Reflections of an Overthinker on Love, Hope & World Youth Day in Krakow…
…with Just a Touch of Envy to Keep Things Real
“Do not wish to be anything but what you are, and try to be that perfectly.”
― St. Francis de Sales
First off, I blame this post on my son and St. Martha. This is why.
We were driving along on St. Martha’s feast day—this was Friday, in case you’re wondering—and had the following conversation:
Me: “Poor St. Martha! The one time she’s featured in the Bible and she’s painted as a total whiner. Kind of embarrassing, don’t you think?”
George (7): “What about when Lazarus died? She was in the Bible then, too.”
Me: “You’re right! I’d completely forgotten about that. She said ‘Lord, if you had been here our brother wouldn’t have died,’ and Jesus calls to Lazarus who comes walking out of the tomb. Martha had great faith, didn’t she? It’s good you remembered that.”
George: “Thanks. That part of the story kind of creeps me out though.”
* * *
So then I started thinking about my friend Tina, who is always Mary to my Martha (despite her being way better domestically than I’ll ever be) and with whom I’d just gotten together for an all-too-brief visit.
Note to reader: Tina’s family moved to Texas last fall. Big loss for the state of Minnesota! Great big gain for the great state of Texas. Sadly, our visits are now few and far between.
I’ve written about my friend Tina so much that she really should just have her own category. I’ve talked about her bleeding green and gold, her hosting awesome baby showers, her being one of the best camping buddies ever, and that time we both dyed our hair black for a Garth Brooks concert.
(Making it a Goth Brooks concert.)
Getting together with a dear friend like Tina, you just pick off where you last left off. I imagine you have friends like that, don’t you? They are an amazing blessing, and I am a better person for her witness because she always, ALWAYS brings Christ to me.
The Martha in me sometimes comes out unbidden, because I feel envious (sometimes) of people (like Tina) who have a strong relationship with Christ. I feel envious of friends like Tina whose kids went to World Youth Day in Poland; envious of parents who are there with their kids; and envious of everyone, frankly, who is doing a far better job raising their kids than me.
The devil has me where he wants me when I start thinking thoughts like that.
He loves when I succumb to raging fits of fomo.
Are you following along with the events in Poland?! Tell me the Church isn’t alive and well! Hundreds of thousands of young adults who are out on a limb in love with Our Lord, who have traveled thousands of miles to go to Mass with the Pope, and who are risking quite a bit (frankly) to spent that much time in an openly Christian venue.
I have been praying for their safety daily, and seeing their shining eyes and radiant smiles (thank you, Facebook!) is filling my little left-behind heart with hope.
* * *
So there you go. Even in the presence of faith-filled friends like Tina—especially in the presence of faith-filled friends like Tina—I come face to face with what I’m not.
And you know what? Most of the time, I’m okay with that.
It isn’t always easy, though, and there have been times when, like Martha glaring at her unhelpful sister, I bring my whines and complaints before Our Lord. Sometimes, these grievances are justified, like when my husband lost his job and we had hit bottom emotionally, and I leaned heavily on friends to pull me through.
Here is what I mean by “bringing Christ to another”: there have been times when I had nothing left, and when I spoke with bitterness and despair…Tina opened her mouth and the Holy Spirit came out.
That’s what I mean by bringing Christ to another.
* * *
Here’s the takeaway, at least for me: It’s easy to busy oneself, feel burdened, left out. It’s easy to scroll through Facebook and think, “I wish that were me!” Well, guess what? It’s not! YOU’RE you and I’M me, and in the words of Pope Francis from Saturday’s Mass: “No more couch potatoes playing video games, put your shoes on, no, I mean your soccer cleats! We need all starters on the field, go out and change the world, leave your mark on history!”
(I read this on Facebook, by the way. It was posted by a mom who was there. 🙂 )
So on Friday afternoon, the same day I’d been thinking about St. Martha and me, I left my cell phone in the cart at Cub Foods and had to race back to the store to (hopefully) pick it up. How typically distracted! How typically me.
Thankfully they had it at the service desk, and I decided to grab some cheese for supper while I was there. Standing in line beside a guy with a crew-cut, I felt a strong inner prompting to engage him in small talk. Granted, I’m an extrovert! Still, the prompting was overwhelmingly strong.
“Is that dinner?” I asked, pointing to his very small purchase of a Coke, a potato, a carton of sour cream, and two zucchini.
“Yes,” he grinned. “I have a piece of chicken that I’ll grill to go with.”
“Well, that rounds it out nicely,” I said with a smile. “Do you mind if I ask, are you military?”
“Yes, Ma’am.” Again the grin. “I’m in the Army.”
“I wondered if that’s why you wear your hair so short! My son just enlisted in the Marines.”
His smile softened then, just a tiny bit, as he asked, “Are you worried?”
“Yes,” I admitted, “Plus he’s infantry, so…”
“So was I,” the man responded, and boom, just like that, there was a Christ-like connection. We talked a little more as the clerk totaled his order, and he said that it was nice to meet me. “You, too,” I said. “God bless you.”
A random encounter, yet preordained from the beginning!
I truly believe that.
God was in our midst.
* * *
Epilogue: To everyone (besides Tina) that decided to read this post to the end, I love you no less than my friend Tina, and may well honor you in an upcoming post! Life is too short to not call out the saints; life is too short not to BE a saint.
I love you, Tina!
I love you, you. ♥