Restlessness: Our Wake Up Call

October 22, 2017

Our dog, Hershey, has an intuition when something is off in our home.  We notice this because she gets restless and paces back and forth.  Her ears perk up at an unknown noise that intrigues her.  Other times, her ears lay back when she feels danger is near, like a stranger approaching our front door.  Sometimes, she simply pauses mid-run and intently listens and observes what is going on around her.

Hershey’s restlessness is my wake-up call to notice what’s going on around our home.  Like my sweet furry friend’s intuition to pay attention, when we feel restless, it is God’s wake-up call inviting us to pay attention to what is going on within us.  

St. Ignatius’ Rules of Discernment:

One of St. Ignatius’ gifts to us today is his discernment wisdom.  What Ignatius first noticed while laying on a bed recovering from an injury caused by a cannonball was the way God, through the Holy Spirit, serves as a guide to discerning what the cause of our restlessness might be and what might remedy the restlessness we feel.  

St. Ignatius teaches us to pay attention when we fill restless and notice if it’s the Holy Spirit encouraging us forward on our path of faith, or if it’s the evil spirit trying to keep us off a path in order to thwart growth in our relationship with God.  Below are two rules of discernment from Ignatius that capture the movement of spirits within us:  

  • For those living a life of sin:  “Those who are living life a sin:  The Holy Spirit will rouse the sting of conscience and fill with remorse.  The evil spirit will make you feel good to keep on living like this.” (Spiritual Exercises #314). 
  • For those on the path to service of God:  “In the case of those who go on earnestly striving to cleanse their souls from sin and who seek to rise in the service of God our Lord…the Evil Spirit harasses and fills with anxiety, afflicts sadness, raises obstacles and do anything to disturb soul from pursuing life with God…..it is characteristic of the Holy Spirit to give courage and strength, consolations, tears, and inspirations and peace.” (Spiritual Exercises #315).  

Our Work:

When we feel restless, God is getting our attention about something!   The question is — what is it? Is the restlessness we feel the Holy Spirit making us feel remorseful or waking us up to sinful choices that do not lead us further along the path of God?  Or is it the evil spirit’s attempt to stump us or keep us from continuing on the path of God?  

Over the next few weeks, we will dig deeper into the causes of restlessness.  This week, I simply invite you to notice if God’s got your ears perked up about anything happening within you.  Do you feel restless?  What is God saying to you about it?

Go Deeper?

Pray:

Read:


Cultivating Space for God Together: 2017

Becky is an Ignatian-trained spiritual director, retreat facilitator, and writer. She is the author of the Busy Lives and Restless Souls (March 2017, Loyola Press) and The Inner Chapel (April 2020, Loyola Press). She helps others create space to connect faith and everyday life through facilitating retreats and days of reflection, through writing, and through spiritual direction. With nearly twenty years of ministry experience within the Catholic Church, Becky seeks to help others discover God at work in the every day moments of people’s lives by utilizing St. Ignatius’ Spiritual Exercises and the many gifts that our Catholic faith and Ignatian Spirituality provide.

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