Things have changed. I just completed my Apprenticeship in San Francisco and for my novitiate I'm going to be in Oakland. The ministry has changed as well.
I'm going to be working with the immigrant youth in East Oakland, trying to connect them with the local parish.
The focus of this blog will change as well. It's focus will be in the struggles that we can go through in our maturing in Christ.
For the longest time I simply assumed that maturity came naturally. My hair grows naturally into some unidentifiable mess, and no matter how much I protest against its disposition to chaos, every morning it greets me with an even longer defiance.
Not so with character maturity.
The year in San Francisco helped me realize that there has to be some dramatic changes in my character if I am to continue serving God the way He calls me to.
I realize that I have to give glory to God in everything that I do. Am I giving glory to God in the way I conduct everyday business? With the words I say? With the way I cut corners in many things that I do?
To help me do this I decided to move into my own space in East Oakland. My room will be like my little kingdom, and how I deal with it should portray part of my character growth.
I also got a job. Two jobs actually.
One is in Oakland, the other in Pacifica. One is in a rough neighborhood, the other in a tranquil area right next to the beach. I couldn't find a more dramatic contrast.
Both jobs are as a cashier in a gas station.
One day the streets were filled with police cars and a Swat team truck right across the gas station in Oakland. Not too long ago I saw a Lamborghini parked at the one in Pacifica.
The demands from management are also different. Pacifica is very strict with the way one deals with everyday task, writing down every single maintenance task that one does in the station. The one in Oakland is more loose. Sometimes we count cigarettes, most of the time we don't.
I believe that God has given me these jobs as training grounds.
When I was fired from my last job as a janitor, my confidence as worker went down considerably. As I took these jobs I felt a sense of insecurity. I hope I don't screw this up again.
I feel God leading me gently, telling me you have what it takes.
My everyday prayer as I go to work now is God, help me not to cut corners, not today, not never.
Are you going to cut corners in Oakland, even though management is not over your shoulders constantly?
God has purpose for everything. When I felt God whispering these words to me, I decided not to cut corners, even in Oakland. It wasn't easy. Doing all the tasks meant getting off one hour later than I should. But it felt good.
Maturity is a battle, and it comes to you in everyday tasks, even the most simple ones. It is intentional, and our flesh fights against it. I'm going to screw this one up it tells me. The voice of truth keeps telling me you have what it takes.
Photo Credit: Nicholas_T.