My life is very structured. Just ask my wife. I fold my socks and put them in a special place in my drawer. I have a quarterly personal goal list on an Excel spreadsheet. I arrive at work at almost precisely the same time every day. However, this structure is often a hindrance to my spiritual growth. One of the things that God has to keep reminding me is that no matter how much I plan or organize my life, I cannot control everything, especially in marriage. Allowing God to guide my life is a difficult lesson that I am learning every day.
The first six months of marriage have been a great blessing to my wife and I, but we have had some great difficulties as well . We don’t always understand why each other does a task a certain way. Often, my pride trips me up and I try to convince my wife that her way of doing things is wrong and my way is right. Also, when a difficult situation arises, my problem-solving brain moves into high gear and I want to talk the problem out until we reach a solution, at the expense of sleep for the both of us. Most of the time, the issue cannot be solved in the moment, but I spend so much energy trying to do so anyway.
One of the verses I have been reflecting on lately comes from Exodus 14:14 which says “The LORD himself will fight for you; you have only to keep still.” I have like the first part of the verse about God as a warrior. I want God to fight for me because He is the ultimate champion. It’s the second part that gives me difficulty.
Keeping still is not my desired option. I want to be a man of action, leading the charge to strike down the enemy. I want to plan, talk things out, find solutions and then act upon them. Waiting for God to show up can be very frustrating. If He knows the problems we face, why does He not do something about them now?
However, if I take a moment to reflect, I begin to realize that I am running ahead of God onto the battlefield. Instead of allowing the ultimate warrior to aid me in my distress, I try to fight solo, only to quickly be destroyed by a more powerful foe. As Jesus says in John 15:5 “apart from me, you can do nothing.” Time and time again, I prove Jesus right by taking matters into my own hands and failing every time.
God wants to help us in our distress, but He will do so in His time, and not ours. Before trying to solve anything, we need to bring it to prayer, whether that is attending a daily Mass, praying a rosary or writing in a journal. By presenting our needs to God and then sitting still in the quiet, we begin to realize that Our Father in heaven can conquer any struggle we face. If we ask Him, He will help us, as long as we allow Him to lead us.
Throughout my life, the serenity prayer has been helpful for me as I seek to follow God.
God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.
Living one day at a time;
Enjoying one moment at a time;
Accepting hardships as the pathway to peace;
Taking, as He did, this sinful world
as it is, not as I would have it;
Trusting that He will make all things right
if I surrender to His Will;
That I may be reasonably happy in this life
and supremely happy with Him
Forever in the next.
So the next time you are faced with a tough situation, ask God about what to do first. Through prayer you will enlist the help of a great soldier, who will protect you from every onslaught of the enemy and lead you safely to your home in heaven.