Cheese graters are the bane of my existence.
(Just a word of warning, the following is a very long ramble…)
A few days ago, for the second or third time that I’ve been married, a cheese grater had the gumption to eat off a piece of my flesh. Naturally, I completely went crazy each time, acting as if our car had just exploded. You know, screaming, waving my arms around, breathing heavily…just to make the record clear, I never overreact, get enthusiastic, or become squeamish when I get cut (let’s just pause and let those words steep in sarcasm) J
This last time that I had a misadventure with a cheese grater, after my husband dutifully bandaged me up, he asked, “so how are you grating the cheese?” to which I proudly demonstrated my award-winning (so I thought) technique. Apparently, I would tilt the cheese grater at an odd angle and press the forces of grater and cheese strongly against each other as I moved the cheese in a downward motion. Overcomplicating a simple situation? Yes, a bit. Honestly, the thought never occurred to me—grating cheese that way worked, seemed efficient and beneficial, and I only slipped up a few times.
Hours after the incident, while glancing at my (slightly) injured finger, and making Promised Land Bread, I began to realize what God was showing me through the cheese grater incident.
As I mentioned, I thought I did a great job (with excellent technique) concerning the area of grating cheese. But in reality, I was going about cheese grating in a somewhat mediocre way. Occasionally the technique would fail me, and I would wind up with skin ripped off. Unbeknownst to me, there was a better, safer, more efficient way to grate cheese. And I never would have realized it, had it not been for Jacob taking the time to talk with me about the difference in our cheese-grating styles.
Concerning our spiritual lives, we can all think that we’re doing pretty great at whatever prayer routines and whatnot. It’s really easy to settle in our prayer lives.
I’ve definitely gone through periods of “Man, I’ve got my daily Mass, Rosary, prayers, etc. down pat and I am good!” I’ve also gone through periods of “Well, I’m not doing that great at personal prayer, but it’s not that big of a deal, right? I can just stay this way…”
But these mindsets are lacking. Just as my “wonderful technique” of grating cheese was incomplete and prone to occasional failure, settling in our spiritual lives is incomplete and very much prone to failure. We can’t every really come to a complete stop in our spiritual journey; we’re always moving closer to God or further from Him with every decision, action, word, etc. that comes from us. I personally do not want to move away from God (nor do I want anyone else to), so that just leaves me with one option: to not settle in my spiritual life, but to continually grow deeper in love of God and to live out this love daily!
A great way—no, a fantastically phenomenal way—to grow in in our spiritual lives is through…drumroll…ACCOUNTABILITY!!! I know what many people may think at the sound of this word. “Ugh, accountability means commitment, which means that if I fail, it actually gets noticed!!!” I know that this thought has crossed my mind many, many times over the years. But we cannot cower in our fear of accountability; we must courageously rise to the challenge!
Why is accountability such a big deal?
Here are just a couple examples where accountability has impacted my life:
I am not a runner. Okay, sprints I could handle, if “sprinting” means maybe 1/8 of a mile or something like that. When I run a mile or so (oh, what a rare occasion!) I feel really good, upbeat, healthier, etc. But there is no way—no way—that I will voluntarily leave my comfortable non-working-out-ness to go run. Except for my husband. See, Jacob was born with athletic gifts, and he happens to appreciate running a bit more than I do. So what happened after a while? (I think it started during our engagement)
Running. Yep, it happened. Not a ridiculous amount, but maybe a couple miles a week or so, on and off over the semesters. And I have found that running with my husband is super fun, as well as being a great way to be outside and exercise. But would I do this by myself? Maybe once, and only if I really made a commitment to do it once. But the accountability that I have with Jacob running beside me pushes me to rise above my mediocrity and actually run every now and then.
Another area where accountability has become indispensable is in regards to sacrifice. I remember one year in high school, when I decided that I would do a bread-and-water fast for Fridays in Lent, breaking the fast with dinner. I think this lasted one day. I couldn’t do it; I couldn’t persevere on my own, and hey—if I failed in my resolution, no one would really hold me accountable.
|My beautiful household sisters and I at our |
20 year reunion last fall!
And then I met my household. At Franciscan University, there are a variety of households (male-only or women-only groups) which have different charisms. My household is Sacrifice of Love! We are focused on the sacrifice and passionate suffering of Christ, and joining our sacrifice to His to love God and others more deeply and wholly. As a household, we fast on bread and water every Friday. Exactly what I failed at in high school—when I had no accountability, no support. But now I have accountability. There are somewhere around 15 or 20 women in my household who are current students, and we fast every Friday. Even some of our graduated sisters still fast on bread and water! My husband fasts on bread and water, too! We all keep each other accountable, so that we can rise together to sacrifice. Furthermore, we all continually hold each other to sacrifice and pray more, trying to keep from settling into our prayer lives.
Accountability is not easy; it takes vulnerability and is very humbling to admit your shortcomings to others. Accountability involves fraternal correction; because how beneficial is accountability if we’re not letting ourselves see our own shortcomings, so that we can overcome them? Going back to the cheese grating. If Jacob hadn’t talked with me about the method in which I grated cheese, I would have continued to grate cheese the same way, which would have probably resulted in more injuries over time. But Jacob talked with me about cheese grating—not out of pride for knowing a better way, but out of love so I would stop getting hurt—and now my eyes are opened.
(just as an aside, I want to stress the utmost importance of spousal communication and accountability. One simple way to do this is through a verbal examination of conscience together each evening, but there are many different ways that couples can work on communication and accountability)
God did not create each man to be an island, but created us to be a family in His love. We must not be afraid to rise above our current spiritual lives with the aid of accountability! We must actively love others in every aspect of life!
“Catholic social teaching isn’t only about dropping your spare change into a bucket at Christmas. Jesus calls us to a radically different kind of discipleship—a life that is daily marked by care and concern for the poor and for one another.” –United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Catholic Social Teaching Scripture Guide, page 2
--a life that is marked by care and concern for the poor and for one another
Have a joyful day!