Tuesday, October 20, 2020

Perfectionism a sin?

What would you do if you knew you could not fail?  This is a very interesting question, to which I've heard a lot of people give a variety of answers.  "Sky dive."  "Become a singer."  "Solve the problem of world peace."  "Get married."  These are some of the most intriguing answers I've heard.

Think about it for yourself.  Most of us don't go for the big dreams in our lives because we don't believe in ourselves and our ability to accomplish those things, so we settle for something smaller, but safer.

There was a time in my life when I admired the idea of perfectionism.  I tried to be "a perfectionist," and I really thought that it was a good thing to do.  It was admirable.  Why wouldn't everyone want to try to be perfect?  Haha.  Then I learned.

I remember when I was applying for my first jobs at King Soopers, Elitch's, Build-A-Bear Workshop, saying with seriousness in my interviews that my perfectionism was a strength.  I know that some people use that as their weakness to look better (like, my weakness is that I'm a perfectionist, which is a really insincere way of answering the question because it's really just a way to show of a perceived "strength").  But seriously, it IS a weakness, and it's a very dangerous one.

How could perfectionism be bad?  How could it even be sinful?  After all, aren't we told in scripture to "be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect" (Matthew 5:48).  If the Bible tells us to do something, could that thing ever be a sin?  

I haven't met any people who are actually perfect.  I have, however, met many people who are perfectionists.  Obviously, there is a difference between the two things.  

Perfectionism stops us from doing things.  It's about the pride of being able to say that "I did it perfectly."  It is a voice that says, "if you can't do it perfectly, don't do it at all."  It's what stops us from trying out for the play, asking that girl out, or praying.  Yep.  People are so afraid that if they don't pray perfectly, it's not worth it at all.

Jesus doesn't want us to be so wrapped up with doing things perfectly that we are too afraid to ever do anything at all.  In fact, He wants us to be brave.  To know that, while we might not achieve perfection, we did something worthwhile.  We trusted Him, and He took care of us.  If we are doing what God asks from us, whether it's world-changing work, or working to change the world of a friend, we may not do it perfectly, but we can trust that God will fill in the gaps.  Because He IS perfect.  And He IS good.

GK Chesterton says, "Anything worth doing is worth doing badly."  If God is calling you to it, if it's a good thing to do, it's worth doing, even if you can't do it perfectly.  Even if you can't do it well.  God wants your obedience, not your perfection.

Live your faith.  Pray.  Read the Bible.  Preach the Gospel.  Do your schoolwork.  Try out for the team.  Ask the girl out.  If it's what God wants, it doesn't have to be perfect.  Be brave, even if you aren't perfectly brave.

Tuesday, October 13, 2020

Spiritual Inertia

It's scientific.  An object in motion tends to stay in motion, and an object at rest tends to stay at rest.  It's a law of science called inertia.
Physics has never been my strong suit, but this was something that made sense to me.  An object that is sitting still isn't going to start moving unless something happens to it.  There has to be a change.  A pencil sitting on a desk isn't going to move on its own.  The desk needs to fall.  The wind needs to blow.  A person needs to pick it up.  It's going to take another action, and that action is going to require energy. 

This may be a law of physics, but it seems to be a spiritual law as well.  For so much of this year, many of us have been at rest.  Rest is a good thing when it is a good thing.  We require rest.  However, most of us have not been experiencing a refreshing rest.  Sadly, most of us have been experiencing sloth.  We are still.  We are stuck.  Getting us to move is going to take a LOT of energy.

Please don't misunderstand.  I'm not accusing.  Well, I suppose I might be.  But I can accuse because I understand it so well because I am in the exact same boat.  The lazier I become, the more lazy I get.  It spirals.  

I know that when I have experienced a very fruitful and productive spiritual life, laziness is not attractive.  It's harder to settle down.  Why?  Inertia.  An object in motion tends to stay in motion.

But this year, my body has been less active.  My brain has been less active.  My soul has been less active.  It's getting harder and harder to move.  An object at rest tends to stay at rest.
Right now, it's hard to get active, but it's a fight that we really need to have.  Remember, "I can do all things through Him who gives me strength (Philippians 4:13).  Ask God to give you the strength to get back to Church, to go to Reconciliation, to attend Youth Ministry, to read your Bible, to pray your rosary.  Get started.  Do the work.  You'll be glad you did.  


Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Back-to-School Blues

"I can't believe school is already starting again!"  How many times have you heard these words recently?  I'm not even in school, and I have heard these words more times than I care to count.  And yet, the truth is, I can't believe that school is starting again already!  Where does time actually go?

I saw a funny meme, which I searched and searched and searched for but can't find!  It basically said, "Here's a list of all of the awesome things I did this summer:  work." 

It's hard not to get the blues at the end of summer break, even us adults who don't have an actual summer break get the end of summer blues.  Summer is just such a wonderful time to rest, relax, play, and be in nature.  These things are good for our bodies and our souls.

Starting the school year off on a positive note is a really important thing to do in order to succeed.  Part of starting the school year off well isn't just getting good sleep, staying on top of your homework, and all that practical stuff.  It's spiritual as well.  Start your school year off dedicating time to prayer, to Reconciliation and Mass, and to living out your faith.  Whenever there is a new beginning (a new year, a birthday, the start of a school year), it's good to reflect on the changes that need to happen in order to make whatever you're doing the best that it can be. 

Starting out strong will help you take away some of the blues and give you a sense of purpose and enthusiasm.

Tuesday, July 30, 2019


When I was a kid, I was told by my doctor that I couldn't play contact sports because I was "too easily breakable."  That was my official diagnosis.  It just didn't seem very scientific to me.  Sure, I had a lot of injuries as a kid, lots of broken bones and stitches and stuff, but I always just assumed that those things were caused by the fact that I was a very active kid.  And clumsy.  It's not like my bones just broke for no reason.  They broke because I fell off a slide, or off a clothesline pole, or off a fence, or while roller skating, or while falling off the tire swing.  People get hurt from things like that.

My doctor did approve of me doing sports that were a little easier on my body, like swimming and track.

As I got older, I really fell in love with those sports, and continued to participate in running, specifically.  But this weird thing kept happening...I kept getting hurt.

I always gave an explanation for my injuries...I did too much too fast, or I didn't stretch enough, or I ran when it was too cold outside.  It was not exactly shocking that I got injured often, since I didn't take the best care of myself.

Until I started to take better care of myself, and I still kept getting injured.  All the time.  I started slower.  I included weight training.  I included stretching.  I didn't run outside when it was really cold or icy.

Earlier this year I decided to get it really checked out, and I went to a good chiropractor who actually took X-Rays and discovered that I have some unique problems with my spine and my pelvis.  I'll probably end up getting surgery some day for them.  This is why I keep getting hurt.  My doctor told me the bad news, I could never be a long distance runner without being injured.  I could still be a distance runner for now, but I'd definitely get hurt doing it.

This was rather freeing news for me, actually.  At least I could now focus on finding an exercise that would be beneficial for me.  Now I could focus on something new and moving on.  So I started CrossFit.

I know!  I know!  CrossFit is SO hard on your body!  I was planning on being really careful and just seeing how it went.  Turns out, I LOVED it!  It was fun.  It was challenging.  It made me feel so good.  I was hooked immediately.

Until I got hurt.

I would have been ok if my back was what got hurt.  I would have expected that.  Or if my legs were hurt.  Obviously there is a lot of leg work.  Or my shoulders.  You use your shoulders a ton in CrossFit.  One of the coaches even warned me about how people can get some pretty serious rib injuries from it (I wasn't expecting that, but after she told me, I wouldn't have been surprised for it to happen).  But that's not how I got hurt!

For me, it was my arms.  Not my upper arms, either.  My lower arms.  Between my elbows and my wrists.  On BOTH arms!
Image result for uncle jesse broken arms

For more than a week my arms have been in a LOT of pain.  I haven't been able to use them much or well.  I felt like Uncle Jesse in Full House when he breaks both of his arms.  I couldn't do anything.

It turns out, I actually am too easily breakable.  My childhood diagnosis remains into adulthood.  My body just doesn't like sports.

It's super disappointing.  Obviously it's annoying that I'm injured again.  But it's frustrating that I love sports but just can't do them because my body won't let me.

That doesn't mean I'm going to give up.  I'll probably try a lot more things.  I loved swimming when I was in high school.  I could give it a try again.  I could try spin classes.  I could try rock climbing (which would then also help with my fear of heights.  Either that or I'd just get stuck someplace and never be able to get down).  There are a lot of things that I can try.  And I will.

Our bodies are good, but they are constantly reminding us that we live in a fallen world.  Someday, should I make it to heaven, I will get my body back, and it won't have limitations like "being too easily breakable."  I won't have to work so hard to workout (it's a lot of work trying all these new things to discover what my body will allow me to do).  I also won't have a need to workout.   Whatever ailments you experience with your body, whether it's something small like allergies (which, let's be honest, if you suffer from allergies you know that it doesn't feel small), or being "too easily breakable," or something big like a disease or disability, take heart in knowing that this isn't what God wants for you.  This isn't actually how He created you.  He created you perfect.  The way we are created is not the same as the way we were born.

Have peace knowing that the problems with your body do not come from God, but you can use them to give glory to God anyway.  This fallen world can't take that away from you!  Give Him glory now, and you will get to forever more in Heaven, with a body that actually works the way God intended it to!

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

On being a snob

I was recently talking with an old friend who I very rarely see.  Actually, the funny thing is that I see him ALL THE TIME, but I never spend time with him.  He lives about two miles away from me but on the same street.  I see him driving all the time.  For a while, I'd see him daily, driving east while I was driving west.  We must have had the exact same schedule that week or something.  It's weird.

Anyway, a mutual friend's dad passed away recently, and the funeral was at the church where I work.  After the funeral, he stopped by to say hi.  I told him hi, and we chatted for a while.  I told him that I thought that it was funny because I see him all over the place.  He told me that he saw me at a restaurant recently, but he didn't say hi.  That's fair, I guess.  I mean, I don't say hi to him when I see him driving the opposite direction that I am going on a fairly busy street (seriously, though, I'm only being passive-aggressive as a joke here.  There actually are no hard feelings.  I was having a bad day the day that he says he saw me, and I probably wouldn't have been super excited about chit chatting anyway).

This guy is kind of a food-snob.  He comes from a family that emphasizes food a lot.  It's a big part of their family life.  His mom is an incredible cook, and he grew up eating only high quality foods!  He has been truly blessed in that area, more so than most.  It makes sense that a love for good food grew so strong in him given his upbringing.  He also works in the food industry.  He owns a food truck (this is how I see him driving all over the place.  I see his food truck and sure enough, it's always him driving it).  While we were chatting after our friend's dad's funeral, he mentioned that he saw me at a restaurant (as I previously mentioned), and he said something along the lines of, "I did not want to go to that restaurant.  The people I was with made me.  Their food is terrible."  I remember feeling very defensive when he said this to me.  He did apologize, basically to rub it in that he's a snob about food, better than me, and that he's sorry for insulting me.

This interaction bothered me, but I couldn't exactly figure out why.  Did it bother me that he's better than me?  No.  I don't necessarily agree with his assessment of the situation.  He might be better than me, but it's certainly not because of his preference in food.  A person's preference is just that...a preference.  It makes no difference if you prefer one type of food and I don't, or vice versa.  At least that's not how I judge a person's character.

It bothered me because I felt guilty, like I should be the one apologizing.  I felt kind of sad for him, that he didn't enjoy the food that I did enjoy.  I love the restaurant that we were talking about.  I know a lot of people who do, too.  It's not like it was a Taco Bell or something (which, for the record, I also enjoy).  It was a decent restaurant.  A sit-down place (not that that determines the quality of the food).  I felt bad for him.  Sure, he really loves fine food.  That's great!  I also enjoy fine food (probably, to be fair, I don't really eat fine food often).  However, since I am not a snob about food, I could enjoy something that he couldn't.  That makes me sad for him, not for me.

I don't think that we are called to be snobs, and yet, we tend to pride ourselves on our snobbishness.  The more we can find fault with the mediocre, the better we are somehow.  Is that good, though?  Should we be snobs?

I am a notoriously picky eater.  I wish that I wasn't.  I hate that people are always like, "Mmmmm...steak is SOOOOO good!"  Ugh.  Gross.  I wish I tasted what they taste when they eat steak.  I swear my taste buds are broken.  But being picky is different than being a snob.  I definitely don't think that I'm better than anyone because I don't like steak.  Geez...I KNOW I'm worse off because I don't get as much enjoyment out of it.  Or any enjoyment for that matter!  I wish I did!  I know that I'm the one missing out.

I will also admit that I am a snob about certain things, too.  I am.  But, in a way, I'm not proud of my snobbishness.  Whenever I discover that I'm acting like a snob, I have to work really hard at stopping that behavior.  The funny thing is that it's hard to stop!  It's a huge challenge to say, "Pride, go away!"  Pride is sticky.

Being a snob steals the joy out of your own life more than it does others.  Work on ridding it from your life, so you can really begin to enjoy the little things, like food from a non-authentic Mexican restaurant.  You'll be a happier person because of it!

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Insecurities, Rejection and Confession

I need to ask for your forgiveness.  Again I find myself giving into one of my biggest struggles.  One of my biggest sins.  This sin is one that most people would consider a "private sin," and therefore, they would say, I don't need to apologize to anyone else but God for this sin.  That is not correct, though.

What is my sin?  Feeling sorry for myself.

Yes, that's right, feeling sorry for yourself is a sin.  One I commit way too often.

There are few things in life that are as horrible as the feeling of rejection. I should know.  I've experienced it a lot.  This year.  This month, actually.  While this month has been exciting (what with my promotion and all), I should simply be feeling good about everything.  Yet, I find myself feeling sad about the things in my life that aren't going well.  I find myself wondering if others are actually excited that I'm being promoted like they say, or if they are simply trying to be polite while really feeling disappointed that I'm the one replacing Richard.  The stress of trying to read people's minds and determine their true feelings about me is burdensome.  And impossible.  Burden mixed with stress mixed with impossible goals often results in jumping to terrible conclusions, which I've done.  While this should be a joyful, celebratory time for me, it's really turned into a time of sorrow, while I listen to the lies in my head that say that "everyone is lying to you.  Nobody really wants you."  Insecurity - my oldest companion. 

Top all this off with the fact that I have been excluded from a lot of events lately, and you get yourself a real bad recipe.  People who should have included me in special events have decided that they don't want me to be part of their celebrations and festivities.  People appreciate my skills, but don't like me as a person.  Things are just tough sometimes.  When I feel rejected, which I have a lot lately, I feel sorry for myself.  It's just how it goes.

I want to break that cycle.  I'm working on it.  Hard.  But I did it again.  I found myself entertaining these thoughts willingly.  

Everybody wants to be chosen.  Everybody wants to be wanted.  I guess I can't really speak for everyone, but I know that I sure do.  I don't think I'm unique because of that, either.  When I experience rejection, even if there are other things that are going so well in my life, like a job promotion for instance, I have a tendency to focus all of my attention on myself, to make broad generalizations about myself (like I'm unlovable or I'm annoying or I'm stupid or I'm awkward), and to allow myself to enter into despair.  

When you experience rejection, it's ok to feel sad.  In fact, you should feel sad.  It's ok to feel frustrated.  It's frustrating to want something, to give to someone, to love someone who doesn't reciprocate, appreciate or care.  Feel sad; feel frustrated; don't wallow.

So...this is my confession.  This is me asking for forgiveness from you (I'll ask God for forgiveness in the Sacrament of Reconciliation later).  I don't want to take you and your love for granted.  I have some amazing people in my life, who I love dearly.  Who I know love me, too.  I'm sorry that I let myself believe that you were incapable of loving me.  I know that you're a good person.  That's why I want your love.  And yet, I tell myself that you aren't a good enough person to love me.  That's just crazy!  I'm so sorry.  I'm working on this.  I'm working so hard.  Please pray for me.  

Tuesday, July 9, 2019

Fresh Start

I remember the day when I got the call from Richard, asking me to be the Assistant Director of Youth Ministry.  To be honest, I kind of guessed I was going to get the job, but I didn't know for sure.  When Richard called me to offer me the job, I answered, and, in his typical manner, rather than just telling me the good news outright, he asked me if I was available some weekend later in July.  I said yes, knowing that the dates he asked about were the dates for the Steubenville Conference, which I had blocked off just in case I were to get this job.  He just said, "Well that's good, because it's important for my Assistant to be in attendance at that event."  Then he was quiet.  I knew what he was saying, but I also didn't want to be presumptuous and assume that he was telling me that I was his new assistant, so I didn't say anything.  I've gotten over that with him since then! 

Twelve years!  It's been quite a journey!  I have learned SO much about Youth Ministry, love, God, family, and friendship throughout my time here!  I can't even begin to tell you about it all!

Now my journey has progressed, and I am now the Director of Youth Ministry.  I am so excited (and a little scared) about what will happen in these next years of my life, but if it's anything like the last years of my life, I know that I'll be even stronger, happier, smarter, and better than I've ever been before!  I can't wait to see what happens!