God Writes Straight With Crooked Lines | Mary Beth Bonacci | Ignatius Insight
Things don't always turn out the way we'd planned them. Fortunately God know that, too.
God writes straight with crooked lines.
I've said before that my life seems to run in "themes", and this one seems to be cropping up everywhere I turn lately.
It was the theme of the homily I heard on the Feast of the Assumption. I had never applied my little ideas about crooked lines to the Assumption, but it definitely applies.
Death was not part of God's original plan. When He placed Adam and Eve in the garden, it was not so that their bodies would eventually get sick and waste away. There would have been some transition where they left this world to join Him in Heaven. But that transition would not have been "death" as we know it.
Death came with sin--specifically through Adam and Eve's decision to disobey God. Sin brought all kinds of nastiness to the world--disease, unpleasantness, bickering, cruelty, war--and death.
Not God's first choice for us.
But God didn't just sit back and let us stew in our own sinfulness. He intervened by sending His Son into the world to make things right. He met us where we were--in the midst of our sin. He wrote straight with crooked lines.
And, in order to do that, He created Mary without the taint of original sin. She, like the rest of us, was redeemed by Her Son. But in her case God allowed to happen a little early.
Death and decay are a result of original sin. Since such sin didn't reside in Mary, she was not subject to death. God assumed her into Heaven.
Nice, but what does it have to do with us? Simply that God still writes straight with crooked lines.
The day after I heard that Assumption homily, I attended a wedding where--surprise--the homily was about how "God writes straight with crooked lines." At this wedding, the bride and groom's adorable little son was sitting in the first row. Back when his mother first learned she was pregnant, everybody was upset and the future wasn't looking bright. But they turned to God, and to the guidance of the very same priest who gave that homily. The father began taking RCIA instructions, and was baptized into the Catholic Church. Their son was born. And now this beautiful couple is married, and finally living together as a family with their son. It's been a long, hard road, and I'm sure both would tell you that they understand why God asks us to do marriage and children in the correct order.
But they turned to God, and He wrote straight with the crooked lines in their lives, and created a beautiful, faithful family.
I see God writing straight with very crooked lines right here in my own hometown. I've been involved with our department of social services, trying to figure out how I can help children who have been abused or neglected or born to drug-addicted mothers. I attend classes in a large room, full of people who want to make a difference for these kids. Some grew up abused or neglected themselves. Some are couples--with or without children of their own--who want to reach out to these kids. Others are single and childless with a lot of love to give. Each of us is taking the crooked lines in our own lives and hoping--with God's help--to turn them into something beautiful for a child who has faced lines more crooked than most of us could ever imagine.
The thing about God and His writing is that we have to turn our crooked lines over to Him. That isn't always easy. Sometimes the crooked lines are our "fault"--we're living the consequences of our own decisions or sinfulness. Other times the crooked lines appear through no fault of our own. But either way, we naturally want what we want. When our lives don't go the way we expected them to go, we tend to want to wallow in it. We don't want to give up our own dreams, our own pictures of how we expected our lives to look.
It isn't easy to "let go and let God." It's hard to wrap our brains around the idea that He loves us more than even we do, and that in taking away something we want, He will often give back something still more beautiful.
But we have to let Him
There's a real power in our powerlessness before God. When we go to Him and say "I give this situation to you. I trust you and I trust in Your love for me," He swings into action. That doesn't mean we become passive and stop doing what we need to do in the world. But we turn the outcome over to Him, in full confidence in His love.
That's when He writes straight with the crooked lines of our lives.
And that's a very good start.
This column originally appeared on RealLove.net on September 10, 2008. Click here to read more of Mary Beth Bonacci's columns.
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Mary Beth Bonacci is internationally known for her talks and writings about love, chastity, and sexuality. Since 1986 she has spoken to tens of thousands of young people, including 75,000 people in 1993 at World Youth Day in Denver, Colorado. She appears frequently on radio and television programs, including several appearances on MTV.
Mary Beth has written two books, We're on a Mission from God and Real Love, and also writes a regular, syndicated column for various publications. She has developed numerous videos, including her brand-newest video series, also entitled Real Love. Her video Sex and Love: What's a Teenager to Do? was awarded the 1996 Crown Award for Best Youth Curriculum.
Mary Beth holds a bachelor's degree in Organizational Communication from the University of San Francisco, and a master's degree in Theology of Marriage and Family from the John Paul II Institute at Lateran University. She was also awarded an honorary doctorate in Communications from the Franciscan University of Steubenville, and is listed in Outstanding Young Women of America for 1997. Her apostolate, Real Love Incorporated is dedicated to presenting the truth about the Church's teaching about sexuality, chastity, and marriage.
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