On the Importance of Coaches and Grace in Our Spiritual Lives

“How was your Advent?” asked my spiritual director during our recent meeting.

The answer explains why I didn’t blog much. I’ve also submitted it as evidence in the case Insanely Frantic Culture vs. Sealana:

A. Busy. I spent Advent flying from one task to another. I watched House Hunters International while cooking and hand-washing our dishes (dishwasher’s been broken for months), cleaned like a maniac, spent breaks looking for a new apartment, bathed my hands in gallons of lotion, and flew through Dr. Edward Sri’s Dawn of the Messiah (papercuts to prove it), which was supposed to be my spiritual reading but may be more accurately described as a Soul-Stirring Hurricane of New Testament Exegesis.

B. Zombielike. I spent most of my time consuming — Netflix, real estate listings, holiday meals, etc. — and made little to no time for reflecting or creating.  This is what Emily Stimpson considers zombie behavior; when we fail to live the Theology of the Body and deny our being made in God’s image, isolating and obsessively amusing ourselves.  My daily Rosaries were miracles in the midst of this chaos, but they also suffered from my severe distraction.

C. A Learning Experience. Speaking of Mary, this Advent was my first, long, post-Marian Consecration period. I learned that Marian Consecration doesn’t seem to make my life magically easier, but I have also sensed extraordinary graces. Example: I have trust issues; my best friends know this well.  Yet, as a result of my Marian Consecration, I have not dedicated a single Rosary to any specific intentions. I’ve trusted Mary to intercede for me in the distribution of graces. “How seemingly insane!” I remarked to my spiritual director, “Not long ago, I had no relationship with Mary, and now she’s the first one I trust!”

That’s how things have been.

Pop_SidelinesThanks be to God for spiritual directors. Like Gregg Popovich knows his basketball players, Father quickly described what would happen if I tried un-zombifying myself:

1. You will attempt to master all the necessary virtues at once.
2. You will fail miserably.
3. You will become intensely frustrated with yourself.

Bingo!

I strongly re-iterate my previous recommendation: If you don’t already have one, pray about finding a spiritual director. He or she needn’t be a clergy or religious, but having someone competent enough to help you take appropriate time-outs and tweak your game plan for sainthood is extremely beneficial.

 

A good coach will have the God-given ability to pick up on your strengths, weaknesses, tendencies, and potential.  You will train and work knowing that Coach is on the sidelines, rooting for you, and observing your play.  Coach will know when and how to teach you humility.  Coach will also know how to explain the game plan to you in a way that you’ll understand; speak your language:

 

Now that I’ve come away from the huddle, I’ve learned that God offers everyone sufficient graces to become a saint.  (Some of us need more help to recognize and accept them.) Matt Maher and Saint Paul are right.

Three times I begged the Lord about this, that it might leave me, but he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness.”

– 2 Corinthians 12:8

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