Finding God in Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwiches

When I was in school, especially high school and college, my focus was on building a career. I envisioned myself dressed for success in a well-cut business suit and smart leather shoes, carrying a briefcase filled with important papers, and presiding over meetings where very important issues were discussed. An alternate vision of the future was that I would become a modern-day St. Francis, humbly and happily devoting myself to the wretched and neglected of the world while unassumingly working my way to sainthood. I spent little to no time envisioning rushed mornings in my pajamas, hair wild and unbrushed, pouring cereal into bowls and orange juice into glasses, finding socks and clean shirts, and spreading peanut butter and jelly on 16 slices of bread. 

 What’s that expression? We plan and God laughs.

  • Somehow, in the multiplication of days that turned into a life and a lifestyle, I had to let go of what I thought I wanted out of life and not only accept but rejoice in the life God had given me. Instead of business suits and heels, most of my days are spent in tennis shoes, jeans, and a sweatshirt. Instead of presiding over meetings   attended by others dressed in the professional corporate uniform, I supervise homework, transfer endless piles of laundry from the washer to the dryer, and make sandwiches.

God’s Invitation in the Everyday

  • This letting-go of what my plans were, of what I thought of as my mission, was far from easy. I remember reading with some skepticism what St. Therese of Lisieux wrote about holiness being achieved in the little things of life. St. Ignatius of Loyola wrote often of finding God in everything Everything? Even peanut butter and jelly sandwiches?

 Well, yes. I have discovered over the years that sacramental moments are to be found everywhere. As I spread the peanut butter and jelly over eight sandwiches for my four children, I pray that I am not giving them just something to swallow at lunch during their hectic days at school. I pray that they recognize the love and care that envelops them always, in the ordinary moments and in the anxious moments. I make sure I am there at the door when they leave for school, to be sent off with a hug and a kiss and a have a good day. It still amazes me that every day they thank me for lunch, even if it is just an ordinary PB & J. It is in these simple but loving exchanges that we are invited to see the presence of God in our lives. God is everywhere in everything. It is our mission to find him.

Julianne B. McCullagh is Director of Family Life Ministry at St.Philip the Apostle Church in Lewisville, Texas.
She writes the weekly column The Family Life Corner
© 2013 Loyola Press. All rights reserved

God Is in the Overcoming

We like to identify God with a day that goes well, speaking of God's presence in terms of “blessings.” Sometimes we go so far as to equate God's presence with our success or happiness. There is some truth to this, but such perceptions of God greatly limit our capacity to recognize holy presence every day.

More often than not, God is in the overcoming, the action we take in order to navigate the constant difficulties of life. When we solve a problem, face the truth, wrestle with a decision, suffer through illness, wait for help, learn to pray, lend a hand, or admit our doubt—these are the situations in which holy energy is powerfully at work. God's love is not static; it moves and acts within our real circumstances. Holy life is not some pretty scene to admire; God is in the doing, in the living, and the growing.

So as you overcome today's challenges—in your workplace, in your relationships, and in those problematic regions of the heart—know that God's love is pulsing through your struggle. Holy wisdom informs your soul as you wonder and ponder. And the grace of God walks right along with you, toward the change you need and the joy you desire.

written by Vinita Hampton Wright, author of Days of Deepening Friendship
© 2013 Loyola Press. All rights reserved