This Summer, Let's Utilize God's Gift of Freedom
Oh God, come to my assistance. Lord make haste to help me!
Multiple times a day, I repeat these words. They are the well-known versicle and response which begins all but one of the “hours” that make up the Liturgy of the Hours. Many of us in sacred vows and promises, and other people too, have made this response literally thousands of times in our lives. For over a thousand years, at least as early as Saint Benedict, and perhaps earlier, the Church has placed these words on our lips at the beginning of her “official” prayers throughout the day.
While each of us would have our own interpretation as to their significance, for me, I am grateful that they frame my day. Usually, I wake up with a pretty full agenda that includes Mass, sacramental preparations, correspondence, administration, planning and the like. And that’s just what’s planned. Then there’s also the emergency or the phone call that needs immediate attention. Having a smart phone and iPad seems to prevent there from ever being boundaries to the workday. The words of Psalm 69 noted above helps keep all the many things that need to be done in perspective. Welcoming the Lord into the nitty gritty part of my day provides comfort, relief and guidance.
What is a typical day for you? How do you weave the Lord into it? As we celebrate July 4 – Independence Day, many of us will move away from the fixed schedule of our everyday routine and have some time for some new and creative summer thinking. Perhaps we can use this time to reevaluate and refocus as to how we use the freedom that the Lord has given us. Surely there are many ways, but here are some suggestions:
1. Express More of Who You Are
Sometimes when we get stuck in a routine, we become lax and uninteresting in putting forth our true and full selves. God has created each of us in a unique manner, and we have the ability to touch others like no one else. Taking the time to better express ourselves can be both liberating and fulfilling, but we also have to be first comfortable in our own skin.
2. Use Your Resources Towards a Large Passion Project
Being comfortable is nice but staying in comfort for too long can start to make one dormant, making it difficult to be freed from that zone. Spending money on little things that were once pleasurable may now be part of the routine and may be a dependency. Perhaps the summer will give us a chance to think about ways to put some of our money towards a bigger passion project, especially one that benefits others.
3. Get Mentally Stimulated
The slower pace of the summer may provide the opportunity to take a one-day workshop, an online course, or watch a few hours about it on YouTube. Learning about wines or cooking, taking a virtual trip, or even learning about a hero or an idol can provide great mental stimulation. There are also many virtual ways to learn about Jesus and matters of faith too!
4. Reinvest In Someone You Love
Relationships also need refinement. And it is good to be aware when the relationship with your best friend, spouse, or business partner needs some creativity. Summers provide us many opportunities for doing something new together that puts us all in new environment and can be a great experience to learn something new about each other. Taking time to grow our relationship with Jesus is also helpful.
5. Go Deep
We’re all here to grow and we never stop evolving. God wants us to be the best version of ourselves. Examining the areas where we can make some profound changes and see what’s holding us back from a fuller life is in itself life-giving.
6. Broaden Your Horizons
Summer and travel provide us endless opportunities to meet and explore new cultures that are different from ours and challenge us to be open to new and different philosophies. It’s not necessary even to leave the country because traveling to a large, highly diverse city can provide us with lots of exposure to different ways people live life. And trying to see God in all people is a good exercise as well!
7. Find Your Purpose
Jobs and careers can become stagnant especially if it’s not your calling or something we love doing. Some people make an impact on society in a large way beyond their neighborhood, city, or state and some do not, and that’s okay too. Taking time to think about why God created us and how we can use our unique gifts is a positive exercise and can bear great fruit.
God’s gift of freedom is a great gift. Let’s use the summer to better understand and explore it!
[Thanks to Camille Thomas for inspiring the topics. Her full article is available at https://diligentcopy.medium.com/12-ways-to-exercise-and-express-your-personal-freedom-13ad5168d12a]