The Southeast Alaska Catholic
July 22, 2011
I used to place a high premium on getting a good night’s sleep. On nights when I battled insomnia, I considered throwing the alarm clock at the bedroom wall. I tried every nesting routine that had been successful in the past, stopping short of walking in circles on the bed like a dog. When I didn’t get a solid night’s sleep, everyone knew it the next day.
I used to love eating in restaurants. Someone else made the meal. Someone else cleaned the messy dishes. When we had to rein in the spending, our eat-out budget got chopped. After about two weeks, I would simply have to go to Denny’s and get the Grand Slam.
I still hope for a good night’s sleep, and I still enjoy eating out. But something is changing. I’m craving a spiritual diet and rejuvenation time with God more than a meal out and blissful sleep.
I’ve learned to turn insomnia into prayer time. I’m learning to be okay with what is in the food pantry at home. I’m learning to offer these things up to the Cross.
The saints tell us that we can do little things for God. If we let God transform us in little ways, He will begin to transform us in all ways.
Every little sacrifice, every little suffering can become part of God’s redemption story.
Catholics have a phrase for this little act of faith. It’s called offering it up. I mention it to my family now and then. I’m careful about when and where I say it. It should never be said in place of a snippy get over it.
Offer it up is not the same thing as get over it.
The first phrase is an encouragement; it is filled with hope. It has the potential to transform the smallest thing into something good and holy and lovely.
The second phrase is a chastisement; it seeks to control and silence another person. It has the potential to destroy whatever is good and holy and lovely in these little moments of sacrifice.
So, I remind my family to offer it up when I really do hope and pray that they might do it.
My youngest daughter gets it, like she gets all these Catholic things. She gets it because she has no memory of a time before we became Catholic. She was only five when I converted.
Not John. Like me, my husband didn’t grow up in the Catholic Church. And he has never been the kind of guy to accept something that’s more fluff than substance. So, the first time I suggested that he offer it up, he chuckled and said, “I have no idea what that means.”
I quoted Colossians 1:24 and he said he still didn’t get it. He added a quick, but that’s okay. “I don’t have to get everything to know the Church has it right,” he said. Catholic theology went from one perspective (among many) to truth for him in 2008. Sometimes, though, he just likes to see if I’m up to the challenge of defending our new faith.
These are some of my favorite moments with John. He knows how much I like talks like this. But sometimes, it’s frustrating because mysteries can’t be contained in 800 word articles – or two minute conversations between husbands and wives.
“Just try it. You don’t have to get it to give it a try.” Sometimes, that’s all I can say. Sometimes, there are no words or great analogies.
“Sort of like fake it until you make it,” he says.
“No. More like ‘I believe, Lord, help my unbelief,'” I tell him.
John says, “Okay.” I smile then, knowing he’ll keep asking me for explanations when this comes up. Not because he thinks it is nonsense. It has simply become one of those little dialogs we have. It’s almost scripted. It’s the dance we do. And it is awesome.
A dialog between two lovers that somehow reminds us that we like being together and talking about stuff like this.
Kind of like offering it up, which is also a dialog between lovers. This time, it’s between the Beloved and the human soul. An offering of everything from insomnia to simple meals at home. Little things offered with great love. Moments we repeat again and again, like a divinely scripted dialog. Go ahead, offer it up.