This morning I watched a video of a friend of mine who has a moderately successful social media/blogging career. I think it probably took her about eight years before it took off. It has only been her profession in the last year. The main thing I took from watching this thing grow was that in order to be successful you have to a) be patient, b) know who you are and what you do and do it, and c) network, be nice, and connect with others in the same area.
I have been patient, and to some extent, my writing on the internet has led to a moderate level of success— Yelping, working for my mom, a regular blog. Only recently I realized this thing about patience. It’s just life. I’ve spent a lot of time dying to get to some undisclosed successful place instead of enjoying the ride. No matter what, it takes time. Every overnight success has over a decade behind it, and if they haven’t been working that long, virality is akin to winning the lottery.
Knowing who I am, this, has been the biggest struggle. I’m all over the place, but again, over time, my skills, expertise, and desires have made themselves known. In many ways, asceticpaige.wordpress.com has become a place to write about spirituality and food. Mass and meals. But I haven’t made the blog my sole directive because my soul feels pulled in so many directions. It might be time to just let go and let mass and meals guide me.
It’s all very personal. I write so much about this. So much that no one sees. I keep it all so close to myself. So secret. Why? Maybe because I don’t want some people to know what I’m thinking and doing. That I’m not perfect. That I wonder. That I get mad. That I care. That I’m crazy. That someone will hate me? That someone will like me?
Who are these people I don’t want to know, anyway? My parents? Future employers? Current employments? That’s reason enough to keep to myself. But writing simply on food and spirituality. That is harmless, and that is something that I love and enjoy and think a lot about. I think this is the direction I will take my public writing. Focus on the food and the spirituality, and the occasional intersection.
Which brings me to today. The lectionary reading from Romans is very pleasant:
Sin entered the world through one man, and through sin death, and thus death has spread through the whole human race because everyone has sinned; but the gift itself considerably outweighed the fall. If it is certain that through one man’s fall so many died, it is even more certain that divine grace, coming through the one man, Jesus Christ, came to so many as an abundant free gift. If it is certain that death reigned over everyone as the consequence of one man’s fall, it is even more certain that one man, Jesus Christ, will cause everyone to reign in life who receives the free gift that he does not deserve, of being made righteous. Again, as one man’s fall brought condemnation on everyone, so the good act of one man brings everyone life and makes them justified. As by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by one man’s obedience many will be made righteous. When law came, it was to multiply the opportunities of failing, but however great the number of sins committed, grace was even greater; and so, just as sin reigned wherever there was death, so grace will reign to bring eternal life thanks to the righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ our Lord.
The idea of Jesus as the new Adam—this is nothing new. It falls in line beautifully with the gospel of Luke. So many times in Luke, there is this picture of a forgotten and unexpected character that does something good for someone or is the crux of the story. For example I’m thinking of the story of the persistent (annoying) widow from Sunday (Luke 18:1-8). It’s as if Luke is saying all through the Gospel, “If the bad can do something good, then how much more will God do good for us?” If whoever we consider the “bad” guys can figure it out occasionally and do good, then how much more good will God do?
If one single man can bring the fall of mankind, then how much more can God do to heal people-kind? The passage is full of hope. Now, I was not paying full attention in Mass, but the priest talked about how not everyone accepts this as true: that God will do good and “save” us. The next question is whether or not you need to accept this to be “saved”? That is, do I have to believe in God to be saved?
If your answer is “No.” Welp, okay then. We’re all good to go.
If your answer is “Yes.” Well, when does this need to be accomplished? Before I die, or at any point now or in the afterlife?
If the answer is “Before I die.” Okay. Well, how did you come to that conclusion? Eternity is a long time, and my life is a very short time.
If the answer is “Now or after I die.” Ok well, how did you come to that conclusion. Interestingly, I think a lot of people prescribe to this line of thought without realizing it. Some church fathers were for this sort of “universal salvation.” We can be saved now and after our bodies die.
Someone is probably annoyed now, but think of this “universal salvation” as love. If someone has never known love in this life, they will. We hope. Who am I to say how and when God saves? As far as I know, the Bible doesn’t say that to be saved I have to accept Jesus Christ into my heart before I die, though it may certainly help, not in God’s saving me, but in my life and in how I serve others.
If someone is prone to “rejecting” the Gospel over and over, maybe that’s because what they are being told is the Gospel, isn’t actually the Gospel? Because if the love of God is true and experienced, how can anyone reject that? I don’t think it’s possible. I hope. So, I have to conclude, that if I perceive someone to be rejecting God, it’s not actually God they are rejecting, but something entirely not God.
Now we’re running into the wall of free will. If I can’t say “No” to God, then do I really have free will? Well, do you have free will to choose who your parents are? Does a child have free will to be taken care of by their parents or not? Not really. Do I have free will to choose whether God loves me or not? I don’t think so. There is a beginning and ending to everyone’s free will.
If someone hands me a million dollars, no strings attached, do I have the free will to accept or reject it? Well, yes, but also no, because how can I? Why would I? Well, maybe it comes from someone I hate, or maybe I just hate myself. Or maybe the million dollars is presented in such a way, so distorted, it sounds nothing like a million dollars. There is so much context that drives that decision, and likewise how much more context is there with a decision about God.
There are tons of situations where I may feel like I have no choice in the matter. There are millions of people who are in these situations. Probably, every person on the planet, and yet, we hold on to our “free will.” Which we do indeed have, but we are not made to reject good things. All of us are made to be loved.