I will strive to trust Him completely, to acknowledge His authority and to surrender to His will.
If all you remember from this post is the above, I will have accomplished much.
Recently, I ventured into the lighthearted to write about my encounter with God (which was seriously true) as well as a weekend escape with a friend who is the poster child of anti-culinarians. Both posts made me laugh. However, for whatever reason, not many folks read them. In contrast, sandwiching these two posts, my reflections about crashes, intelligent design and abortion were very well received.
Therefore, I have a theory. Generally, my opinions are supported by data but since it’s early morning, I’m going to incorporate the Blink methodology––the rapid cognition that happens within seconds, the power of thinking without thinking. In other words, I’m winging it.
I think America is grumpy and may not be in the mood to laugh.
At the macro level, we’re about to elect our next President––the debates start this evening––and most people (at least in my circles) intuitively know we’re on the brink of either a continuing, perhaps irreversible, degeneration or an opportunity to revive a moribund America. This election will be historic on so many levels yet the trepidation associated with the outcome is spreading like kudzu.
From a micro perspective, as many people struggle with the realities of their lives as providers, nourishers and contributors, they worry. It’s an uneasy feeling because unabated, the anxiety and uncertainty can morph into something much worse––hopelessness and despair.
And that’s not good (he says with typical understatement).
Saint Ignatius’ definition of spiritual desolation, pertinent to my thesis, comes to mind; a “darkness of soul, disturbance in it, movement to things low and earthly, the unquiet of different agitations and temptations, moving to want of confidence, without hope, without love, when one finds oneself all lazy, tepid, sad, and as if separated from his Creator and Lord.”
Well, it just so happens, I’m an expert in this area. And uncharacteristically, I’m going to offer a teaching moment that may help some of you.
First, my bona fides.
It wasn’t so long ago that I was knee-deep in despair. Journal entries from that period remind me of a very bad time:
“Despair, a sin against hope, muddles my stomach. I want to roll up into a ball and scream profanities. A blue-sky gorgeous day is seen through a grey gauze filter and I can’t recall what it was like to be even remotely happy. I could be watching the birth of Jesus Christ amid the angels and wise men yet I would still want to kill the ass for soiling the ground next to the manger.”
And on another charming day in Marcusland:
“The thoughts of suicide are my own. The devil isn’t working up a concoction of pity and despair. It’s all my doing. Evil hasn’t taken hold of my senses; I’m the proud author of all my fears. Hope, the precious resuscitator to all souls on life support has abandoned me. With hope, breathing is automatic. I’m comforted. Without hope, I have to think of every breath and the tenuousness of life is glaring. Without hope, I’m not buoyed up in life, I’m not sustained and my heart is not open. Absent this virtue of hope, will it ever return?”
Had I been on a guest list for a dinner party during this rosy period (I wasn’t––who’s going to invite the Grim Reaper?), I would have eaten little and drunk a lot. As a sparkling conversationalist, think monosyllabic disaster––pour more!
Notwithstanding my own spiritual anguish, God rescued me. My transformation bordered on the miraculous. Perhaps, my following prayer was the turning point:
Dear Lord, although my life is nowhere near the unfortunate circumstances of so many other souls on this planet, conditions attributable to man’s inability to love one another, it can depend on me no longer. I punt. My way of doing life’s business is over. The job of fixing it is now out of my incapable hands. Furthermore, the anxiety, indecision, tentativeness and despair that goes hand in hand with the faithless, the feelings I know too well, are no longer welcome in my universe. Dear God, help me. I will strive to trust You completely, to acknowledge Your authority and to surrender to Your will.
Thanks be to God, despair eventually lost its grip on me due to my family’s love and support, the kindness of strangers and my faith in Him. I had engaged in spiritual warfare and was victorious––through no effort of my own other than surrendering it all to my Creator.
I would end as follows. God is very much involved in our lives and desires our well-being in all things. Have faith, honor His gift and trust in Him. Please, if appropriate, surrender your hopelessness in prayer. The yoke will be easy and the burden light.
And while on your knees, please pray for the United States of America.