It was way past midnight. The house was quiet around me. Members of my family were nestled snug in their beds. And there I was, sitting in front of the computer typing away; I had brought my work home once again. I leaned back in my office chair and swiveled side to side, stretching tired muscles. My eye caught the title of a book on my shelf, and I smiled at the irony: “Embrace The Suck,” an exploration of the fitness revolution by Stephen Madden. The title reflected a phrase used by soldiers as a coping mechanism during deployment: “Yeah, it sucks here. But here you are. And wishing it didn’t suck wasn’t going to make it any less sucky, so make the best of it by embracing it and seeing what lessons can be learned from it.”
The irony of having my gaze settle at that particular moment on that particular book among all the books on my shelves wasn’t lost on me. Fact was, I wasn’t doing a very good job of embracing the suck in my life. I was bearing it – with a lot of mumbling and grumbling – but I certainly wasn’t embracing it. Truth be told, I was getting awfully good at finding the negative in just about everything. My initial optimistic attitude toward life had eventually given way to disillusionment, which eventually became resigned pragmatism. I was more concerned about the day-to-day matters of fact than with what could or should be. I was surviving…but I certainly wasn’t thriving.
Sighing deeply, my eyes wandered over the other titles on my shelves until I found the book I was looking for: “A Simple Path” by Mother Teresa. I pulled it down and skimmed through the pages, resting upon a few of the lines I had highlighted:
“You have to surrender to Him and rely on Him completely. When you do this, all doubt is dispelled and you are filled with conviction.” Well there was strike one. I was relying on Jesus for strength and endurance, but I certainly wasn’t surrendering much to Him. I was so busy putting out fires and developing strategies that I failed to take the long view. I needed to remember that God was in control.
“Let Jesus use you without consulting you.” Oops, strike two. I was being very egocentric in my relationship with Him. I wanted Him to give me what I wanted rather than taking what He gives. I was acting like the rookie employee rather than the experienced professional.
“We’re not always called to be successful, but we’re always called to be faithful.” Strike three and out. I knew full well that I wasn’t experiencing success in much of anything lately. And the lack of quantifiable forward progression was causing me to be impatient and frustrated. But maybe in God’s eyes, simply showing up was half the battle. Maybe I needed to try enjoying riding shotgun instead of trying to steer all the time.
“We need to be flexible – when it is God’s time things are easy and when it’s not His time things are difficult.” I actually snorted upon reading that one. Life was pretty challenging for me at the moment, so obviously I was living in my time. I had forgotten that God had extended to me a special invitation to live the life He wanted for me right now. And yeah, it was kind of sucky at the moment. But He was in control, making plans behind the scenes that weren’t my business to question. I had to believe that He was answering my prayers; He wasn’t saying no, he was simply saying not yet. And until He said yes, I needed to remember that although I may not always get what I want, He would always give what I needed.
Humbled but refreshed, I returned the book to the shelf and my fingers to the keyboard. All was right in my world once again.
“Embrace The Suck” by Stephen Madden, Harper Collins Publishers 2014;
“A Simple Path” compiled by Lucinda Vardey, Ballantine Books, 1995
St. Francis de Sales Parish Catholic Church
40 Granville St.
Newark, Ohio 43055