I made Confirmation in sixth grade. Big deal. I graduated from the right side of my small public school to my junior/senior high school on the left side of the building that same year. More people came to that so if you’re basing importance on people, I’d guess sixth grade graduation was more important.
As I prepared my eighth grade CCD students to receive their Confirmation, I thought back again to that year and tried to remember something from that time.
I remember I wore heels that were too high and a dress I wasn’t thrilled with. I remember knowing my hair would NEVER look as good as Kim’s, and I couldn’t for the life of me remember every word of the Apostle’s Creed.
Maybe I could have put more thought into the prayer. I sure could remember most words to my favorite songs. I sure could tell you every detail of the characters of my many favorite books. I had even managed to finally master those stubborn eight times tables! Yep I still blame the number eight rather than any thing I could have or should have done differently!
A lot of my life was that way. It was the number eight’s fault, not mine, that those multiplication facts were so difficult to memorize. It was the Apostle’s Creed’s fault that I kept confusing it with the Nicene Creed, and why should we say the Nicene Creed in Mass if the Apostle’s Creed is what we need to know in CCD? What was the difference really anyway, and who in the world made them sound so similar???
The mentality of the sixth grade me points the finger at someone else, at circumstances, at pretty much anything but myself. At some point though, that sixth grader should grow up and take responsibility for her own actions, how own words, and her own thoughts. She should also take responsibility for all of the half-hearted attempts at doing things when she should have given more.
As my students prepared to receive the Holy Spirit through their own Confirmation, I was struck again by how blase some of them were, how like I had been some of them were.
I’d received the Holy Spirit in sixth grade, but it wasn’t until my husband left that I allowed Him to work in my life. It wasn’t until my world came crashing down around me that I was reluctantly handed over the reigns and joined the ride.
It’s funny looking back. How much I had tried to control my destiny by picking the college I would attend, the major I would choose, the guys I would date, the man I would marry. It’s funny how much control I handed over to others without thinking. I talked of independence without realizing I was handing control over to the guys I would date and ultimately to the man I would marry. He chose where we lived , the cars we bought, and whether I went to work or stayed home with the kids, and I just assumed I was doing God’s will by allowing him to do so.
I thought we were in control – either my husband or I depending on the day and the situation.
In reality, though, I was simply digging my heels in, resisting the plans God truly had in store for both of us. I hadn’t begged the Holy Spirit for guidance when it came to my relationships, much less my marriage. Marriage – like Confirmation – was something I did when the time was right – or when I demanded the time be right for my desires.
It took my world crumbling beneath me to realize how little control I really had, how false any sense of togetherness I thought I had was, and to finally understand how, not just my house, but my entire life had been built on sand!
When I was in sixth grade, the Holy Spirit was a vague, ghostly figure, cheapened perhaps by images of Charles Dickens’ beautiful tale of the three ghosts of Christmas. Today, I am just beginning to understand the Strength of the Holy Spirit and what handing control over to Him really means. I am just beginning to understand the Holy Spirit is just as real as Jesus Christ is.
The Holy Spirit appeared throughout the Old Testament inspiring Scripture centuries before the appearance of the Son. He has been around forever as part of the Trinity, but He showed Himself physically in the appearance of wind and fire at Pentecost and changed the language of the Apostles (Join me as I write about this tomorrow).
The Holy Spirit is always with you too, but sometimes it takes a death to experience Him for real. Sometimes, yo need to put what you thought was Good aside for what is Great. Sometimes a part of you needs to die so that you can be resurrected in a new and more Beautiful way.
The Father always creates Beauty from Ashes, but you can’t just go through the motions. You can’t just get the Holy Spirit with a sixth grade mentality. You need to embrace the Holy Spirit body, mind, and soul.
I’d gotten older, but in many ways, I’d clung to my sixth grade mentality without even realizing it. I’d gone through the motions and done what I was supposed to do because that’s what people do. Would I have changed without divorce? I don’t know, but since I had been comfortable in my so-so lifestyle for so long, I’d have to guess not.
I now realize divorce was more than just something that happened to me. Divorce was more than something my husband did. Divorce was the tool the Creator used to introduce me to the Holy Spirit, one who had been waiting and loving me for eternity. Divorce was the tool which cut away the extra to get to what is really important. Divorce cut away the clay to bring out more of what the Potter envisioned.
What is the Potter’s vision for you? How will you see divorce creating who you are created to be? What can be carved away? How is the Holy Spirit working in your life? How are you better than your sixth grade self?
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