I have a tennis ball shaped bruise on the side of my thigh. In grotesque literary fashion, I see the bruise as God’s grace literally leaving its imprint on me.
This was not the first time I have been hit with a ball: earlier in the set, I had been nailed in the stomach. I used to play lacrosse and soccer. I play kickball and SPUD with my family. I’m tough, but it still hurts.
Then there’s the metaphorical ball: the ball and chain effect of our fallen nature, giving us whip-lash as we attempt to control life’s adventures.
I can only imagine how fervently the saints are praying for us to let go and let God. “The world promises you comfort,” says Papa B., “but you were not made for comfort. You were made for greatness.”
Yet, how many people shy away from the prospect of being made for more? How many of us remain stagnant? Does life happen to us, or do we make our own life happen?
After college, I happily worked as a statehouse reporter. In a simple twist of fate, as Bob Dylan so aptly phrased it, I decided to quit my job and move home to work for the family business. Then, at age 22, I got my dream job offer at a major newspaper in Washington, D.C. It was if Heaven was shining down on me!
Still, I turned it down, and for so many reasons, none of which had to do with the actual job. Instead, I continue to work at my family’s business. I also review books, research and read for side projects, keep up a generous epistolary correspondence rotation, spend time with loved ones, and write as much as I can in those free moments I’m not getting pelted with tennis balls.
But I digress.
In my still-feels-like-new adult freedom, I am even more convinced of what love God has for me, and for all of us.
“God does not force us to believe in him,” says Pope Benedict XVI. “God does not force us to believe in him but attracts us to him with the truth and goodness of his incarnate Son: love, in fact, always respects freedom.” Faith, freedom and free will are intricately connected; one must make choices to grow, and accept the gravitas of the decision-making process.
It can taste bitter at first- to know and let people be wrong and, humbly, accept that I am going to continue making mistakes as well. This is part of growth. God lets us fall so that we can choose to get up again.
Take tennis, for example; I picked it up again this year, and I’m miserable at it. I am improving, but progress feels slow. Moreover, I’m usually playing with people I’d rather spend my time impressing. Unfortunately, one hot day and two sets of tennis led to my on-court meltdown last weekend: as the heat oppressed my spirit and will to go on, I barely managed to hit the balls back across the net and offered little more than a tame game, causing one of my fellow players to say, “Put some mustard on that serve, Julie!”
This comment aptly planted a seed in my mind, and I have thus gained insight into my relationship with God: he doesn’t want me to impress him, per se. To be perfect as our Heaven Father is perfect (Matthew 5:48), he merely wants me to love him wholly and have an honest relationship with him; it is not in blindness, but informed reason and overwhelming love that I worship him, believe in him, obey him, joyfully follow his commandments and serve him.
Blessed John Paul II exhorted young people thus: “When you wonder about the mystery of yourself, look to Christ, who gives you the meaning of life. When you wonder what it means to be a mature person, look to Christ, who is the fullness of humanity. And when you wonder about your role in the future of the world, look to Christ.”
My name is Julie Robison. I’m 23 years old and I don’t need a governess! I like talking to the people next to me on airplanes; I like ordinary things like walking my dog and attending Mass with the Dominican friars; I like that God has turned my writing ambitions from purely political to explaining tax code nuances and Bright Maidens escapades; I like humans, books and sweet tea. I blog at The Corner With A View (and tweet too!) and I’m excited to be here– come join in the conversation!
As a side note: I’m traveling to Germany with my sister Katie next week. I’ll be there for a week, and she for a month—please pray for us!