I’ve had many positive experiences over the last few years, but I’ve also faced the biggest challenges of my twenty-eight years on this earth. School and career shifts, relationships ending; in the narrative of life it’s been a period of significant change. The key difference between how I worked through difficulties in these most recent years compared to the past is that I decided to ask God for help, and I leaned on Him to sustain me. I did this through prayer, attending daily Mass, and receiving the Sacrament of Reconciliation once a month. Late spring and early summer of 2014 was a time of loss in my life, and I was experiencing the classic stages of grief. Daily Mass kept me functional. Occasionally I went twice a day. I’d sneak out of work over my lunch hour to attend church in the Loop, and then I’d practically run through rush hour traffic to make it to the 5:15 pm service at the church in my neighborhood. I was in so much pain, and I didn’t want to rely on my own understanding and analysis to heal. I just wanted to trust God to take care of everything as the Gospel says He will, and keep praying. I journaled at night and have a clear record of the spiritual journey I was on with God in this time of suffering. I felt comforted while pushing through the process of dealing with the loss. After I started to heal, I saw God working through me. I prayed regularly that His will be done, and I was cognizant of humbling myself and putting my will to the side. I won’t go into detail because this anecdote isn’t the point of the post, but I saw prayers being answered, I felt strong, and I started to see my life in a different way that was allowing me to grow, both in strength and joy. Not fleeting happiness, but true, steady joy.
1 Peter 5:10 – “And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.” The supplemental text in the book of Gospels I read breaks this passage down into the following: When by faith, suffering is joined with grace, it becomes glory. I felt as though I had overcome adversity in a lasting, powerful way that was going to continue to transform my life.
That backstory brings me to my thoughts for Lent 2015. I’ve had another course-shifting thing happen in my life, but it’s something really wonderful. I’m incredibly happy and pinching myself every day. Because my life on earth has felt so good recently, I’ve noticed having fewer conversations with God during the day. This Lent I’m working to understand how my relationship with God changes when life is going distractingly well. How can I work to bring God’s glory to my life when I’m not suffering? Can a relationship with God only deepen through times of struggle? I’m trying to understand how I can continue to grow in God to the extent that I did when I was working through more challenging times.