On a recent trip for a family vacation, we met up with some special friends and spent some quality time together near the beach. One of the things people do when they go to a beach resort is order an expensive frothy drink with a cute little umbrella and some fruit on the rim of the glass, reminiscent of Queen Elizabeth with her pretty little hat, tipped to the side while watching a polo match under a parasol.
As we sip away at the Cosmo concoction, we may assimilate ourselves with some picture we see in People magazine, or a flash of an image of some star on ET enjoying their vacation. Until the bill comes: Gulp. Let’s see, we each got a “Maui Punch” special plus tax, fees and delivery…that equals… yep…a car payment. Not only does the bill jolt us back to reality, but later that afternoon, we get a good shock that we literally flushed that money right down the drain. “There goes my $20 cocktail!” Swoosh.
Money is Funny
The way people choose to spend their money has always been a contentious conversation among family and friends. Have you ever heard someone criticize the way someone else chooses to spend? “Well, if she didn’t buy such expensive clothes she could afford to go out more“, or “if he didn’t have to have the latest iPhone, he would have money to travel.” Everyone has their choice of luxuries and expenses, and no one else seems to agree on which of those choices make the most sense, because people are funny that way, and in the end it is a matter of preference. Some people love to travel and some people love the latest technology. Some people prefer to spend money on brand names, and some prefer to go out to dinner at nice places. We even make these kinds of choices on a smaller level when we go to the grocery. We look at the section of 100 different kinds of toothpaste or laundry detergent, and we get a sense of “Wow, I have so many choices”, but internally we may be feeling a little overwhelmed and lost in the variety of options. It’s kind of a funny thing to observe someone standing and staring at deodorants for ten minutes when you think about it.
More powerful than choosing to spend our money on an expensive drink or brand of clothing, we make life-altering decisions to accept a job offer, a purchase agreement, or a contract. These worldly choices seem to be leading us to an epidemic of anxiety, thinking that everything is up to me, or depends on me, and when it fails is therefore my fault, or even worse…his fault, her fault, your fault, etc. Where anxiety and blame may come from earthly kinds of choices, peace and freedom come from interior choices. Interior choices include accepting spiritual truths, and rejecting worldly lies.
Interior Choices and Voices
Deciding how to handle a difficult situation for me comes down to what voice I am listening to; the voice of fear or the voice of love. Fear tells us what we can’t do, and usually makes us worry about what others will think, what bad things could happen, and how we could be offended or misguided because fear involves these emotions: blame, mistrust, worry, doubt, anxiety, fear of loss, fear of rejection, fear of being alone.
Contrarily, love invokes these feelings: charity, justice, goodness, truthfulness, service, righteousness, prudence, perseverance, respect, caring, and purity of heart. Usually, love is the more difficult decision because it comes from a place that is more selfless. A choice that disregards the self is uncomfortable for us as humans.
Start at the start
Before my feet hit the floor some days, I give my day to God. I say “Thank you Father for letting me wake up today. Thank you for your mercy which is new every day. Thank you for watching over us last night, and I give you this day my prayer, work, struggles, suffering and joys”. That way, everything that happens during the day is in God’s hands. He can make good out of any human mess I get myself into, despite my well-intentioned efforts. God can correct my path as I go because I just offered Him my day. Now everything I do has value, even the mess-ups. Lemons for lemonade.
Some mornings I wake up behind the eight ball and unprepared. Escaping my notice, my prayer waits for me, and God is ready but I put Him off, thinking “I just have to get to this point in my day, then I can sit down and really pray”. Many moments have passed waiting for prayer because too many little things got in the way. I can’t tell you how contrasted those days are to the ones where I begin with even a small morning offering.
Let the Holy Spirit Guide You
Accepting God as my loving Father, Who provides for me, directs me, guides me, protects me, and has me completely in His hands takes away the anxiety of all the smaller earthly choices, and eases the burden of the big decisions. When I choose to surrender it all and let Him show me the way, there is a feeling of freedom that nothing can match. I ask the Holy Spirit to breathe on me with His guidance and then TRUST that whatever happens, it will glorify God in the end.
If my interior choices repeatedly redirect me toward the true freedom in my spirit that GOD is my Boss, and “I just work here” (like my dad always says) then what a beautiful grace-filled life I will have. If I choose to think my life is about ME, my choices, my mistakes, my intelligence or lack of knowledge, education and talent, then I will spend my existence on earth in a complicated self-made nest of anxieties, because I thought I was in control of it all.
*When speaking of freedom and choices, I am intending to discuss acts of spiritual will; interior measures of our movement toward a life with God, as every living soul deserves, from conception to natural death.