Sunday, February 23, 2014

Let Go and Let God

Let go and let God. They taught us that in college at my awesome campus ministry. It was the first time I had heard the concept of total abandonment to God in our daily lives.

As a college student, I learned to turn to prayer for all things. I asked God to help me make wise decisions. I knew the decisions were still mine, but I asked for the Holy Spirit to guide me. This was a big step for me. My entire life I was taught how to anticipate and control my life, and I did it well, mostly the result of my personality type. A!!!

When I was seriously discerning my vocation shortly before graduation, I learned how to abandon even the direction of my life to God. At first, that involved assuring Him that if He told me where to go, I would enter a convent and let Him be the center of my life, the only love of my life, in complete obedience to whatever order I joined.

You see, I still wanted to give God control over my life in a way that I could control, or at least anticipate. Does that even make sense? He taught me in almost an instant the potential within the vocation of marriage to live a life of holiness, one that seemed (and still does) more difficult to me than any other vocation, and that is why He wanted it for me. Because it is the path that would give me the most opportunity to grow in holiness. There would be no one to tell me what to do every hour of the day; it was up to me to listen to God directly. I was terrified of this, but I made a choice to listen. The man I was to marry became clear to me in uncanny ways.

So, I got married to a great friend. As a new bride, I knew the potential for sanctification in the married vocation. I had confidence that my husband and I had the faith and tenacity (a.k.a. stubbornness) to live the model of a Catholic marriage. My manual were the holy married families I got to know in early marriage, such loving, giving, joyful friends. God was leading us. Every decision we made was made in prayer. We studied and discussed the Church's teachings on marriage and promised God to follow Him.

It did not take long for God to ask more of us. I had health issues. We moved across the country, leaving friends, family, and familiarity. Our marriage and our faith was tested, but we still felt the image of a holy Catholic family was within our reach. As I waited for God to fix everything and get us back on track, I began to see that this time of waiting involved a new kind of letting go, but I could not fully understand it. Finally getting pregnant preceded another move across the country and a huge dose of humble pie. I was in a fog, because I knew I had to let God control everything. But, I felt helpless and forgotten.

I think God was asking me if I was really willing to give Him complete control over my life and the lives of those I love. While outwardly I said yes and went along with all the changes, inwardly I was crushed. I had not realized the way of the cross was part of this life I had chosen. Our daily lives improved, but it was like my spiritual life had taken several huge steps backwards.

Of course, in the middle of all of this, I had a newborn, a fussy newborn. Need I say more? My days and nights were spent figuring out this motherhood thing, and I constantly begged God to help me keep going. I felt like I was giving all control to this baby, not to God, but I was allowing God to teach me through the child. My prayer life was in snippets, offering every mundane task as a prayer, because I felt I had nothing left to give beyond what I was giving my child. But, I did see a glimpse of that ideal Catholic family life return. My plan might still work out.

Moving across the country again and having another baby were new tests to my faith, but I endured. I finally realized that my life would be full of such challenges, and I started to understand that my plan was worthless. While this is a pretty significant step towards letting go and letting God, it was not some monumental moment, just a quiet acceptance. This time, though, instead of living helplessly in a fog, I kept my confidence that God had a purpose in all things, and that purpose is to lead me to Him. As a result, I stopped thinking long-term in earthly ways.

My focus became fulfilling my daily responsibilities for God. I started to see that what He puts in front of me on a daily basis is an invitation to grow closer to Him. One foot in front of the other I move towards Jesus and trust that the Lord will indeed "give us this day our daily bread" and not a morsel more or less.

From time to time (okay, fairly often), I fall back into my old ways of wanting my plan to work out. And I do pray for what I want, asking God to consider the desires of my heart. But I always turn back to letting go and letting God run my life. It's too exhausting to fight against Him! I grow in faith by repeating endlessly - Jesus, I trust in you!

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