiful things happen!
*More proof that God knows our heart. The second collection at this Spanish Mass at this parish I’ve never attended before was for the paint and floors for a new mission church being built in the state of Puebla. So, I took my last $5 in cash that I was planning to use to buy a sweet tea this afternoon (while I waited to meet a few moms to pick up their peg doll saints) and put it in the basket. When I ordered my sweet tea and presented my free cookie coupon to the cashier, intending to charge the tea, and she tells me not to worry about paying for the tea. That was when I knew God wanted me to write this post while I waited. We are each desperately loved by our God. I wish I could stop forgetting that!
Are there activities in your life you should be delegating, whether by recruiting more volunteers or enlisting your family to assist you more? And, when have you offered God your poor efforts that couldn’t possibly be enough but resulted in something more wonderful than you could have imagined?