Training to run half marathons was second nature to me. The rush of the challenge excited me and running was my prayer time. This is where I had the best conversations with God. The past two years I started finding it difficult to wake up at 5:30 am to go for a run. My energy level was not the same. What is happening to me? I asked. I didn’t feel like myself in my own body.
Then it happened, my doctor said to me, “You are getting older these symptoms are normal.” I thought, normal, normal for who?
Then it began, everything started changing. In the next weeks I struggled with how to deal with the symptoms of my body changing because I was getting older. I received the news that my mom has been diagnosed with dementia, I had a cancer scare, and I was questioning if I should stay in education. I kept asking, Why me?
St. Ignatius’ Rules of Discernment help us navigate through these times of trials. A time for Resistance, Rule 7, helped me see there is a greater purpose for the circumstances I am currently facing. In his book The Discernment of Spirits, Fr. Timothy Gallagher, O.M.V. tell us:
“Persons in spiritual desolation should consider that such desolation is a trial permitted by the Lord; they should consider the nature of the trial; and finally, they should consider the divine purpose in allowing this trial to occur.”
Every trial brings us to the exact place we need to be at that given moment. When we are open to God’s divine presence, we come out of our trial stronger than when we started.
A few weeks ago I walked into the hospital imaging center with my husband. As I walked in, he was told he could not go in with me. I realized that when I would come back our lives could possibly be changed forever. As the tests began and I laid in the examining bed staring at the ceiling, all I could think of was our two son’s, Alex and Joey. I prayed to God for strength for whatever the diagnosis was going to be. That was the longest hour of my life as the x-rays and ultrasound were being done. The nurse came back to the room to tell me what they saw was a benign cyst. As I walked back to the waiting room where my husband, Bryant, was waiting for me, we hugged for the longest time. I walked out of there feeling so much gratitude. Then I thought of the women who would receive a different diagnosis. I prayed for them all, I didn’t know what else to do but pray. Certain situations around me now seem so trivial. I realize I need to focus on solutions in my life and my spiritual relationship with God.
A few months ago, I received a beautiful gift in the mail from my friend, Jeri, as a thank you for continuing to run the Inner Chapel prayer gathering group. It was the book Surrender All: An Illuminated Journal Retreat Through the Stations of the Cross by Jen Norton. The exercise for station 14, Jesus is Laid in the Tomb, asks the reader to write a letter from Jesus to you. What would Jesus say to you if he found you in desolation and alone, what words of comfort would he give you?
I would like to share that letter with you:
I love you. I know you and see you.
I have forgiven your sins.
Know that you are never alone.
I am always with you.
In those moments that you are
I am right beside you.
I am there holding you up.
I place people in your path to
guide you and support you in those times of need.
Hold on to prayer especially when
you don’t feel like praying or think I don’t hear you.
I am there holding your hand.
I love you.
I see you.
I am with you.
You are never alone.
As I prayed through this time of desolation one thing was clear to me: I could not forget how much Jesus loves me and that every trial I am currently facing is for a greater purpose, to help me grow spiritually to the woman God is calling me to be. During this time, I have prayed endlessly for patience. I do not have answers for some of these challenges I am still currently facing. But, as St. Ignatius’ rule 8, A Time for Patience, states “let one who is in desolation work to be in patience”. I continue to pray for the grace of patience and trust. I know more than ever that I am not alone.
Why me? Why not me.
- See the previous blogs on Rules 1 – 6:
- Consider reading The Discernment of Spirits by Timothy M. Gallagher, O.M.V.
- Consider reading Surrender All: An Illuminated Journal Retreat through the Stations Of the Cross by Jen Norton
- “I alone know the plans I have for you, to bring you prosperity and not disaster, plans to bring about the future you hope for. Then you will call to me. You will come and pray to me, and I will answer you. You will seek me, and you will find me because you will seek me with all your heart.” –Jeremiah 29: 11-13
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