Archive for July, 2010|Monthly archive page

running with endurance

Last night, I finally caught up on my episodes of America’s Next Food Network Star. One of my favorite shows, no doubt…there is something so great about watching an ordinary person compete with other ordinary people for a spot on the Food Network. The competition, the intrigue…its all too good.

My favorite food network personality happens to be Bobby Flay. And on last night’s episode, Bobby graced us with a really great comment. When discussing a contestant who had a so-so week, Bobby explained that he simply didn’t think she was giving it her all each week. He commented that some weeks, she seemed to work really hard and rise above the pack, but other weeks, she has just been ok.  “I’m not sure that she really wants it…Everyone here on this network comes to work each day and gives 110%, and I just don’t get that from her.”  Something like that.

That little comment really got me thinking about my own work. Sometimes (quite often, actually) I look at other peoples’ lives and I romanticize them…thinking, ugh, if I had that job, my life would be so easy! Or, if I could only work those hours, my life would be so simple…and on and on.  But the reality is, it takes hard, hard work to be successful.  My life is chock full of people who work ridiculously hard, every day.  For these people, the 9-5 does not exist.  They go in early, stay late. They go in to the office on their day off.  They spend hours strategizing how to get new accounts, how to keep their clients happy.  And they happen to be the best at what they do. There is no coincidence here.

Just re-reading old posts, it is easy to see that this has been a very challenging summer for me, to say the least. And towards the end, I really began to lose steam. I just got tired, and began dreaming of lazy days of reading for fun and having no worries. That simply is not my reality right now, nor do I want it to be.  This is the epiphany I had last night. I want to be here, working hard, doing everything I possibly can to make my dream come true. And you know what? This morning  I woke up extra early before going to the gym, and I translated some Genesis…just for the practice.  And when I got home from work, I sat down with my Greek New Testament and translated some John.  It felt so great to be working…not because I had to, but because I genuinely believe in this battle that I am fighting.  This is the work that I love, and I’m going to do it.

All of this reminds me of one of my favorite scripture verses of all time: Hebrews 12:1.  So I will close with this thought, and with the hope and prayer that you will continue to run with endurance whatever trial is currently before you in your life.

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight and the sin that clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.”   Hebrews 12:1

big fat failure

There is this great line from the movie “You’ve Got Mail.”  Kathleen Kelly (Meg Ryan) is experiencing one of the greatest setbacks of her professional life, and she is sharing her thoughts with her friend, Bertie.  Bertie exclaims, “Oh, I’m sure you feel like a big fat failure now!”  Really a great moment in the movie.

Yesterday, I had my “big fat failure” moment. I came out of a really terrible meeting, and was ready to just give up. Despite my hard work and efforts to get ahead, it always seems that something pops up that is holding me back. I can’t even express the frustration that accompanied this meeting. I came home, flopped down on my bed, called my Mom, and cried.  Since we are constantly quoting You’ve Got Mail to each other, she knew exactly what I was talking about when I cried “I feel like a big fat failure.” She talked me down from my distraught state and helped me to see the big picture.  I soon felt a little better.

Then, I turned to another coping mechanism: a manicure and pedicure. Few things can pull me out of a funk sometimes, but this is definitely one of them. As I sat in the salon, I kept replaying the meeting over and over in my head. What I realized was this: the reason I felt so awful after that meeting was because my advisor had, point-blank, illuminated every last one of my fears regarding PhD applications.  Literally, one-by-one, he called out any gaps he saw in my work, and pointed out all of my deficiencies.  It felt awful to be so exposed.  So what did I do?  Did I take all of this in stride, and vow to keep working?  Nope.  I got frustrated and upset and went home miserable, contemplating not even applying for programs. 

I’ve noticed that each time I think about giving up, it is accompanied by some sort of trying situation like this.  I never want to give up when I am writing a paper on a topic I’m obsessed with, or when I’ve done well on an exam, or when I’ve received a glowing compliment from a Professor.  No, I decide that its over when I hit a road bump.  I’m working to change this attitude.

So, here’s to facing all my inadequacies and insecurities head-on.  This may not all work out in the end, but I am not going down without a fight.   And lucky for me, I’m not the one in charge of my future. I’ll leave that one up to the big guy.

surprised by love

From what I can remember, one of the first things that I learned about God is that God is love. Countless songs at Mass, little bookmarks from the Catholic bookstore, dinner table conversations…God is love. During my time at BC, this truth became real for me in numerous ways.  Thanks to the Jesuits, I learned to try to find God in all things. So naturally, since God is love, I began looking for God in the  love I found in my life, in my relationships with others.

I have been unbelievably blessed with love in my life. Sometimes I can hardly take it all in. And the best part about all that love is that I am constantly surprised by how much I am loved, and by how deeply I love others. My Mom and I have a little joke about this- when something really great happens, or we have experienced love in a special way, we’ll call each other up and say “Why does God love us so much?!” 

And it is so true. I wonder this all the time. But not only do I wonder why God loves me so much, sometimes I look around and wonder why the people in my life love me so much. I mean, I really suck sometimes. Why do my friends love me so much, when I constantly dodge their phone calls in an attempt to get work done? Why does my boyfriend love me so much, when I get irritated and snappy on the phone when I’m stressed out?  Why do my brothers love me so much, when I am so far away and we barely see each other? Why do my parents love me so much, when I move halfway across the country to study and can’t be at home? These are just a few obvious, fairly lighthearted examples.  But the truth is, I am so very often surprised by the love of others.

And sometimes I do some crazy things for love, and I look around and laugh at myself. Many a time I have jumped on I-95 north to drive up to see my boyfriend and his family, just because I miss him so much, even though I should definitely be studying.  Flying home for short weekends to be with my family, staying up late talking to my brother, putting down my Hebrew Bible to pick up the phone to call a friend. I hope sometimes I surprise others by my love for them!

I think that is what this whole “God is love” thing is about. God loves us through anything and everything we have ever done. Sometimes, we are happily surprised by love–God’s love for us, as manifested through the actions of others. The love that a friend shows when she jumps on a midnight train to come visit, even though its only for a day. The kind of love a father shows when he works night and day for his family, and puts everyone in his family before himself.  And when we are blessed to experience such love, we have to share it.  We, too, are called to surprise others by our love.

Sometimes I think I just don’t deserve to be surprised by love.  But that is the beauty of grace.

Suscipe, St. Ignatius of Loyola

Take, Lord, and receive all my liberty,
my memory, my understanding
and my entire will,
All I have and call my own.
You have given all to me.
To you, Lord, I return it.
Everything is yours; do with it what you will.
Give me only your love and your grace.
That is enough for me.

I am confident of this

A few days ago  in Greek class, we translated a bit of Paul and Timothy’s letter to the Philippians (Sidenote: Little known fact, Timothy co-authored many of the “Pauline” epistles with Paul. But no one talks about Timothy! For ease of writing, I will refer to Paul as the author of the letter, but know that Timothy deserves just as much credit.)

Now, Paul seems to have a great relationship with the Philippians in particular, especially when compared with some of his other letters to other communities (See Galations 3:1, for example).  This is a great letter in general, but one verse really stood out to me today (Phil. 1:6). 

Paul writes, “I am confident of this, that the one who began a good work in you will bring it to completion by the day of Jesus Christ.”

I just love this verse. Paul must have known that the Philippians were going through some tough times as one of the first Christian communities, and felt compelled to write and to encourage them. In fact, Paul was in prison when he wrote this letter, judging by the content and context of the letter itself. So even as Paul was suffering himself, in prison, he was writing letters encouraging others.

This verse got me thinking that one of the greatest things we can do for each other, whether as Christians, Catholics, brothers, sisters, mothers, fathers, friends, or even complete strangers–is to encourage one another. We all need someone to have confidence in us, even when (especially when) we don’t have confidence in ourselves.

As this Greek class draws to an end on Tuesday, I’ve been reflecting on the people who have gotten me through the past few weeks, by their little “letters” of encouragement. Votes of confidence, little reminders that I am loved, right when I feel like I am about to give up. I feel blessed beyond all measure as I think about the times over the past few weeks when I’ve heard and seen through the actions of others, “I am confident of this, that the one who began a good work in you will bring it to completion.”

To conclude, another classic quote from Paul, “Therefore encourage one another and build up each other, as indeed you are doing.”

-1 Thessalonians 5:11

Bob Rice

Catholic speaker, musician, author, teacher

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my mother raised the perfect housewife...then I went to med school

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