My Matthew 17 Moment

Thursday, June 16, 2016

I always get a little bit nostalgic for blogging when I haven’t updated mine in a while, but I have a hard time prompting myself to put posts together if I haven’t been struck with some lineage of thought that’s worth sitting down for two hours to write about. 

Nevertheless, it’s a much quieter morning than I’ve had all week, so here I am: typing at my dining room table (what’s recently become my daily workspace), coffee beside me, Jana Kramer playing in the background (in preparation for Lake Shake tomorrow !!) and trying to string some thoughts together.

It’s hard to believe that I’ve been back from Iowa and living at home for almost 6 months (5 and a half). It’s absolutely flown by; I remember in December, reaching a point at which I was so desperate to find a new job and move back, that I was tempted to take whatever opportunity was the first to come my way. My parents reminded me daily to be patient and to wait for the right move, and on my drive to work each morning, I told myself that 6 months from then, those daily struggles would feel like a blip on my radar.

And it’s true. I couldn’t be further removed from that feeling I had every day as I walked into the office. Looking back, I see how moving home was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made for myself.

A defining moment in coming to that decision, for me, came one morning when I had breakfast with Caroline in Omaha. I’d had a late night meeting in Council Bluffs the night before, so rather than drive back, I squeezed into Caroline’s (very chicly decorated) attic bedroom in the little house she shares with 5 other girls, and got up early to grab breakfast with her before hitting I-80.

She listened intently to my emotional work stories and my (likely repetitive, annoying) complaining about my job with patience and understanding. When I finished, my wise-beyond-her-years little sister looked at me and said, “why don’t you just go home?”

Pretty much from that moment, the healing process began. God brought me through a season of struggle that required immense patience and trust in Him, and taught me important lessons about offering up my sufferings when they seem fruitless otherwise.

Work is a funny thing. We stake our lives on it and far too often, our identities as well. We define ourselves by what we get paid to do each day, and in doing so, lose the identities that have been given to us by God, for God.

Fr. Mike Schmitz once said, “if you can do all of these incredible ‘whats’ but you’re not an incredible ‘who,’ then it’s all for absolutely nothing… The goal is excellence, but not mere excellence in ability. The idea is that by putting all of this work in, I don’t just make an excellent thing—I become an excellent someone. It’s not just in the ‘what’ I do—it’s in the ‘who’ I become.”

I think that as human beings, a large part of this ‘staking our identities in our work’ problem that we have is that we forget the purpose of this life: to sanctify us, to make us holy. This is the purpose for this life. Whether or not you believe that, and whether you live your life as such, is inconsequential; it doesn’t make it any less true. The purpose of this life is to make us holy.

So for me, in coming home and in healing, I think I’ve been reminded of this notion. I told my mom the other day that I feel like I’m in a Matthew 17 moment—when Jesus brought Peter, James, and John to a “high mountain,” and transfigured before them. Just then, Elijah and Moses appeared to them and began speaking to Jesus. Peter said to Him, “Lord, it is good for us to be here; if you wish, I will build three tabernacles here, one for You, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.”

But they did not stay. And the message here is that while there are good moments, we cannot stay in them because there is work to be done. And the work is more important.

So I’m in my Matthew 17 moment right now—living at home, doing work I love, enjoying my flexible schedule, spending time with friends and family, healing—but the greater work is coming. Big things are around the corner—things that I anticipate will be much more difficult, much more challenging, much more trying on my soul—but they’ll be sanctifying.

And in the meantime, I’ll work knowing that my work is all for Him, no matter what it is—no matter how tedious, how fruitless, no matter the toil I endure—I’ll offer it up.

All the while, staking my identity in Him.

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