So… right now we are reading “The Return of the Prodigal Son: A Story of Homecoming” in formation class. Boy am I being humbled! It’s a beautiful thing but also hard to know that God is calling me out! I’ve pretty much underlined every line in the book, BUT in one part I have not only underlined but written a big “THIS IS IT” next to the paragraph. Here it is…
“The leap of faith always means loving without expecting to be loved in return, giving without wanting to receive, inviting without hoping to be invited, holding without asking to be held. And every time I make a little leap, I catch a glimpse of the One who runs out to me and invites me into his joy, the joy in which I can find not only myself, but also my brothers and sisters. Thus the disciplines of trust and gratitude reveal the God who searches for me, burning with desire to take away all my resentments and complaints and to let me sit at his side at the heavenly banquet.”
Wow….. This was such a convicting moment for me when I read this. Right away, I put myself in God’s position and realized that God does this at every moment to each human being. He is constantly calling to us, loving us, giving, inviting, and holding us without desiring a response. Because He is God, He can act no other way, but in a way, it made me sad. It made me realize how many times God is loving us without expecting a response and how many times His infinite, all-forgiving love is pushed away. All He desires is to love us and hold us in His embrace, and I’m learning now how to step into this embrace and not push His love for me away.
During the first day of formation, we were asked to pray into who we are in this story of the prodigal son. Of course I figured there were only two choices: the elder son or the younger son. And yet, as I continued to pray and ask God to reveal to me where I fit into this story, I came across a 3rd character that I had never really payed much attention to: the bystander. Behind the elder son, there is a bystander sitting down looking curiously into this moment of forgiveness. Suddenly I realized that most of my life this has been me. I was neither the younger son who left home and lived a life of debauchery nor the elder son who was always obedient… I have always been the bystander. I have had one foot into my life of faith and one foot out into my life of this world. In the past when I went to mass, I went out of a feeling of obligation not out of desire to love God. This past year, I was invested in various relationships where I felt I had to step into “this” world but not totally invested in it as well. I was this bystander just waiting to see where I would feel more love and worth. I slowly learned how completely and totally unsatisfying this way of living can be.
I kept reflecting on these two simple words: why me? Why have I been so blessed to learn at a young age where true happiness comes from and not continue selling my soul to this world? Why does God love me this much? And why was I able to step completely into this world of faith that so much of humankind don’t even know about? I still don’t know the answer to this, but all I know is this I have never been happier. My soul has never been at such peace, and I’ve never felt more fulfilled and passionate in my life. And the truth of the matter is… He loves everyone with this same intimate and passionate love that He has loved me with. He wants everyone to step into His world and allow Him to love in the deepest way of loving. Something I have been thinking about a lot lately is this idea of finding true love. So often I have looked to others for acceptance and love and barely ever turned to my creator. My creator… who formed every detail of me. He knows the hairs on my head, the wrinkles in my hands, the number of cells in my body, and most importantly, He knows and formed my vulnerable heart. Who better to fulfill my heart’s desires and passions than my own creator, the one who formed my precious heart in His own hands?!
What has kept me in the past from fully engaging in God’s embrace and sometimes even now? I think it’s this desire to receive acceptance and love from this world. Although it is in my character to be gentle and sensitive, this sensitivity also comes from a desire to be accepted and from caring so much what others think. I so much desire to be at a constant peace knowing of my identity in Christ and living for His sole purpose, but I’m afraid of losing love that is around me in tangible ways. I’ve been clinging on to the safety and security of people around me rather than clinging to the safety and security of my life with God.
What’s it going to take this year for me to step into this place of God’s embrace? The only way to this place is prayer… unceasing prayer. It’s also learning to take God with me everywhere I go. When I am in the chapel spending time with just God, I feel so peaceful and feel like I’m dwelling in His love, but the moment I step out of the chapel something is different. I feel like I’m back to the real world where I can’t be as loving or as peaceful. Well.. it doesn’t have to be this way. God is dwelling in me always, and I have to recognize that it’s not just me dwelling with God in His holy place, it’s Him dwelling within me and having a rest place within my soul. Once I’m able to fully embrace this dwelling place of God within me and find the constant joy and peace of that, I will be able to love with expecting to love, to give without expecting to receive, and to hold with expected to be held… to love in the fullest way possible, the way that God loves. Although I’ve got a ways to go, God is bringing me slowly but surely into this place of love.
“God is looking for you. He will go anywhere to find you. He loves you, he wants you home, he cannot rest unless He has you with him.”