I remember when I was in school, there were some teachers who gave a grade for participation. It was great because if you were just shy of that “A” but raised your hand to answer questions often, it could bump you up. It didn’t even matter if you were wrong with the answer you gave, you got points for just for chiming in, just for trying! I believe that God gives us participation grades too – well, sort of.
Actually, I believe that God gives us participation grace. There are times when we experience dryness in our spiritual lives and whether it’s because we’re overdue for Confession or the Lord is allowing us to feel this way for a particular reason, we just aren’t feeling on fire with our faith. We have two options when this dryness sets in: we can quit, or we can persevere. If we allow that flat faith feeling to keep us from our prayers or sacraments, then we are quitting when it gets tough. We’re basically throwing up our hands because we’re not feeling that warm, fuzzy feeling that lights our hearts on fire.
The option to persevere, is an exercise in faithfulness. With this option, we pick up our rosary beads though we don’t feel like we’re being heard, or we fight the temptation to stay in bed and get ourselves to Mass. Our hearts aren’t ablaze, and we feel like we’re just going through the motions, but we stick with it. That is faithfulness and I truly believe that God rewards it with graces – participation graces, if you will.
When we are faithful to our Lord, He strengthens us and fortifies us to get through our spiritual dry spell. We may find that God’s grace is helping us to grow in patience. Perhaps His grace is working in our heart to help us better understand the struggles of those around us. Maybe the flame returns quickly or maybe we have to persevere for a long while but either way, I feel certain that God has a bunch of participation graces to give us as long as we’re willing to accept them.
There are times I’ve persevered and there are other times when I’ve shut down when faced with a drought in my faith life. I can attest that the times I’ve shown faithfulness have always been followed by a big boost in my spiritual growth as a direct result of God’s graces. When I’ve failed, it’s taken longer and been tougher to get back on the right path. The faithfulness always pays off. The Lord is generous with us, always. He just wants us to trust Him and stay close, even when we aren’t feeling all the feels.
If your faith life is feeling deflated and you wonder if going through the motions is doing any good, I promise you, it is worth it! God sees your faithfulness and He is waiting to award you all the points – I mean, graces – for your participation.
Copyright 2019 Michelle Jones Schroeder