I am compulsive. There. See? I said it. Yes, I readily admit that my life is almost completely ruled by habits which include, but are not limited to, lists and the insistence on the proverbial, "a place for everything, and everything in its place." Without a list, my poor wee brain is lost. And it drives me positively nuts to waste precious time hunting for something that should be right there.
(Thankfully, the kids thought it was great fun to have a picnic on the floor for lunch that day.)
Each pile had a name, such as "Phone Calls" or "Mail" or "Reading" or "Ave Momma" (my rosary making mission), each of which I designated with a bright pink post-it note. I even had a pile called, "Scarlett O'Hara" (because after all, tomorrow is another day) and "Rhett Butler" (because, frankly my dear, I don't give a.....well, you get the idea). Once the piles were complete and the mountain of paperwork had been reduced to a molehill, I stacked it all up in a box and placed it next to my desk. (Although I was not happy to discover that I hadn't thought ahead to write the titles on the post notes upside down, so they would stick up from the box legibly. Note to self for next time!)
Sometimes, however, in homeschooling, child-rearing, or just plain life, we don't get such a tidy checklist or To Do pile, from which we proudly can mark off our achievements. In fact, more often than not, life in general is so much more fluid and amorphous than that.
Wouldn't it be lovely if, at our birth, the Lord would hand us a checklist of all the things He means for us to accomplish in life, so we could have a clear path to know, love, and serve Him in this world, and thus be happy with Him forever in the next!?
But, that doesn't happen.
Instead, we're left to muddle along and, through both nature and nurture, figure it out for ourselves. You know why? Because every single one of us is equipped with a marvelously irritating quality called Free Will. And it is because of free will that each of us not only ultimately is responsible for our own actions, but also for the effect our actions have on others.
Although the Lord already knows the outcome, He wants us to learn from our past and to live "in the moment", and thus make our decisions for ourselves, not follow a pre-written Guidebook For Your Predestination.
What does this mean for our relationship with Him?
It means that at every opportunity, every day, we have the option to turn toward Him or away from Him. As children of God, we are loved by our Father -- by God Almighty! -- and He wants us to love Him in return. But it is optional. Our option. A matter of choice in our free will.
What kind of a crazy parent is He!? Wouldn't it be easier if He didn't just leave an idiot like me to my own devices, and instead pre-programed me for total obedience and brilliance?
Yes, it might be easier for Him...okay, a lot easier. But it would be beneficial neither to my soul nor to our relationship. It would not give me the opportunity to learn from my triumphs and mistakes, as well as the triumphs and mistakes of others, and make the free choice to turn toward the Lord, seek to discern His will for me, and love him FREELY in return. How generous that is! God risks being spurned by us mere mortals in the hope that, instead, we will love Him freely in return.
I mean, c'mon, would you really feel as well-loved if your parent, spouse, child, or friend was compelled to "love him/her or else!"? It is precisely because of our freedom of choice that we are able to pursue the love of God wholly, completely, and fiercely -- or, you might say, with our whole heart, soul, mind, and strength.
Oh wait -- He already told us that! (cf. Deuteronomy 6:5, Matthew 22:37)
So, the next time you are lamenting that everything is not in place, and that you certainly don't feel you are in a place that is close to God, do this:
Stop complaining. Get up off your duff. Dust off your free will. Organize your life, even if you begin with just one simple aspect of it. And listen to your Father's advice. Beat a path to the tabernacle. Turn to the God of love and ask His Son to embrace you and guide you in all that you do.
Because I guarantee you -- He will!
His arms already are outstretched -- for you!