Spiritual Homework

When I saw Deacon Ron last month, he gave me his customary spiritual homework, asking me to go back through my writings, public and private, to pick out the recurring themes. “That’s easy,” I told him, “The road. There’s always a road, a destination, a search for direction, traveling too fast, a million speed bumps, my own recklessness, then ending up wrecked and hurt.” Now after almost two years, I should know better than to say something so simplistic. Deacon Ron isn’t about to let that type of response slide by unanswered. So he added to my homework. Besides searching out any other possible themes, I was told to focus my time on the road.

How was I traveling? What model car was I driving? Was I alone or was there someone with me? Who? How fast was I going? When I crashed, did I get blindsided or did I see it coming and couldn’t stop? Then what? Did I get back into the same old beat up car and race off with the bumpers dragging or did I start fresh in a shiny new car?

Deacon Ron certainly knows how to appeal to my creative imagination. Which leads to a major theme I’ve noticed in my writings. God has always, without fail, surrounded me with people I needed to get me through the various stages of my life.

My mother, who opened her home to me, my two young boys and our dog, complains every month that I’m insane to have chosen a spiritual director who is over an hour away on the opposite side of the state. I wasn’t looking for a spiritual director. Like most of my spiritual life, I sort of stumbled into spiritual direction. I attended a week of guided prayer and was randomly assigned to Deacon Ron. We just clicked and by the end of the week I knew I would be calling him again to talk. A few months later I was driving to his office and have been every month since. At the time, my futile attempts at marriage counseling were winding down and my guilt over the increasing possibility of divorce was at an all-time high. Deacon Ron not only helped work me through the guilt but also strongly encouraged me to seek out a therapist for myself to help me through the process. He specifically told me to ask Fr Tom for a name. So I did. Fr Tom sent me to Michael, and I would never have made it through without Michael’s help. Yet another of God’s “random” people in my life.

God had sent Fr Tom into my life only months after Dad died. Fr Tom has been like a father to me. All through school, he knew about my teachers, my grades, and my boyfriends. Later he performed my wedding, baptized my children, counseled us in our crumbling marriage and has helped me to start the annulment process. Throughout he’s been a constant reality check for me. He’ll call me out when he knows I’ve screwed up and yet he’s the best confessor I’ve ever had because he knows me so well. There’s no ducking responsibility with Fr Tom. He forces me to keep my relationship with God very, very real.

This list of people God sent me could go on and on but there were some other important themes I found as well. Fear, trust or lack of it, acting like a spoiled brat with God, seeking direction and answers to questions I’m afraid to ask, moving too fast to see or hear God my life, having difficulty accepting myself as is, and seeking honesty in my relationship with God. I have focused a great deal of time and ink to all of the above and yet they all come down to one thing – a struggle. I have viewed much of my life as a struggle. I’ve struggled to get past grief, past the hard times — even past the past. While writing this, I’m asking myself “When did I live? When was I not struggling just to survive life?” Those are hard questions for me to face. I have faced hard times, this is true, but my life is easy compared to what many people face in their lives.

It’s not just with God that I need to be honest but it’s also with me. I don’t allow myself to just let go emotionally. This day it may be because I’m recovering from a horrible 24-hour stomach bug that drained off seven pounds and I’m still delirious, but I’m allowing the emotions to surface tonight. I’m grateful for that. God has given me so much more than I would have ever thought to ask for or even guessed that I would need. The friendships alone in my life are all God-given gifts.

As for the other recurring themes, on the rare occasions when I’ve let God guide me and accepted that He knew what He was doing even if I thought He’d lost His mind, I was always blessed in ways I could never have imagined. He doesn’t want me to struggle so much. He wants me to let go and trust that He’ll be there to guide me, to comfort me, to support me, and most of all to love me.

And yes I know I haven’t addressed any of Deacon Ron’s road test questions. I’m still struggling with that added assignment. Maybe it’s time to ask my Divine Co-pilot for some road rules.

One thought on “Spiritual Homework

  1. Glad that God has given you so many godly people to trust along life’s way. May you be blessed in all that you do in life! glad that you are trusting God for your path in life. May you be truly blessed as you walk in Him.Keep your eyes on the lanes in the road and He will give you plenty of freedom to travel along them. Peace and grace to you.Scott

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