Over the last year, I realize God has had two persistent messages for me, “Submit to my will” and “Get out of your comfort zone.”
Are those two things connected? Well, you betcha. More often than not submitting to God’s will means getting out of my comfort zone.
Since school has started, even moreso.
As the school year started, so did a new year of Bible Study Fellowship. Many of the women I read Ann Voskamp’s One Thousand Gifts with would be attending and my neighbor and friend who led that group systematically knocked down all my arguments one by one before I even could articulate them. No childcare? That’s fine, they provide it. No money? No problem, it’s free. Time? It’s during the day while the big kids are at school. Catholic? You’re welcome with open arms as is anyone, even those who don’t yet believe or are not sure about believing. So, last Wednesday I found myself at a local Baptist church with close to 100 women (if not more) waiting with nervous anticipation. I was in the newcomers group because I hadn’t been assigned a leader yet. My fingers were crossed that Will would get into the pre-school program so I could continue to attend (my father-in-law agreed to keep him for the first meeting). I more or less just wanted to see what it was all about.
During the lecture, I began to feel calm and and even peaceful. As I listened to the leader talk about the history of the Bible and if it were a reliable source I began to realize, hey, God was right, I needed to be here. Thankfully, there was room for Will and I am looking forward to my reading and study each day.
Today was our first day of faith formation for Joey. Which meant a huge change in our routine. I am, as you know if you read regularly, a devotee of the 8 AM mass. I like my mass early. First thing in the morning early. But Faith Formation starts at 11:00 AM which means we’d have to leave and come back which is not desirable at all because there is also an 11 AM mass. So, we came to mass for the first time at 9:30 AM. Which is packed. I am pretty sure people were up in the choir loft with the organist, packed. And the 8 AM is pretty full, so I was shocked. I know our parish is popular, even moreso now that it is a Basilica, but this was mind-blowing to me. In a good way, of course. When I went to the usual seats we sit in, they were empty which is good because they are good seats to hear and see from for the kids. I noticed the front two pews were reserved. Turns out it was for the Altar Guild who were briefly recognized during mass. But the lady behind me, tapped my shoulder and asked if I knew, at the time I told her no, but it is Catechetical Sunday so maybe it is because of that? And that we were normally 8 AMers but changed with the start of Faith Formation. A short while later she tapped my shoulder again and introduced herself. She told me she would be a Eucharistic minister and gave me a case to store the Body of Christ in and asked if I might get 3 host from Father when I went up to receive. I must have given her a funny look because she then proceeded to ask me if I would be going up to receive. I said yes and yes I would help her out. I know I was taken a little aback because a) I’m a complete stranger and b) the Eucharistic ministers who are serving at the 8 AM and who double as Camillus ministers simply take what they need to distribute at the end of Communion.
Now, okay, that is already an unusual occurence but because my brain is the way it is, I immediately begin trying to figure out the logistics of how I will receive with this not small box and herd the two boys who insist on coming up the line with me. Finally, I just give up. I’m a (recovering) people pleaser, so it’s not unusual for me to say yes to a lot of things that are strange and possibly not my favorite thing to do or cause me bizarro stress. But, I realized this was more of me being out of my comfort zone and God had some grace for me to learn and earn out of this experience. At communion I made sure to have the box and ushered the boys ahead of me in line. Father blessed them and as I approached he asked, “How many do you need?” I smiled, “three” and then I received so smoothly I was surprised. Part of me being a recovering people pleaser is realizing I need to live my life to please God and not worry what people think, I think in this way, I succeeded. After mass, the woman behind us told me she was a retired educator told me how beautiful the boys were and she was impressed with how well they behaved and how reverent they were.
We dropped Joey at Faith Formation and Will and I perused the book store and played on the playground until it was time to get him an hour later.
It’s not all fun or easy or peaceful listening to God and accepting His will and especially going out of my comfort zones. Leaving after faith formation was a nightmare as I had been parked in and not only was there a full mass leaving but nine faith formation classes and then the 12:30 Spanish mass was arriving. I was hungry as I did not eat before mass (breaking the fast is a pretty big deal to me, personally) and forgot to pack myself a snack) so it was even more tempting than usual to lose my temper, but I kept it in check. As I tried to slowly back up when traffic let up (so as not to hit the car behind me) a guy ran over, got in the car and backed it up and motioned me to continue backing up. I was eternally thankful God answered my prayer and we could get out of there without having to wait another 10 minutes. (Side note, just because your car fits in a space, doesn’t mean it belongs there! People leave space specifically so they can get out when they leave! This was a smart car, in case you were wondering.)
I hope I can continue to listen to God and follow Him as I always should. I hope one day any fear/trepidation/anxiety I have will be erased but in the mean time, I will continue to follow Him and His path and open myself more and more to His grace.