I’ve written before about how awesome a moment it is when we recognize the Holy Spirit at work interiorly within us; when our eyes are opened, and we attune to His presence. The Holy Spirit persistently prods us towards wholeness, and often that causes us to experience discomfort, pain or anxiety as we awaken more and more to His nudging.
I love how C.S.Lewis describes these interior ‘growing pains’ in Mere Christianity:
Imagine yourself as a living house. God comes in to rebuild that house. At first, perhaps, you can understand what He is doing. He is getting the drains right and stopping the leaks in the roof and so on; you knew that those jobs needed doing and so you are not surprised. But presently He starts knocking the house about in a way that hurts abominably and does not seem to make any sense. What on earth is He up to? The explanation is that He is building quite a different house from the one you thought of – throwing out a new wing here, putting on an extra floor there, running up towers, making courtyards. You thought you were being made into a decent little cottage, but He is building a palace. He intends to come and live in it Himself.
Chills! We imagine a simple cottage but God’s blueprints are for the creation of something regal, even majestic! I so wish I was privy to the Architect’s drawings! The excavation and reconstruction process would be easier to accept if I could just get a glimpse of the finished structure He has in mind.
For we live by faith, not by sight. (2 Corinthians 5:7)
Yet, that is not how a life lived by faith is to be. I don’t need to see, to know, or understand. I just need to trust, believing in His sovereignty and His love for me.
Several years ago, I journeyed through a time of succumbing to fears and discomforts left over from my early years. I was becoming a hermit in my small inner cottage, quite at home there, overcrowded as it was with judgment, self-criticism, and self-doubt. The Lord, however, was not about to leave me there in my complacency. He got to work on an expansive wing that required knocking down the walls of my cottage and greatly enlarging its footprint.
The Lord threw just enough “problems” into my cottage to get my attention. He gave me exactly the right amount of adverse circumstances I needed in order to turn to Him and fall on my knees in surrender: My mom was diagnosed with breast cancer. A family member was deep in a drug addiction. My parents divorced. My sister contracted a scary and rare illness that had her hospitalized for over a month (she was in the hospital over her planned wedding day!).
As uncertain and painful as this time was, it was also the first time in my life that I was conscious of the Lord’s presence with me in a very personal way. The only place I found peace was with Him, whether at Mass, in the Adoration chapel, or in quiet moments at home. The only truly effective coping strategy I found was prayer, often just saying His name … Jesus, Jesus. Strong awareness of His Presence enabled me to open the door, trusting Him to provide the needed grace to step beyond the familiarity of my cottage, and embrace His expansion plans.
I suppose we are not meant to become too comfortable here in our earthly dwelling, which St. Paul calls a ‘tent’ (ref 2 Cor 5:1). Nor are we to get too caught up in our earthly experience, be it pain-full or joy-full (and likely a good mix of both). So, how do we detach from concern over our day-to-day experiences?
I know no other way but surrender. And that takes courage.
So we are always courageous, knowing that as long as we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord. (2 Corinthians 5:6)
Let’s courageously cling to the Lord, surrendering our cares and our caring about the details of our day. This is do-able, knowing that He cares so much about our day! He is working it out in ways far superior to anything we could come up with.
Let’s be courageously curious about what the Lord might be up to within our ‘tents.’ Each time we experience discomfort or pain (emotionally or physically) we can breathe deeply and ask for the grace to surrender. Say this powerful line from the Surrender Novena: O Jesus, I surrender myself to You, take care of everything.
Closing prayer: Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for the gift of faith. Thank you for the gift of my life. I praise You for Your lavish design and plan for my life. I say yes! Yes to the ways You will mold, sculpt, and refine me, so that I may become a living palace for Your Holy Spirit to abide. I pray in Jesus’ name, Amen!
Copyright 2018 De Yarrison