Friday, July 26, 2013

It's Easy to Blame Someone Else

I am not necessarily a disciplined person. When I set out to do one task I get distracted by the thought of 100 others. I worry about time management, am at times anxious about the future, and at other times prefer to do what I want instead of doing what I need to do.

Recently in the news Heisman trophy winner Johnny Manziel apologized for missing a meeting. He eventually was asked to leave a football camp he was asked to help at. He claims that his alarm didn't go off while others were wondering if the 20 year old was out drinking or something else. Whatever the truth may be his comments were more revealing. He was a young man thrust into the spotlight because of his abilities and seemingly annoyed that such a big fuss was being made over what seems like a small event to him (there were, of course, other events surrounding this).

He commented that he's "just 20 years old" and that he's "going to live his life to the fullest." He said he apologized to one of his coaches for, basically, 'everyone else making a big deal about it.'

I never got the sense the apology was entirely sincere or self-referential. He wasn't particularly sorry about missing the meeting. He was more sorry everyone had to notice.

He said what he said was because of outside pressure. This came to mind because today I wondered about how I say "I'm sorry" when I make a mistake. Do I blame my circumstances? How busy I am? Do I say, "I'll just make mistakes"?

In spiritual direction I've talked about how I'm trying to listen to my conscience more. Rather, I find that I can hear it compelling me to this or that and yet, all the same, I choose to ignore it because "I'm busy" or some other excuse.

Over the past few months, maybe even a year, there have been periods in my life where I don't feel God's presence, or I get bogged down with worries about the future. These worries keep me from prayer. I would go to spiritual direction or try and figure things out and it would seem nothing was working.

I began to question. I said, "I probably need a new spiritual director," or "If only I had more time," and other times, "If only I didn't let myself get more distracted."

All of these were fancy ways of rationalizing to myself why I didn't pray. I realized that perhaps God isn't far from me because He'll let me sort myself out. Perhaps He's farther away because I'm not going to Him.

It's very simple, really. It's just difficult to execute because in the process we have to accuse ourselves.

I notice often that there are times when I'm going about the tedium of my day and right in the middle of my heart there's a voice that says, "You should pray." Many times it forces me to stop right there. On days where I am stronger, more courageous, I respond. I stop idling and pray--and often times I come across something profitable and useful. Other times I shake my head and continue about as normal--I was too busy, no doubt.

I think the same is true for all of us:

"I don't get anything out of the mass."
"I have too much going on."
"I just pray differently, you know?"
"It doesn't fulfill me."
"I could be doing something else."

When our heart tells us it's time to do something we should, naturally, reflect on it. Plenty of people act on impulse and do stupid or wicked things.  We can feel compelled to eat, to go out and drink, to have sex, to sleep, or any other sort of bodily pleasure. People follow them to relax. Many people follow them to escape. Yet the impulse to prayer is one that's harder to explain away.

Prayer costs nothing and forces us to look at ourselves deeply. What do we really want? What do we really need? Are we who we ought to be?

All of us have a conscience, inspired by grace, to lead us to God. When we come to recognize what's right that's one battle. Doing it, on the other hand, that's the war.

Pray for me, and pray for all of us, that we listen to the voice of God constantly speaking to the deepest corners of our heart. Pray even more that we act upon those words.