I know it is only day one of 2021, and I am a person who neither makes nor believes in New Year’s Resolutions. I am of the mind that if you want to make a change in your life, start now. There’s no guarantee you’ll have tomorrow, or next week, or next year. Having said that, my husband is beginning the Exodus 90 journey on Monday, which comes with a lot of spiritual grace along with personal sacrifice. One of those sacrifices is no television, movies, or televised sports. While I am not a big TV watcher, we do have a few shows we enjoy watching together. Since we will not be doing that for 90 days, I wanted to renew my passion for reading. So, I decided that beginning today, New Year’s Day, I would pick up one of the mounting books I have been collecting and read a few pages. Our church was giving out free copies of the book Do Something Beautiful for God: the Essential Teachings of Mother Teresa. In the introduction, the author, Matthew Kelly, shares about the life of Saint Mother Teresa. He talks about her conversion in the midst of her vocation, the “call within a call” as it has been coined. He surmises that her intimate conversation with God included the phrase “How can I help?” He then challenges the readers with this statement:
“When was the last time you stepped into the classroom of silence, sat down with your God, and asked ‘How can I help?’” (pg 7)
I was shook by that statement. I often start out my day by offering it to God and telling Him I want to cooperate with His will. But that is before I set a foot onto the floor and encounter…well, life. Sometimes before my first cup of coffee, those words I have offered to God become a forgotten mantra that is snuffed out by circumstances that can really stretch my patience and drown my grace. My desire to cooperate with His will is sadly conditional.
As I said, I don’t watch much T.V. However, I have a few shows that I watch with some regularity. I don’t binge watch. I just can’t sit still that long. Most series take me forever to get through. There is one that I enjoy called “New Amsterdam” that I am actually caught up on. This hospital drama has only had two seasons so far, One of the reasons this show captivates me is the non-conventional medical director of the hospital, Dr Max Goodwin (played by Ryan Eggold). His mantra at all times is literally the phrase “How can I help?” He doesn’t tell his doctors about the obstacles that are rather evident. He doesn’t share negativity. Instead, despite many odds and his own cancer, he starts nearly every conversation with an uplifting outlook and an attitude of genuine care and concern for how HE can be a part of a solution, part of making life easier, not another challenge to the doctors.
So a fictional T.V. show and Saint Mother Teresa both invite me to consider the query…How can I help? I may be tired. I may be irritated. I may be hurt. I may be judgmental. I may be busy. I may be scared. I may get rejected. I may be…well, you fill in the blank of what stops you from asking someone if you can help. Let’s take it one step further – let’s go back to Matthew Kelly’s musing in the Mother Teresa book…. have you sat in silence with God and asked Him how you can help Him? His need for us to be His helpers is enormous. He needs simple acts of kindness which can actually be quite radical. Mother Teresa was 40 when she changed the trajectory of her vocation to exceptionally help God with His people. You aren’t too old, or too young. You aren’t too busy or too ill prepared. You aren’t too incapable or too valuable. You are equipped to help Him, right now. I AM equipped to help Him right now.
I definitely think God was trying to talk to me today. Well, lets be real. He is trying to talk to us every day! I just think today I was in some way more open to listen. After reading the excerpt from the Mother Teresa book, I attended Mass. In Mass we often tune out the prayers the priest prays that are scattered throughout the liturgy. Today, the closing prayer shook me too. It said “May He give you integrity in the faith, endurance in hope, and perseverance in charity, with Holy patience.” I heard “Debbie persevere in helping me out, and don’t lose patience or grow frustrated.” Yes God, I hear you.
Maybe 2021 could begin by picking up a spiritual reading. For me, I often find inspiration and strength to listen harder to God when I take in a good spiritual read. Not a reader? How about trying a podcast? There are SO MANY inspirational ones! Like movies? Why not watch one about the life of a saint. St Ignatius of Loyola’s movie from 2016 is both a thrilling movie and a thought-provoking story.
What would happen if tomorrow morning when you wake up, you don’t instantly look at your phone for the weather, or to see what was posted in Instagram since last night, or check your Snapchat, or what your favorite sports team is doing. What if instead, you sit in the classroom of silence, and ask God:
“How can I help you today?”
Wouldn’t that change 2021 for you and for everyone around you?