Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Destruction, Construction, and the Interior Life

For a very long time, I prayed to God to help my husband find his way to the faith. I prayed to God to help me build a business. I prayed to God to help me with my money problems. I prayed to God to help me raise my son. I prayed, and I prayed, and I prayed, and all that ever seemed to happen was that the problems got worse, the business failures increased, the money problems grew, and my son struggled.

I thought God wasn't listening. I thought God had abandoned me. I thought nothing was happening.

I didn't understand what was going to have to happen in order to get my prayers answered. I didn't understand how God works. I certainly didn't understand how prayer works, either. I thought that if God answered my prayers, it would be instantaneous and obviously His work. I had a lot of learning to do.

What I didn't understand then, that I've learned since, is that if you want someone else's conversion, the first one that has to come is your own. If you want help building a business, you have to address the relationship issues that are causing you to struggle in selling your product or idea. If you want help with money problems, you have to first change how you view and treat money. If you want help raising a child, you have to begin by digging into the wounded child inside you and start healing that.

Before God can begin bringing into your life everything you've begged so hard to receive, he has to take out of your life everything that's been holding you back and standing in your way. But quite often we are attached to those things. We are used to relying on them and we are afraid to let them go. So we fight him when he tries to take them from us. We consider him mean and cruel for depriving us of the things we think we need, and we do our best to cling to what isn't working for us. We unintentionally get in his way, slowing him down, quite often undoing the work he's painstakingly done for us in our misunderstanding and fear.

The period of destruction that must come before the construction begins is painful, scary, and strips us to the bones of our illusions about who we are and what is real and what isn't in our lives. It's a time where we're left open, exposed, and vulnerable. We can begin to wonder whether God is there at all, and why this is all happening to us. Satan knows what's happening, but he'll work to convince us that all this means is that God's abandoned us and there will never be an end to what we're going through today. He wants to push us into despair so that we'll quit on life before we get to see the day when our prayers become our reality.

That destruction period sometimes lasts for years, depending on how big the pile of junk we've accrued in our lives happens to be, before the construction period begins. The construction period will be dirty, messy, noisy, and active. You'll catch frustrating glimpses of your vision coming to life, but you won't be able to live in it yet. You'll see it, though, and it will be a consolation to you as you continue to work toward the dream.

Finally, there will be the day when your dream is a reality and you move in to that space you've so long desired to occupy. Then you will begin working on your interior life, decorating it and living out what you've been given to do. When you finally reach this stage you will find yourself grateful for every stage that came before it because you will know that it was all part of getting you to this point, all of it giving you the necessary strength to do what needed to be done.

If you are in the destruction phase of your life, know that everything you are going through now will have an end. Though you will struggle, trust in God's mercy on this. Thank Him for the work He is doing in your life, and thank Him for answering your prayers even though they weren't answered the way you expected them to be.

Read the lives of the saints on a regular basis. Take courage and comfort from their stories. And don't quit. The best part of your life has just begun. You'll never get to see your dreams come true if you end this now.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

The Unanswered Prayers

For 20 days, I prayed. The same prayers day after day, the same way each time. I didn't get them. I was feeling downhearted and depressed. Why hadn't God answered me?

Does No Count?

Last night, during my darkest moment, I was praying the rosary. It was the sorrowful mysteries. We were going over the Agony in the Garden, where Christ said to God, "Not my will, but yours be done." Whose will was I seeking - God's, or mine? 

I realized that I was depressed because God hadn't answered me - the way I wanted Him to answer! God had answered me. The answer was no, or more accurately - not yet.

Surrendering My Will to God's

I knew I had found the answer to my depression, to finding the peace that I was seeking but that had eluded me until then. It was time to praise God that my prayers were not answered as I requested.

Gratitude for the Answer

Who knows what good the Lord has done for me by denying my request? Who knows what trouble He has preserved me from that I might unwittingly have stumbled into if the Lord had done as I requested? The Lord might very well have been standing guard over me to protect me from dangers unseen in denying my request. Perhaps I was not ready for those things I was asking to receive, and He was preparing me so that when I received the opportunities, I would not squander them. 

Repenting for Ingratitude

This led me to wonder just how often God, in His mercy, protects us from the errors that we, in our human limitations, might make and yet, instead of receiving thanks, receives grumbling and complaining. One day, I know I will see clearly just what He has saved me from and the damage it would have done if I had been allowed to go the direction I was trying to head, and on that day I will weep for the way that I treated the One who has worked the hardest and done the most to love me. 

God Desires Only Our Good

If God has answered "not now" or even a firm and resounding "no", it is solely for my good. God hates telling me no, because He knows it hurts me, but He loves me enough to be brave enough to risk my anger and my complaints and my grumbling in order to do what is best for me. If I have received a "no" or a "not now", it is only because I am not ready or the thing I am asking for would not be truly beneficial to me.

Thank God!

If you pray and you do not receive what you ask today, thank God! Either you aren't ready to receive what you've asked to receive, or what you are asking for would not be truly beneficial to you and He wants something better for you instead. Either way, thank God! And remember, our Father knows best.

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