Saturday, 01 September 2012
At times it can seem like finding God’s will for some people is like going to an Easter egg hunt. Looking under bushes and rocks, seeking to find the God’s will written out in bold letters: “This is it, my will”….”you win”. It is nothing like that, though of course there is a search involved, for everyday we seek the will of God in our lives.
Jesus calls us to more abundant life, to let go, or die to ways of existing that keep us from becoming ever more fully human, loving and compassionate. There may be people for whom this sounds simple; it is after all written down, all we have to do is follow what the Lord asks of us. So broadly speaking, if our growth in the love of God is deepening and the love we have for ourselves and others is also growing apace, then God’s will is being done.
Perhaps one aspect of doing God’s will, that will allow all other endeavors to bear much fruit is the deepening of our self knowledge. In other words, what is below the mask that we present to the world? How do we follow God’s will for us when we deal with what is behind the mask? If we don’t learn how to deal with our ‘innards’ then they will deal with us.Our moods, our slips of tongue, the sins that we commit to help us get through the day, are a form of self protection from becoming ever more fully human and less chained down by fear. Fear of our selves and of what others will think and say if they really knew us.
Sin is a way of escaping life in all of it rawness; it can stunt us, hurt others and keep us from doing God’s will in our lives. I still do it, struggle with my fear of facing whatever life presents to me. If we find an actual ‘vocation’ that we feel is God’s will for us and many of us do, if we lack self knowledge and actual love of self, then our vocation will be stunted and not bear much fruit. In one degree or another I would think most of us are burdened with this reality.
Sin is not a bad word, nor is the concept of sin meant to make us experience neurotic guilt. Sin means that we are free, we can convert, change, though the process can be slow and for many arduous. The reason humility is such an important virtue it that it lessens the need to be defensive before God or others. It allows listening to happen. We learn, and we also know of our need of God’s grace, of God’s love, to allow this often slow process to continue. So in whatever situation that comes up, tools, or spiritual gifts or given for us to accomplish God’s will.
Failing is also part of this process; it is a call to make a conscious choice to trust in God’s love and mercy, and to simply move on. Self hatred and contempt, thoughts of being useless or worthless or not gifts of the Holy Spirit, though they can be for some an easy and familiar trap to fall into. It is a waste of time and energy. Emotional reactions may always be there voicing negative and hurtful experiences, however they don’t have to be believed, not fought against.
We are asked to love our neighbor as ourselves, or more bluntly, actually commanded to do, because it can be so difficult. This command is given to us out of compassion, to let us know that the struggle should be expected, embraced and not feared. The death to a way of life that is known is not easy and takes time and patience in our allowing God’s healing grace and love to do its work.
God’s will for us I would think is to relate to others as he did in the Gospels. It is easy to make our religion and God’s will for us into some kind of moral agenda that we have to follow. If this is done then when we fail we can experience that we are outside of God’s love. We don’t see ourselves; accept our weaknesses, which can lead to simply giving up, or projecting our anger outward towards others. In others words, we can grow to hate and to have contempt for ourselves, which is then placed onto others. We hide from ourselves and God, or seek to, which is impossible.
When we are in darkness, it is God’s will I believe to stop, look, and to love all that we see, to embrace and have compassion on ourselves, our pain and barriers that keep us from doing God’s will. So to love ourselves is God’s will for us, which is based on the understanding that God’s sees it all already, has always seen it, in fact God sees a lot more in us that we could not bear, yet loves and embraces us. This is not an easy step to take; in fact it may never get easy, but the conscious choice to do God’s will in this regard leads to ever deeper trust in God’s love for us. This also will heal our relationships with others, since we are all pilgrims on the way; we struggle, fail and get up again.
God reaches us in our weakness, not in our strength. Our love and compassion as well as empathy for others, deepens with our own depth of self knowledge and the experience of God’s love that has never left us. When this happens, no matter what we do, no matter which gifts we develop, we will be doing God’s will, which is “To Love the Lord your God, with your whole heart, mind and soul, and to love your neighbor as yourself."
Are you searching for God's will? Is God's will something that we can ever find? What can we do to figure out whether what we are doing is God's will? What is God's will for your life?