Thursday, June 05, 2014

Where You Do Not Want to Go

By Melanie Rigney

Friday of the Seventh Week of Easter

(Speaking about Paul, Festus told King Agrippa:) “His accusers stood around him, but did not charge him with any of the crimes I suspected. Instead they had some issues with him about their own religions and about a certain Jesus who had died but who Paul claimed was alive.” (Acts 25:18-19)

Bless the Lord, all you his angels, you mighty in strength, who do his bidding. (Psalms 103:20)

(Jesus said to Peter:) “Amen, amen, I say to you, when you were younger, you used to dress yourself and go where you wanted; but when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go.” He said this signifying by what kind of death he would glorify God. And when he had said this, he said to him, “Follow me.” (John 21:18-19)

Lord, guide me through my earthly “deaths” as You increase my dependence on You.

Back in late 2010 and early 2011, I was struggling. What I really enjoyed writing was Christian fiction, but other than the occasional contest honor, that was going nowhere. What was getting published was the Catholic nonfiction I was writing, here and in Living Faith and a book on setting up a parish program for returning Catholics I’d co-authored. It wasn’t that I disliked writing nonfiction, but I’d been doing it in the secular world for decades. It didn’t transport me the way writing fiction did. And, to be honest, I wasn’t sure I liked the idea of being pigeonholed as a Catholic writer. There’s still quite a market for Christian fiction, but as you likely know, many folks don’t consider Catholics to be Christians. I wanted to be obedient to God’s call to me as a writer. I just wasn’t sure what it was.
So I talked with a friend. He suggested I pursue both types of writing since they brought me joy in different ways. I explained the time and pigeonholing constraints. He listened a lot. He lent me his copy of James Martin’s The Jesuit Guide to (Almost) Everything: A Spirituality for Real Life. He hadn’t read it yet, but he thought it might help. It did, annoying as I found the concept of spiritual indifference —accepting our situation as it is here on earth and focusing on the purpose for which we are created.
My friend and I talked a few more times. He prayed. I prayed. And a little more than a year later, God gifted me with the most wonderful writing opportunity of my life: telling the stories of 366 female saints and blesseds and relating them to our faith journeys today. You don’t get much more Catholic than writing about saints. Not only did I find a whole lot of new friends among those 366 women, I was humbled by the way those stories touched other people, some of whom I knew and some of whom I didn’t.
It turned out that once I stopped focusing on what I wanted and let my doubts and tendency to overanalyze die, God was more than happy to help me be both obedient and joyful. And, it appears that Christian novel I finished back in 2010 might get published after all—by a Catholic publisher.
Now, it’s my friend’s turn. He faces some decisions in the coming weeks that will mean death of some of the things he most loves, no matter which way things fall out. I’m praying for him, confident that like Peter, he will continue to say yes to Christ’s command to “Follow me,” no matter where that takes him.

Pray for a family member or friend facing a crossroads in a relationship or his or her career, that the Lord illumines the person’s path.

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