Archive for March 2nd, 2012

NaBloPoMo’s theme for March is “whether,” or alternatively, “weather.”  As in, March is such a changeable month, that the real theme for the month is Change.  Yesterday’s prompt asked how the writer feels about uncertainty.

No uncertainty here:  I HATE it.  Life is uncertain enough, thank you, and I don’t need any more uncertainty scrambling my neurons.  I like having things Buttoned Up, the “buttoneder” the better.  I have a daily and a weekly plan for my household chores.  I write down when my mail comes in, and when I send out my bills.  (Sadly, not my letters.  Who writes letters anymore, in this Age of E-mail?)  I have accounting journals and ledgers for my household accounts – nothing as grand as it sounds, but at the end of the month I have a record of exactly where the money went.  And all the receipts are properly filed.

I know that somewhere, someone is thinking, “We have to get this woman help.  Talk about anal!!”  Yeah, probably.  But my sister was recently divorced, and it was a messy one, as her ex demanded his “fair share” of the Vast Fortune she inherited from Dad last year (all of which went to pay his nursing-home expenses).  What saved the day for her was the records she kept; she had every single bill she had paid for the past seven years, and the documentation to show whose checking account it came out of.  The divorce was more of a war of nerves than anything else, unless her ex was really so clueless that he didn’t realize what a careful record-keeper she is.  Moral of the story:  It pays to KNOW where things are.  It pays to know what’s going on in your life.

And it pays to know, or at least have some idea of, where life is going.  Obviously, you can never control every aspect of it; something ugly, like serious illness or the loss of a job, is always going to crop up.  But you’re in better shape to handle it if everything else in life is tidy and predictable.  That goes for very long-range planning, too, as in, planning for eternity.

The priest who hears my confessions – he of the seven kids (the one with five kids is someone else) – often comments on how surprised he is at the plans people make for their lives, planning for all kinds of things that may or may not happen.  “But the one thing we know will happen, with 100% certainty, nobody makes plans for,” he says with a chuckle.  He’s talking, of course, about death and its aftermath.

I have the impression that most folks have some nebulous idea that they will just fall asleep, or die in their sleep, and drift off into a state of unending bliss, unless, of course, they don’t believe that anything will happen at all, which strikes me as singularly silly.  I mean, if you go through life believing in eternity and you die and there isn’t anything, how will you know how pointless your belief was?  And if you go through life believing that death is the end, and you die, and it isn’t – yikes.

And there are good folks who believe that just because they are baptized, they will go to heaven forever because salvation is a Free Gift, and you don’t have to do anything to “earn” it.  Not exactly.  Not that you don’t have to do anything, more like, there isn’t a blessed thing you can do to earn it.  But then, why does St. James talk about “working out” our salvation?  Somebody posed this question on Facebook not long ago, and one of the responses was that we work for it because that way, we value it more.  Which house do you value more, the one you worked and saved for, or the one your parents bought for you, or that you inherited?

It’s an uncomfortable subject, and I guess nobody likes to think about it.   But again, my philosophy is, get it as nailed down as you can.  Make a plan for your funeral.  Start setting aside money to pay for it.  Leave notes as to your wishes (kind of service, where, who’s going to conduct it).  If you have the nerve, you can even write your obituary; that is a humbling experience, as you try to sum up “in 100 words or less” what your life was all about.  With these details out of the way, you can start the real work of preparing for eternity:  building a relationship with God, one that takes you a step at a time towards your ultimate goal in life:  life in God, eternal life.

Going back to what I said at the beginning of this post, I really  hate uncertainty.  I like things as buttoned up as possible.  Eternity is one thing I don’t think I have buttoned up; as much as I might try to conform my life to the life God had in mind for me when He created me, I do such a spectacular job of blowing it, on a regular basis, that I am completely uncomfortable claiming eternal life for a Sure Thing.  By the mercy of God, hopefully it is; but I’m not placing any bets on it until I know.

It’s the one uncertainty I can live with, because it’s the one uncertainty that’s in the hands of the One Who never drops the ball.  Or a life.  Even if I don’t trust myself to get to my ultimate goal, I can trust God to do everything He can to help me get there:  He wants it even more than I do.

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