Thursday, June 19, 2014

The comfort of my Father- capital F

I gotta tell you, I'm not really a beach person. Sure, I can appreciate the beauty of a beach, the serenity of the waves and the warmth of the sun-for about a day or two. Then my body remembers the fairness of my skin and I search for any shade I can get. I am lucky enough to be babysitting here in Gulf Shores for a great family with two beautiful girls. I am also lucky enough to be watching an almost two year old who takes naps daily in the condo-out of the sun, so I get a break too!

Anyway, onto the point of this blog post. Yesterday I was taking care of Emma who had just woken up from a nap. As she was getting comfy on my lap, still a little tired, I was thinking how I was at that point, not her mother or father, completely in charge of her comfort and well being. Now after a while she stared yelling out for her mom and dad and as soon as she caught sight of them she ran towards them wanting the comfort and security they provided.

Have you ever heard (and not laughed after) someone call you a 'child of God'? In high school my group used to throw this phrase around jokingly because it just seems so-vacation bible school. But as I was acting as a pillow for Emma yesterday I finally understood what it meant. As humans we are given all these temporary forms of comfort and temporary solutions for our well being. I have parents, friends, an education, favorite hobbies, music, coffee (and maybe a glass of red wine every once in a while). All these things and more are found on Earth to keep me comforted. But every once in a while I find myself screaming out for my Father-with a capital F. I reach out for the comfort only He can provide. While I'm here on Earth that may mean prayer, a good bible verse, a church service or it may mean the angst of Him reminding me that His timing is perfect, and while different from my own, is something I just have to rely on. 

The beauty of it all, what makes life worth living, is that there comes a time that the angst is relieved. We, as Christians, do eventually get the unending comfort of being in the presence of our Father-with a capital F. Just as Travis and Laura believed I'd be a good enough fit to provide comfort for their children this week, God is providing us with what we need to survive this 'vacation' here on Earth, all the while knowing it is temporary. 

As I'm drinking my coffee this morning (with the kiddos watching Mickey Mouse, Travis out fishing somewhere and Laura hopefully having a relaxed morning) I am reminded that the serenity found in the sound of the waves and the beauty of the beach is yet another temporary comfort my God has provided for me. If all these comforts are a temporary fix, I cannot wait to see what the permanent solution feels like. 

(As this post is coming out right after Father's Day, I'd like to point out that my father- the most important lowercase f around, has provided me with the most loving, temporary comfort a girl could ask for!)

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Serenity in Silence is harder that it seems

Some people DREAM of the last week that I have had. All the time in the world, the house practically to myself, with time to sleep, read, drink coffee, do yoga, (binge watch Netflix), all with a good dog by my side and no guilt for not doing something more productive.

Like I said, some people would dream of this week. I thought I did...but it's turning out to be somewhat of a nightmare. I am grateful to be finished with school, but ready to move on to my next challenge!

One of the books I have read since graduation is Tattoos on the Heart by Gregory Boyle. Boyle is a Jesuit priest in the 'gang capital of the world' who shares stories of the Homeboys and Homegirls who he helped get away from the gang life and into the 'real world'. He has some great insight into what serving the community in need is like-something I am trying to prepare myself for-hence the reading of the book.

Among the stories of those Boyle helps, he writes bits about himself. In one bit he discusses how at the beginning of his work he fully immersed himself into the issues of the neighborhoods. His work was constant. Boyle writes, he was getting too close to the sun-"the immolation that comes from burning out completely in the delusion of actually 'saving people'." Now this section made me stop and laugh because it's relatability.  In Social Work we are warned of 'burning out' as Boyle speaks of. We are warned to not take on more than we can handle, to reach out for similar help we will often suggest to our clients. The irony here is the reason most of us get into Social Work is because we care too much. Yes, we learn we can't change the world but that often won't stop us from trying.

After composing myself I pick the book back up and continue to read. Boyle talks about his own difficulty with taking breaks (something I relate too way too easily) and specifically about one he took in 1992. The serenity he found in the break came from an apocryphal story of Pope John Paul XXIII. Now if you're anything like me you had to look up what apocryphal meant( so maybe my vocabulary needs some work). After figuring out that it meant a doubtful but widely shared story I read on. Apparently the Pope would go to bed and pray "I've done everything I can today for Your church. But it's Your church. And I'm going to bed."

At some point we, Social Worker or not, have to figure out when to call it. When to give it up to God. Let His will take over. My Social Work classes were correct, we can't save the world if it means trying to impart on God's plans. What we can do is put our good hands to work and follow His will. At the end of each day though, we have to wipe those hands clean of others' burdens before they become our own-before we get too close to the sun.

The best part of helping someone is seeing the results you hope for come to fruition, maybe this is similar to the joy God feels when we trust in His plan. However, just as God doesn't make anyone believe in Him, I can't make anyone ask for my help. Believing that I can is what causes so much angst at the end of the day. I can though, be there when they do realize they need help-just as God does. This prevents me from burning out but still let's me feel like I've helped someone.

So while I still constantly remind myself to enjoy the serenity of having a break, which after the last year of school that I had is surely much needed, I also need to remember that when I do find myself immersed in situations of a needy community, I cannot carry anyone else's cross. At the end of the day, I want to be able to tell God in my prayers, "I did what I could today in Your world, but it is Your world and I am going to bed."