Each one, as a good manager of God's different gifts, must use for the good of others the special gift he has received from God. (1 Peter 4:10)

This morning’s early Mass drew me into such a beautiful state of reflection, peace, and closeness to Jesus — definitely what a spiritual director would term a “consolation.” It began with the penitential rite at the beginning of the Mass. When I bowed my head and closed my eyes and thought about how sin separates me from Jesus, I prayed for mercy and forgiveness, and I thought about how hard it can be to avoid sin; and then I remembered to listen.

And when I listened, there He was. I felt that what He wanted me to know this morning is that He will always be right beside me, ready to help me if I will just turn to him. And for the rest of the Mass and through Holy Communion and all the way home, I carried the warmth and feeling of His closeness. As I prepared breakfast, I thought probably writing today’s blog post would be a breeze, because my heart was so full.

So why is it that when it came time to pour that last cup of coffee and sit down to write, I felt nothing? The place my words usually come from was dry as dust, and the lovely wonderful feelings I had enjoyed during Mass seemed about as far from me as they could possibly be and still be remembered.

When I sat down at the laptop and put my fingers over the keyboard, I felt a bit like the youthful pianist who, having memorized her piece for the recital, sits down to play for the audience and finds she has forgotten every note, even the beginning note; there is nothing to play. The channel from my mind to my fingers seemed to be closed. There was no feeling, there were no magical words, there was nothing with which to begin.

Although patience is not my strong suit, I sat patiently for a few moments and tried to let myself be open to the Holy Spirit. Quiet. Listening.

The title to this post is what came to my mind.

That’s Not How Any of This Works.

This spiritual life does not form and work at my command, and it most certainly does not have its foundation in my own will or in my feelings about what I am doing or experiencing.

I realized that once again, I had allowed myself to be drawn into the idea that this was about me. And if it’s about me, then it needs to be loaded up with feelings and a sense of satisfaction that I am doing these things. If it’s about me, it needs to come with rewards and needs to have all the bells and whistles.

And it’s not about me. It doesn’t originate with me. I don’t create this spiritual life, and I don’t make it go. It doesn’t run on feelings, whether those feelings take the form of consolations or the dryness of dust.

As a frail, weak, sinful human creature, I really want things to be about me. I would really love to let myself be addicted to the lovely feelings so that even the act of craving those feelings would make me feel like I am getting somewhere.

This spiritual life doesn’t originate with me, though.  That’s not how any of this works. The spiritual life originates with God; it’s entirely about Him and grows from His Word and develops by the urgings and whispers of the Holy Spirit. What a skimpy and unreliable life it would be if it came only from my limited and weak capacity and relied only on my ability to feel something. If I were to rely solely upon my own capacities to live this spiritual life, it would dry up and blow away like the dust.

This spiritual life isn’t about me or my abilities or my feelings. It is about God loving me and pursuing me and wanting me to be His child. It doesn’t arise from me, and yet it is intensely personal — because it is very definitely me whom God pursues and calls and loves by name. It requires of me only the willingness to be open to Him — to invite, to listen, to welcome; that much, and I cannot help but do what He asks.

Oh, my Father, thank You for leading me here. I desperately need Your grace to keep me listening and to keep my heart open to the promptings of Your Spirit. Please lead me so that I always turn to You when I am tempted, so that I am always open to Your pursuit of my soul and to Your love and care for me. Then, dearest Father, then use me in whatever way You want to use me for Your honor and glory. 



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