Deepening my faith
Within the past few months, I came to my spiritual director completely exhausted and seriously questioned whether or not I should continue being part of the Catholic family. I was tired of doing things or not doing things because I "should" and I felt like scrapping it all because of the lack of results and because of feeling like a phony.
The truth was that I did make way from where I was before, but, somewhere along the lines, I got stuck in a place of rules.
It was scary to acknowledge the place where I was, but in acknowledging that I didn't have the personal relationship with Christ that I wanted, I opened myself up to the power of choice - what will I do with what I am experiencing?
My spiritual director, thankfully, was able to meet me where I was at, with 0 judgment, and work with me from my place of confusion. I not only felt accepted but I was also hopeful that my answers would come with time. He also reassured me that asking questions and admitting that I didn't know, can be a very good thing if I use this well. Over my sessions with my spiritual director, I have felt so much growth that was not possible without my honesty, vulnerability and his openness, personal experience and compassion.
We may start with rules, but we are called for more. When we just follow rules, the actions that are meant to bring us closer to Christ, don't have a chance to do this. If we don't deepen our WHY, we become lukewarm - kind of in and kind of out, mindlessly doing things or doing them for the wrong reasons.
When you don't understand the why, your actions are dry.
This doesn't mean that it's useless to engage in behavior unless our heart is fully in it. Sometimes it's helpful for our bodies to start and our minds to follow, especially if our behavior is harmful to ourselves and/or others. This is why people are encouraged to completely slow down ALL physical movements on an Ignatian Silent Retreat - for the mind to follow what the body is doing.
What is helpful then, for my relationship with Christ, is to seek Him wholeheartedly, while following church teachings, so that I can discover the WHY. So, let's rephrase the quote:
If you don't understand the why, your actions are dry; so seek and you shall find.
I'd like to share some things that have been helpful in deepening my faith:
1. ACCEPTING where I'm at and working up from there
2. REACHING out to a spiritual director regularly
3. DOING what I know is right, according to church teachings
4. SEEKING answers through people, books, podcasts, movies, friends
5. DEVELOPING a personal, unstructured but consistent prayer life
6. BREAKING DOWN abstract concepts into practical goals
7. KEEP GOING because I want it
8. SELF-COMPASSION because I'm human
9. BABY STEPS because extremes don't work for me in the long haul
Because I've struggled so much with anxiety, I also needed medical and therapeutic intervention to help my mind settle down enough for me to engage in any of these things. That may be something for you to consider as well.
I will leave you with the following quote, hoping that it will ease your restless heart:
"God takes pleasure to see you take your baby steps; and like a good father who holds his child by the hand, he will accommodate his steps to yours and will be content to go no faster than you. Why do you worry?" (St. Francis de Sales) (1)