In college I got very involved in a local Catholic campus ministry program. The priest who oversaw it was Fr. Brendan Walsh. He is from Ireland and has been one of the greatest spiritual influences in my life so far. I even got to go on pilgrimage groups with him to Medjugorje and Ireland.
One time I arrived for a holy hour of Eucharistic Adoration before Mass. I came dragging a bag of books, my Bible, and journal.
He looked at me, saw my stuff and smiled saying, "Patty dear, you talk to much at God. You have to stop talking and shut up. That way you can hear God better."
Yup the priest told me to shut up. Stop flapping my gums in mindless prayer.
Don't just yammer at Jesus. Listen to Jesus...just be with Him.
Over the years, I have still teased him about it. But the older I get and more I grow in my relationship with God, I see how right he was in telling me that.
Last week again a similar type experience happened while I was on silent retreat. But this time, the insight came from one of my best friends (who happens to be a priest) and was my spiritual director.
We were meeting for daily direction. I would receive my Scripture passages to pray and meditate with for the following day.
One day I came in sharing how Jesus was pointing out to me how controlling I can be with Him as well as in my daily prayer life. #humbledmuch ?
I started sharing how uncomfortable that made me feel to acknowledge this. I began to see all the ways I don't let God be God, the ways I try to be God. I had to start to realize when I start to regiment and put God in a box, that never goes well.
While I love Jesus a lot and want to live my life for Him, I also am apparently controlling.
As I shared this with my friend, he started smiling ear to ear.
"Patty are you really surprised?"
"Everything you do is fast and quick and certain. You talk fast, you write fast, you read fast, you walk fast....your power walking leaves people in the dust!"
Geez. What is it with priest's calling my bs?! ;)
One the blessings of taking time to go on retreat is that you get uncomfortably outside your comfort zone and daily routine. And when we do that, when we make the space for God intentionally we put ourselves at a better disposition to hear His voice.
I want to get better at making more space for God in my life. Not the kind where its like checking off a box on a goal-planning sheet. But the kind of space that helps me re-arrange my life, attitude, and perspective.
I want to make more time for silence in prayer.
I want to have more silence in the car, puttering around my apartment, and life in general.
I want to have open hands with Jesus.
I do not want to be God in my life. I want to let God be God.
I want to shut up more in prayer, like Fr. Brendan sweetly challenged me when I was in college.
I am in a season right now where God is reminding me of lessons I need to constantly return back to.
Letting go of control.
I am fairly certain it will not be the last time God has to remind me I am being controlling or a priest telling me I cannot just talk at Jesus.
But deep down I am grateful for these lessons and reminders.
Because I know I really do want to live my life for Jesus...and more and more each day I realize He is the thing that only really matters in the end.