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by Matthew Kelly
by Father Bob Sherry
by Lourdes with Nancy and Say
So I started my spring cleaning this week. Yes, I am a little behind this year. Every year when I do this, I go through my office and my wardrobe, getting rid of unnecessary possessions that I have amassed in the previous year. I am always amazed at how much there is to give away.
Generosity is the third sign of a dynamic Catholic, and this month I want to present you with a 30-day challenge: Give something away every day for thirty days. It can be something material, but it could also be a compliment. It could be spending time to coach or mentor someone. It can be anything. But keep a list of what you give away each day for thirty days. If you miss a day, try to give two things away the next day.
Here’s the thing. I’d love to see your list. I am working on a project and your input would be very helpful. So at the end of the thirty days, I invite you to email your list to 30days@DynamicCatholic.com.
Giving is at the heart of what it means to be human. Giving is at the heart of what it means to be Christian, and we all have so much to give.
May God bless you and all those you love, and remember: Be Bold. Be Catholic.
The hardest war to win is one you don’t even realize you are fighting, and the hardest enemy to defeat is the one you don’t even know exists. Every day you are at war with resistance.
— From “Resisting Happiness” by Matthew Kelly
The alarm clock goes off. It’s time to get out of bed. This is your first decision of the day. Will you get out of bed or hit the snooze button? You press the snooze button and roll over.
What just happened? No big deal, right? Wrong. You just lost the first battle of the day. Resistance just kicked your butt. Resistance has broken your will before you’ve even gotten out of bed. You will most likely be its slave for the rest of the day.
I have been battling resistance my whole life. As we get a little further into this book I think you will discover you have been too. What is resistance? It’s that sluggish feeling of not wanting to do something that you know is good for you, it’s the inclination to do something that you unabashedly know is not good for you, and it’s everything in between. It’s the desire and tendency to delay something you should be doing right now.
Do you ever feel like you are your own worst enemy? Have you ever thought you could accomplish great things if only you weren’t so busy with so many little things? Do you struggle to make decisions with confidence? Are you tired of setting goals and not accomplishing them? Do you procrastinate? Are you afraid to say what you really think and feel? Then this book is for you.
If you’ve ever tried to accomplish anything worthwhile, then you’ve been face-to-face with resistance. You may not have called it by that name in the past, but I suspect you will in the future. It helps to call it by its name. In every moment of every day, resistance is there, waiting to pounce.
Make no mistake, resistance is your enemy. It will not quietly go away and leave you alone. You have to slay it like a dragon, and you have to slay it anew each day.
How does resistance manifest? It wears a thousand masks, many of which are so effective we don’t even recognize resistance is behind them. Laziness, procrastination, fear, doubt, instant gratification, self-loathing, indecision, escapism, pride, self-deception, friction, tension, and self-sabotage are just some of the ways resistance manifests its ugly self in our lives and causes us to settle for so much less than God has imagined for us. You cannot become the-best-version-of-yourself unless you wake up every morning ready to slay resistance. It stands between you and the person God created you to be. Resistance stands between you and happiness.
You have to break through resistance in order to accomplish even the smallest tasks. I catch myself in a battle with resistance several times a day.
Here’s a simple example:
I sit down to write, but instead I start checking my e-mail or thinking about what snacks will be required to write something great. This is resistance at work. Sure, I am an accomplished author and have written twenty books that have sold millions of copies, but just like every college student who sits down to write a paper, I will have to slay resistance in order to even get started. The thing about resistance is that it is so simple, so ordinary—and so paralyzing if we are not mindful of it.
This is why most people who start writing a book never finish it. We all know people who are writing a book. I get requests from people all the time to help them get the book they are writing published. They are very keen to speak about the publishing process right now. I always say to them, “Focus first on writing your book. When your manuscript is finished and ready for a professional editor to look at, send me a copy, and then we can talk about publishing options.” More than 95 percent of them I never hear from again. Resistance gets the better of them.
Imagine all the books that are unwritten because of resistance. I wonder if Mozart or Beethoven had an unwritten symphony, or if Picasso and Monet died with their greatest work inside them because of resistance. I wonder how many diseases have not been cured because resistance got between the scientist and the cure. I wonder how many things never got invented because inventors succumbed to resistance. How many men and women didn’t become saints because of resistance? Resistance is a slayer of dreams.
Looking back on today, where did you encounter resistance? It was there, wasn’t it? In fact, if you really sat down and analyzed your day, you would discover that many times throughout the day you were in a tussle with resistance.
We all battle resistance daily: popes and presidents; kings, queens, and the working class; the CEO and the janitor; the rich and the poor; the educated and the uneducated; the young and the old. Nobody gets to escape the battle with resistance.
The first goal of this book is simply to give resistance a name. Once you name it, you see it differently. Things that we cannot name tend to build in mystery and become dangerous. Simply naming, defining, and learning to recognize resistance in the moments of our days causes it to lose most of its power over us. It is no longer a mystery because we have named it.
When aspiring authors contact me for advice, I always ask them a series of questions about their book. One of those questions is: What is the promise of your book? They usually look at me and wonder what on earth I am talking about. But to me, every book makes a promise. A great book delivers on its promise and an average book does not. Learning to overcome resistance is one of life’s essential lessons, and the promise of this book.
The first lesson is that you never defeat resistance once and for all. It is a daily battle.
On a hot Sunday morning in July as I was greeting people coming for noon Mass, a man about my age said, “Father, you’re new here. Have you come to give us some fire and brimstone?” When I told him that was not my style, he replied that he had not heard some good fire and brimstone for maybe 50 years! I remarked that today’s temperature of 90-plus degrees was hot enough for me.
Seems to me our daily news has enough fire and brimstone (F&B) to last a lifetime. Is F&B a catalyst for improving our lives, for making us better-versions-of-ourselves?
When I was Vocation Director for the Diocese of Rockford in Northern Illinois, I was always amazed and awestruck at the totally unique ways that people felt a call from God. No two stories were the same. As varied as God’s creation, so are the calls God gives to us. No two snowflakes are the same, no two leaves, no two faces, no two kittens. No two calls.
At Dynamic Catholic, we are always interested and eager to hear what triggers people to finally listen to God’s invitation and act on it. All our Catholic Moments programs are invitations for people to get closer to God.
Astronomers tell us there are more stars and planets all around us in the heavens than there are grains of sand on all the beaches of the earth. Each star and planet is unique, and each grain of sand is unique. Ours is a God of individuals and a God of oneness.
One key to life is discerning how our individual lives fit snuggly into God’s master plan, the big picture. Each day, we are invited to take one step closer in our relationship with our God. With all the wars and violence, mass murders and killings that happen throughout the world today, we can get distracted from our goal of seeking first the kingdom of God.
Perhaps some of you would like to describe the trigger God used to call you into newness of life. Whether it was F&B, a gentle wind, or something in between, it will be unique.
This year, we participated in St. Bartholomew Church’s Lenten book study. We chose to read Matthew Kelly’s bestseller Rediscover Jesus. After finishing the book, the parish’s Jail Ministry team decided to use Rediscover Jesus for the book study it leads at Bartholomew County Jail on Sunday evenings. A typical evening starts with members of the ministry reading a chapter or two of the book out loud, followed by general sharing and discussions.
We chose Rediscover Jesus to introduce the female inmates to the possibility of a personal and intimate relationship with Jesus Christ. From the very beginning, we knew we chose the right book when one inmate, who was legally blind, listened intently to the words being read to her and started crying during the prologue. In time, most of the inmates from the twelve-member class have shed tears as sections of the book touched them uniquely, opening their hearts to Jesus’ message of friendship and love.
Sevy Badgley, our Jail Ministry team leader, says, “The women like the fact that the book does not focus on the things they have done or are doing wrong. Instead, it challenges them to get to know Jesus and welcomes them into a loving relationship with him.”
A lot of these women have not experienced this type of unconditional love before. I want to share with you what the women are saying about the way this book has impacted them.
“I was born and raised in the Church. This book has opened my eyes and helped my journey to knowing God better, leading me to understand the Bible in ways that I would never have learned. Sobriety from drugs would be like Lazarus being freed from death. It is possible through Jesus.” – M.I.
“This radical book has helped me to transform my mind and given me the courage to continually seek the truth as well as embrace Jesus and his agape love. I will make myself 100 percent available to Jesus today. I will let God change me and with God’s help, I will become the transformed butterfly.” – J.A.C.
“This book has opened my mind and allowed me to see and think about understanding God’s word from other views. It told me specific ways Jesus can and will help me change my life, live my life according to his will, and receive the blessings he has planned for me.” – S.C.
In rediscovering Jesus, the women are also rediscovering the good within themselves—seeing themselves as they really are, as a loving God sees them. It follows that a God who can love them so much, no matter what they have done, must see good in them. Believing there is good in them generates so much hope for a transformed future. They will continue to need our prayers for strength and perseverance, but in accepting that they are loved unconditionally, they have taken the first step on their journey towards a deeper, personal relationship with Jesus.
Want to share your story? Write us at email@example.com
Making time for each other isn’t that difficult if you think about how to anchor the time around already established routines at home.
Life is short, and the holidays fly by. Don’t waste this time texting your friends about how crazy your family is making you (even if it’s true). Do your best to be present to them, seek to understand and to love.
Waking up early is a war. It is a battle against the self. You are your enemy. And there is only one way to win the war: Discipline.
When you choose to be the-best-version-of-yourself, when you exercise virtue and strength of character, you impact the world more than you will ever know.