Have you pondered this question recently? Or, maybe voiced it, or wondered about it interiorly? With the political, societal, religious and sometimes personal issues surrounding us today, how do you handle or cope with or react or respond to turmoil, hurt, pain, injustice? Do you invite God into the turmoil? How you choose to engage issues confronting you will determine whom you are choosing to become.
First, some considerations: No one in life is exempt from difficulties. Moreover, we all have fragilities. There is a connection between God and us and one another. In addition, we always have a choice over how we engage an issue.
I have learned from my own experiences, and sometimes with great difficulty, or the hard way, that how I choose to engage an issue directly influences who I am becoming. As you know, there are a variety of ways to engage an issue. Directly, indirectly, or not at all. With reflection, justice, integrity, objectivity, or mindlessly, incensed, resisting, reactionary, and so on.
I am learning that my first “conscious” choice needs to be a choice to remain in “communion” – no matter how I feel. This can take courage, and depending on the issue, swallowing my “hurt” pride, or holding my just anger in tension. Though connecting with another or “the” institution may be difficult or overwhelming, I need to step back and reflect on what I know and don’t know, what I need to learn, how I will respond, whose advice I need to consult, what is at stake, how it affects me and others, what is the outcome I hope for, and to seek guidance from God.
Some people want to blame God for troubles. Yet God is not the one we need to put on the stand. Rather, I need faith to believe that God is with me and in our midst 24/7. If I open my heart, I will seek and find God’s understanding, guidance, and care. We need only turn to Jesus for our example. Jesus experienced everything we experience. He took on our hurt, pain, and sorrow. In the end, Jesus gives his self into God’s care. Jesus told anyone who listened to turn to God, to go to God with all our cares. Jesus himself wants to take on our burdens. He didn’t run and hide from the establishment. Quite the opposite, he calls it out and engages it. Even knowing of Peter’s frailities Jesus says, “Upon you I will build my Church.” We know how the story goes. Peter is vulnerable and fearful, and goes into hiding after denying his association with Jesus. In fact, after the resurrection, Jesus asks Peter who betrayed him, three times, “Do you love me?” Peter says, “Yes Lord, you know I do.” Then, “Feed my sheep,” says Jesus. Jesus remains in communion with Peter because he saw beyond Peter’s frailties into the deeper part of Peter’s heart. Jesus forgives Peter and charges him with a greater task to shepherd many people. Professing his love for Jesus, Peter chooses to become the person God created him to be. Can I remain in communion with God and allow God to guide me to respond in ways that in the end brings glory to God? Or, will I cut ties with God during the turmoil which cuts off God’s presence, guidance and love?
Can I trust God is the question. Do I believe that God wants to be in communion with God’s people and me? Do I believe that the Divine works through me, and others, to continue God’s Church? What is God asking of me at this time of turmoil? Where will I find sustenance for the journey? How will I remain in communion with God, others and the Church? How will I create this communion? As for me, I will remain in communion with God, others and the Church and pray for a Spirit-filled heart that moves me to affect change through peaceful means.
Sr. Pat Dowling