Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Joy and Purpose


Q. Why did God make you?

A. God made me to know Him, to love Him, and to serve Him in this world, and to be happy with Him for ever in heaven.

I am too young to remember the days when one had to memorize a list of questions and answers in order to prepare herself for Holy Communion. At one time, that was how we Catholics learned the fundamentals of the faith. After Vatican II (when I was born, honestly), we Catholics were discouraged from doing that. I, however, had a Godmother who did not know that, and was extremely disappointed that I was not going to a Catholic elementary school. She ended up sending each of her three children's Baltimore Catechism booklets to me at separate times. Mom hid them away in a drawer in my room, figuring they are obsolete. But sometimes when I was bored, I'd look through the drawers in my room, and I found them. So, I did what any curious child does: I read them. Looking back at those list of questions and answers, there was nothing wrong with them per say, except that such rote learning was hard on some kids. It's hard to teach children that God loves them when they believe they are spiritually defective because they aren't good at memorization. (St. Bernedette wasn't good at memorization either, and her parish priest allowed for her to make her First Holy Communion anyways because he knew how much she desired to...)

God made me to know Him, to love Him, and to serve Him in this world, and to be happy with Him for ever in heaven.

I had come to believe while taking care of Momma, that people needed to have a purpose in order to be happy. No, not the kind of spontaneous happy that finding your lottery numbers are the winner is, but the kind of inner lasting happiness that is there even when we are unhappy. Momma felt joy to be able to help me make CCD gifts, or party favors, or dozens of scarves for homeless children in the winter. And I felt joy to be able to take care of her. Not exactly happiness... who could be happy that her mom can't walk. But serving her did give me an inner sense of joy.

Since her passing, I hadn't thought much about it, but I did feel purposeless. When God used me as a teacher, I was happy. When He used me as my mother's caretaker, I felt happy. But since Momma died, I have felt about as useful as a mosquito. I have tried to "be useful" here and there. but didn't feel this use was my purpose.

Then last Friday, I called my friend who is in charge at my parish of getting everything ready for First Communion Day. I used to teach First Communion without having a resource like my friend, so I do know all that is involved, so I called her Friday to see if any last minute details need to be done!
Her answer? "God must have sent you! I was all prepared ahead of time as of yesterday, but now there is concern that some parents don't want their children's nick names in the booklet, but their birth certificate names, so I need to make a new page, copy it, take out the old page from the booklet, and then put the new page in!"
I told her I'd be right there and she said to me "You are an answer to prayer!"
Now, I have to admit, when I hung up the phone, I said to God ...
"She is such a nice lady! YOU ARE THE ALMIGHTY!!! Couldn't you answer her prayer with something a little snazzier than me?"
God's answer: "You sound kind of like Moses did.... ha ha..."
Me: "I thought he was slow of speech... you mean he used the word snazzy?"
God's answer: "Cute. I made you to know, love, and serve me, Daughter. You can only be happy when you do that. So yes, I am sending you, and not only to help her, but to help you, too! Now go!"

Chris kept repeating all afternoon how good God is for sending me, and a friend of my mom's who saw me going into the Parish Office and asked why. When I told her, she thought an afternoon of sitting together collating would give us an opportunity to chat and catch up, which was very nice.

My point is that joy can only be felt when we are filling the purpose God has for us, and it doesn't really matter if that is a purpose that covers years or an afternoon.

BTW, isn't He a GREAT God that He has so many purposes for us?

Also, I don't normally believe that God speaks to me, but since I NEVER call myself "Daughter", I was pretty sure I wasn't answering myself back....



13 comments:

Wendy said...

Glad you were able to be used! It's a nice feeling, I think.

And yeah, I've heard a few times from God, too. He's pretty funny! I'll have to tell you about my "gift of bad news" sometime. ;o)

katdish said...

"My point is that joy can only be felt when we are filling the purpose God has for us, and it doesn't really matter if that is a purpose that covers years or an afternoon."

Oh, Helen. That's so true. Thank you for this post. Wonderful.

jasonS said...

Love this post, Helen! Such a great story and important point. Thanks.

M.L. Gallagher said...

What a beautiful post and poignant reminder of how to experience joy living on purpose.

Glynn said...

To know Him and be known by Him -- it's mind-blowing. The Creator of the universe wants me to know Him. Great post, Helen.

Shark Bait said...

God's answer: "You sound kind of like Moses did.... ha ha..."

I got that from him recently. :-)

Except he called me "little fish" instead of Daughter. But I'm pretty sure the laugh was there.

pip said...

Helen, this was very encouraging for me, thank you for sharing, and I am delighted that God has used your willing heart once more. How could he fail to? Praise be God, Who in His kindness, helps us to serve Him!

Duane Scott said...

The history of your early childhood faith was interesting. That said, I enjoyed this post.

I also love the part that katdish pointed out. So very true, but I often forget.

Jake said...

Happy DAY! I think that service really does reveal our purpose more than anything else-- you're a great example; you've always displayed your purpose in serving others as a teacher, caretaker, now servant at your parish!

What did you teach?

Jake said...

Happy DAY! I think that service really does reveal our purpose more than anything else-- you're a great example; you've always displayed your purpose in serving others as a teacher, caretaker, now servant at your parish!

What did you teach?

Bridget Chumbley said...

I definitely am most joyful when I know God is using me in a situation for His purposes. Who doesn't want to be told they are an answer to prayer?

Great post, Helen.

Tricia said...

I LOVE how you said this. "My point is that joy can only be felt when we are filling the purpose God has for us, and it doesn't really matter if that is a purpose that covers years or an afternoon." So very true!

caryjo said...

Sometimes I can almost see Him rolling His eyes, and shaking His head when I make a comment along the "I'm worth it?" line. And sometimes His words to me -- personally -- have never left my heart or memory. Isn't it cool?