If studying the saints has taught me anything, it is that there are many ways to travel the narrow road to Heaven. While some lived shorter lives which were filled with spiritual difficulties, but ultimately ended early and sweetly, others suffered great pains and tortures to their bodies before finally reaching their resting place, their vibrant souls unchanged. Other still endured dramatic wounds to the flesh and temptations to the soul on their journeys to God, battling the whole way to Heaven, while some lived simple lives and peacefully passed away as testaments to the beauty of Christ’s peace.
Unfortunately, I have a far way to go before I am even close to ready to join their blessed company—if indeed I am meant to do so. For now, I find myself slowly but surely trying to crawl my way towards Heaven, but at least I am finally moving in the right direction again.
Over the summer, on my blog which has been horribly neglected ever since I started college, I wrote a post comparing my life to that of a shark’s—having to be in constant motion to avoid death, and not being able to stop to make sure I was going the right way. Unfortunately, when I wrote that post it was in the wake of discovering that things had actually been that way longer than I cared to admit. Upon arriving back at school, I was slowly plodding along though interiorly still feeling shaky, when the school’s new chaplain started posting sign-ups in one of the main gathering areas for spiritual direction.
I would like to claim that I signed up right away, but by the time I finally gave in to my conscience saying it would be a good idea all the slots that would have been possible for me had been taken. A narrow save, or so I thought. Yet as things became worse, God helped me realize I needed to stop—even if I wasn’t going in the right direction yet, I needed to stop going in the wrong one. He not only helped me do this, but also rewarded me and gave me the little strength I needed to pick myself back up again by helping one area of my life that had been steadily declining take a turn for the better and become incredible. Can I interrupt myself for a moment just to say that God really is excessively wonderful?!
The second round of sign-ups was posted, and I sheepishly made sure I was one of the first to claim a 45 minute time slot with the priest. I was embarrassed and nervous; it had been a couple years since I had gone to a spiritual director, and I’ve never been one for playing physiatrist’s patient, laying on the couch while talking about my feelings. But, all that put aside, my guardian angel made sure I was there, and that beautiful 45 minutes ended up turning my whole life around. Worries, anxieties, honest desires to do the right thing, fears, all poured out, and at the end of the session as I left and turned around to wave good-bye to the priest as he welcomed in the next person, he smiled at me.
That sweet smile was like a wave suddenly crashing over me, and I realized as I smiled with a joy forgotten that it had been a long time since I had remembered and believed that Jesus wasn’t disappointed in me, He loved me. As I walked back to my dorm I could hear Christ’s comforting words from Luke’s Gospel echoing in my ear, “Do not be afraid any longer, little flock, for your Father is pleased to give you the kingdom,” and I knew that my heart had come home once again, and it was all—finally—going to be okay.
Like all feelings the ecstasy of that moment did not stay, but the peace did. The priest, listening to all my worries, gave me the best advice when he said lovingly that we humans feel like we must have everything planned out perfectly, but we have to trust God more than that. All we can do is make our plans and aim for them, but be open to knowing that if God changes them along the way, it is His will—not ours, that must be done, and if He leads us away from our plans, it is because He has more perfect ones in store.
Though this worrier has a long way to go, I am happy to report that though in many ways I am still relearning how to feel and return Jesus’s love (following the priest’s advice to do Lectio Divina, which has been an INCREDIBLE blessing), no longer am I a shark pacing nervously in the waters, afraid to stop and rest. Instead I am crawling my way to Heaven now, and hopefully God—seeing my littleness—will reach down and take my hand, to help me along the way.