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 | By Father Michael Schmitz

Does being Catholic mean you always have to be racing?


I find that I am so concerned with making sure that I am doing what I am “supposed to be doing” that I rarely have a moment to rest. Is this what it is to be a Catholic: racing from one thing to the next just so you don’t waste your life?

Thank you so much for your question. In fact, I was just speaking about the last line of your question earlier today. What you note is a real possibility: We can live in such a way that we end up wasting our life. You’ve already recognized this, but I think it would be helpful for our readers to reflect on this just a moment longer.

You and I have been given the gift of life. It is worth pondering this truth. You didn’t have to exist. This universe didn’t “demand” your existence. You and I are, strictly speaking, unnecessary to this world. (In other words, we can imagine a world in which we didn’t exist.)

This can be a great exercise for a couple of reasons. First, it hopefully reveals and drives home the reality that life is a gift. It was not “owed” to us. It has been freely given to us and therefore every heartbeat and every breath must not be taken for granted. Second, since you and I are “unnecessary” (and yet exist), one of the things that this means is that God wants you to exist.

God is the only “Necessary Being.” Literally everything and everyone else is what we call a “contingent being.” All that exists only exists for one reason: because God wills its existence. He does this on purpose, and he does this out of love.

I’m sure you have heard the truth that “God loves you.” Many of us can be tempted to dismiss this (life-changing!) truth by mumbling, “Well, he loves everyone, he kind of has to love me ...” That is partly correct. God does indeed love everyone. But this dismissal overlooks the fact that you and I didn’t have to exist! And yet we do exist. This points to something so transformative and powerful that it can make one’s head spin: God created you out of all other possible beings he could have created (literally an infinite number of possibilities) because he wants to be able to love you — the “you” that you are right now.

Yes, God desires for you to be transformed into the person he has created and redeemed you to be in Christ Jesus. But he is not waiting for that transformation to happen. He loves you right now. He loves you as you.

All of this is to say that you have permission to rest!

You have permission to abide in the love of God. He is not waiting for your performance or for your success or for your somehow proving that you are worth loving.

Question: Have you given yourself permission to be loved by God? Have you given God permission to love you? I find that one of the reasons why so many people race and race and cannot find a moment to “be” is because they have unconsciously imbibed the deception that one’s worth (even as a beloved son or daughter of the Father) is based on their achievements. If this is where you are at, the first truth is that you exist because God wants to be able to love you, not because God wants your performance.

At the same time, God has made you a steward of the life he has entrusted to you. Each breath and each heartbeat is a gift, yes, and they are gifts that must not be wasted. Because of this, we ask the questions, “God, what do you want me to do with this morning? God, what do you want me to do with this evening? God, how do you want me to spend the gift of this free time?” Based off of your letter, it sounds like you jump from task to distraction to celebration to sleep to the next task, etc. Knowing that God is not waiting for you to prove your worth, can you ask him what he wants and then make a small decision?

The small decision is to intentionally limit yourself. You are not infinite. Often, this is painfully obvious to you; you have a breaking point. The goal of life is not to toe the line up to that breaking point. The goal of life is to do the will of the Father and become the daughter or son he has created and redeemed you to be. Because of this, we all need to intentionally place boundaries on ourselves. Is there a time when you get to be done with your day? Are there some invitations that you have given yourself permission to say “no” to? When we no longer believe that we have to battle for God’s love, then many of the things we feel like we need to do are revealed as things that are potential options but not for you right now.

There is great freedom in knowing that you have the ability to place boundaries on what you say “yes” to, all the while confident that, being created by the Father so that he can love you, you don’t have to chase after his love.