As a parent, I always want my kids to tell me if they need something. It makes me unhappy to know that any one of them has suffered in silence because their shoes got too small or they were down to one pair of jeans, or they fell behind in algebra; or they wanted to sign up for a sport/club/class, but weren't sure they could handle it. Anything. It's fine if it's just a material thing, or help over an academic or social hurdle. Or something more. I truly wish they knew my heart for them never changes, and that I always want their best, highest good. It is painful when they don't seem to know that there is nothing that can change my heart toward them.
God is our Father, and we can understand the quality of that love because of the love we have for our own. But do we ask Him for all our needs? How many times do we suffer in silence, flounder around in our difficulties, surrender to our wounds, get stuck in a rut, or become paralyzed with fear? I would venture to say, we all do it in some way every day, simply as a part of being human. How much must the Father's heart hurt when we don't ask him for what we need? When He reaches out to us in a hundred different ways every day, and just gets brushed off because we are not open to the idea that it is He that is offering us His love, tenderness and assistance? When He only wants our highest good, and that we know that His heart for us never changes?
I think that we can't see it because we haven't asked Him for what we need. And maybe that is why we are stuck.
Where are you stuck?
A long time ago, I heard this teaching:
If you have an area in which you are struggling, identify the goal, and then isolate every step of what you need to reach it. I am approaching this as a spiritual process, but it can apply to anything.
Fred has been away from the Church. He is questioning his faith, but is also feeling an emptiness in his life that he has not been able to fill by pursuing his own ideas. What does he need? Faith? A connection with God? If he starts right where he is, he can ask God for the strength and courage to take the first step. He can say one Hail Mary a day, and ask that God reach out to him with a path. If he has a hard time praying at all, he can ask for the ability to pray. Just that one request. He can keep backing up until he reaches the point where he can begin. If he is open, he will recognize it when that person talks to him about faith, or that book comes across his path.
What is a goal you have not been reaching for because the path to you seems blocked? Write down that goal and work back, asking God for the ability to go forward. Be clear about the steps, and what is stopping you from doing them.
I have been working out now, consistently, at least for a little over two years. results have been slow, and there were a lot of roadblocks along the way. Scheduling, health concerns, injury, depression. But, one by one, I was able to ask for the thing I needed to go forward, even if I had to start with asking for the desire to do it. Sometimes, even the desire to be open to doing it. Or the desire to have the desire! I wanted the goal, but felt blocked. So I needed enough desire to take the first step to getting unblocked. God sent many little concrete steps for me to follow. An at-home, free, online exercise program with a huge array of workouts, in all styles, time frames and intensity levels. No having to leave the house, no fancy wardrobe, no special equipment, no AUDIENCE, especially in the very beginning. I could do ten or fifteen minutes if that was all I could manage. I would even workout in whatever I had worn to bed. But now, I do have the desire. The inertia has been overcome. I want to feel that sweaty burn. Even when it hurts, I like it, because I see and feel the results and the benefit goes far beyond the physical. I look forward to having days I can do longer workouts, but doing five days of 30 intense minutes is just fine. God provided everything I needed.
The goals in the beginning seemed large, wide-ranging, and unattainable. I was struggling with the effects of an under active thyroid, compounded with life events that felt overwhelming and a proclivity to depression and anxiety. I just wanted to trust God as I once had, and feel at peace. And have some energy. So, I asked Him for some beginning steps. Finding that workout program was a big one. It helped me improve my physical and mental health, it increased my energy levels and helped with sleep and made it easier to desire healthy eating. It also has made it possible to see the way ahead more clearly and set further goals.
Another help along the way was finding my NarAnon family group. This has truly been a larger piece of life-help than I first imagined. And has much more impact than solely in the arena of addiction, It is a support for ALL aspects of life.
I mentioned further goals. I have been limping along in my spiritual life, at least in my own estimation. I suspect God has been leading me down the Attainable Path all along, but I have always striven for certain goals and not been able to maintain the discipline. So with the help of the upcoming Lent, and asking God for a daily devotional habit that I can sustain after Lent and beyond, and most importantly, the desire for God to increase. I know this is a good request and that He will answer, indeed is already answering, and I will be looking for those answers.
I want to give sources to all the puzzle pieces I mentioned above:
1. The lovely young couple, Daniel and Kelli Segars and their online site, Fitness Blender.
2. Matthew Kelly's outreach, that I first found as Best Advent Ever, but the whole shebang is called Dynamic Catholic. Best Lent Ever is going to be available as well, and I intend to take advantage of the daily emails! You may have seen his books, Rediscover Jesus, being given out at your parish. I highly recommend this program. Highly.
3. If you have a loved one or family member struggling with addiction, or suspect it, you can find a NarAnon or AlAnon in your area by searching NarAnon or AlAnon family group meetings.
And by all means, gladden God's heart by asking Him for what you need. Do it today. It is my prayer for you.