Monday, February 29, 2016

Listening to God & Obedience


For some time, I have been in the grip of what I would call a "disordered emotional attachment" to someone I see frequently.  Deep down, I knew it was not good for me, but I didn't want to give it up, even though it sometimes made me feel very unhappy.

Recently, however, I began to notice that I was no longer able to maintain my recollection throughout the day as usual.  Although I didn't like that, I didn't pay a lot of attention at first, because my friend Father Flaherty had warned me that the awareness of Jesus near me--which I have had--might not last forever: the spiritual life has its ups and downs.  If you ever read St. John of Cross, then you already know about the Dark Night of the Soul--which I hope I never have to live through, frankly!   

However, I finally had to admit to myself that this emotional attachment was what was disrupting my close relationship with Him; you cannot be sensitive to the presence of God if your emotions are constantly being torn and tossed about--you have to be calm and peaceful in order to attend to Him.  Jesus is more important to me than ANYTHING ELSE, which means that anything which distracts me from Him, or is a barrier to Him, must be sacrificed, no matter what it is or how much I like it.

At first I tried to get out of the grip of this emotional fantasy through force of will alone--but I think, to be honest, my effort was half-hearted, and also I was not strong enough to do it.  Finally, in desperation, I begged Jesus to free me from this attachment so I could again be one with Him.

The answer was immediate. I don't mean He spoke to me--I am neither crazy nor a saint!--but right after I made this prayer, a thought came clearly into my mind about something very specific I could do which would help me to overcome my problem.  My first reaction, though, was "Well, I don't really need to to do that, do I?"

Amazing, yes?  I ask Him for help... He gives me an answer... but I don't want to obey Him!

A few seconds later, I realized what I was doing, and I did as He had suggested...and the sense of peace that I got once I had done it was clear and instantaneous.  And, my awareness of His presence around me has returned, for which I am very grateful.  I am not completely cured, but I can tell that I am much improved and that I will be released from this problem--if I keep asking Him to help me.

I have had a lifelong problem with obedience:  I knew it when I was very young.  Although as Catholics, we put no credence into astrology, I can't resist saying that I am a classic Aries personality:  a natural leader, a person who seeks to dominate others but will never allow anyone to dominate them.  And I never made any attempt to overcome this, because I actually reveled in being that way:  to me, humility was not a virtue, but a weakness.  What lies underneath obedience is humility:  you can't or won't obey if you do not have that virtue, because you think you know better than God--which of course is impossible. 

Now that Jesus has shown me how wrong I have been, I recognize that I have a hard road ahead to achieve a life of holiness--but I cannot believe that, having called me to strive for it, He will not give me the graces I need to get there:  I know He will.  +

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