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Prepare to Undo Your Plans

I like to think of myself as a planner. Not only do I love to watch my calendar fill up in color-coded “busy” dots, and to edit “penciled in” activities with specific times and places, but I also love to have a plan for my life. Since youth, most of us – we girls and boys with wide-eyed dreams – knew the steps we would, at the very least, try to take to become the person we’d always dreamed we’d become, or, in some cases, the person our parents always hoped we’d become. We went through grade school, applied ourselves to as much studying as we found necessary to enter the schools we wanted (or didn’t want) to attend. After college, a lot of us went through a “no plan” phase, or as some are (a bit laughably, I’m sorry) labeling it, Post-Commencement Stress Disorder – one where we have to find our place and begin making decisions that will largely impact our career choices, friend circles, attitudes, you name it. Ironically, though, as I wrote about last week, this is also the point when the world begins to pressure us, all the same, with its expectations: to do specific things and to live in a specific way. Get a job. Find a soul mate. Make a lot of money. Buy a house. Have a family. These are just a few examples of what we begin to prepare to do, to have and to be, post-adolescence. Recently when complaining about the anxiety I have concerning this “fate” the world draws out for us, a friend pointed me to a short clip from (one of the many) films on Steve Jobs’ life, this one titled Secrets of Life. I watched it about four times. I imagine that it might resonate with others who, like me, feel as though they don’t know how to live a “normal” life, or who don’t know how to prepare to fulfill all the world’s expectations. It’s an understatement that my heart cries for more. I know that “more” is God hitting my conscience like a drum to pay attention to His subtle signs of what His Truth calls me to be, to have and to do. God is calling me to prepare for His Son’s coming. And He is calling me to prepare for things not of this world at all. I found this reflection by Lisa Brenninkmeyer a good place to begin when contemplating preparation and how we should approach this portion of Advent: When we were still in the womb, God was planning specific works for us to do, life purposes that would bring the greatest fulfillment and satisfaction to us. “For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do” (Ephesians 2:10). As we read in Jeremiah 29:11-13, those plans and purposes are meant to bless us if we choose to participate in them. This path will be revealed when the light of Christ shines in our hearts, and His light shines brightest when we are in close communion with Him. As we give Him the place of highest priority in our lives by starting our day with prayer, talking to Him throughout the day, filling our minds with His truth through Scripture reading, availing ourselves of the sacraments and applying what we learn from the Catechism, we’ll grow closer to Him. As our hearts are filled with His presence, His light will shine in us. I find it so refreshing that no matter how much I fret about preparing for who the world wants me to become, to do, to have, to know, to learn… God simply asks that we look to live lives in preparation for He who is to come. And we were born with, knitted in the very womb of our mothers, that very ability. We were stitched with the tools and resources to be His image from the very beginning. Prepare the way of the Lord, make straight his paths. –Mk 1:3 This post originally appeared on Encourage and Teach website of the Diocese of Arlington, where Natalie is a regular writer. Follow Natalie on Twitter @nataliejplumb

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