Monday, July 19, 2010

Just Show Up

To be completely candid, I have had a hard time coming up with the material for my last two blogs. This isn't for lack of trying. I've prayed every day. I've gone to Mass and participated wholeheartedly. I've read chapters in a book on Jesuit spirituality. I've listened to Christian music. I've even meditated. I feel that all of these efforts were made in vain, though; I'm afraid my blogging well has run dry.

But, I'm blogging nonetheless, and what's more is that today's blog doesn't end here.

Sometimes you just have to push through the writer's block and start writing. At times, just opening the blog is half the battle.

The same is true for a workout regime. Undoubtedly, in the midst of a regulated exercise routine there will be days when you just won't feel like breaking a sweat. That's when just showing up, or tying the laces on your running shoes, or starting to warm-up can get you through to the end.

And so it is with many of our daily activities that wear on us, or those that take part in the grind. Whether it's paying the bills or taking out the trash or spending time with your kids or putting away the dishes, there are times when you just don't feel like doing something.

Ralph Waldo Emerson once wrote, "What you are afraid to do is a clear indication of the next thing you need to do." Perhaps we could paraphrase this to say: what you don't want to do (but probably should) is a clear indication of the next thing you need to do. It's precisely when you don't want to do something (but know that you should) that you need to get up and do it; otherwise, you fill with regret. Or worse yet, you compound the amount of things you'll just have to do tomorrow. Why put off until tomorrow that which can be accomplished today?

Including prayer.

Especially prayer.

Being vigilant in our prayer lives is hard. Ashamedly and unintentionally, one of the first things that gets cut from a busy day for me is spending time with God in prayer. Other days, I just don't feel like praying. But, if I can catch myself, this is exactly when I'll turn to the Bible, spend some time in quiet meditation, or search out some sort of prayerful inspiration. It's not always the most fruitful exercise for me. At times it can offer a moment of clarity or motivation, and other times it seems as if all I did was go through the motions. But not every prayer session has to be a conversion experience. God just wants us to show up. Like a good friend, He just wants to spend time with us. If we turn to God in prayer, He's the one that can turn it into something beautiful. It doesn't require a monumental effort. It just requires us and Him.

A wise friend once told me, "Reading the psalms is like digging irrigation ditches for when the rains come." I think the same holds true for prayer. We may not always feel like praying, but consistently doing so can help us to prosper through life's storms.

Just like consistently studying can help you to do well on a pop quiz. Just like practicing the trombone every day can help you to hold on to first chair when 2nd chair challenges for your position. Just like cleaning the house (or your room) a little every day can make you feel more comfortable when an unexpected visitor drops in. Just like checking your tire pressure can help your car to endure an unseen pothole.

So, the next time you don't feel like doing something, just show up...and just do it.

You'll be glad you did.