Cheese Grater Theology

grated cheese

Side note: I’m back! Between being sick, family in town, running a race, and traveling to give a few talks, things have been cray cray. If you didn’t notice I was gone, pretend like I never said anything. 

This past Saturday, I found myself standing over my sink, furiously grating a hhuuggeeeee block of cheese to use in some homemade mac & cheese. “This will be easy” I thought, “There is no way it could possibly take more than 90 seconds to grate a 16 oz block of cheese with a small (really small!!) grater”.

Needless to say, I was frustrated when after a solid twenty minutes, I was stillllll grating the cheese (with a really sore hand, I might add). And to make it worse, because I was rushing, I was not performing (bet you have never heard someone use the word perform when talking about grating cheese) as effectively or efficiently as possible.

It wasn’t until I took a step back, cleaned out the grater, re-evaluated what I needed to do (break the cheese into smaller chunks), that I could finish with confidence. Okay. I realize that I just talked about grating cheese for three paragraphs. Sorry. But. But! The point is this: as much as I think that I know what I’m doing, or how precisely to do it, I’m realizing more and more the need to take a step back, clean up shop, and reassess things.

In the last 3.5 months, I have moved to a new city, started a new job, kicked off a new program, made new friends, traveled to visit family, go to weddings, and give talks. It has been a whirlwind. And it’s about time that I take a step back and clean out the proverbial cheese grater (weird analogy. I know. I’m so sorry). There has been a lot of new things, a lot of uncertainty, but even more grace (thank you, Jesus, for grace).

For me, it is always just when I’m starting to feel like things aren’t working/things are most out of control/I couldn’t possibly grate all the cheese that I get on my knees and ask (. . . scream at . . .) God wondering how I got into all this craziness in the first place. None of it is bad. In fact, it’s all pretty darn good, but it can be hard to look around with gratitude when we feel like there is so much more that needs to be done.

I’m learning that it really comes down to consistent commitment to the present moment. The to-do list will always be there, but the to-do list means nothing if the important things aren’t done. Practically this means putting first things first – if I’m going to be busy, I should be busy with what is most important. And on the days when I am least sure what I am doing, I need to be most sure that I’m asking the Lord what He wants me to do.

There is abundant life to be found in even the most mundane – like the cheese grating. In the moments where I am most fed up, it is the most likely that after a little evaluating (and a lot of prayer!!) I can move forward with clarity. The promise of scripture remains true for all of us – He will remain with us always, but amongst the clutter and craziness of life, we must stop and ask Him where we’re going. It is there where we will find joy. For those of you that were wondering, yes I did (finally!!) finish grating all the cheese. And that homemade mac & cheese? Delish.

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Confessions of a Rule-Follower

church

For the longest time, there was something that really bothered me about a serious life of faith: the rules. The Catholic Church has a lot of rules, doesn’t it? A list of random things that some old guys in Rome made up just to make our lives miserable and to exert control over us, right?

Wrong.

For as long as I can remember, I have always considered myself an independent person – an independent woman; someone who prides herself on being able to ask questions, get answers, and make an informed decision; someone who understands what it means to stand up for what is right, even when it is unpopular. Several years ago, when push came to shove, I found myself stuck in the “why” of a life of faith. Why should I lay it all on the line for a serious life of faith when I didn’t even know if I was sure there was a Church that loved me?

Why go to Mass every Sunday when I could find God in nature, in my friends, or in a song?

Why read the Bible when I don’t really understand half of it anyways? (For the record, most days I still feel like I don’t understand even half lot of it . . .)

Why listen to what an archaic institution says about my reproductive health?

Why set myself apart as a young person of faith when it would be a lot easier to keep doing what I want to do, on my terms?

Why, why, why?

Why? Because a life of faith is not about the why, it is about the Who.

Every question I had that started with a “why” needed to resolve itself In the “Who” – the person of Jesus Christ.

Scripture tells us – pretty explicitly – that Jesus Christ Himself, through His life, mission, and public ministry, left us a set of rules; a set of rules that would be guarded by a Church, and handed on through the apostles and the successors of the apostles. (Matthew 16:18)

Once I began to understand this, everything changed. Not only did I actually make the effort to discover why the Church teaches what it does, I also made a conscious effort to get to know the person of Jesus Christ.

And you know what? I have never been happier. I have found more joy in this set of rules than I ever thought possible. God, in His infinite wisdom, knew that we could never do it on our own; He knew that a life of faith was never going to be easy, and He knew that we would always need His help.

Is it easy admitting that I have been wrong or admitting that the Church really does know best? No. Are there those that look at me like I have six heads when I tell them that I go to Mass every Sunday (every day, even!), that I’m not using birth control, that I believe that there is a God who came from Heaven to earth to form a personal relationship with us, and that I’m now working full-time for the Church? Yes. Does any of that matter? NO!

It doesn’t matter because I know that there is joy to be found in a life lived for Christ. I know that there is joy to be found in living out the Christian life authentically – in leading moral lives, and doing everything rooted in prayer. I know all of this because I have felt it – the answer to all of my questions has been there all along. The rules that Church puts into place, the standards we are asked to uphold, the charity we are asked to exhibit are all aimed to point us to the Who – and that is the person of Jesus Christ.

So. Here I am – in a place I never thought I would be. A 22-year old rule-follower. I’m in – hook, line, and sinker. And not only am I all in, I have never been happier.

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