14 September 2017

The Illusion of Control in the Spiritual Life

I've talked around here before that a recent-ish spiritual lesson I am learning is that I can be controlling with God.

Like a lot.

In my spiritual journey I have struggled over the years with the doing vs. being with God. My perfectionist nature whispers to me if I "do" lots of churchy, holy things than I am more pleasing to God. I have to come before Him a certain way.
And while I have grown in this area, it still catches me off guard from time to time.

But this illusion of control with Jesus, is something He is gently reminding and re-reminding of ever since my first Ignatian retreat this past Lent.

Over the end of the summer, I was struggling a little: feeling insecure about being on my own right now, dating, not getting a job I wanted, and just second guessing myself in general.

As I kept coming back to Jesus in my journal and personal prayer, I kept hearing in my heart "I see you. I have not forgotten you."

And my response to the Lord?

I got angry and annoyed. 
Really Patty?! 

I basically brushed it off: "Oh yeahhhh that's nice and sweet and precious of you Jesus, but not really what I wanted to hear." I more or less told the Lord that wasn't what I NEEDED to hear. 
I complained and whined about what I really wanted or thought was best to hear from the Lord. #controllingmuch

Thank goodness for wise, gentle spiritual teachers in my life who told me to go back and ask the Lord why I was so resistant to hearing Him speak those words to me. I did that and God had to humble my heart. He took me back to wounds that still need healing.

I am slowly realizing when I try to control Jesus that I cannot fully receive from Him.

In Matthew's Gospel, Jesus turns to Peter and says "you are an obstacle to me."
I've always heard the part right before where Jesus in reference to Peter says, "Get behind me Satan!"

But the being an obstacle part, that recently cut me to the heart at Mass one Sunday. And for me it again goes back to this illusion of control with God.

As I took those words of the Gospel to prayer, an image kept coming to mind.

I was looking down at Jesus from above and He was trying to walk forward on the road. But he couldn't because at his feet, was this rambunctious, high-energy little puppy dog running circles around his feet. Chasing her tail or trying to nip at his ankles, the puppy was just being a puppy dog.

Not anything bad or naughty, but Jesus couldn't walk ahead because the puppy was so absorbed in being...well a puppy!

The Lord gently showed me I was that little puppy dog, being an obstacle to Jesus. It was not shaming at all, but a gentle prompt. Another reminder to get out of His way and stop trying to control my life or the circumstances around me.

We cannot control God. 

If we think we can we have made God into our own image.

While its an awkward and difficult lesson to keep learning it has been healing in a lot ways at the same time.

Jesus, I want to be able to receive from You...not control You.

Please show me (and all of us!) the difference...

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1 comment:

  1. Oh we are on such a similar journey on this, friend. I keep hearing "am am here!" but I keep wanting to ask somewhat sarcastically, "doing what, exactly?" I love this sentiment that when we try to control Him, we can't fully receive Him. Mic drop.

    Yesterday at mass I also found myself praying, "Jesus, help me not put conditions on how You want me to serve You." Pray for me and I'm praying for you!


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