All or Nothing

11 Nov

I recently came across a quote of St. John Vianney’s that I’ve been thinking about a lot lately: “You either belong wholly to the world or wholly to God.” The all-or-nothing Christian in me loved it. Ate it up. Heart and soul. I posted it on Facebook, as all cool Catholics do, and received mixed reviews from a few of my 1145 closest friends. One woman alluded to the fact that she feels caught in the middle most of the time—and what should she do about that? Fair enough. Then, another interesting comment: “You ask God for a ten minute hall pass.” Hmm. . . a hall pass. Like a water break during the big game? A break from the never-ending demand to be “good”? The sort of break that made 8th grade History class just a bit more bearable? Intriguing. I thought about it all day. First I scoffed at my tainted FB wall. Then, eventually I really thought about it. Here’s how the process went:

So, I’m trying to be like Christ, right? I’m living a “make Mama proud” kind of life. I’m striving to make good decisions. I hit up the local confessional at least once a month. But on the hard days I still take it out on an undeserving family member or translate my feelings into a witty wall-post. And when a hard conversation comes up, I usually swerve onto the easy road, avoiding “truth hurts” words of wisdom or possible constructive criticism of a friend’s life. And I’m all about not responding to argumentative comments passive-aggressively left for me via Facebook. So in some ways, my life is connected by a string of “hall passes.” Yikes.

I began to think about a Scripture verse from the Gospel according to Matthew where Jesus said that “whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters.” He didn’t say “whoever is not with me is probably just having a hard day or trying to be nice or curving the rules to arrive at a happy ending.” Gosh, it sounds a lot like He said that our ‘yes’ should mean ‘yes’ and our ‘no’ should mean ‘no’ (Matthew 5:37).
Now I am not saying that I am perfect or that I’ll be perfect anytime soon. I am saying that I’m going to think a little bit more before taking my next hall pass. If my choices are to either belong wholly to the world or wholly to God then I think it’s about time for class to begin.

-Gretchen Sonnen

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