The Frugal Catholic: “What’s Your New Straight?”–by Martha Wild King, M.Ed.–July 2018

Some folks are born straight:  others are crooked to the core.  I am one of the latter.  Case in point.  When I was young, I asked God for curves;  I just didn’t specify where.  He gave me lovely curves at age 18– in my spine from Adolescent Idiopathic Scoliosis (AIS).  The moral to the story is to PRAY SPECIFICALLY, whether you’re straight  or not.  Well I am straighter now, (two and one-half inches taller)  and without pain because of complex spine surgery in Seattle  this April  by  Rajiv Sethi, MD and Jean-Christophe Leveque, MD at Virginia Mason.   In my 70 years, this has been my greatest physical test,  yet my most tender time of growth with my heavenly Father.  Life throws us curves, but God is always beside us  to make our paths straight.

So what “CURVES” are you struggling with —weight loss,  exercise, a new baby, a new move, a new job. . .  ?    We have an Elder Brother who knows firsthand how hard life is, and He imparts  the strength for that straight.  As it says in Matthew 3:3, “This is the one of whom the prophet Isaiah spoke when he said, ‘The voice of one crying out in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.”  By hanging on to Jesus in all of our challenges, we can form better pathways.

An example of a 60 degree curve which mine was.

                                           What’s Your Curve?

None of us are without challenges; we are all carrying around some curve.   Christ, however, came to set us on a straight path to holiness– His joy. Nehemiah 8:10“…for the joy of the Lord is your strength.”  And His joy is forged from forgiveness–of ourselves and others.     (“Father,  forgive them for they know not what they do”–as Christ said on the Cross.)  Correcting a CURVE is something like finding that joy through forgiveness.  It is hard work, it can be painful, and it feels  like it might do you under.  But, if you let it, that curve can be straightened out.  And the process could  help you become “the best version of yourself” as Catholic author and speaker Matthew Kelly says.  The interesting part is that with each new straight we acquire, God needs to rewire us.

A 50 percent curve corrected to 10 percent. Notice hardware now screwed into the spine.

                                                    God’s Rewiring

If our paths are crooked then God must reboot.  For me it meant learning to stand  and walk again without listing to the left, the direction my body remembered.   Fortunately I don’t have to think about it because  those 25 screws and three rods down my spine have  begun to rewire my brain.  My mind has also learned   that my spine isn’t  where it was; it has been reconfigured into a more normal shape and I am no longer feeling deformed or pain like  I did for 50 years.  It has taken three months  of work (like learning to walk again 🙂  but  each day, God has been lovingly reprogramming my mind.

                                           My Student’s New Straight

One of my former students, Mike,  shared his desire for a new straight by losing weight.  He stated, “It would help me not to cheat in little ways if I imagined a steel trap on my mouth that is locked shut and only unlocks at meal time in the presence of small portions of healthy food.”  That is a great “new straight” visualization  tool which God can employ.    Remember, my brain kept wanting to lean to my left,  but my new straight won’t allow me : I am locked in  with permanent screws, bolts, and rods.  So find a visual image or some kind of a mental tool  which can help you focus on  your desires.

                               My Homeless Friend’s New Straight

My  friend, Elizabeth,  has been living out of her truck for months, yet she too is learning a new straight.   She didn’t set out to be homeless.  She lost her job and has been using community and  faith resources to keep alive. Today she knocked on my front door with good news, “I got a job mowing the golf course.  Part time 20 hours a week for $13 an hour.”  As a former architect, that job is below her goals, but it is work.  Today in morning Mass she cried to  God to show her His love.  He gave her a job:  Her new straight.

What has she learned from this journey?  She has learned gratitude, lack of envy, and to trust in God no matter what huge new straights He has shaped.

                                                          The Big Plow

Sometimes when we are plowing through life, we aren’t paying attention.  When God gave me children, He imparted a desire to teach them all at home;  so I  home-schooled all five of them for a total of twenty-two years.  In that journey to educate my offspring, I came across a wonderful scripture that kept me going.  It states,  Luke 9:62  Jesus said to him, “No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.”   Know why?  Well if you had a plow and an ox  in front of you and turned  to  gaze  at your work accomplished, what would the plowed rows ahead  look like?  That’s right.  BIG CURVES.  Yes, if I had lusted for an easier way than to home school, my eyes would have been on my goal, not God’s goal for me.    So no matter what STRAIGHT you might desire or need,  take His hand on this marvelous journey,  keep your eyes on His plow,  and have faith in His plan for His love will get you through.