The Call Collective

Exploring God's presence and call within the culture.

Tag: Spiritual Life (page 2 of 2)

Giving God Our Full and Undivided Attention

We’ve all been in the middle of a conversation, telling a story, asking for advice, or sharing how we’re doing when we notice the person across from us isn’t paying attention. Maybe they’re eyeing some odd character who just walked through the door behind us, or they’re glancing at their phone in response to a text alert, or they’re simply exhibiting that glazed-over look accompanied with an agreeable, I’m-not-listening-but-am-pretending-to head nod. I’m guilty of this, as I imagine we all are. In many cases, it’s not because we don’t care, are bored, or necessarily have something better to do. Instead, it often has to do with the understandable reality that it’s hard, even at times exceedingly difficult, to give our full attention to something or someone for an extended period of time. And although I think the way we consume information these days, in short, easily-digestible snippets of content at an unending rate, definitely doesn’t make things easier in this department, we can’t blame it only on technology (yes, we’ve all heard a thousand times that the digital age is shortening our attention spans).

The reason it’s hard to pay attention—to give ourselves fully to the moment before us no matter what we’re doing—is because it often requires us to turn away from what we’re naturally conditioned to do. It’s hard to keep our thoughts reined in; it requires an act of the will and a firm commitment to staying focused. And with a weakened ability to focus—to be fully attentive to what’s in front of us—we hinder our relationships with others, the fruitfulness of our prayer, and even our union with God and the knowledge of his will.

Continue reading

Please help me get the word out by liking and sharing!

Why We So Desperately Need Community

I frequent a certain coffee shop during the week. Just about every time I’m there, I see two older men sitting in adjacent faded red chairs. They both usually have headphones on and are engrossed in a show or movie playing on their laptops. They sit quietly for the most part, laughing in short, distracting bursts occasionally (though never at the same time). I can’t be sure, but since I see them whenever I visit this coffee shop, I suspect they are there every day. Sometimes they talk to each other, suggesting a worthwhile new movie release or repeating a joke from a recently watched TV episode. They appear to be friends, or at least companions. It also seems that they both live alone (although, to be fair, I can’t say for sure). Everyday they come to sit in a room with quiet, indifferent strangers to watch movies by themselves, together. They participate in a paradoxical sharing of their aloneness.

There is something appealing about a life of “aloneness,” not to be—at least on the surface—confused with loneliness. For in our aloneness we can corroborate our capacity as self-directing agents. We affirm our liberation and ability to live a life geared toward our own, self-fancied end. We can come and go when we please, busying ourselves in whatever activities or hobbies that suit us without having to answer to anyone but ourselves. And to be fair, it’s a satisfying modality of life in some aspects. However, like the two men who make a familiar home of a public coffee shop, there seems an underlying need to be grafted onto something other than our own selves. In a culture that places so much stock in autonomy, we’re caught in the tension of enjoying unmitigated freedom while still identifying as part of a larger whole.

Continue reading

Please help me get the word out by liking and sharing!

Is Busyness Jeopardizing Our Souls?

Today it seems everyone’s favorite response to the common, probing introductory question, “How are you?” is this: I’m busy. Very busy. Extremely busy. I’m guilty of this response more than I care to admit. Of course, many of us are—actually—extremely busy. Many of us are stretching ourselves razor thin, fulfilling the necessary obligations of life: tending to our jobs, families, and children, addressing the infinite list of errands and to-do’s, scheduling time for exercise, friends, entertainment, bills, volunteer work. The list goes on. Endlessly.

Technology, despite its aim to lessen our collective human burden (which it no doubt has in some ways), has helped fuel this increasing and widespread condition known as busyness. The ease with which we can connect to the world—be it to our work emails or social media relationships—allows us to be permanently “plugged in.” We can get away from the crowd and commotion of our lives physically to seek rest, but we can still pick up our phones to engage with them just as if we never left.

Continue reading

Please help me get the word out by liking and sharing!

Reclaiming the Great Adventure of Christianity

There is something laced within our very being that prompts us to seek and participate in stories of adventure, a quest for something infused with inestimable purpose and meaning. Ever since the dawn of humanity, we’ve been lured by narrative, the enfolding of actions that drive toward some end, or realization, that underscores a fundamental truth about humanity—linking us to one another and calling attention to our communal nature. We love stories because they tell us something about ourselves that we didn’t know, that we had forgotten, that we didn’t know we have always known. It’s why stories that detail a quest to overcome evil or accomplish a noble good at some great cost inspire us. We’re inspired because we want our lives to embody that very same character—we want the opportunity for adventure, one fraught with risk, so we can overcome grave obstacles and prove to ourselves that we’re courageous, heroic, selfless.

From literary classics like Homer’s The Odyssey and J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings to recent adventure flicks like The Avengers: Age of Ultron, Mad Max: Fury Road and, later this year, Star Wars: Episode VII The Force Awakens, we’re a people captivated by stories. I grew up watching movies and reading books because outside of entertainment and escape, they gave me a glimpse of human life beyond the confines of my American suburbia. They served as education on what it means to be human. Stories give way to self-awareness. Stories can paradoxically convey truth indirectly yet more fully. And each of our own lives portrays a narrative—a uniquely tailored quests to discover who we are, to discover why we are. Continue reading

Please help me get the word out by liking and sharing!

Giving Up the Faith That Leads to Loss

I had a conversation with a friend once. It was well past midnight and we were sitting outside a bar patio along a sparse, urban street. My friend was talking about what he wanted to do for a living, and specifically, what he hoped to accomplish professionally this next year. He knew he needed a good job and that when it came to plucking one of those the harvest wasn’t particularly abundant. He was worried, unsure of his ability to be successful competing against a swath of qualified prospects just like him.

“Well, at the end of the day, I have to have faith.” He continued, “But not faith in God, or something like that…but faith in myself. I have to trust that things will just work out.”

As human beings, many of us feel compelled to believe in something—anything—in order to secure a remnant of comfort. Even if we believe in nothing, we make a decision to claim that vision of existence for ourselves and then live in it with a vague sense of understanding, expectation. We choose to believe something, igniting a torch that gives light to our reality. If we choose to believe in God, we believe in a world infused with meaning, intentionality, and love, even when it glares back at us. If not, then we have to confer our own sense of meaning in order to get by.

Faith is to believe what you do not see; the reward of this faith is to see what you believe.
Saint Augustine

Continue reading

Please help me get the word out by liking and sharing!

How to Discern Your Calling (Part 3)

This is the third part to the three-part series titled How to Discern Your Calling.

How to Discern Your Calling (Part 1) >

How to Discern Your Calling (Part 2) >

In Part 1 we looked at the need to discern and act on God’s calling in each of our lives and in Part 2 we explored the need for discipline despite difficulties. For this last section, I would like to take a look at the final two primary aspects of co-creating our vocations with God: the need for humility and a connection to community.

The first product of self-knowledge is humility.
Flannery O’Connor

It becomes clear as we strive in whatever we’re called to do, whether that’s raising a child, healing the sick as a medical professional, probing the intelligibility of the universe through scientific or metaphysical examination, or a combination of many of these things, that we’re terribly inadequate to do so in many ways. We could say we’re deeply unworthy of the task God calls us to. That’s exactly why the only way to meet such a challenge is to first draw on the strength of God, to acknowledge the need for God and others in helping us arrive at our destination.

I’ve personally struggled with the idea of God’s calling for my life equating to relevance or popularity. I’ve found that often times I look for the affirmation or confirmation of others with respect to my life’s direction. Do people care? Do people think I’m living a worthwhile life? Am I relevant in the eyes of my family, friends, community and the world?

Such a deep longing for relevance flowers within the core of our human nature. Continue reading

Please help me get the word out by liking and sharing!

Are You Saved?

It’s a question that is asked more explicitly by Protestants than Catholics, but it reveals an underlying concern with the destination of one’s soul that is important to all Christians. It points to a deeper matter of interest that many (if not all) of us have about the Christian faith: have I personally procured myself a spot in Heaven? Have I ensured that my house is in order, so that when I stand before God with the rest of humanity I’m not labeled a goat? And if so, can I now rest comfortably in the knowledge that I’m a nice cuddly sheep and eternal happiness awaits?

This was a question that haunted me when first coming to the faith. How do I ensure that my relationship is pleasing to God? Show me the checkboxes that need to be checked, so I can sharpen my pencil. It became an isolating journey, and I recall moments of bitter loneliness and frustration when tethered to such a superficial understanding of the faith. I remember one day sitting in church by myself in the company of mostly elderly folks (standard for many Catholic masses), in an attempt to check off one of the most well-known of boxes, so to speak. Attend mass on Sunday? Check.

I can remember that moment, and ones like it vividly: the antiquated smell of incense wafting in the air, the hard wooden kneelers sharp against my knees and the hanging corpse in front of us all, wearing a face forged in utter torment. I was there, not fully understanding what it meant to partake in the gift of divine life, but because it was what I was supposed to do. It kept me “right” with God. You know, it ensured we were still good pals. And although it was good that I was there, and it was a step in the right direction, there was a nagging sense of emptiness. I was doing all of the right things, ensuring my relationship with God was in good standing order, but it missed something. I was not living out a fully developed faith, and as the seasons passed, it became more evident. Continue reading

Please help me get the word out by liking and sharing!

7 Ways to Combat Spiritual Meh-ness

Has no one ever told you about the law of undulation?…As long as [humans] live on earth, periods of emotional and bodily richness and liveliness will alternate with periods of numbness and poverty.
The Screwtape Letters, C.S. Lewis

For those of you unfamiliar with C.S. Lewis, he had a tremendous understanding of the human experience and a gift for creativity that allowed him to communicate his insight in memorable and original ways. I encourage you to check out his works if you haven’t already.

I especially love The Screwtape Letters because it cleverly depicts the temptations and challenges we all encounter in the spiritual life as we draw closer to God. In one instance, as depicted in the quote above, C.S. Lewis talks about the “peaks” and “troughs” of the spiritual life.

At some moments we find ourselves elated and our desire to know and serve God comes effortlessly. But as we mature in the spiritual life, this exuberance for all things spiritual wanes.

I’ve experienced good moments, as well as periods of steadiness. Sometimes the journey is like a steady hike with moderately clement weather, when I’m not scaling a peak or descending into a valley. However, eventually the valleys come, and I find myself at the bottom looking out and up—recalling the memory of that mountain top, which now seems a distant, implausible dream. Now I’m trudging through mud, host to a multitude of mosquitos and beset with an aching tiredness.

Continue reading

Please help me get the word out by liking and sharing!
Newer posts

© 2018 The Call Collective

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑