Sunday, July 08, 2012

Living One Life

For over a week now, I've been away from home and in the midst of what I've come to think of as a spiritual palate cleanser. Once again I see that God my Father always knows exactly what I need. That whole omniscience thing is quite an advantage. And I, for my part, learn to say "Yes, Lord" on a daily basis, and that I don't have to understand the why of everything that happens at every moment.

A few months ago, I wrote a post called "Living Two Lives" in which I mulled over some issues of  how I handled my spiritual life as a child, and some difficulty I've had in carrying that over into adulthood. Oddly enough, I'm now back in my childhood hometown with my face smack in as much of the concreteness of my childhood as is left. I wasn't at all expecting this, but like I said, God has His ways.

When I wrote that post, I felt every bit of the intensity of it. The post is no lie. But life does flow onward. Two things seem much clearer and much calmer to me right now. One is this thing that God has been reminding me of again and again for at least twenty years: He calls me to be myself. And the only way I learn to be myself is by looking at Him. It seems a classic theme of dramas from Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer to Yentl that sometimes people need a lot of courage to strike off on a path to be true to themselves, to be who they are, despite the voices around them. I can tell you it is pretty terrifying when you sense this call but have no idea where it leads, or perhaps deep down you do, but it seems so contrary to everything that you've learned is right and good that you don't know how to proceed. So, you have to fake something somewhere along the line until such a time as you learn how to have all the pieces come together. For me, embracing the Catholic faith as someone with a contemplative, mystical bent has been this kind of journey. I see now that it wasn't only my rabid anti-Catholicism as a child that was a roadblock in the way. Self-rejection was a far larger roadblock and one that was much harder for me to see at work. I suppose it stands to reason that the whole point of God repeatedly telling me to be myself is that I always thought I had to be like someone else in order to please Him. Or at the very least, if I was going to be me, I had to make fun of myself for being so damn weird. I finally see that to think that way is to insult my Creator.

All I know is that there are a thousand and one ways for the heart to become a torture chamber. God's enemy is always ready to help the torture along, to be sure.

But the other thing that has become so clear to me is that God gives peace. Union with God's will simply gives peace and is worth any and every struggle that it calls for. The struggle is primarily that of overcoming sin and pride, because humility frees intimacy to happen, and only when we humble ourselves before God are we able to enjoy the intimacy of uniting our wills to His. Only when I can humble myself in my own estimation am I able to accept myself as I am. Only when I can do this can I accept others as they are. And all of this can only happen in the awareness that God's mercy comes first. His tsunami-like torrent of love for me makes it possible for me to face my sin, my pride, and to embrace humility and acceptance without fear of obliteration. I have to know how deeply I am loved, or there's no hope for me at all.

So, the one life I live is this: God deeply and profoundly loves me. In fact, He'd even die to prove it. (Oh, wait -- He did!) And into this infinitely deep and wide love I can fling myself, whole and entire, with no fear of harm, and I do every day, saying "Yes, Lord, whatever You want." Living this some days may thrill me, some days this may break me, some days this may seem dull and meaningless. God will always, always do what is best for me and He is always to be trusted.

That is my one life. Me, broken sinner that I am, living for God as He teaches me in His Church and under His mercy.

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