“I want to be real with you. There are consequences to creating space for prayer in your life. If you are looking to keep your life the way it is, then, please don’t pray. If you want to stay the person you currently are, then I suggest not making time for prayer in your daily life. Because here’s the reality: If you intentionally show up every day in prayer to be with God, your life is going to change. And guess what else? YOU are going to change!” (Page 25-26)
Fifteen years ago I went through a crisis of faith. In less than six months I had suffered multiple deaths including my father, a colleague and a client. Each of these three losses being significant in their own way. After the final one, I went into Mass on Sunday to sing with the choir. As my friend began to proclaim the psalm, “My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?” I lost it. I ended up sitting the bathroom on the floor sobbing and asking this question over and over until my question evolved from abandoning me to how could a loving and merciful God “do this” to me. The only answer I could come up with was, He wouldn’t. So as I continued to sit there on the floor in the bathroom my question became ‘so, is there a God?’ I was in a period of deep desolation. Without knowing St Ignatius or Ignatian Spirituality, but knowing psychology, I knew the best thing to do would be to stay the course – do what I’ve been doing and not to change anything. Ignatius would have agreed! I continued to go to Mass, I continued to sing in the choir, I continued to go to work and do the good things I did there, all the while questioning where God was in the midst of this deep sorrow and darkness. Then, I saw the movie “The Passion of the Christ.” As I watched the scene on the scourging I began by not feeling anything, but as it continued I started to get uncomfortable, and just when I wanted to yell “enough already” I met the eyes of Jesus and I knew. I knew his physical beating paralleled my emotional beating. I knew that as I sat there with him in his desolation, He sits with me in mine. I knew that He had been with me through it all! As I reflected back here’s what I remembered about that six months:
The night before my dad died my mom, my five sisters and I gathered to pray the rosary. This was the first time I heard my mother ask us to pray for the strength to deal with whatever happens rather than prayers that dad would be better. We had invited Jesus into our situation and the next morning Jesus was with us at the hospital as we sat with dad in his final hours. Months later I was driving to work and felt a strong urge to go to church and pray. As I entered and knelt I didn’t know what to do, I’ve never done this before. So I said “I guess I will just ask that you give me what I need to get through today.” I entered work to find out about my colleague. I had invited Jesus into my day and He was there with me as I calmly worked with others through that day and the days to come. Finally, I took some time for myself and went on a silent retreat at the local retreat center. I spent 2 days there praying for healing and strength. Inviting Jesus into my brokenness. It was after this retreat that I received the call about my client. Once again He was invited in and He was there.
This was a moment for me that opened a path to deeper desire to know God. Entering into prayer, and recognizing Jesus walking with me, opened my eyes and my heart in new ways. Daily prayer became a desire and through the ups and downs of finding what worked and what didn’t I found God in new and exciting ways. So when I look back on this time of great sadness in my life I don’t focus on the sadness, but I see it as a point of conversion, when I finally saw Jesus truly as my companion, the ONE who is always by my side. God doesn’t “do” anything to us, but He walks with us through the storm!
Psalm 139 is precious and if you haven’t sat with it and imagined God in this way I highly suggest that you do!
Patty Mayer, Director of Adult Faith Formation
My reflections based on the book: “Busy Lives & Restless Souls: How Prayer Can Help You Find the Missing Peace in Your Life” by Becky Eldredge given out to OLIH parishioners at Christmas 2018