Friday, December 19, 2014

Going it alone...

Today is the 17th anniversary of my dad's death. I know. I doesn't even seem like yesterday anymore. Before I fell asleep last night I tried very hard to remember his voice and I couldn't do it. Sometimes it's hard to imagine him in an animated state (something more than a memory from a picture). I am sad, though not really like last year. This is a more complex thing. Mainly, I'm wondering about other people.

You see, I realize that even though my day is a sad one, tomorrow will be better (or some later day) and even if it's one of the worst days in a long time; I'm not alone. Yes, I am without my dad, with whom I would have loved to sit and parse the finer issues of child rearing. However, even when my kids are too little to understand and my husband is away at work, I have a constant companion.

"I know God is in my heart. With Him I go to work, with Him I go to recreation, with Him I suffer, with Him I rejoice; I live in Him and He in me. I am never alone, because He is my constant companion. He is present to me at every moment. Our intimacy is very close, through a union of blood and flesh."
 Saint Faustina

Recently, I read some of the book, Forming Intentional Disciples by Sherry Weddell. I don't have the exact numbers but she stated some results of a survey and there was a not-exactly-tiny percentage of regular churchgoers who agreed that they had no personal relationship with God. There was a fairly tiny percent (but even so...why?) that said they weren't even sure they believed there was a God! This book is fodder for another post but, for now, I'm wondering about the people who believe but have no relationship.

I think the main reason I can make it through days like this (and why I had such difficulty earlier in my life) is that I know God is there...always, every minute, to answer my call. The answer may not always be what I want but I know that He knows my heart and what is best for me. He is my loving Father. One that never dies and one, I pray, I will spend eternity praising with my own dear dad.

So, what happens with those people? Is that why society seems so dangerous these days? Has the lack of an anchor sent people listing about with no clear course? Is the failure to feel a loving presence in one's life the reason that we are turning into such an angry, violent mob? What do the Jobs of today do if they don't believe or have a relationship with our Heavenly Father?

I'm currently finishing another tiny-but-powerful book, Can You Drink the Cup? by Henri Nouwen. Fr. Nouwen points out another essential ingredient in working through the sorrows of life without losing your way - intimate relationships.

"Lifting our cup means sharing our life so we can celebrate it. When we truly believe we are called to lay down our lives for our friends, we must dare to take the risk to let others know what we are living. The important question is, 'Do we have a circle of trustworthy friends where we feel safe enough to be intimately known and called to an always greater maturity?' Just as we lift up our glasses to people we trust and love, so we lift up the cup of our life to those from whom we do not want to have secrets and with whom we want to form community."

The urgency of the human condition to have others with whom we share the daily difficulties (and joys!) of life cannot be overlooked and certainly cannot be replaced by 400 semi-acquaintances on Facebook. True friendship and companionship come from time invested and lives made bare. I am so grateful for my three or four friends to whom I know I can turn and discuss the workings of my life. How blessed I am to enter into their lives as they have mine and how much we are able to grow as a result.

My prayer is that more people can realize the loving God who awaits their call. He is a good parent. He won't let you do whatever you want, especially if it is harmful to you, but He will guide you if you just call to Him and then listen. He was so loving, in fact, that He placed a few people in your life who, if you are willing to open yourself up and share your life, will help you grow in unimaginable ways. (Like, a woman with whom I do some charity work just signed her recent email, "see you in Church!" - that kind of friend.)

So, after 17 years, I think I get it (somewhat, anyway). Going it alone, or settling for "friends" who lead you down a destructive path or with whom you always feel second-rate, are choices that make life harder than it has to be. As we close in on the end of another Advent, why not take the time to reassess your support system in life? Two of our greatest advocates will be appearing soon in a little manger in Bethlehem. Stop, pray, be thankful. You will be greatly rewarded.

And, because I love to use oddly appropriate '80s music, here's some Devo for your Friday afternoon...I'll be praying your choice is one which will lift you up and ease your burden.

Don't be tricked by what you see
You got two ways to go

I'll say it again in the land of the free
Use your freedom of choice

We are so very blessed.

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