We have a new pastor. He's the great-grand-nephew-something of a previous pastor at our parish, a pastor we never knew because we just got here 4.2 years ago, but he was definitely much beloved and where am I going with this?
Oh, here's where I'm going. Our new pastor is really young (younger than ME young! And I'm...what? 24 or something? So, wow. Young.) and he has the same last name and is related to that previous pastor and I sort of...
Ugh. I bet someone is going to tell him this. Or he's going to read it himself. (I saw him checking his iphone right before Mass yesterday. Then he stealth-like dropped it into the hidden pocket in his ankle length cassock, suited up in his ordinary-time green vestments and processified right in. Homey ain't afraid of the interwebz.). But I'll press on. Because I'm foolish.
So I passed judgement on our new pastor before I got to know him or his story. "He's this many years old and does the uptalk thing and likes to play kickball? And his great uncle was so and so? Oh yeah, pretty sure he's a ______________ sort of guy and they're putting him at our parish for reasons ______ and ______ and ______." And I can't even remember what I filled those blanks with anymore, but I do know I was wrong. It was unfair of me, it is always unfair of me, to just decide, because I'm so remarkably intuitive or whatever I tell myself, things about people based on categories I create in my own mind. But that's what I did. I decided that I knew that he probably wouldn't have much new stuff to teach me (neat how I already know everything, amiright?), and that we didn't have much in common, and it would be fine to have him at the parish but nothing too exciting.
As if it's HIM doing the teaching from the pulpit anyway.
As if having things in common is the best way for two people to learn from each other.
As if the things I assumed about him would preclude learning even if they were true.
Can the Holy Spirit facepalm? If so: doing it right now in my general direction.
INSTEAD (you knew this was coming), basically every Sunday since he became our pastor, I wanna hop up and down and high five everyone around me during the homily and then come right here and just, like, tell you every word he said.
I laughed so loud one week at some story he told, an atrocious, honking laugh, that this teenager three rows in front of us actually turned around with this look of horror on his face, as if some toddler had perhaps brought an old bicycle horn into the pew and was stomping on it during all the quiet parts.
Nope. Just dweej. Embarassing herself as usual.
But I don't want to tell you his funny story right now. I want to tell you about a phrase that he used in a homily several weeks ago that was so clearly intended by the Holy Spirit to shoot straight into my scattered heart, that it has helped me be a better....not just mother and wife. A better everything. A better me.
And it was so simple.
Are you ready?
That's it. Just those two words. He was talking about the word covenant, what a covenant means. That it's not just a promise like "I promise not to forget milk at the store." But a promise to be ALL IN in whatever you've agreed to do or be.
Earlier that morning, in the mad rush before leaving the house, I had felt myself becoming disconnected from my family, as I am wont to do when things are not going perfectly smoothly. Read: all the time. Maybe everyone does this, but I feel like I'm particularly good (bad?) at compartmentalizing things and becoming rigid and unfeeling when I am trying to achieve a particular goal. And then it's as if I'm a spectator, sort of looking down on the mayhem. My mind and heart are not "in it." What I want during those times is for everyone to shut up and do what I say, not for their benefit but for mine, and I'd even like them to do the things I've neglected to say but I just assume everyone ought to know I'm thinking because duh. Obviously.
When he started using that phrase in his homily- All In- I knew this was an invitation straight from the Holy Spirit.
Do you really want to enjoy your vocation more? Are you ready to do better? Is it time? Because if you are, this is what it's going to take.
Stop pulling away. Stop withholding. Reject the temptation to do the bare minimum for the irritating, tedious tasks so you can get back to doing what you imagine will be more fun.
Take your eyes OFF the prize and put them on your children instead.
I was challenged that day. I was convicted. Was I ready to go all in on this life? Finally, after practicing mothering lite for 13.5 years, was I ready to level up?
I had to say yes. Even though the reality of doing it would kind of suck sometimes, I knew I had to try. But to look at that feeling of disconnectedness in the face, that feeling I've embraced so often in the past, and to name it, gave me power. A Little In apparently wasn't gonna cut it anymore.
Please know that a hundred times since that call, I've fallen. I have failed. I've gone into that place in my brain that turns my children or husband or other people into objects in my elaborate plan for things to go just the exact way I want them to because can't you see that I have the absolute best ideas? But instead of never saying it and never doing better, now I sometimes say it and am doing a little better:
Oh yes, I actually have to say it. Out loud. When the third kid asks for a drink after I've already tried to sit down and answer this one dagblam email four different times and WHY ARE THESE TODDLERS ACTING LIKE SUCH CHILDREN??? I can sometimes catch myself. And when I do I whisper "all in, all in, all in, all in..." and it's as if the Holy Spirit is talking me right off that ledge. I can feel the frustration and irritation ebbing with each syllable. It is truly remarkable and I am absolutely grateful.
So, in the style of our new pastor, I'm going to summarize the two things I'm thinking about today: 1) being a categorizing, judgey-pants jerkwad is a great way to miss out on really getting to know actual people as individuals, which is of course, the only way to love them and 2) For me Being a Little In is out and, though I will certainly continue to fail, being All In is definitely in.