Insights

I want to apologize to my regular readers (all three of you) for not posting for a while. I’d rather not go into all the reasons why, but suffice it to say I was deeply depressed, feeling regretful over the past and fearful over the future—which left me feeling pretty much stuck and lousy in the present. I sent an e-mail to the incomparable Dawn Eden, thinking that she might have some insights into my situation. She writes perceptively about the problems of us thirtysomething and fortysomething Catholic single folk, and has frequently mentioned that her conversion to Christianity has helped her overcome depression. She asked some very simple questions, and in the course of praying over the situation, listening to the readings at Mass this morning, and responding to Dawn, I received some insights that may be helpful to others in similar situations. As I wrote to Dawn:

Last night as I was praying through the First Joyful Mystery of the Rosary, the Annunciation, (Lk. 1:26-38) I received an important insight. Mary had no idea how she could be the mother of the Son of God if she had never had relations with a man. Even once the angel explained it to her, I doubt she fully understood. Who could fully comprehend such a marvelous thing? She did not say, “What do I HAVE TO DO to make this happen?” She said, “You see before you the handmaid of the Lord. Let it be done to me according to your word.” She understood that it was not by her own effort that the awesome purposes of God would be worked out; but she trusted that GOD’S power and purposes would be accomplished THROUGH HER if she made herself a willing instrument. That is why she said later, “Henceforth all generations will call me blessed. For the Almighty has done great things for me.” She trusted that if God had said a thing would be accomplished in her life, it would be accomplished—and it was—but in a way far different from and far greater than anyone expected.

All the readings at Mass today reinforced this theme. Isaiah, Paul, and Peter were all acutely aware of their sinfulness and their utter inadequacy to stand before God on their own merits. Yet God called them, prepared them, and purified them, and they accepted the call. It’s also important to note that they had ABSOLUTELY NO IDEA of what would happen to them once they accepted the call, but they accepted it anyway,

For some time now, I’ve been struggling with feelings of failure and worthlessness, as if everything I tried to accomplish by my own efforts—my work life, my spiritual life, my personal relationships—has been a complete bust. I kept asking God, “What do I need to do?” as if God’s purpose could be accomplished my effort alone. I kept asking him “Where do I need to go?” as if I needed a complete itinerary before I took a single step. I need to remember the huge difference between trying to do everything by my own effort and allowing myself to be an instrument of God’s purposes. I also need to remember that I will never fully understand God’s plans and purposes for me—and that’s OK! We are all called to follow Christ, but we don’t need a complete road map of every possible stop before we set out on the journey. All that matters is the ultimate destination—Heaven.

This new insight does not completely solve all my problems, but it does give me a valuable new perspective and a way forward out of the swamp. In a strange way, it confirms my growing conviction that I need to relocate. My family has wanted me to move to Charlotte, NC, where a brother and sister are living, ever since Dad died. I resisted, mostly out of refusal to let go of the past and fear of the future. In Charlotte, I will have more opportunities for a better job, better opportunities for rewarding relationships, better health care, better psychological care, and better opportunities for spiritual direction.

Here I asked Dawn to continue to pray for me and I make this request of all my readers as well: Please pray that God will grant me the courage to take the many steps necessary to make this big change. Truth be told, I hate change, but in this case I think big changes are needed.

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