For Love of a Good Challenge

Photo by Tom Swinnen on Pexels.com

It is a quiet Sunday morning as I sit here writing. Practicing NFP means that because I must take my temperature even when I don’t have to get up early, I am often up for the day long before the rest of the house. I do my neck and back and shoulder and leg stretches—targeting all the various parts of my body that could render me nonfunctional if I do not—and listen to Scripture or podcast.

Intentional Catholic has been on my mind a lot lately, but the questions I need to grapple with are all still too unformed.

I’ve always valued a good, challenging homily or reflection. One that calls me to look honestly at myself and my weaknesses. It’s not a threat because I am a type A person who wants to be better today than yesterday, and better tomorrow than today. I genuinely want to follow God above all else. I am okay with being challenged to face my failures. How else can I be better tomorrow than today?

I suppose this is a natural outgrowth of being a musician and writer. Critique is baked into the formation of both those professions. First my band directors, then my private flute teachers, looked for what was holding me back and taught me how to climb over the obstacles to the next plateau. In the writing world, I’ve worked with editors and critique partners for sixteen years. Before my novel caught the eye of my literary agents, I collected something like four hundred rejection letters, of all lengths and varieties, from the one-line generic to the “I want this to look thought out but it’s really a form rejection” to the heartbreaking near misses. One music rejection, out of all others, still gives me the heebiejeebies, because what they pointed out was right and I should have seen it myself.

All this to say, I value being challenged. Good challenge. Not nonsense, conspiracy-theory, poor information, one-set-of-rules-for-The-Other-Guys-and-a-totally-different-one-for-mine challenges. Those just enrage me. And I would say I suspect they enrage God too, except I suspect God has a teeny bit broader perspective on the universe than I do, and probably finds it grieving rather than enraging.

As I approach the news these days, I’m constantly filtering my immediate, knee-jerk reaction through the knowledge of my biases. That is a relatively new manifestation of my spiritual journey. I am a little slower to get angry now because I can see the inconsistencies inherent in my knee-jerk reactions. It doesn’t remove the inconsistencies, but just being conscious of them helps put things in perspective.

What that doesn’t help with is the deep, existential, Godly-justice-centered outrage inspired by the failure of so many others to recognize THEIR inconsistencies.

And so I struggle on.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: