The Beauty of Holiness | Jeannine Timothy
What does holiness mean to you?
To me holiness means focusing on all the joys and the trials I have in life, and thanking God for them all. We are taught to “pray unceasingly,” and that means staying focused on what I am doing and knowing God walks with me and straightens my path. One day when my four children were small and I was having a particularly stressful day trying to stay on top of all I wanted to accomplish and caring for the children, a church choir member stopped by to bring me some music. She asked how I was doing. Uncharacteristically, I answered that it had been a stressful day. She looked at me and replied, “God never said our blessings would be easy.” That is exactly what I needed to hear that day at that moment, and I knew God had sent her and for some reason had given me the insight to answer truthfully about how the day was going. Usually I respond that all is well when asked how I am doing. That day I was truthful, and God spoke to me through my friend. I often remember the feeling of holiness I felt that day when my friend pointed out that my children and my day with them was holy in spite of all the work. In fact, even the hard work is God’s work.
What day to day practices help you to feel holy? Are there certain spaces or places that help you draw closer to God?
Standing before an icon of Christ and saying my morning prayers helps me to feel in touch with Christ our God, and remember to call on Him throughout my day. When I wake up in the middle of the night, I say prayers for every person in my family while I wait for sleep to return. The Jesus Prayer is a mainstay in Orthodox life, and I say it for myself and my family. “Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me a sinner.” The prayer encompasses so much as it names Christ as Lord and asks for his mercy.
Why do you feel it is important for you to designate time to focus on holy practices?
Just as our physical body needs food three times a day, our soul needs regular nourishment too. It is important to take time to focus on Christ, His teachings, His life, and ask that He help us in our daily lives. It is always helpful to ask the Holy Spirit for guidance in my communication with others before I start work or enter an activity with family or friends. It is necessary to remember God the Father is love, and it is our goal to exemplify that in the world. One of the most beautiful prayers that explains the Trinity is, “May the love of God the Father, the grace of Jesus Christ, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with us always.”
Who has inspired you to follow a path toward God?
My mother inspired me to follow God, as well as several church teachers I have had over the years. I watched my mother say her evening prayers before the small icons she carried across the ocean from Greece to America. She donated money to the small church in the hillside village where she was raised near ancient Olympia, Greece. She donated money to our church ministries, and she donated money to the woman who for years fed the homeless under the viaduct near 500 West and 200 South. We talked about asking God for our needs and thanking God for answering our prayers. She exemplified the concept of being thankful for what she had instead of wishing she had something different, and she shared her blessings. She said the more she gave away to those in need, the more it all came back to her through God’s mercy.
How do you make holiness a priority in your life? How do you make it a concrete rather than an abstract concept?
I try to live a Christ-centered life. I try to accomplish my work and tasks to the glory of God. I do that by using my God-given talents. The saints of the Church were real people who lived Christ-centered lives using their individual talents as their means of showing the holiness they felt in their hearts. They used their talents as a way to make holiness concrete in their lives. In my kitchen I have an icon of St. Euphrosynos, who was a cook. When I cook, I remember that the simple act of preparing a meal for my family, for friends in need, or for other gatherings is an act of concrete holiness when I do it to the glory of God. I think of the Virgin Mary who was the ultimate mother of Christ himself when I am focused on my role as mother. I think of St. Helen who taught Christianity to her son, Constantine the Great. He then went on to rule as a Christian and made Christianity an accepted religion. He stopped the persecution of Christians throughout Europe. Just as the saints have taught us, both my large and my small tasks are all concrete acts honoring God when I do them to His glory.
Worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness.
— Proverbs 29 & 96
Jeannine earned her law degree from the University of Utah College of Law in 1985. Initially she practiced primarily in family law, trusts and estates, adoptions, bankruptcies and probate. From 1992 to 2004, she was one of only three attorneys in the state who represented those clients who qualified for legal help under the federally funded Ryan White Title II Act. The Act provided legal help to AIDS and HIV positive clients and their families. Since 1997, she has worked at the Utah State Bar as the Consumer Assistance Program Attorney. She also is a solo practitioner as a Guardian ad Litem (GAL). As a GAL, Jeannine represents children in neglect and abuse cases in Juvenile Court and in custody cases in District Court. Jeannine and her husband have been married 37 years, and they have four children. She is a devoted member of the Greek Orthodox Church.