Have you ever heard the expression ready, fire, aim? It seems to me that a lot of our culture operates this way taking immediate action and reacting to something before thinking it through. If we are not careful and intentional, this behavior can transcend our life, including our spiritual life.
Landing on the word action for my word this year was a bit tricky. I needed to adjust my mindset around its definition and what act means. Action is defined as the process of doing something, typically to achieve an aim. Since I am looking for holiness in my life, I measure success by my relationship with God and spiritual growth year over year. This is my north star. The way I think, speak and act should align with this aim. Being out of alignment with my purpose and my values is a recipe for stress and anxiety. Many people go through life not really knowing what they want, and they drift. As believers, we have a simple, clear, unambiguous articulation of the end goal of how we should live life. We can do this by being smitten with God’s goodness.
Do you know the stumbling blocks that keep your eye off goodness? I stub my toes often on my self-reliance, thinking things are all up to me. This nasty coping skill was the result of lost connection with my mother from alcoholism. As I learned later through recovery, I have an overdeveloped sense of responsibility and its easier for me to be concerned with others which enables me to not look to closely at my own faults. It was easier for me to take on this responsibility and have what I thought was control over my chaotic world.
Our culture glorifies and rewards self-reliance even though it is destroying our relationships and our mental health. We are called to love God with our whole being. I find myself asking for forgiveness more often than I like. As humans, we are made for love and connection. Through learning to do things different, I know the quality of my relationships correlate to my ability to trust and be vulnerable. If I want to grow in my love with God, my husband, family, friends, and my community, I need to invite others to help and support me. Self-reliance creates stress and anxiety and robs me of the gift of peace because I feel everything is up to me. I feel like Atlas, carrying the world on my shoulders.
With this context, action for me is aim, ready, fire. This is the right-ordered action. Since my aim is to do God’s will, I need to get ready through prayer and then fire or act! It is simple but challenging given my tendencies – I oftentimes bypass the most important step, prayer.
Whatever I learn, receive, or hear from God or what I see in Him, if I put it into practice peace will live within me allowing me to be smitten with His goodness. The value of goodness is transcendent! Goodness is not only a virtue but a practice where I find ways to create good things and make my life better including the lives of everyone else around me. The gifts and fruits of the Spirit are abundant!
For the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness, and truth. Focus on His truth, Ephesians 5:9
Being smitten with goodness brings light into the world through partaking in the divine nature by faith and confessing the greatness of the One who created me. When I am secure in this identity, rather than the old habit of self-reliance, I live a life worthy of the gift I have been given. I am made capable by doing this by grace and the gifts of his Spirit, which I receive through the sacraments and through prayer. (Catechism of the Catholic Church 1692)
Living a life of virtue is a habit with a firm disposition to do good. It allows me to not only perform good acts but to give the best of myself. When I look toward the good with my whole heart, I take concrete steps to grasp beauty around me and have an attitude and disposition that will govern my actions, order my passions, and guide my conduct according to reason and faith.
In action and goodness,