Pouring Ourselves Out

waterfall 1Trying to come up with an intentional and authentic name for a blog is challenging. It needs to encompass a bit of who we are, and inviting enough for further readership outside of one’s own loving mother. I ended up choosing; Poured Myself Out In Gift. It is not something mind-blowing to be sure, or exclusively up to me, but something we are ALL called to do.

Each day, each moment, each breath we are called to give ourselves for the good of others and the glory of God.

Ephesians 1:11-12 reminds us, “In him we were chosen, destined in accord with the purpose of the One who accomplishes all things, according to the intention of his will, so that we might exist for the praise of his glory, we who first hoped in Christ.”

“For the praise of his glory…” That line really sticks with me. How can we add anything to God?

Well, the short answer is we cannot. But through our lives, our love, our gift of our self- we can draw others to God, to show them his glory and goodness. All things are from God; the good, the beautiful, the true, the trials, and the sufferings.

We have to remember that this life is only the journey, but the journey that spans our lifetime and directs where we will end up for eternity. This is the proving grounds, the testing and the purifying of our souls to ready us for eternal joy and infinite love poured out from God.

Everything in this life is an opportunity to stretch our hearts to prepare them for more. More what? More of God’s love in heaven.

One of the ways we are stretched the most is through trials and suffering. Seems like crazy talk, I know. However it is the true and time tested way that works on human hearts. We are a tough lot. We have hard heads, proud hearts, stubborn wills. We want what we want, when we want it, and exactly how we prayed for it. We don’t like to settle for anything less than that. When God doesn’t deliver like a vending machine we doubt his love, we question his abilities and his care for us and we often reject him and go our own direction. Yet, God loves us so, and is unwilling to leave us there poking around in the darkness of our sin and stubbornness. He knows the best way for us to get to heaven and that involves the “S” word that we loathe the most…suffering.

Why does it have to be that way? “He who did not spare his own Son but handed him over for all, how will he not also give us everything else along with him?” (Rom 8:32) Not even Jesus was free from suffering. Not the Blessed Virgin and not us. There is purifying power in suffering and trials. These are opportunities that stretch our hearts better than anything else; opportunities that allow for a greater capacity to accept more of God’s remarkable abundant love and goodness.

In my own life, I can look back and see that the things that hurt the absolute most were the times that I grew closer to God, prayed harder, and trusted more. They were times that stretched my heart beyond the tiny confines that I kept it safe within my chest. At the time, all I knew was pain. Physical and mental. I questioned God; I begged for answers, I was wrought in confusion. Why me? Why this? Why? At the time, I felt that I shed more tears than the ocean could hold and I know I am not finished because my life is not complete.

Stretching hurts. Pruning is uncomfortable and we feel so out of control of the situation. But that is okay. I have found that it gives us the chance to let go of the reins and hand them over to God where they belonged all along. Surrendering takes practice and the good news is that God will give us more opportunities than we want, and all the opportunities that we need.

We limit ourselves so much. Our love is stingy, we trust haltingly, and our faith is conditional. Conditional on what? On getting our way.

So what I am attempting to practice this second half of my life is to let go every chance I get. It isn’t easy, it isn’t pretty and I play tug of war with God all the time…but I am trying each day to be better at trusting and letting go.

God knows exactly what it will take to make the key that opens the door to heaven for me, and for each one of us. We need to be pliable material to let him craft us into his image, day by day and moment by moment. Let him do the work he needs to do with us. Accept the cross, as Christ his only Son did, as Mary the Blessed Mother did, pondering all the while but obedient, docile and humble.  Whining is ugly and unbecoming. The determination they displayed is an example for each one of us to follow. That narrow road is treacherous, but we are not alone and following the most famous saints in history. We can do this, we want to do this, and our eternal souls need us to do this.

Barbara Lishko works full time as a Lay Catholic Marriage Minister. She and her husband Mark, an ordained Deacon, have been married for 35 years and are blessed with five young adult children, whose lives grow and expand through marriage and grandchildren.

Through the inspiration of her family, work in the Catholic Church and wacky life experiences her dream of writing was born. She is the recipient of the Diocese of Phoenix St Terese of Lisieux award. Barbara can be reached at blishko_58@yahoo.com