The Journey Forward

So much has changed in my life since the last time I used this blog. Here I am, at the cusp of another great adventure, staring into the maw of doctoral program applications, GRE preparation, and the tingling anticipation that comes with knowing that the future is entirely out of my hands.

A year ago, I was engaged to be married. I was intending to settle into a quiet life, to fade from the front lines. I thought that I had found the road God wanted me on, and that this time, the doors in front of me would stay open.

I was wrong.

And I have never been happier to be wrong.

It turns out that the old adage about telling God your plans is true. And sometimes, I think I must amuse God more than anyone else does, because I dearly love to plan, to worry, to plot, to scheme. I don’t know how to relinquish control. I fight Him every single step of the way like a nap-deprived toddler in the candy aisle. I want it. I don’t know what it is, but I want it, and I want it NOW!

But God has never let me settle for less than He desires for me. He has dragged me, kicking and screaming, through all the wrong turns I have made. God doesn’t just close doors in my life. He slams them, nails boards across them, and sticks a chair under the knob. He sends angels to lurk on the other side with tranquilizers just in case I get uppity. And He puts a big piece of spiritual cake under a neon sign in front of the door He actually wants me to go though.

I’ve never stood a chance.

And yes, I have been hurt in the process. But it was the hand that touched the hot stove that caused the burn, not the hand that pulled it away. Every ounce of suffering in my life has been because I was impatient with God, stubborn, and frankly, just plain rebellious.

I have learned something these past few months of Grad School. And I know that it’s a lesson I’m going to keep having to re-learn, but all the same, I have learned it for now: God’s Will will be done. No matter what. And this isn’t fatalism. I have the ability to choose, if only to choose the easy way or the hard way. But the Hound of Heaven is one heck of a sheepdog, and it’s probably a lot better for me if I just try to do things right the first time.

So, moving forward, I’m going to try even harder to let God lead me, and not to fight Him on every little thing just because I can.

I truly believe that He has amazing things in store, not just for me, but for every single one of you.

Let Him do His thing.

Or, you know, you could actually HELP Him do it. That’s probably a better option.

That was a nice vacation. Let’s get back on the road.

-E.G. Norton

Into the Hermitage or Into the Fray?

(via Prophecies of Revelation)

(via Prophecies of Revelation)

Ah, the times we live in!

I have been spending a lot of time in recent months thinking about my place in the world. I know certain things about myself now that I did not fully understand before. Perhaps this is the virtue of being introspective. Perhaps it is also the major curse of being introspective, but that is a post for a later day.

I should specify and say that I have become far more aware that I do not belong in this world. I do not know why this comes as a surprise to me. After all, the Lord of Time and Space Himself said as much:

If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you. Remember what I told you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. (John 15:19-20 NIV)

The World HATES me.

Now, don’t get me wrong here. There are very few people I’ve met who hate me personally (though this does happen on occasion and I’m learning how to handle not being liked). But what I have learned is that many people hate what I stand for and will do anything they can to stop me and others who share my beliefs from speaking up. Because I am a catechist, someone whose job and deepest calling is to instruct people in the glorious mysteries of the Catholic Church and to explain and uphold her teachings, I have a feeling that I am going to be running into this more and more. I am not on the front lines, but I am definitely in the battle, whether I like it or not.

It’s uncomfortable, and for an introvert like me, downright petrifying to face the fact that this is my calling. There are two logical responses to this fact, and one is WAY more tempting than the other.

My first choice is to take the man I love and the future Little Introspectives and to fortify ourselves in our own tiny, super Catholic world. We can homeschool and stop using the internet, tv, etc. We can raise them on the Great Books and never leave our little compound on the farm except to go three blocks south for Mass and maybe to go hang out with other Catholics. In short, we can unplug and disengage from the culture like Hermits United.

It'll be GREAT! (via Carol Cassara)

It’ll be GREAT! (via Carol Cassara)

That sounds awesome, right? Why fight the dragon when you can sit in your castle and watch the world burn?

Except that is not at all what we Christians are called to do. Our King explains this further:

When the Advocate comes, whom I will send to you from the Father–the Spirit of truth who goes out from the Father–he will testify about me. And you also must testify, for you have been with me from the beginning. (John 15: 26-27 NIV)

Oh.

I use the NIV here because I love the use of the word testify. It makes me think of being called into court as the witness of some terrible crime, particularly an act of gang violence. I think of how terrifying it would be to put my life on the line to speak the truth about what I have seen and what I know. And yet, this is exactly what each and every one of us is called to do. Jesus, the Great Judge, is counting on our testimony. But not to condemn the world. Rather, he wants us to bear witness to the Truth so that the world can reap the benefits of His sacrifice. He has already granted amnesty to all who come to bathe in His Precious Blood.

But He has also given every human a choice. Because of the power of Free Will, we can choose to turn away from his love and embrace the death He died to save us from. We can march ourselves right into Hell if we want to. He won’t stop us if that is what we truly want. We are absolutely free to do whatever “feels right,” even if it means taking a lava nap.

Yet He has ordered His servants to testify, so that all may make a more informed choice. And He has called us to battle for the souls who are caught in the crossfire between the forces of Light and the forces of Darkness.

So there is the other option. We cannot, in good conscience, hide away in our bunkers and watch everyone drown in corruption. That is not what we have been asked to do. If we truly love and serve our Master, we must fight by way of our testimony. We must fight with the greatest weapon God has given us: Love.

I say we must fight with Love because the world will fight us with Hate. We cannot fight Hate with Hate. That merely breeds more sin and anger. Hate is not of God. Hate is of Ol’ Luce and the Fallen Legion (awesome band name). And make no mistake: the other side has been so twisted by hate and fear that they will call our Love Hate even when we are simply speaking the Truth as kindly as possible. But that does not make our Love suddenly turn to Hate. Rather, it shows us that we are making progress because we are hitting nerves.

We must never back down from our battle, but we must never become hardened by it to the point that we see only sin and not the broken human soul behind it. We are to love and heal that person, not obliterate them. It is a delicate balance, but an important one.

So, once more into the breach, my friends. Let us rally, let us never falter, and let us do the work before us, walking the Destined Path towards sainthood. Let us support each other always. And let us return at the end of our fight to the shores of our home country, where our Master will be waiting with open arms and a smile that says, “Well done, my good and faithful servant.”

-E.G. Norton