June 3, 2011

It’s All Good / Patti Lamb

Shut out the noise of the world and spend time with God

Patti LambRecently, I set out to plant some annuals in the front yard to bring a bit of color to the landscape. Due to this spring’s wetter weather and chillier temperatures, I was weeks behind my typical planting schedule. So I was eager to begin gardening.

I planned to distract my 3-year-old daughter, Margaret, with some outdoor toys that she hadn’t seen in a while. I brushed the dust off the wagon, which had been tucked away for safe keeping in the garage during the winter months.

And I happily discovered a hand-me-down tricycle that she would finally be big enough to pedal. Thinking these things would keep her interest, I grabbed my supplies and began to dig.

But only a minute or two passed before Margaret wandered over to where I was working. She was intrigued by the dirt and the bright red flower petals. She couldn’t keep her little hands out of the soil.

A neighbor walked by on his morning stroll and hollered, “It looks like you have a little helper.”

That was putting it mildly.

Next, my daughter tried to lift a full watering can containing Miracle Grow, and promptly knocked it over. The sidewalk was well-fertilized, but the flowers were not.

When I tried to take the watering can away, she shouted, “No, I want to do it by myself.”

It wasn’t long before I caught her eating some potting soil, and chasing her brother with a garden spade that she wielded like a lightsaber.

When I told her to stop interfering, she said, “But Mom—I just want to help.”

I paused for a minute, and realized that God might see me in the same way that I see my daughter—as an overeager helper.

Sometimes when life presents problems, I am too quick to jump in and fix things. I attempt to take the reins and get my hands dirty, all in the spirit of being a good helper.

I’ve heard the expression that “God helps those who help themselves.” But I often err in taking that to the extreme, giving God too little chance to work in my life.

I forget to go to God first, and I end up seeking his counsel as a last resort. Connecting with him should be at the top of my playbook instead of being my last line of defense.

I’m learning that answers come when we are fully present with God. I need to spend more time talking with him and just being in his presence. While I probably won’t have a vision or receive a direct answer, I walk away from quiet communion with him a little more refreshed and peaceful.

I am in tune once again with my Creator, and I am recharged. Like our cell phones need to connect with their chargers to be fully powered, so we need to connect with God, our power source.

Immediate action is not always the answer. Sometimes it’s just busyness. Quiet and thoughtful time spent with God, however, can provide a new outlook.

Minds become clear and eyes view things differently. We begin to see solutions that we might never have thought of in our haste to solve problems. Or, better yet, we might gain perspective, and realize that problems we once thought were so overwhelming were not worthy of such fretting after all.

Time spent with God—when we shut out the noise of the world, and when our hearts and ears are open—is the best way to help anything.

(Patti Lamb, a member of St. Susanna Parish in Plainfield, is a regular columnist for The Criterion.)

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