Be Useful

It's hard for me to get excited about New Year's resolutions. I admit to a sinking, discouraged feeling at the thought of them. I have a respectable number of adult years under my belt now... enough to give an honest go of it plenty of times. Hence, the sinking, discouraged feeling.

I still make resolutions but I just don't call them resolutions. And I don't tend to make them at the New Year. It's that immature part of me that doesn't want to do things the same way twice because failure will just "feel" bad again.

My innermost goals and dreams and desires -- the ones that directly touch on my spiritual life and vocation -- are the ones that hurt the most when I fail.  At midnight on New Year's, I had the opportunity to face those desires in the presence of Jesus at benediction. Father led us in offering our personal intentions (interiorly) for the new year and it was the most perfect and gentle time to face hard things. I spent it laying my weak heart before the Lord. I told Him what I really wanted to see change this year for me. The kind of stuff I would not say out loud to most people.And it didn't feel like "resolution" time. No party streamers and clinking glasses. It felt like the right time (again) for...

... Revival... Renewal... Transformation... Conversion.

Dear Jesus, please pick my wimpy, withered, sloppy, lazy self off the floor and raise me up!


This year, my postpartum desire to return to a healthy level of fitness just happens to coincide with the New Year and I certainly have resolved to give it a go. I won't call it a resolution (there's that hang-up again)... maybe just a commitment to fitness. So bodily fitness has been on the brain quite a bit as I plan my return. Spiritual renewal has been on my mind as well but changing the body seems to me a bit... easier. And because I'm lazy, easier things often come first and overcome the better things. "Our Father, Who art in heaven...I wonder where those hand weights are..."

Thankfully, God has a way of turning our eyes back to His loving gaze...

The day after Christmas, I was playing with a digital dictionary/thesaurus that my son received as a gift. F-I-T-N-E-S-S. (I had just eaten far too many pieces of cheesecake, so fitness was strongly on my  mind.) I plugged that word into the thesaurus and my eyes were immediately drawn to the bottom of the screen where the antonyms were listed. There was only one word there...


Whoa. That's a pretty plain speaking little device. I don't want to be useless. I was thinking of fitness as associated with exercise specifically and certainly wasn't expecting or wanting a stretching moment in any way. But there it was. The opposite of being fit for something is being useless.

Clearly, that dictionary was not putting priority on the exercise related definition of fitness. I discovered that when I actually looked it up: "preparedness"..."competency"..."usefulness." I'm still committed to improving my level of fitness, but it's time to expand my definition.

I want to be fit.
Fit for duty?
Fit to fight?
Fit to be tied?
Fit for a King?

Yes. Fit for a King. I want to be useful for the King. I want to give my life back to Him in service. I want to be fit for my vocation. Fit to serve my family. Fit to love... to be loved. That word "useless" has been rattling around in my brain ever since because it startled me. I have been praying for fitness in the kingdom just as I have been preparing my family room to play host to my new exercise routine.

Conversion. Conversion. Conversion.

I have read before about the practice of randomly choosing a patron saint to be a special intercessor for the year. I decided to do it this year and take all the "me" out of it by using the Saint's Name Generator. After a quick prayer and easy click of the mouse, I learned (to my delight) that St. Josemaria Escriva will be my saintly companion for 2011.

Finding our copy of The Way (which I haven't opened for years), I turned to the first chapter and read...

1. Don't let your life be sterile. BE USEFUL. Blaze a trail. Shine forth with the light of your faith and of your love.
With your apostolic life wipe out the slimy and filthy mark left by the impure sowers of hatred. And light up all the ways of the earth with the fire of Christ that you carry in your heart.

That rattling word, useless, suddenly came to a stop on that page.

Funny, funny, my heavenly friend. I will strive to be useful. To be fit for a deeper conversion to the heart of Christ and to my vocation.

There's a lovely post about St. Josemaria at Joyfilled Family with a very appropriate quote for the New Year that I know you will all appreciate. Also, do pay a visit to the Saint Generator to see which of Jesus' good friends is waiting to bless you this year.
Posted on January 3, 2011 and filed under "Catholic fitness", "New Year's resolution", "fitness", "patron saint".