Back in January this year I was liberated – shackles that have been weighing me down for years were suddenly broken. My image of God began to heal. My image of self began to heal. I suddenly realized and experienced just how extravagant God’s enduring love was for me. Though that period of time was intense and draining, it was also full of joy and wonder. So rich was the love and grace I experienced then that my understanding of God’s love and salvation went through a deep conversion. New horizons and possibilities emerged and I was constantly excited by the sudden weightlessness I felt. During that period of time I was full of experiences I wanted to share, and share I did, propelled by a joy and energy that filled my being!
As time passed, prayer was a joy. I had a sudden new found delight in reading God’s word, and spending time with Him. I often felt God’s presence. I often heard his voice in my heart – his assuring and comforting voice. Spiritual consolations came often to strengthen me in the challenges I faced. And though I became more and more busy, I easily found about an hour almost every day to spend in the Adoration Room. I also started frequenting daily mass.
Yet my learning curve is steep. Suddenly in the last 8 weeks or so, things changed. (It occurs to me that it is apt and interesting that this only happened after the Discipleship retreat I had with Fr. Gino in mid-August!) Through prayer and discernment and the unfolding of God’s will in my life, I realize I am more and more likely meant to complete my PhD eventually, probably in catechesis. Almost immediately after that realization, I was asked to become the new coordinator for my parish’s Confirmation catechetical program and given the opportunity to revamp the program. With this new appointment came the opportunity to attend an archdiocesan Catechist Coordinator Course next year with a priest who has a PhD in catechesis. (God has great finesse in putting things together doesn’t he?) After several months of seemingly ‘directionless’ but fruitful ministry, there now seems to be a specific direction emerging.
But this new responsibility is not a light one, and it ushered in a new phase of my discipleship training. God had been training me in obedience and humility in the prior months – now suddenly I am in a position with some authority. How will I live out the obedience and humility I have been learning in this new context?
God had also been training me increasingly in surrender – to let go of my pride in how things turn out and let him lead and control. But now the stakes are a lot higher – I lead a team and I am responsible for planning a new program which will prepare 144 youth for the Sacrament of Confirmation in 2011. How will I live in surrender and faith? Will I continue to trust in God and let him direct me or will I yield to the temptation of relying on my own intelligence and abilities without God?
With the frenetic pace at work and the stress of suddenly having to juggle many “balls”, I also let my prayer life slide. Because in the past months I had a ‘free and easy’ schedule to prayer (which had worked so far), the sudden change in my work pace and schedule led me to have less and less time to spend with God and even with myself in solitude and rest.
I felt a loss of peace – I was tired, easily discouraged, and anxious. I was also besieged by material temptations that I had not experienced in months.
Then during my last Sacrament of Reconciliation, my confessor led me to reflect more deeply on the source of my anxiety. He also suggested that while my lesson for the past many months had been in letting go and surrender, perhaps now I am meant to learn how to take appropriate control of my life. The question is in discerning what to control and how. He helped me to realize that my most urgent need was to set some parameters to protect my sacred space. And the anchor of it all is PRAYER. For without prayer, it would be impossible for me to discern.
The difficulty is that recently, prayer has been harder and often filled with distraction. I realize though, that this too is a new lesson in prayer – to be faithful even when consolations are sparse. God is teaching me to love him for him, and not for what I receive from him.
I am finding that discipleship is not easy. Love is not easy because there is still so much in me that resists pure love. But I am comforted to know that my very state of discomfort and struggle is proof that God is working in me. I am being purified in the furnace of his love! For that reason I give thanks and praise and I have joy!
Sweet Lord, let me never run away from you. I beg you not to turn your face from me – but to let me always be in your presence. Do what you will so that my heart can belong ever more to you, until nothing I have and nothing I am is my own anymore, but yours. For it is in being wholly yours that I will be truly free! Here I am, Lord. Make me yours!