I'm already tired of the prompts to make this "the best year everrrr!"
“Love is the prodigality that knows neither to count nor reckon.” Hans Urs Von Balthasaar
My newsfeed, my inbox collectively shout to me all the tips on how to choose my word for the year and hit 2018 out of the park. There is just so much potential-unleashing that I could be doing right now to make this the “best year everrr!”
More praying! More reading to the kids! More reading for myself! Less staring at the screen! More strength! Better health! Better finances! A cleaner house! Better planning! More quality time with everyone!
So many areas in which I could set specific goals for improvement.
Recently, I was sent a survey from one of these impressive go-getters asking what, in my opinion, was the biggest stumbling block to goal-setting. A great question that made me realize my biggest problem: there are so many things I could be focusing on for improvement. Where to begin? How do you choose what really matters? What is worth investing in?
The question became more urgent with news of an unexpected death, a terminal diagnosis for a loved one, and a health scare in the family that left me reeling.
My mortality screamed from within, violently reminding me of my paper-thin existence.
On the morning of Christmas Eve, as the news seemed to be getting worse and worse, I attended Mass with family and fought back the hot and stinging tears, gulping down the lump in my throat at the very real awareness that we cannot add one day to our lives. That we are not promised tomorrow, let alone a year or a lifetime.
My 6-year-old climbed into my lap after us older people had received the Eucharist– Christ broken and poured out for us — and I sobbed into his hair. Will I be here for his First Communion a year from now? Utter helplessness and an engulfing recognition that I was not in control flooded over me. What could I do but beg for more days?
Of course I need to make changes to my life. But I do not want to waste my time on things that don’t matter. Likewise, I don’t want to squander whatever precious amount of time I do have not doing the important things. I don’t want to look back on my death bed full of regret and say, well, at least I managed to get killer abs this year and a better return on our mutual funds!
Jesus touched on this in His sermon on the mount:
“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and decay destroy, and thieves break in and steal. But store up treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor decay destroys, nor thieves break in and steal.” Matthew 6:20-21.
I shared my lament, my fear of wasting my life, with a sage friend. I was offered this blessing in return:
“Blessings on all you do today … May it be filled with a life not wasted because wasted on others.”
Immediately I was reminded of something else Jesus said: “[W]hoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.” Matthew 16:25.
So therein I found my overarching resolution for 2018. I will get wasted.
I will choose every opportunity I can to pour my life out for others. I will love liberally and generously. And I will not count the cost.
I will revisit my long list of potential resolutions and examine them in the light of love. Does growth in prayer make me love better? Yup. Keep it.
What about building muscle strength? If the goal is to look ripped and turn heads, then no, it’s not going to pass the sniff test. But if it’s to make me stronger so that I can work harder for the good of my family, endure longer days without exhaustion, be a good steward of my body, and build the virtue of perseverance, then, yeah, that all lends itself to loving more. It becomes one part of the fuel that will make me better able to waste my life on others.
In the light of wasting myself for love, all those boring, tedious jobs that make up a life but nary a list of noble resolutions –laundry and dishes and cleaning of cat litter boxes and more laundry and more dishes and more cleaning of cat litter boxes — suddenly become wonderful opportunities. All acts of love! All perfect ways to get wasted.
Let me reject anything that doesn’t make love abound and say yes to what does. Love for God, love for neighbor, love for enemy. Let me take the time to properly order all my other goals, wishes, and desires in service of this greater goal.
May love be the compass this year and always, because love is never truly wasted.