Posts Tagged With: walking on water

How to Walk on Water

Dear Pope Francis,

It is no secret that the story of Jesus and Peter walking on water is one of my favourites, and that I find myself returning to it over and over again. Every time, I see myself in a different part of the story.

This time however, I’m struck by what is missing from the story: after Peter sinks and Jesus catches him, the author simply writes: “when they got back in the boat, the wind ceased” (Mt 14:31). Did Jesus catch Peter and then they got back in the boat right away? Or did Peter try again to see if he could do better the second time? Did Peter give up, and that’s why they got back in the boat?

While I’ll never know that part of Peter’s story, it’s the part I am living right now.

For three years I felt Jesus inviting me to step out of the boat and into the storm of big city living, loneliness, and school stress. The final invitation was to move even further across the country. But since arriving, things have been different.

I no longer feel like I’m being invited somewhere new; I feel like I am exactly where I’m supposed to be: I am standing on the water with Jesus. I can see the waves (the physical differences and distance) and feel the wind (the loneliness), and sometimes they get to me. But for the most part there is peace, and I stay on top of the water.

But now that I’m here, how do I walk on the water? Standing here is great, but I didn’t come all this way just to stand on it.

Unfortunately, Google can’t answer that question (but it can tell me how to walk in heels). The only way to answer the question is to take a step, maybe just a little one, but I need to move forward. Then I need to take another one, maybe a little bigger this time. The answer is to just keep taking steps forward, and as I do, without realizing it, I am walking on the water. I am gaining momentum to keep going.

This is a nice picture, painted with figurative language. But what have the steps actually been? Some of them are quite practical, like getting a desk for my room so I have a comfortable place to work at home. Others are more focused on self-care, like making my days off a priority (a big accomplishment for me), and making new friends. In some cases, I have no idea why I’m taking the step, but it feels right, like making blogging a priority again, and starting some other writing projects.

As with most other steps in my life, I don’t know exactly where these will take me, but as I keep putting one foot in front of the other, it gets easier to trust the process and to keep the momentum going. Patience on the other hand, isn’t always easy, but practice makes perfect (eventually).

Skipping on the waves,

Lauren

PS: These are my steps on the water. Have you been taking steps on the water? Share in the comments!

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Showing Up… Then What?

Dear Pope Francis,

A couple of months ago, I wrote about the importance of simply letting things go so that wounds can heal. Letting those wounds heal has resulted in some significant changes in my life and new areas for growth. Thinking back over the last few months (really since Meredith and I started LTP), I have come to realize that all of that change and prunning that was required is finally starting to make room for new things to grow. But this growth requires something from me.

At first, mostly in the last month or so, the changes simply required me to show up, to acknowledge that the change was needed. More importantly, it required me to realize that growth is possible, not only possible, but necessary. So I showed up. I set what I considered a few small goals, among them: remembering to floss every night and to pray every morning. Showing up simply meant making sure that I plunked down with my prayer journal for about thirty minutes, and that I took an extra five minutes in front of the mirror at night.

What I have quickly realized is that while simply showing up is an important step, it is only the first step. It is the launching point. It is the gentle push to get started. So that leaves me wondering what my next step needs to be.

After some reflection I realized what that is. The next step it two-fold: prayer and discipline. Pretty near every call story in the bible I can think of has an initial step, taken by God. The person being called chooses (eventually) to respond, but that person needs to rely on God, which inevitably comes with some doubt. imagesI think of Peter walking on water. When Jesus calls him out of the boat, Peter could have chosen to give up his crazy request, and simply stayed in the boat. Instead he followed Jesus onto the water, and then relied on Jesus to save him from the waves when he doubted and began to sink.

If you look at Peter’s whole life, we can also see the progression. He was called by Jesus. He ‘showed up’ by leaving the fishing nets and following Jesus. That initial call led to Peter being sent out to evangelize, eventually becoming the leader of the Apostles, the rock on which Jesus founded his Church. Peter’s first step built a lot of momentum. Yes there were bumps along the way, like denying that he knew Jesus, but they didn’t stop him.

So simply showing up, like I have been doing for the last few weeks, has been a good first step, but I need to build on that momentum. I need to use these smaller changes as the push to tackle bigger changes that require more drastic alterations to how I live. These changes won’t be easy, especially since there are some big changes coming all at once; it really is a massive overhaul of some bad habits. Every day, I need to choose to show up, but I need to let each day build on the progress I made yesterday, even when that means picking up after a mistake or two.

Building on that momentum comes from prayer and discipline. Prayer helps me to discern the changes that need to be made and where God is calling me. Discipline helps me to stay focused and on track, especially after I have hit a bump.

Keeping my eye on the prize,

Lauren

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Redefining ‘Failure’

Dear Pope Francis,

Meredith’s very first letter was about fear and how it’s keeping young people away from the Church. While my struggle with fear doesn’t necessarily keep me away from Church, it can keep me from living my life.

When I get scared I make excuses; I call them “yes, but…” statements. For instance: “Yes, I could just tell a guy that I like him, but that could involve getting hurt”, or “yes I want to write regularly on a blog, but what if no one reads it?”  Getting hurt is a legitimate fear, and so is people not appreciating your work. However, over the last few months, I have realized that at the root of my fear and excuses is my deepest fear: failure. I’m not exactly sure where this fear started; I’ve had it unconsciously for a long time.

success failure

Failure is not something I can completely eradicate. It will always be there, lurking in the corner, ready to pop out. It can cause overwhelming paralysis when I need to take a risk. But, as a friend pointed out recently, failure means that you’re living your life. Since I can’t get rid of failure, I need to redefine it. Instead of looking at failure in specific, limited instances, like a test or experimenting with a new recipe, I realized what the ultimate failure would be: to spend my life hiding and not really living it to the fullest. Put another way, I realized that ‘yes, but…’ statements rob me of the ability to live life to the fullest, and to not live life to the fullest is to fail.

Redefining failure as not living my life to the fullest has helped me to open up to a few more risks, like starting this blog with Meredith and working on some personal writing projects. It has also helped me to dream big about where life might take me after I finish my M.Div.

I also wonder if this is what you meant when you wrote about being fearless in Evangelii Gaudium (EG). You encouraged us to “embark on a new chapter of evangelization marked by … joy” (EG 1) and to be a Church that isn’t concerned with being at the centre, and instead focus on being in the streets, even if we might get “bruised, [hurt] or dirty” (EG 49). Your hope for the faithful is that we will be motivate not by a fear of going astray, but by a fear of being trapped “…within structures which give us a false sense of security…” (EG 49).

My ‘yes, but…’ statements are the structures that keep me trapped in my own head. They give me a false sense of security because they let me off the hook so I don’t have to do something that scares me. In reality, they are just keeping me trapped in my head, and unable to really engage with the world around me. I’m not getting bruised or hurt, but am I really living?

Peter walking on the water

Instead of focusing on the possibility of getting hurt, I need to shift my thinking (which is easier said than done). I need to remember Peter walking on the water with Jesus. When he saw the stormy waves and began to doubt he began to sink, but Jesus caught him (Mat 14:22-33). When Jesus calls me out of the boat, out of my self, to get over my ‘yes, but…’ statements, I need to remember that he won’t let me sink. I think you put it best: “The Lord does not disappoint those who take this risk; whenever we take a step towards Jesus, we come to realize that he is already there, waiting for us with open arms” (EG 3). I don’t know exactly where Jesus is calling me, but I know that my ‘yes, but…’ statements get in the way of finding out.

Climbing awkwardly out of the boat,

Lauren

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