Vanity…….Its not what I thought by Jodi Awbrey, this Friday’s guest spiritual safari guide. Join us on a virtual pilgrimage as we discover a sure fire way to quiet the voice of doubt yapping in our mind’s ear.
I grew up in a house full of boys. Life as the only girl of five lends itself to being a rough and tumble kind of kid. My wardrobe was made up mainly of sports T-shirts, athletic shorts and whatever running shoes my mom could find on sale. You won’t be surprised to know that I was the last in my group of friends to wear makeup. Minimal time was spent in front of the mirror making myself look presentable, much to my mother’s dismay. That being the case, I would have never thought vanity is a sin that would plague me. However, I recently discovered just how wrong I was.
Over the course of several months, I had been watching a very dear friend pour herself into her work. She had gotten a new job, and was surpassing the expectations of every one around her. She was defying all odds, doing wondrous things with minimal resources. I sat in awe of her wondering how she was able to move those mountains. The answer was right in front of me, but I did not discover her secret until we were chatting one day. Her key to success had been a much increased prayer life and a heart on fire for Jesus. I was truly happy for her.
As we sat and talked, she shared with me her dreams for the future in her still somewhat new position. Now, you have to understand that I am a “slow and steady wins the race” kind of girl. So the more she shared with me, the larger the pit in my stomach grew. She was dreaming big and fast, and for my risk averse mind, I found that to be very scary. As I drove home and thought about how amazing she is, I knew that I had total confidence in my friend. After all, she had Jesus on her side.
The next morning I was still thinking about her. My new found confidence did not erase all worries for her well-being. It was then in the midst of my morning prayers when it came to me out of the blue, or so I thought at the time, what I must do. I needed to pray a Rosary lifting her up once a week. That was it. Who can’t use more prayer, right? Even better, she and I needed to pray this Rosary together. After all, when two or more are gathered in His name………
I immediately jumped out of my prayer chair, ran to my phone and texted her with my great plan to ensure her success. I just knew I would get an immediate response with a big fat “YES”. Five minutes went by, and no response. Thirty minutes…….nothing. I decided to go take my shower to pass the time. Still no response when I checked my phone. It was in that very moment, standing in my bathroom dripping wet that things took a turn.
The voice of doubt found its way in, and it was loud. The voice, like a Chihuahua yapping in my mind’s ear, persisted throughout the day. It berated me and fed on my self-doubt about who I am and what I had done.
Who am I to think the Holy Spirit would send me on a mission to help my friend? I am so silly sometimes. I bothered my friend, put her in an incredibly awkward position. She does not have time to pray the Rosary with me. She’s busy and her life consists of so much more important things than mine. I am so embarrassed. What does she think of me now? She probably wonders how someone like me, so insignificant, thinks I have the right to ask her to pray with me. She is probably rolling her eyes at me right now wondering why I bothered her knowing she is so busy. Why did I sent that text?
I felt helpless and alone. I didn’t know what to do next. So I did nothing. As I wallowed throughout the day entertaining the thoughts that annoying Chihuahua was feeding me, I sank lower and lower. The deeper I sank, the further I moved away from my life line. Oh I did think about praying, but what was the point now? The thought even popped into my mind that I should just stop praying so hard because it is taking up my time and it is not doing any good. Ridiculous!
That was when I stopped, turned to Jesus and said, “That is not your voice. I know your voice. You have never once spoken accusingly to me. You only ever encourage me. And when I commit my blunders, you pick me up and make all things new. Help me Jesus. Help me turn this nonsense around.” And of course, He did.
You pick me up and make all things new. Help me Jesus.
Through some additional time in prayer, I realized that my suggestion was in fact good and was prompted by the Holy Spirit. It came from a stirring in my heart to perform an act of love for my dear friend. What can be wrong or silly in that? That annoying Chihuahua usually shows up when I am doing something in the love of Christ. He’s always lurking around and will do just about anything to distract me so that I take my eyes off Jesus. St. Peter took his eyes off Jesus when walking on water, became distracted and frightened of the turbulent wind and began to sink, (Matthew 14:30), just like me.
So how does vanity play a part in all of this? As soon as doubt crept in, my thoughts went directly to worrying about how my friend might view my invitation to pray and what she might think of me as a person. When my faith was shaken and I took my eyes off Jesus, I made it all about me. My concern was no longer for my friend’s well-being, but rather about how I might be viewed in her eyes. Had I continued down this spiraling path of self-absorption, I could very well have begun to act out of pride versus love toward my friend. No matter what sins we struggle with, they can start so small and end up so big.
But knowing and accepting that pesky little Chihuahua will continue to nip at me in some way makes it better. When his voice of negativity shows up, I can stop there and know that it is not the voice of Jesus. He wants to steal my peace, separate me from my Lord. But Jesus, being the Good News, told St. Paul in 2 Corinthians 12:9, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness.” I am weak. I am susceptible to self-doubt and vanity. I will be plagued by the Chihuahua for the rest of my life because I live in a broken world. But my God is bigger and His grace is sufficient to make me strong enough to overcome my weakness and share in His victory!
By the way, my friend finally did respond to my text the following day. She had been sick with the flu. She welcomed the idea of praying the Rosary together and was touched by the offering to deepen our friendship in this way. I have a feeling the Holy Spirit already knew that would be the case!
Jodi Awbrey is a Catholic wife and mother residing in Mandeville, LA. After 20 plus years working in the Information Technology field, she felt called in 2014 to leave her post in the business world to focus on living out her vocation with her family and actively participate in the New Evangelization. She is passionate about spreading the Gospel message through facilitation of Bible studies in her Parish.
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Closing 3:00 Prayer for Divine Mercy.
Eternal Father, I offer You, the Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of Your Dearly Beloved Son, our Lord, Jesus Christ, in atonement for our sins and the sins of the entire world.
For the sake of His Sorrowful Passion, have mercy on us and on the entire world. (Repeat two more times).
Jesus, I trust in You. Amen
Click on the link above to learn more about Karen’s non-for-profit company, The Healing Eyes of Mercy, make a donation for the people of Haiti, Rwanda, or the Holy Land, shop, or read about her upcoming book, The Healing Eyes of Mercy. A Journey Towards the Light of God’s Love. Thank you and God Bless!