I have always said that marriage is a lot like balancing an egg on the tip of your finger. You can’t (and should not) take your eyes off of it. It’s fragile and requires a constant effort. I have been married for 23 years, and I cannot claim to be perfect or anything more than human, but I understand one thing you can count on in marriage, or any long-standing relationship, and that is that you can never guess what is going to happen next. That is why we must be vigilant.
Vigilance in relationships
As with all relationships–marriage, parenting, and especially our relationship with God–the essence of it is being remade constantly. We can never take for granted that our efforts will be understood and appreciated or that the person with whom we share a relationship will always respond the way we think they should (and we would not be doing ourselves a favor to have those expectations). We can never assume we know everything about the other, and we should realize that every relationship is valuable and enriching to our ultimate purpose, especially when we feel it is difficult or challenging.
What (who) should get priority of our attention and vigilance?
Our sweet friend (and once pastor) Fr. Black used to tell us in his homilies to “give the greatest attention and priority to things that have heartbeats”. If my car, my cell phone and my TV don’t have heartbeats, why are they getting the priority of my attention each day? It’s going to take a concerted effort to live my life (and not let my life live me) so that I align myself with God’s plan for me. I prioritize and choose what (who) must receive “VIP” status, and what it looks like to live that priority. I can begin by realizing the most important status for me is as a child of God. Once I understand that, I can see how He is choosing for me to live that mission; in my marriage, as a single person or as a religiously consecrated person (my vocation). Once I have those parameters, I understand what comes along with that; children, a family, my parents, those with whom I work, etc. All in the order that my vocation dictates for my life.
How should I be vigilant? They say “a watched pot never boils”. It can also be said it takes me the same amount of time to summon the energy to place one foot outside of the covers to get up every morning (very envious of you early morning types). It throws me off of my groove for the rest of the day because rather than set my foot down with a plan for how the day will role out, I fall behind the flow and end up just responding to situations. I would rather consciously embark on a daily mission filled with intention and purpose. For me, I now understand it to be a type of victimization I have unwittingly adopted, a bad habit, and I am working to eradicate it from my life. Not easy when you have a flighty temperament, but possible. Once I understand what I may have to fight against in my nature to make adjustments to my priorities, I can decide what it looks like to give time to each relationship in my day.
Begin vigilance today.
Today’s readings are about being ready to meet God when He comes. Watching and waiting, we know His timing will be perfect, and He is so merciful that I trust He will do whatever He can to make it possible for me to go with Him into eternity. As relationships go, however, there is a two-way street. He gave me a chance to make my own choices, and if I am not careful, I can hurt God, myself or others with those decisions (see my “Poke A Pumpkin” post). Contrary to what our culture may sometimes indicate, we are responsible for the good and bad we contribute to the world. We are also responsible when we fail to do our best. I can also easily make some decisions that seem neutral or good, and that is also not the idea. We used to have a saying in my prayer group (not sure where it originated) “the devil allows us to do some good to keep up from doing what is best.” Certainly, we can waste a lot of time worrying about what is the best thing for us to be doing with our lives, but I offer this; get a jump on the day by first asking God what is HIS best for you to do, and asking for His help in making that happen. Offer Him your mistakes if it doesn’t go exactly like you wanted, and trust Him because from even that He can make it all come together. Bottom line? Invite Him in to your life every day.
Today’s readings remind me to watch for the Lord in a way so that if I were to awake gazing upon Him, I would rise up and run to Him, confident in my efforts and His love for me. Begin with vigilance today, God’s perspective on your priorities and what He has in mind for you to be most effective in this life. Ask God to help you make the most of it all in a way that speaks “God” to anyone who meets you, without having to say a word (St Francis of Assisi).
Rom 5:12-21; Psalm 40; Luke 12:35-38