Contact Us

Use the form on the right to contact us.

You can edit the text in this area, and change where the contact form on the right submits to, by entering edit mode using the modes on the bottom right. 

United States


Refusing to Choose a Lesser Good

alec vanderboom

In my Facebook messages right now there is a church woman who insists on finding me a bigger volunteer role in my parish. It's a push back. I've said No to all of her volunteer suggestions this Spring. So obviously, I'm in need of more help. She neatly lists three jobs at church which I might find a good fit. I read her list and laughed out loud.

The truth is that finding volunteer positions in my church that match my skill set is NOT the problem. Staying focused on my mission is the hard part. It is easy for me to say yes. It is a far, far harder thing for me to say no.

This year, God is doing massive repair work on my heart. He's trying to get me off my "sparkle addiction." That's when I furiously try to hide my low self-esteem by doing amazing work for the applause of strangers. "Look at me, I'm so sparkly! Isn't it amazing what I can do to help others? I must be so useful to God!"

God doesn't want me to be "useful" to Him. We've spent 38 years in that trap of my attempting to "earn my keep" as a Christian.

Which is good, because I'm not a useful type of girl. I'm absent minded, clumsy, and messy. I'm not the one that can run the church rummage sale without a hitch.

What I am good at is cheerfulness, enthusiasm, and giving warm smiles. Those are rare and wonderful traits--but they are also fragile.

I'm in a  fragile place called recovery. Right now I'm working on fixing myself from some deep rooted sins. It's painful. It's slow. It's really boring and very humbling work. Yet, I see huge gains. I'm happier. My husband is happier. My kids are happier. So while the temptation exists to distract myself with projects that seem more fun and easier, I've got a strong pull to stay focused on the recovery work that's in front of me.

Volunteering for a parish or my community is beautiful, but it's "excess." Volunteering is a lesser good that takes energy that is over-spilling from my Marriage and my Mothering. Right now, short, tiny volunteer projects that easily blend into my day are good. Long, drawn out commitments that require weekly meetings in the evening are so outside the realm of possibility they make me laugh.

I'm in the anti-sparkle training session in my life right now. I'm busy eating meatloaf with my family on Tuesday nights. I'm snuggling with my husband. I'm helping a new baby learn how to walk and encouraging a toddler to get on a steady sleep schedule. I'm learning to define myself as a Catholic, not by the number of formal volunteer positions I hold in my church but by the laughter and moral integrity that my relationship with Christ brings into my daily life.