After my crisis of faith 15 years ago I have found God in the most amazing ways in my life. I really never thought that my faith would be tested like that again, but I hoped that if it was I would trust Jesus to walk with me. Prayer and intimacy with God through the times of consolation (good times) give us the strength to withstand the storms!   

In September of 2017 I once again survived a violent storm that would uproot my life.  My storm? Divorce.  As I began processing this I was reminded of the people in Florida and Texas that year who were waiting and watching as hurricanes Irma and Harvey were building.  Just as they watched these hurricanes build strength I had seen my husband spiraling for the last few months. In each situation we needed to pray that when the storm hit, the damage would be minimal.  For all of us, the damage was more than we could expect.  Knowing God was with me I knew I would survive.  One day at a time.  I was struggling with praying for myself and enlisted the prayers of others.  Each day began with a written purging of all the things that were weighting me down and a request, a plea, to God to help me through the day. 

Months later I would be sitting at the blood drive at OLIH and receive phone calls about a tornado hitting Bondurant, where my sister and her family lived, and Marshalltown, which is where I lived for 9 years before moving to Ankeny. My sister and her family were safe, but I was concerned for friends in Marshalltown. The next day I went up to see friends and help with what I could.  There were buildings ripped apart, homes knocked off their foundations, and trees completely uprooted.  I sobbed! I saw with my own eyes what catastrophic damage was – I saw what I felt inside.

A few weeks later I would be on retreat and sitting in my room preparing to meet with my spiritual director when a storm kicks up, darkness first, then the wind, then rain and hail, and then it leaves as quickly as it came.  What I noticed after the storm left was that it stirred up something inside of me and that became the topic of my spiritual direction session that night.  We spent time looking at what this most recent “storm” kicked up in my life, uprooted and knocked off foundations.  As I spent time examining the last several months in the midst of the storm I was not surprised to find God everywhere in it with me! I had a solid foundation in God and trust in His plan! I sat there weeping and thanking God for being my strength in the storm and never leaving my side.

I knew through the storm that God was with me, but the looking back gave new meaning and identified new moments of God’s grace and presence.  When we survive the storm it is healthy to spend time looking back and reviewing. 

The examen is a great prayer to use daily.  I wish I was in a better habit of using it, because when I do it works so well!  Spending time looking back over your day –  the events, the feelings, the good and the bad – it helps us to find God in the little details of life.

Take time this week to pray the examen.  If the style in the book doesn’t fit check out the app Reimagining the Examen or the Ignatian Spiritulity website for more ideas.     

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