I’ve been struggling recently in my spiritual life. It’s like I’ve hit the first major speed bump in months. Prayer takes much more effort and discipline, and consolations don’t come as frequently as they used to. Guarding what I let into my heart and mind through my eyes and ears is also becoming harder. The blessed interior silence that I’ve been keeping for months with practically no effort is now a real effort I need to make. TV shows/films and literature that I’ve not been tempted to watch or read at all in the past months are now suddenly more appealing again. A few times I had slipped and allowed some of this to enter, only to regret it when I realized how quickly they clutter up and disturb a soul in prayer.
Grappling with this struggle has been the recurrent theme whenever I manage to enter into prayer. Last week, I was greatly encouraged by this message I received when I journaled my prayer:
“Trust me. Flee to me daily. Do whatever I ask of you. Guard your mind, your heart, your eyes, your ears, your tongue. Fly from your ego, and from your attachment to comfort. It is your sinfulness that will help you to gain martyrdom – for your concupiscence is the opponent which will sanctify you – if you desire me. Your sinful nature is the furnace in which you will be purified.”
Today, as I sat defeatedly once again before my prayer journal, I realized God is teaching me a very powerful lesson about GRACE. I’ve always known intellectually that I cannot do anything without grace, and that everything good that I am able to do is because God’s grace made it possible. But knowing about this truth is nothing compared to experiencing it in my own flesh.
When I look back, I haven’t done anything differently. Neither have I rejected God’s friendship through any major sin. I can honestly say that I am as sincere as ever, and I am putting in the same amount of effort. Yet suddenly I feel like I’m walking uphill. So why this difference?
The answer is so simple: GRACE. It was God’s grace that allowed me as a new beginner in the spiritual life to surf on the waves of prayer and deepen my interior life without much disruption or difficulty. My struggles now to remain faithful to that deeper prayer life that I have been building remind me that should God withhold his grace, there is nothing I can do.
Yet, even now, it is because of God’s grace that I am struggling! For how will I grow if it becomes easy? Would I not grow complacent and begin to think I am the one achieving holiness instead of being a child who is carried by her Father? Do I now not have more opportunity to prove my love and to be strengthened through adversity?
Small, little, weak and useless that I am, how blessed and happy I am! For I am meant to be small and dependent on my heavenly Father. It is through accepting and embracing how utterly helpless and useless and transient a mortal being I am that I can be liberated to live with abandon and joy!
“As for a human person – his days are like grass, he blooms like the wild flowers; as soon as the wind blows he is gone, never to be seen there again.” – Ps 103:15-16
O Lord, let me be nothing. Empty me out so that I can be filled with you – you who are everything. Let me never forget who I am, and let me never forget who you are. Help me to embrace whatever you wish to give me. If it be consolations, let me be nourished and encouraged by them. If it be silence from you, then let me embrace that holy darkness too so that I can die to self more completely and be more pliant as clay in the hands of my loving potter. Amen!