An Alternative Hypothesis
Lucy finds herself bouncing from obsessive micromanagement to nervous distraction. What would happen if she put down the phone and took Christ at his word?
I have been really struck by Fr. Carrón’s discussion on self-affirmation and how we insert our own “projects” into life, even the most well-intentioned ones. I have noticed in these last months of uncertainty that I have unconsciously resorted more intensely to managing my anxieties by ruthlessly controlling my environment or escaping into my “pipe dreams.” These manifest most frequently as an obsession with a clean and orderly house, an unreasonable desire to micromanage every detail of my own and my husband’s lives, or constantly researching any of the five to ten future purchases/life plans we hope to embark on once we pay off all our student loans.
On a daily basis, I can easily excuse these behaviors as taking care of necessary activities and logistics, or just pursuing my good and fun hobbies. However, a recent moment blew my cover and exposed these propensities for what they are--the myriad ways I attempt to escape from the restlessness of my heart and all the fears, questions, and frustrations that threaten to overwhelm and incapacitate it on a daily basis.
The moment that strikingly revealed my escape routes happened during a long day of driving on a road trip with my husband. I was struggling emotionally, and was absentmindedly on my phone in the passenger seat. Within the space of an hour, I had “ping-ponged” from asking him to discuss what kind of camper we would want in the future to showing him adorable little Labrador puppies on Craigslist and asking when we could possibly get a dog. He called me out on how I was bouncing from one thing to another and how it seemed to be a symptom of something else. This hit me hard.
Yes, even in these seemingly innocent musings, I am running from the aches, discomforts, and challenges of the present. I am inserting my own dreams and projects to buoy my spirit; to prop myself up on a daily basis when God does not seem present enough to ease the various aches of my heart. This realization was sobering. I am aware enough at this point to acknowledge that just looking forward to or chasing the next pipe dream will never really make me happy; this leads to the nihilism we are talking about in the School of Community.
So, informed by this and some other things I am reading and thinking about, I proposed an alternative hypothesis to myself: Christ claims to be the Way, the Truth and the Life--in short, everything. If I take Him at His word, that means that today, when I sense the overwhelming drama of my existence closing in around me, rather than turn to my usual busyness or distractions, I could experiment with taking an intentional, and if possible, quiet moment to abandon myself to the One who claims to be my everything; to commune with and live from the Father the way Fr. Carrón tells us Christ does. And what if He is not only enough for every moment today, but what if my life, my lived experience is abundant in Him? I want to wonder in front of this seeming impossibility. Mary wonders in front of the impossibility of the Annunciation; she knows God can do all things and so wonders at how it will be.
This is attractive: could I discover that the hundredfold does not depend on the evidence of the externals surrounding me, but is rooted above all things in a complete and radical abandonment to the loving heart of my Abba?
Lucy, Saint Paul, Minnesota