Get in the Trenches

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Pope Francis is back in Rome after a much-anticipated journey to America.  While he was here, he spoke to many people who the world will recognize (President Barack Obama, members of Congress, the United Nations).  Yet the most significant part of this journey to the states was the love that Pope Francis showed the least of these.

“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.” (Matthew 25:40) 

What the world needs the most?  Human connection.  We have a culture that talks itself blue in the face about love and acceptance, but inside is yearning and longing for authentic love and the ability to recognize self worth.

Human connection. It means getting out of your comfort zone and off the path defined by your own will.  It means connecting with humans – now such a crazy concept thanks to the blessing/curse of social media.  It is being Christ’s hands and feet to a world so desperate for touch and care.

We have a God who sees hearts like we see faces, a God who hears ache like we hear voices, and we have a God who touches and holds and heals our wounds like we long to be held.
(Ann Voskamp) 

How are you living your faith? Your vocation?  Our faith is not supposed to be a clean and tidy hour on Sunday morning.  It is not an accessory to put on at convenient times, and hide away when it doesn’t match the rest of your outfit.  Instead, it’s a faith that ignites our passion for others, to serve, to do things the world will look at and scoff at.

I don’t know your thoughts on Pope Francis.  I know that opinions are varied across the board and there is a constant push to politicize his comments out of context.  But I do know this.  Pope Francis knows how to practice what he preaches.  There is not a disconnect between what he says and what he does.  He tells us to love the poor…and then goes and spends time with the poor themselves.

Get in the trenches.  

Do you know why no one wants to get in the trenches with their faith?  It’s not pleasant.  It means getting yourself dirty, working with those who no one wants to even acknowledge, and pour your life blood into a mission that you may never see results from.  It’s about planting seeds that may not bloom for years and years, when no one even remembers your name.

It’s not about you.  The trenches are not an environment for self glorification.  If anything, it’s quite the opposite.  You have to make yourself small to climb down and connect with people on a personal level.

It is not enough for your faith life to post a Bible verse on Facebook once in a while.  Your faith life is a head and heart combination that should invade into every aspect of your life.  Your interactions with family, friends, classmates, co-workers…even your enemies.  We’re called to live radical lives.  So if this is your battle cry to follow the example Pope Francis is showing the world, let’s start living it.

Christ has no body but yours.  No hands, not feet on earth but yours. Yours are the eyes with which he looks compassion on this world.  Yours are the feet with which he walks to do good.  Yours are the hands with which he blesses all the world.  Yours are the hands, yours are the feet.  Yours are the eyes.  You are his body…Christ has no body now on earth but yours.  (Saint Teresa of Avila).

I’m done with a boring life that drains the joy out of me.  

Our time on earth – yes, a blink of the eye or a speck of dust in comparison to the expansiveness of eternity – is a chance for us to connect with people here in order to spend eternity with them in Heaven.  A life that radiates so much joy that people wonder what we have that is different.  What gives us hope in a world full of so much hatred and despair.

Live your life in the trenches.  

An Introvert’s Guide to Evangelization

No man is an island, we can be found.  No man is an island, let your guard down
You don’t have to fight me, I am for you.  We’re not meant to live this life alone

     Honestly, this song from Tenth Avenue North could be an anthem for my college years.  Call me crazy, or maybe you can identify with me, but I’ve always been kind of a loner in my world (typical homeschooler.  Just kidding, just kidding).  I have always preferred small groups of friends to large crowds, and good old heart-to-heart conversations in comparison to small talk.  So getting out of my comfort zone, off of my ‘island,’ has always been a realistic struggle of mine, especially in my college career.

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Freshman year, at the sight of someone new

  Being introverted doesn’t mean that I hate people, nor I don’t come outside my room or that I spend inhumane amounts of time in the library buried in books by myself (ok, except the last one…that one’s true.)  But regardless!  My introverted qualities are something that I really like about myself – and have no problem identifying as a reality.

     Sometimes it seems as if the world views introversion as a problem to be solved.  Articles float around my Facebook feed, informing me of the ‘7 Steps to Overcoming Your Introverted Habits’ or ‘How You Can Be More Outgoing…Today!’  Call me crazy, but I don’t think being introverted is something to solve, or an issue to fix.

      I actually think that being an introvert has some awesome benefits (I’m biased) and allows for some incredible evangelizing opportunities.  So here are my quick thoughts for those all who be Christ’s hands and feet to the world, but especially as an introverted individual.

Recognize that introverts make pretty darn good listeners.

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There is something to be said about being the listening friend.  These are the kinds of friends to have in your life because they set aside what they are doing, or even what they would like to discuss, and engage in some good old fashioned listening.  Willing the good of the other (and putting your needs on the back burner) to be there for support and a listening ear is something that some introverts are great at.

There have been many times in my life when a good friend has simply been there and listened – and even if they never say a thing, their presence has changed my perspective.  Not a listening just so you know what to say next, but a genuine interest in another’s good.  A friend who can help you channel your inner Ed Sheeran and allow you to think out loud (see what I did there) is sometimes the role of an introverted friend.

One-on-one conversations are the heart of being Christ to others – enjoy the jump into the deep end and have great heart-to-hearts.  

If there is anything that is a sign of an introvert, it is the general dislike of small talk.  Sure, the weather is great.  Yep, I hear that the tomatoes are really coming up good this time of year.  But the way that introverts connect is through deeper conversation.

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We live in a shallow world where personal measures of worth are found in Facebook status likes and Instagram likes.  In a world that lives on the surface, introverts have the ability to go deep with their conversations and connect with people on a soul basis.  Don’t be ashamed of wanting to know someone on a deeper level.  Or ask questions that could spark some great conversation.

Don’t be afraid of some solitary recharging time.

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Yep, it’s Friday night. But that doesn’t mean that you have to follow the crowd and hit the town.  If you are introverted, you recharge when you are alone, or with small groups.  And that is perfectly fine.  So go ahead.  Pour yourself a glass of wine and sit down and read the book you’ve been dying to start.  Pack up your journal and go spend some one-on-one time with Christ in adoration.  Don’t feel guilty for needing to be alone sometimes.

Whether you are an introvert with a capital ‘I’ or are somewhere in the middle, know that your personality is you – and it should never hinder you from becoming the best version of yourself.

“If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be?  But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be.  If they were all one part, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, but one body.”  1 Corinthians 12:17-20

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