By Erich Wallace
Hello! Guten Tag, Buenos días, Dzień dobry (Hello in German, Spanish, and Polish)!
What’s up, my people?! I’m writing to you a day and a half removed from spending a month in Europe between Germany, Poland, and Spain (with a few connecting flights in Iceland and Denmark). Traveling is such a cool thing to do. Witnessing different cultures, architecture, language, and landscapes; meeting new people; and trying new foods are such wonderful experiences. But, even amidst all of these beautiful and new things, if we are resisting God, they can still lack joy. Despite my natural inclination to pretend like everything is always “A-okay,” I feel like I need to be a little more real with you guys and tell you about how I resist God and how it affects me.
A month ago I set out on a grand European adventure. My friend, and I have been planning it for months and hoping for it for years. We chaperoned a high school exchange trip for the first two weeks and then stuck around Europe for an extra two weeks on our own. I have to be honest, I was kind of excited to take this time as a little vacation from God and my responsibilities and to do whatever I wanted. I didn’t really want to be a loving and caring chaperone who was concerned about the needs of others. I wanted to go off and sightsee by myself, to check out the German girls, to buy things I didn’t need, to eat Schnitzel and Wurst ‘til I exploded, and to not really think about what God may have wanted of me. Yes, I did perform my chaperoning duties and hung out with the kids (and I did enjoy it), but it wasn’t at the top of my (want) to-do list. I’m not saying it’s wrong to want to just enjoy some free time and rejuvenate. There’s nothing wrong with that at all, but I was surely thinking of myself and desiring the things of the world more than the things of God.
Guys and gals, I told you, I’d been looking forward to traveling to Europe for years, and I finally got the chance. But when I wouldn’t include the Lord in my doings, it didn’t contain the deep joy that I expected I would get from simply being in Europe. I feel like this is something we as humans, and as Catholic Christians, can do often (me especially). We resist God and don’t invite him into our everything because we don’t believe He has what is best for us in mind. And so we turn our back on Him and settle for lesser things to bring us joy. Ultimately, they do not.
As I look back over my trip from the last month, there are three things that stand out to me as bringing the most joy: helping a student hike up a mountain who was having a rough time, praying in a Polish church, and experiencing the love and generosity of the people I met. Two of those things included me going out of my comfort zone to try and become more like Christ, and one of them included other people going outside of theirs to be like Christ towards me.
I toured castles, ate amazing food, went on roller coasters, drove over 100mph on the Autobahn, watched public viewings of the World Cup soccer games, and spent a lot of money on “stuff”; but the things I look back on with the most joy from a month in Europe are stepping outside of myself to care for someone else, spending 15 minutes on my knees in a church in Poland, and witnessing the beautiful hospitality of the people I encountered. The times I wasn’t focused on myself and what I wanted were the times that brought me the most joy. When I resisted God and thought only about what I wanted, I was left feeling much more bland and unsatisfied.
So… what’s the point I’m trying to get across? We can spend so much time and energy trying to resist what God may have for us, trying to take control of our own lives and to be the dictator of them because we still believe the lie that our own plans are better than God’s plans for us. But, without fail, when we open our hearts to the Lord and let Him (and all He has in store for us) into our daily lives is when we will truly feel at peace.
Are there things you and I will continue to withhold from God and or ways in which we will resist Him? I can think of a couple things right in this moment in my own life, but my prayer is that we will have the grace to trust Him more and to put our belief in the fact that He loves us, wants what is best for us (even if it doesn’t always feel like it), and will always be with us.
Prayers for you all. Enjoy this wonderful day we have been given, and see it as a gift!