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The Little Things: Openness

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Editor’s Note: In the latest installment of “The Little Things” series, communications associate Maria Beben explores the power of openness and the importance of recognizing that we don’t always know what’s best in any given situation. 

It’s often in the moments when we throw up our hands and admit “Okay, fine. I don’t know anything and I need help” when God can work the most in our lives. It’s not his style to force his way into our lives.

Having an open mind is a powerful thing. 

If you go into a situation expecting it to be terrible, there’s a very high chance that it will be.

A lot of times, if an experience isn’t as life-shattering or eye-opening as I want it to be, I get discouraged. But some lessons don’t come in the form of moving mountains or parting the sea. Some lessons are very very subtle and can be easily missed. Some lessons take a while to materialize.

So, instead of praying for specific outcomes, I started praying for an open mind. It took a while for me to fully accept that God knows better than I do. Along the way, there have been so many situations where I really wanted something to happen at the time, but it never worked out. And now, having the ability to look back, I can see God’s hand gently pulling me away from a harmful situation and lovingly guiding me down a different path.

As I’ve tried to be more intentional about my actions, I’m realizing that a simple shift in language often facilitates a shift in perspective.

When I first started working with Franciscan Mission Service, I honestly didn’t know what to expect. Now I realize that coming in without expectations was the best thing I could have done. Without pre-conceived notions, I was able to be open to whatever this experience would teach me. And in the five months that I’ve been here, I haven’t stopped learning and I haven’t stopped growing.

When we’re the most open is when we can be the most filled.

It’s so easy to walk through the world with clenched hands, narrowed eyes, clogged ears, and guarded hearts.

When we open our hands, we can accept help, but also offer it. When we open our eyes, we realize that we’re not the only ones in the world and that there is no right way to view the world. When we open our ears, we can actually listen and not just vaguely hear. When we open our hearts, our lives can be turned upside down in the best way imaginable.

Reflection Question: How can you approach life with a more open mind?

Originally from a small rural town in New Jersey, Maria graduated from the Catholic University of America with a bachelor’s degree in English literature and a minor in theology and religious studies. After spending a semester abroad in Rome, Maria felt a call towards service and simple living. Franciscan spirituality resonates with her, and she looks at the year ahead of her with enthusiasm and gratitude. During her time in college, Maria fell in love with Washington, DC and is excited to have the opportunity to continue to explore the nation’s capital. The Nonprofit Servant Leadership Program gives her the opportunity to learn about a non-profit organization while serving in the community with other like-minded young adults.