One of my favorite guided meditations of all time comes from a retreat called Day by Day Agape (or DDA for short). It goes like this: "Be still and know that I am God. Be still and know that I am. Be still and know. Be still. Be." Simple, yes, but also profound. Imagine hearing those words repeated slowly, methodically, in a dark chapel before the Blessed Sacrament, and you get more of the effect.
Do you ever feel like Sisyphus? He's the guy from Greek mythology that's stuck eternally pushing a boulder up a hill. Every time he gets to the top, he slips and has to do it all over again. Sound familiar? This is what it can feel like when we try to do things on our own, without God's help. Now, more than ever, we need to be willing to ask for His help.
I don't know about you, but I am just about done talking about the coronavirus situation. This is not to say that the pandemic is over or that we can't have opinions, but rather that I'm tired of the way it's talked about. Everyone has a hot take, a spin, something that we should be doing. Heck, everyone on Facebook is suddenly a doctor now! Who knew?
It's not just the pandemic, though. I bet you could pick just about any topic, and there will be a large group of people who become "armchair experts" at a moment's notice. All this opining, all this certainty that one's own position is correct, comes from a desire for one thing: control. Control is one of the hardest things to give up, but it is what we must surrender to let God in.
I was watching a video from Fr. Mike Schmitz the other day where he talked about what a saint is. A saint is anyone who has been welcomed into Heaven. Period! Sometimes we can feel like sainthood is unattainable, especially when we see the heroic spiritual feats of saints like Ignatius, Pope John Paul II, and Theresa of Calcutta. But there are many paths to sainthood!
That's all well and good, but what Fr. Mike said that really struck me was this: "A saint is anyone who unites their will with that of the Father." That sounds like one of those faith sayings that you nod along in mild agreement with and then never think about again, but let's dig a little deeper than that.
What does it really mean to unite one's will with that of the Father? There's a couple ingredients to this. The first and most important of these is humility. Humility is not a quality that our society values much these days, as evidenced by people's certainty that they're right on everything from the way to navigate the coronavirus to how much snow we're going to get this winter.
But humility has many benefits. First of all, it's freeing! It can do wonders for your mental health to admit that you don't have all the answers. It feels GREAT to admit that you don't know something. That way, you can trust in the people who do! And guess what? There's someone who DOES have all the answers.
If you don't know who it is by now, you clearly haven't been reading this blog for very long. It is, and always will be, the Lord. God has the answer to every question, the solution to every problem, and the turn-by-turn directions to our final goal of Heaven. All we have to do is ask!
Okay, so that's humility. But what else does uniting our will with the Father's and accepting that He is in control require? Stillness. God voice rings the loudest when there are the least distractions. Makes sense, right? But it's much easier said than done, especially today.
Even in our quasi-quarantined world, there are still tons of distractions. From Netflix to social media, family drama to a good old-fashioned nap, there's always something we can drown out God with. So how do we "be still?" How do we create that space for God to enter and unite our will with His?
There are four main things I'd suggest. First, plan ahead of time. Carve out 10 minutes at some point during your day to just sit and listen, and stick to it. Maybe read the Bible or listen to some (faith-based) music to get you in the mood, whatever works! Second, get up a bit early. This one pains me greatly, but things are quieter and slower in the early morning. It's the perfect time for God to make Himself known to you!
Third, get out into nature. Go for a (socially distant) hike, stroll around your neighborhood, or take a dip in a lake. Whatever you can do, surrounding yourself with God's handiwork can make you much more receptive to His call! Finally, spend some time by yourself. Other people, especially our families, are great. But sometimes we need to be alone to hear God's voice!
That last one can be tough, especially if you're cooped up in the house with a bunch of people, but it's important! These are just a few suggestions, and I'd really encourage you to find some time to intentionally give up control to God and try to unite your will to His. You will feel better if you accept that you can't (and don't need to) solve everything by yourself!
I hope and pray that you're able to put the tough stuff in the Lord's hands, especially in times like these. Stay safe, stay cool, and I'll see you soon.