How can I cultivate my relationship with God more? That thought runs through my mind frequently- usually when I crash on the couch after a busy day of chasing my toddler, two dogs, doing housework… you know the drill. I’m often sheepish by the time bedtime rolls around at how little my mind has turned towards God- or, in the times it did, it was to whine petitions in His direction.
Oh sure, I have grand plans. “I’m going to start praying the Liturgy of the Hours!” I’ll tell myself. Or, “Every day at 3-o’-clock I will sit down and pray the Chaplet of Divine Mercy.” That… doesn’t always work out so well. How can we be in the world, fulfilling our vocations and still pursue God with the love and attention we ought? How can I change my mindset to “What can I do for You today, God?” from “This is what You can do for me today, God.” Brother Lawrence offers this solution:
People seek methods of learning to know God. Is it not much shorter and more direct to simply do everything for the love of Him? There is no finesse about it. One only has to do it generously and simply.
This… I love this. This I can do. I say “Everything for the love of Him” to myself like a day-long litany, trying to keep God in the forefront of my mind. My husband grabbed the wrong (scent-less?!) fabric softener at the store? Bite my tongue for the love of Him. My son is being whiny and I want to snap at him? Take time to be patient, for the love of Him. My friend had a bad day and wants to vent but I really don’t feel like listening? Take time for her, for the love of Him. And the list goes on and on.
I’ve found that when I’m doing things for the love of God- I’m not doing them for myself, or any perceived rewards that could kick back my way. It’s in this mindset that love has fertile ground to grow. Loving God (who is love) is a beautiful paradox- because the more love you give Him, the more love is available to you and in you for others. You withdraw love from your love account to give to Him, and find that your balance of love keeps getting higher. When you love someone, you care about what they care about. In my life, that’s fleshed out in surprising ways. When some lady cuts me off and I want to lay on my horn and mean-mug her when we get to the light, I remember that she’s someone really important to God, and I love Him. With that perspective, I’ve found the two great commandments (“Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul and mind.” and “Love your neighbor as yourself.”) are realized. If she- or anyone, for that matter- is important enough to God that He came and died for her, who am I to be uncharitable?
Doing everything you do- no matter how small- for the love of God puts us into the mindset of a servant of all- which is what Jesus calls us to be. It’s not always easy, and it’s certainy not always fun, but on days when I really try (with varying success) to do everything for the love of God, by the time bedtime rolls around, my heart is overflowing with love for God and others. I have peace. My family is content. It’s not complicated, because it only requires one thing: dying to self.
I hope that one day (soon, God willing) I’ll be disciplined enough to pray the Liturgy of the Hours and daily Divine Mercy Chaplets. I hope that I’ll get better at carving time out of my day to turn my heart towards God and really listen for Him. In the meantime, I will try my hardest to do everything for the love of Him.