Lou was aggravated. It was only the second week of January and he had already seen all of his New Year’s resolutions go out the window. Now, he had to admit, that it was a pretty grand plan, but he figured that it was up to him to get his life in order.
He had planned to exercise every day, go on a huge diet; he was going to try and get to bed at a decent time each night; stop procrastinating with assignments at work and chores at home; he was going to spend more time with his family, and stop wasting hours surfing the Internet or or hanging on the phone. He was also going to try and be more patient with others, especially those closest to him.
Well, as I said, most of this never happened. And before long Lou was back into all the bad habits. Lou was starting to think he was beyond hope! Maybe he was too set in his ways and not disciplined enough to get his act together.
I think there are many of us who feel like our friend, Lou. We have great intentions, but we somehow can’t get our act together, or if we do, it doesn’t last for long. Why is that? Well, I don’t think that there’s just one explanation. But one thing I do see as getting us back on the right track is to begin with Mary’s very sage advice given at the wedding feast of Cana: Do whatever he tells you.
I think it’s interesting that these are the last recorded words of Mary in the New Testament. It’s almost as if she’s giving parting advice not just to the waiters at the wedding but to all of us. And what good advice it is! And all of us, especially if we’re like Lou in the story are thinking “it’s harder than it sounds”.
I think there’s truth in this if we insist on going through life only counting on our own resources. As if to say that we are the ones who determine what is happening in our life—that we have total control, God’s not really in the picture.
But if we stop right there and begin to change our attitude about who we are, and what our relationship is with Christ, we can start moving in the right direction. But that means we will have to be open to the rhythm of grace in our life. What do I mean by that? To be open to the promptings of Christ in our life. Here’s a great quote I came across recently: “The devil slips into time we live badly because we are refusing something or grasping too eagerly at something else.” (Repeat)
There is great wisdom in these words. It means that our most noble intentions could not be what God wants for us or what we need to get closer to Him. What we have to pray for is grace to live life in more “self-abandonment”, where our strong desire is to do what is pleasing to God. It’s as if we say to the Lord, “You’ve given me so much—you have been so good to me—let me try and do something for you. Let me do what is pleasing to you rather than just what’s pleasing to me.
So, when we are ready for the next set of resolutions, or when we are putting together our plan for self improvement, let Mary’s words—her parting advice—echo in our ears and give us pause: Do whatever he tells you. The more we do what is pleasing to God the more we will feel better about ourselves, and the more we will be open to real transformation in our lives.