The Messiness of Life

The Messiness of Life November 15, 2021

I crave approval and attention.  Additionally, I want to be thought of as smart.  I wish I didn’t want these things.  Wish I didn’t worry about it –but I’m still somehow the kid who didn’t make it into the accelerated classes on merit, but on befriending the teachers.   I’m still somehow stuck, convinced everyone else in the room is not only smarter than me but wondering why the hell I’m even here.   Part of how I fight this, is to actively do the things that feed that appetite rather than deny it all together.  So I pray, I write, I exercise,  I do all these things to try and prove if not to the world than to myself, that I’m worthy of attention.   It’s a stupid place to be I know, and God cares deeply for me, whether or not I’ve read the book I hoped to read or exercised, or prayed, or done whatever it is that I hoped to do, the way I’d hoped to do it.

These days, I see a lot of not done on my do do list.  I keep having to pare back my expectations.  Ten thousand steps to five thousand, reading a book a month to just reading, writing 500 words a day to most days, a decade where there used to be a rosary.   It’s like I’ve become unwilling to struggle but want the reward of having struggled just the same.  I know I need to, and because of fatigue, life, all the daily cares of caring for my family, cancer, all of it, I don’t have the umph I need to do the something that would push me.   The paring back has made me recognize all the ways in which I do these things for the wrong reasons, and assess why I want to do them for the right ones, so that these goods can be goods rather than duties.

Having written that, I feel convicted of my own sloth.  “Pick up the book Sherry.  Just read for 20 minutes.”  I can hear my own mom tape I play for my kids in my head.   So I go and I pick up the book I’ve been avoiding. Ten minutes…I make it ten, and I’m interrupted.   An hour later, I wonder, is ten minutes enough, and I pick up the other book I’ve been avoiding.  Somehow, I made it the twenty minutes –in two stacks but still, it felt like a triumph over atrophy.  Now…can I do it again tomorrow is the trick.   I need a lit-bit, that counts the pages written and pages read, the way my fitbit counts the steps.   It occurs to me, that my problem is always wanting to see the forest rather than the tree in front of me.


Viewing life as a series of accomplishments, books read, articles published, steps counted. rather than an perpetual delving deeper always leading further and further on, gets me end stopped before I start.     It is true with exercise, with reading, with prayer, writing, and yes, even with relationships –having rather than being a friend, and all of it leaves me wondering how it is that God doesn’t tire of us, or of me, since we can and often do invert everything He proposes to our own ends.

God doesn’t mind the messiness of our process, because He can see both the forest and the trees.  He can see where we’ve come, and where we’re trying to go.   I hope I manage to read again tomorrow.  Putting a note to myself, it’s a process, not an accomplishment…this is true in prayer, this is true in exercise, and it’s true in life.  I thank God for the push and I also hope I remember, God loves us in the midst of our messy process.   Time to work on the rosary and the steps.

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