As the Family Goes

JP II Quote

"As the family goes, so goes the nation, and so goes the whole world in which we live." John Paul II

Saturday, March 29, 2014

The Untroubled Heart

Sometimes life can be difficult.  We cling to this false notion we have of peace, that the peace of Christ is in everything that He is in, and when we lose our peace it can be quite disconcerting. No more so, I am coming to learn, than in relationships.

It's easy when you're in a friendship with someone who does not have the same faith as you, to chalk disagreement up to the fact that you have different beliefs.  In fact, I think, troublesome as they may be to us by times, these relationships are less burdensome because we have an out, we don't have to journey into the dark places of our soul.  The dark places within us that force us to confront ourselves and what we believe.  We presume Christ is in us and so there is no need to search for Him - we can agree to disagree and be content with ourselves.  Under the circumstances, preserving the relationship is easy.  We just don't go to the hard places.

But when you have friendships that are rooted in the Lord and the common desire to do good in His name, often times I think we just assume things are going to be easy.  We don't have to try, we kid ourselves into thinking, because we all think the same thing.  While that may be true on a fundamental level, each person is unique, and our own discernment of right or wrong can be as different and unique as we are.  When this happens, there is nowhere to retreat.  We are faced with two choices - work it out, or don't work it out. Neither is easy.

Peace has been a very big theme of my life in the past few years.  Not that I always have it (I rarely do!) but that I looked to it as kind of a litmus test of Christ.  I mistakenly assumed that where Christ is, no matter how difficult the circumstance, how great the suffering, there would always be this overriding peace.  And yet, a few days ago I read the following.  And it completely uprooted everything I ever believed about my own understanding of peace.

"Since by means of this contemplative night the soul is prepared for the attainment of inner peace and tranquility, which is of such a kind and so delectable that, as the Scripture says, it passes all understanding, it behoves the soul to abandon all its former peace. This was in reality no peace at all, since it was involved in imperfections; but to the soul aforementioned it appeared to be so, because it was following its own inclinations, which were for peace. It seemed,... indeed, to be a twofold peace - that is, the soul believed that it had already acquired the peace of sense and that of spirit, for it found itself to be full of the spiritual abundance of this peace of sense and of spirit - as I say, it is still imperfect. First of all, then, it must be purged of that former peace and disquieted concerning it, and withdrawn from it." (St. John of the Cross)

I am living this, and it is painful.  The temptation is to run away, to not deal with it.  To lament the fact that I need to deal with life at all, and wish that I could just go back to my happy, comfortable peace.  And yet right before me, the Lord places people who are teaching me that the peace I thought I knew was in fact, imperfect.  What I thought I had, I didn't.  And try as I may, I can't run from that.  This is how the Christian community builds each other up - by not being false with one another.  By not shutting down a conversation, happy to be in two seperate places and not needing to go to the hard places.  True friendship demands much more.  It demands an authentic revelation of self.  Sometimes it's painful to go to the depths of your own soul and realize you don't know what you think, you don't know what's right.  But that's the beauty of the Christian journey.  It doesn't allow you to stay in false peace.  It forces you to choose - either turn away, or deal with it.  But do not call peace what it is not.

"Do not let your hearts be troubled," Jesus assures His disciples in John 14:1. "You believe in God; believe also in me."  When we fear this peace is gone, our hearts fret.  We worry.  We think the Lord is not there, because peace is not there. God does not tell us us to chase after to peace, but to calm our hearts.  Don't trust in outward appearances, in false notions of peace that are not really any kind of peace at all.  Do not put your faith in any "litmus tests" you may have devised for yourself.  Trust in the Lord, and He will bring relief to your heart.

Jesus, grant that I may always seek Your will, to go where you lead no matter how painful.  May I trust you alone as the guide for my journey, and be lifted up by the friendships you put in my life that bring me down this sometimes rocky road that leads to You.

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