“What’s healthy for my soul on a given night depends a lot on what I am struggling with more. Am I …losing vitality, energy, hope and graciousness in my life? Or, conversely, am I full of life and energy but so full of it that I am falling apart, dissipating, losing my sense of self” Fr. Ron Rolheiser, Wrestling with God
Though it may come as a bit of a surprise, and simply as a part of our human condition, we may wrestle with this soulful struggle more times than we care to admit. Somewhere between the need to have our soul enkindled, and all the while not burning out ourselves we are seeking to live out our divinely created purpose in this world. Innately our souls, made in the image of our Father, mutually comprise compassion and a desire to give endlessly and yet yearn for a greatness beyond our human limitations.
We can see this in countless ways daily in each of our lives. Perhaps in the parent who gives selflessly albeit happily to their vocation as mother or father and yet has other God given gifts that await discovery and use. Or, in the person who has achieved a position of success in this world and still struggles with how to truly give of themselves. Hardened to the concerns of others, who through prior hurt or circumstance, has now become unable to share their soul with another. Even still, we see it more often in the sometimes obscure choices that we encounter each day. In small innocuous ways, we are challenged in our ability to walk with one another and still find the strength to do the more that we are called to be.
And it isn’t that that all of these are choices between good or bad. Quite often, it is a choice between two competing “goods”. Do we help the neighbor whose husband recently entered assisted living and can no longer maintain her yard? Or do we spend the afternoon at home to recoup after a hard week at work? Do I get to work early to get ahead, or do I attempt to make daily Mass today? How do we prioritize or discern amid these competing desires?
Prayer. Known to be the greatest recourse of sinners, prayer is the lifeline that we have to tap into God’s will for our lives. It is a place where we are made aware of the need for love, hope and renewal in our lives but also where we receive the energy and fire to pursue that will daily. And while we may think we would like to have it all figured out, that beautiful mystery intrigues us and demands our connectedness to God.
“Put God first, and everything else will follow.”
In a conversation as a young boy, my husband’s grandfather instilled in him this simple principle of life to live by. One, that has remained with him all these years when other mantras or commitments have failed. It is to make space in your life for God’s will, to take time to grow in friendship with Christ, and to invite the Holy Spirit to guide you in decisions big and small. While weekly Mass is an essential part of the living out of our faith, there is so much more that God wishes to be a part of. In order to hear God’s voice and receive guidance regularly, we need to make time to talk (and listen) to him.
Likewise, we couldn’t eat but one meal a week to sustain us physically, so why would we need but one for our spiritual health? Mass is intended to be a wellness center, not only a critical care unit when times are difficult. The Eucharist and the word of God are our lifelines, here we receive both the real presence of Christ and are given the aid to better discern God’s movements amidst our daily life. In this way, when we do struggle we can recognize that God is there, ready to get his hands dirty in the mess of life and restore the brokenness that we feel.
Recently, due to COVID 19, our communion regrettably but necessarily has become a spiritual one. Yet there remains the need, perhaps more than ever to invite God into these struggles, hopes and fears.
“Many signs and wonders were done among the people at the hands of the apostles…
Yet more than ever, believers in the Lord, great numbers of men and women, were added to them. Thus they even carried the sick out into the streets and laid them on cots and mats..” Acts 5:12-15
Where am I struggling today? Has my heart hardened to the suffering of the world, or the needs of others? Or do I neglect myself forgetting that I too am important in God’s eyes?