“Yet in the absence of light, everything becomes confused; it is impossible to tell good from evil, or the road to our destination from other roads which take us in endless circles, going nowhere.”
The new Encyclical, Lumen Fidei, is so timely for me as I struggle with how to answer the question of God’s will when it comes to marriage. Last week, I introduced this series of posts with the idea that there is no formula for getting what we want from God. God is a mystery and His ways are not our ways. God is infinitely good and we, His creatures, are limited in our understanding.
I ended that post with some very philosophical questions. Based on your comments and emails, it seems that many of us struggle to understand what our role is versus what God’s role is when it comes to our vocation. Is He intimately involved in every detail and does He lead us to our destiny…… or does He have more of a ‘hands off’ approach? Can we significantly alter our destination with our choices?
Today I will share with you some stories which reveal that I also struggled to understand my role. My goal in sharing these stories is to give you peace of mind about your future vocation. Yes, you can negatively and positively affect your vocation with your free will. But thankfully, your role and God’s role in your future vocation are intrinsically and mysteriously connected.
Keep in mind that I am writing this as a lay person. I do not have anything close to a philosophy or theology degree. I write from life experience. I write about marriage as someone who can turn around and see the path I took to get here. I also know the path that Gregg took to get here. We have this vantage point and it is from this vantage point that I write.
I think it is interesting that, although we lived on opposite coasts, Gregg and I were almost in the same city eight years before actually meeting in person in 2002. In January 1994, Gregg was living in Los Angeles and I was supposed to be in Los Angeles for a business trip. However, I was in a terrible ski accident in Reno, NV the day before and had to be flown home to Virginia to recover.
The only reason we know this is because the Northridge earthquake happened on January 17, 1994 and we both clearly remember where we were on that day. Gregg was in the middle of the earthquake and I had just missed it.
I could go in endless circles trying to imagine if we had somehow met 8 years earlier in Los Angeles. Would we have fallen in love? Would we have married? How many babies would we now have? And so on. But, can I really believe that God’s will was for me to get into a ski accident in order to prevent me from going to Los Angeles and meeting Gregg? Not really. Was it all just a coincidence? No.
You see, the light of faith keeps me from going there. I am just a creature and my Creator is the only One who knows the answer of how? and why? and when?
Catholicism has a both/and approach to explaining God’s movement in the world. God’s hand is in all things and He allows for our gift of free will.
Do I believe in Calvinistic predestination? No. Do I believe in the gift of free will? Absolutely. Do I believe that God’s hand is in all things? Yes. Do I understand how He works? Not at all.
What Is Your Will Lord?
If you are single, you are where I was 10 years and 9 months ago. As a single girl, my future vocation was veiled from me. But I will tell you a funny story to show you that I tried to wrestle God into telling me His will.
In 1997, five years before marrying Gregg, I was in a pickle. You see, my job was transferring about two hours away from Virginia to Maryland. I was fresh from a serious break up and I had the choice of remaining in VA and getting a new job or following my current job to Maryland.
What did I do? I pleaded with the Lord to guide me. I didn’t care about my job. I wanted my decision to be based on where my husband lived. “Lord, is my husband in Virginia? If so, I will stay. Lord, is he in Maryland? If so, I will go. Just tell me already!” Silence.
“I know now, Lord, why you utter no answer. You are yourself the answer. Before your face questions die away. What other answer would suffice?” –C.S. Lewis
So, I lived in both states for five years in the hopes of being in the right place at the right time. I kept my residence in Virginia but then stayed in Maryland during the work week. I dated guys from both Maryland and Virginia. It was a crazy and fun but faith-stretching time.
And guess what? Gregg was neither in Virginia nor Maryland. And, he was no longer in Los Angeles. He was in Kansas!
In the end, my job decision had no bearing on my future vocation. But, I could only know this after the fact.
I hope the anecdotes I shared above help you to stay out of that endless circle of darkness. Your future and your vocation are in God’s hands. Trust Him to reveal it to you at the right moment. Bathe yourself in the Light of Faith.
The following quotes are from The Joy of Full Surrender by Jean-Pierre de Caussade. I highly recommend this book to keep you bathed in the light of faith.
“All Creatures are in the living hands of God….faith sees God’s hands in all things. The physical creation is a veiled concealing of the profound mysteries of the divine work.
There is not a moment in which God is not present with us under the cover of some pain to be endured, some obligation or some duty to be performed, or some consolation to be enjoyed. All that takes place within us, around us, or through us involves and conceals His divine hand.
His hand is really and truly there, but it is invisibly present, so that we are always surprised and do not recognize His operation until it has ceased. If we could lift the veil, and if we were attentive and watchful, God would continually reveal Himself to us, and we should see His hand in everything that happens to us, and rejoice in it.
At every moment, we should proclaim, “It is the Lord!” and we should accept every fresh circumstance as gift from God.
Faith is God’s interpreter. Without the light of faith, creation speaks to us in vain.”
Hope and Chastity
Now that we have touched on faith, next week I will write about hope and chastity. We are not left to our own devices and yes, Chastity does make a difference in staying on ‘the road to our destination.’
God love you and bless you!
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