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We Could Be Making It Worse

There’s a good reason why we do what we do. Despite how it might appear, our behavior isn’t random. The challenges of life and our desire to be affirmed can bring us down broken paths that have been hidden from us. We may land on what we think is the reason for our questionable behavior, but we usually need to go deeper.  Often, what we are concluding can be A problem, but not THE problem.  As Paul confesses in Romans, “What I do, I do not understand. For I do not do what I want, but I do what I hate.”

We may not understand our actions very well. But Jesus does. And he wants to help us get underneath what we think is causing our struggles to find the real wound that is the true source. For example, my impatience to have my view heard causes me to sometimes talk over others despite my desire not to. I could chalk this up to just being an impatient person or perhaps it’s related to not being adequately heard as a child and that need has chosen now to come forward. As they say, “We bury our feelings alive.” They don’t vanish, they wait for us to deal with them.

And Jesus wants to be the Divine Medic on our route. He wants to come to every facet of our heart to set us free from the things that have hurt us, or which hold us back.  He wants us to let him lead us so we can get out of our own way when we bungle the exploration. As one of my teachers said, “Are you allowing the Lord to love you in your poverty or are you making it worse in your self-condemnation?” I have a refrigerator magnet that says, “Don’t believe everything you think.” Who says what we think is true? Sometimes we compound the problem by the things we think God is asking us to do. We must allow the actual truth of God’s abiding love to form our expectations. This will free us and shift our perspective to understand that things don’t happen to us, but for us.

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Asking for Help the Way God Wants to Give It

We drove to the airport in the early dawn. It was dark and I was anxious as I usually am when we make this drive. I like to be earlier for flights than my husband does, so the trip can be a little torturous for me. I was also unsettled because we were leaving Bella our poodle, and my mom and dad, who are 14, 90 and 91, respectively. 

I lofted an arrow prayer asking God to prevent any hurricanes and to keep our Naples gang safe and well until our return. I made my request in a mix of guilt, fear, and confidence that God would protect my loved ones, as he always seems to do. I wasn’t negotiating, I was begging. Intercessory prayer is the official name for what I was doing. It’s a mainstay of traditional Catholic prayer and I use it frequently. It makes me feel like I’m doing something. Kind of like an early warning system for God, “Hey look over here—this situation needs your help.” 

Of late I’ve wondered about intercessory prayer. In my current spot on my faith journey, I’ve begun to focus on trying to replace my will with God’s will. The saints talk about it; surrendering our will to God’s will is key to spiritual growth.  But how does that jibe with intercessory prayer? How is seeking God’s will over and above my own, congruent with me also asking for things I think are needed? How do I square this? 

If not my first call, God is always my second. Part of my immediate work is making God my first call every time. God wants us to ask for his help. He longs for us to engage him in the smallest details of our lives. And he wants us to be reliant on him, to discard the illusion that we can do hard things, or anything really, on our own.  God doesn’t like us to think we are self-sufficient because it shuts him out. Plus, it’s not true. 

The other part of this work is to believe that God’s all-encompassing but frequently inscrutable, love for us means that God probably has a much better plan for the situation than we are capable of imagining. We may not always recognize God’s abundant love for us in the things that happen or don’t happen to us, but we can always trust that because of that love, God will bring the best thing for us to fruition at some point. 

So, I think the squaring up of asking versus trusting, is to do both. God wants us to ask him for what we want. And God wants us, in complete trust, to caveat our requests with, “If it is your will, can you help me do this or that?”  This gives God the proper respect, and an opening to do something beyond our wildest dreams.

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Sr Miriam James Healdland SOLT

Week 4 Almsgiving Sr Miriam 8:27
Ash Wednesday Sr Miriam 5:44
Week 3 Personal Sin Sr Miriam
Why do Christians fast? Sr Miriam 1:58
Joined to Christ’s heart Sr Miriam 2:47
Week 5 Forgiveness Sr Miriam 8:29
Week 1 Prayer Sr Miriam 6:01
Week 4 Almsgiving Sr Miriam 8:27
Holy week Sr Miriam 9:35
Joined to Christ’s Heart Sr Miriam
Week 2 Fasting Sr Miriam 8:46
Week 5 Forgiveness Sr Miriam 8:29
Sr Miriam Hidden Wounds 26:11

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Charlie Mackesy

The boy, the mole, the fox, and
the horse 5:07
Faith and fraud Charlie Mackesy 8:55
Christianity in a Nutshell Charlie Mackesy 3:42
 Artist and former atheist 5:29
Charlie Mackesy’s lessons in kindness 6:05
Abandon the Idea of being good and just try Charlie Mackesy 16:43
Charlie Mackesy Hurlingham 2:38
Take a step closer Charlie Mackesy 1:48
Love working: Good Friday Charlie Mackesy  5:32
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I wear my wonder
like old running shoes—
not elegant,
not sophisticated,
surprisingly inappropriate
in certain rooms.
I notice how others
sometimes wrinkle their noses
at a blatant sporting of wonder,
thinking, perhaps, I must be oblivious
to the dress code:
stilettos of apathy,
high heels of indifference,
boots of cool reserve.
But dang, this wonder
gets me where I need to go
every inch,
every mile, even
across the room.
When everywhere I step
is broken glass,
wearing this wonder
is the only reason
I can move at all.

– Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer

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For Grief

When you lose someone you love,
Your life becomes strange,
The ground beneath you gets fragile,
Your thoughts make your eyes unsure;
And some dead echo drags your voice down
Where words have no confidence.

Your heart has grown heavy with loss;
And though this loss has wounded others too,
No one knows what has been taken from you
When the silence of absence deepens.

Flickers of guilt kindle regret
For all that was left unsaid or undone.

There are days when you wake up happy;
Again inside the fullness of life,
Until the moment breaks
And you are thrown back
Onto the black tide of loss.

Days when you have your heart back,
You are able to function well
Until in the middle of work or encounter,
Suddenly with no warning,
You are ambushed by grief.

It becomes hard to trust yourself.
All you can depend on now is that
Sorrow will remain faithful to itself.
More than you, it knows its way
And will find the right time
To pull and pull the rope of grief
Until that coiled hill of tears
Has reduced to its last drop.

Gradually, you will learn acquaintance
With the invisible form of your departed;
And, when the work of grief is done,
The wound of loss will heal
And you will have learned
To wean your eyes
From that gap in the air
And be able to enter the hearth
In your soul where your loved one
Has awaited your return
All the time.

– John O’Donohue