This past week was the Feast of the Annunciation of the Lord (AKA when Mary said "yes" to God's will and became the mother of Jesus Christ). This happened to coincide with my weekly bible study group's study of Mary. (Walking With Purpose. Woot woot!) And so you could say I've got our Blessed Mother on the brain, and it made me think about how I want to be like her.
In Luke 1:38, Mary responds to the Angel Gabriel, "Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord, May it be done to me according to your word."
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Mary, a betrothed virgin, accepted God's will as her own, despite the very serious challenges that it would cause in her life, with her future husband, her family, and her community. I'm sure like all of us, she had many plans for her future, none of which included raising the Son of God as her own and later watching him be put to death. But Mary is eternally faithful and put her trust in the Lord, knowing that He knows best.
So this made me think of my own journey in faith and my need to focus on God's will.
I spent my teenage years trying to be perfect. I thought, "If I have perfect hair and perfect clothes, if I'm a perfect athlete and student, if I'm perfectly kind and funny, if I'm perfect, people will love me and I'll be happy." As an adult, I've often bought into our culture's ideals of being the perfect woman and having the perfect house, the perfect family, and the perfect stuff.
Surprise! None of that made me content with life, and striving for worldly perfection just left me feeling even more flawed. Sure I was happy most of the time and I have loved my life, but I still felt like I was missing something vitally important.
I've heard it explained that we all have a God-shaped hole. There's even a song about it. We try to fill that hole with different things: money, relationships with people, careers, sex, material goods, traveling, you name it. But the only thing that can fill the God-shaped hole is....(ding ding. I'm sure you got it!) God!
All this time, I never asked what God's plan was for me. I was living for myself and my will. It has taken several years of growing my faith to get to a point where I'm wholeheartedly seeking to do God's will. Only when I started to focus on doing what God wants, did I find the peace and joy that I had been searching for.
But of course, this is no easy task. I can be selfish, impatient, sarcastic, and temperamental, among other things. (I sound like a doll, don't I?) I'm a sinner, and I will never be perfect. But I strive to be holy, and I know that I will not achieve that by pursuing worldly pleasures: driving the perfect car, having the perfect house, the perfect hair, or the perfect children. (Although, God, I think having awesome hair would sure help me evangelize ;). I will only grow holier by striving to discern and do God's will, and trusting that He will give me everything I need. I want to be like Mary, forgo my own plan, and follow God's plan instead.
However, I know that God's plan will challenge me to do things that I won't want to do, will make me uncomfortable and will require patience and persistence, of which I don't think I'm capable. But
Many who know me well, know that I am an anxious person, and I grew up terribly shy to the point that the only way to get me to speak in public or assert an opinion in a group was to make it a requirement or part of a grade. I hid from my own 5th birthday party. I quit basketball before my junior year because being 1 person on a 5 person team put too many eyes on me. I needed at least 11 or 12 teammates to blend in. And I was so excited when my wedding was over, not just because I was married (yay!) but because I would never have to be the center of attention like that ever again. (double yay!)
Now, here I am trying to
shove my ideas down your throat share my faith and thoughts with anyone who will read them. I am not a good writer (as I'm sure you've noticed) and it makes me nervous each time I click publish on a post. But I feel called by God to share in any avenue He gives me, and I pray each day that I will slow down enough to listen to Him and let Him guide me in my actions and words. This is merely one small example of how I have seen God working in my life.
Once I started focusing on God's plan for my life, I began noticing the many ways that He is working on my concerns, desires, struggles, and strengths in a way that I could never understand, but that make perfect sense when they come to fruition. He gives me everything I need to follow His plan, as long as I am open it.
I want to start each day asking God for guidance in doing His will in my life. I love this prayer from the Walking With Purpose 101 book, Choosing the Better Part by Lisa Brenninkmeyer:
"Lord, please help me recognize when You are interrupting my plans with Your own.
Help me to yield to You this day instead of clinging to my own agenda.
Help me to follow You with a generous heart."
I know that I will fail, as I have many times before. Many. Including today. But fortunately I no longer live my life afraid of making mistakes. I know that God will forgive me, and the only thing I need to worry about is always striving to know Him, love Him, and do His will. He will take care of the rest.
P.S. - Mary rocks.