We just got back from our eight day silent retreat. When you are in solitude for eight days, it is hard to share the intimate ways in which God speaks to your heart. I guess I could summarize the week by saying that a major theme was trust. I had a lot of insights about life, many of which were somewhat difficult. And with those insights, there was just a call for a deeper trust and dependence on the Lord. At first, I was bothered by some of the realizations I was having. To be honest with myself about my definite lack of trust and belief in the Lord’s promises for me was difficult. I would think back to other moments in my life where I felt strongly convicted that I finally understood what it meant to entrust my life to Him, giving it all to the Lord. Thinking back to these other moments of strong convictions and then realizing how differently I was able to see things now, I was skeptical and hesitant to fully accept what was being spoken to my heart during the present moment. There was this part of me that wondered what else I still didn’t know presently. That bothered me. It frustrated me that I was hesitant to accept the Lord’s invitation for me. I especially thought of all the ways that the Lord has been speaking to my heart during these past few months. Based on what I was now discovering about myself and the Lord, what did it mean about everything else for the past few months?
During spiritual direction, my director tried to help me understand and accept where I was at in the present moment. He told me to think about climbing a mountain. When you start climbing the mountain and you look behind you, you can see the part of the mountain you have already climbed. As you continue to climb further up the mountain and look back behind you, the view of what you already have climbed broadens. And for the entire journey up the mountain, the further you go, the more you can see behind you. He explained that it is similar to our journey with the Lord. As we continue on the journey, we will be able to look back and get a broader perspective. It does not take away from or in any way detract from the view I had when I was at the bottom of the mountain, but simply, the more we journey, the more we understand in the present but also about the past. It was a reminder for me to calm down and stop trying to figure everything out. I had to stop getting hung up on what those insights meant about the past and how everything fit together in a perfect, pretty picture. I just simply had to accept that the Lord was blessing me by showing me things in a way I had never known before. And, the gift of these new insights does NOT take away from anything He has spoken to my heart in the past.
Then he compared learning about God to learning math. This one is my favorite. I wonder if he knew how deeply he was speaking to me by talking my language: numbers. I love math, and I love things to be able to work out in nice equations where there is one answer. Understanding God has always been hard for me because He is not a black and white equation I can solve. But finally, someone was able to relate math to my spirituality, and for the comparison my director made, I am very grateful. He told me that you begin by learning the basics: addition and subtraction. You move into multiplication and division. As you get older you start to learn algebra, and then maybe you go onto calculus. I love math because it builds upon itself. You cannot learn to multiply and divide if you do not know addition and subtraction. You cannot do algebra if you cannot multiply and divide, etc, etc. So when I learn algebra, I cannot look back to the time I was learning addition and get frustrated that I didn’t know everything about math that I do now. I had to learn “the basics” to get to where I am today. You can’t just skip steps. As you continue on the journey, you have a broader perspective, but it does not take away from what you learned in the past. In fact, it is essential for you to have learned what you did in the past to even be able to learn what you are learning today. Also, when I was learning to multiply, I was learning math in the fullness of what I could understand at that age. God reveals Himself in fullness to us as we can understand. It doesn’t mean we know everything, and there is nothing else to learn. It simply means that we know the fullness of what we can understand for where we are currently. He reveals the fullness of truth to a 10 year old in a way that 10 year old can understand, and so it is through every stage of our life.
As if that wasn’t enough to help me understand the need to just accept what God was revealing to me, my director had one more comparison for me. My director looked at me and asked if I was a better girlfriend today than I was four years ago. I replied, “Yes.” He asked if four years ago I was trying to be a bad girlfriend. I said that I wasn’t. Then he said, “So four years ago you were just the best girlfriend you could be. Today you are a better girlfriend. So does that mean that you should have never started dating until now?” I looked at him and told him that I got to where I am today because of the past. He made me repeat that statement like three times. He didn’t have to say anymore. I understood. I probably had one of those looks on my face that said, “Darn it. You got me.”
I had to let go of this doubt that I couldn’t accept what the Lord was speaking to me because it somehow negated what has been spoken in the past and what could be spoken in the future. I guess there was some wisdom in realizing that the Lord is revealing everything in fullness to me now as I can understand it; however, that does not mean that I won’t continue having these moments throughout my life. In fact, if I didn’t, then something would be wrong. I wouldn’t be getting any further up the mountain. Now, don’t worry, I did not spend my entire retreat trying to reject everything God was speaking to me. I maybe spent a day of being hesitant and skeptical. And with all of the above things that I shared, I got it out of my system. I think they are important to share though, because I need a constant reminder of this. I am on a journey. What is being spoken to me is truth, but I do not know everything. And perhaps the biggest part of the week was truly accepting that this is a journey. I was told I wouldn’t walk away from the week having solved everything; I had to accept that it is a journey. So in light of my understanding of the journey, I would say that my week was focusing on how I can rely more deeply on the Lord, one step at a time. I cannot see what lies ahead of me. If I try to run, I will most certainly fall, so I take my time, enjoying every step of the way.