Wednesday, February 11, 2009

The Circle of the Spiritual Life

I can't re-iterate certain points enough:

- I Believe in Love is a spiritual life-changing book for me and many. Just saying.
- this blog has turned into a complete love-fest for St Paul. Clearly.
- this blog is totally my ministry outlet since I'm currently not in direct ministry (bless you for reading it!)
- I am so grateful that is a helpful tool!

Okay, now that that's out of the way, here are my current reflections for the day/week:

I'm really impressed lately how everything just goes in cycles. Nature in itself displays this fact. I was thinking about the warm weather we've been having and how it truly is a sign of hope. People come out of their homes, out of their shelters and safe places from cold and dark, and greet each other. They open themselves up to one another in the light. Isn't this how it is with vulnerability and love and GOD? When we open up and come out from our cold dark places, we can meet God, meet others in the openness and light?

I can't make this stuff up, people! There is a plan! No coincidences, fo' sho!

So I was reading my blog from 05- 06 (which I've decided to re-attach to my profile for all to read 'cause it's just funny. Like really. I was pretty funny back then! I don't know what's happened and I've become so old and serious ;) and I'm struck by how much has NOT changed in my life. And how I'm kind of just re-experiencing things. For example- Once again discerning vocation, still in a low-income salary/single lifestyle, hanging out with the same friends. Still spending most of my time and money on weddings :) But I do know so much more now, and He's shown me that's who He's made me to be which is SUCH a blessing I can take confidence in knowing!

And our spiritual lives just go in cycles, as evident in this blog with all my many blog posts on trust, abandonment, vulnerability, hope.... I still kind of wonder why that is. Why don't we ever, ever learn?! Learn to trust? Learn to be vulnerable?

Well, the devil is a good part of the reason we go in some of these vicious cycles, but that's another blog. I was just reading in I Believe in Love (for like the second time in six months :) about that nasty guy:

"It is said that the Devil makes the gravity of the sin appear to be less during the temptation and greater after the fall."

How true is that? He lures us away from God, making us think sin is okay, and then makes us beat ourselves up after we sin so that we feel guilt rather than God's mercy and love! Ugh! That makes me mad! He just tries every way to steal us from love....who does that?!? The devil.

But enough about him. More about that mercy and love and how it ties into these cycles of life...

I mentioned in the last blogs that I've had a lot to pray for lately. I can go into a little more detail with some of these intentions. We found out about a month or so ago that my uncle has lung cancer, stage 3, and while he has his good days, over all, it has not been really great progress. He's in and out of the hospital, and it's been hard particularly on my mom, grandmother, and two cousins. So definitely keep them in your prayers. My cousin Leah's is one of the weddings I plan on attending this year as well.

While I've become pretty good at surrendering things to God's will, it's never easy to completely surrender, no matter how often that part of the cycle turns itself our way (know that praise and worship song, 'Trust, Surrender, Believe, Receive'? It just repeats over and over again. Such a spiritual lesson in singing that song! The cycle of our spiritual lives!).

But I've been reading the chapter on Abandonment in I Believe in Love (but Julia, didn't you already write about Abandonment in this blog? Seriously? Aren't you over that? It's the cycle, people!!! ;) and this quote from St. Augustine that the author uses was really powerful to me this morning. The author begins with some background on Augustine:

"St. Augustine relates in his Confessions [Julia's aside- another great book!] that when he lived in Carthage with his parents, he made the decision to go to Rome to teach. Augustine was not a saint at that time, but a great libertine. His mother, Monica, who wanted nothing but the salvation of his soul, thought that this departure, which took her son away from her influence in order to expose him to all the temptations of Rom, would be the end of all her hopes. But Augustine relates: ....' You (God) did not do what she was at that moment asking, that You might do the thing she was always asking'." (IBIL, pg 101-102)

MMmmm...now that's good stuff! St. Augustine isn't a doctor of the Church for nothing. And the author goes onto say that Augustine met St. Ambrose on this trip, which was life changing for him, as we know. So Monica's prayers were answered in the long run, but maybe not in the immediate or even in the way she thought would be best. Because (even though Monica's now a SAINT!) how do we know what's best better than GOD?!

So all this to say, we must abandon our wants and plans in prayer to God. And do it over, and over and over again. We may not understand it. But we have to hope and trust that it is for His greater purpose. Because if we believe in how much He loves us, we will know confidently that His Way is the best way.

And I know I've said it all before :) But isn't that the beauty of the cycle?
Amen!

Thanks for your prayers for my family- keep 'em coming!
peace,
Julia

1 comment:

The Swandas said...

Keeping with the theme of cycles... I will say what I always say - thanks for the encouragement! As always, your message is what I need to hear. LOVE that Augustine quote. :)