What is it that ignites your soul and sets your heart on fire? Chances are that the answer to this question has something to do with the plans God has in mind for you. Oftentimes when we are feeling bogged down or unfulfilled, it can be because our plans and desires are not aligned with the desires and plans that God has in mind for us.
I remember, a number of years ago, repeatedly thinking and feeling as if there had to be more to life than the daily routine that filled each passing day. I had a good job and wonderful family and friends, but something was missing. This persistent thought, the feelings that went with it and the growing desire to seek what was missing has led me down an unexpected path and brought me into a relationship with God that I never even knew was possible. I have fallen in love with God and it really has made all the difference in the world. Through prayer, contemplation, and the grace of God, I now have an excitement and enthusiasm, and feel more alive and full of life than I could have ever imagined.
This most amazing relationship has helped me to recognize and appreciate more fully all the blessings in my life through both good times and difficult times. It has also led me to recognize and embrace a call to ministry, inspiring me to help and to encourage others to deepen and grow in their relationship with God.
When I reflect on how this journey began, it all started when I began to contemplate how my father, who had passed away a few years earlier and who was the rock in my life, was able to tell me during times of struggle that everything would be okay. Somehow, even though he couldn’t tell me how it would be okay, he had such a confidence when he spoke those words that I could believe and trust that it would be okay.
How did he know? Every so often I would spend time with this question. Scratching my head and wondering how he knew that? How could he say those words so confidently without knowing the answer or the solution to the situation? Who told him that? Then, one day the answer to this question became clear as I remembered something that had happened toward the end of my father’s life.
I went to walk into my father’s room where he was resting, worn down from radiation and chemotherapy. As I walked in, I stopped in my tracks because I realized that he was praying. I didn’t want to interrupt so I turned around and walked out, returning later for a visit.
As I recalled this instance, I suddenly knew the answer to how he knew everything would be okay. It was his faith! His faith that told him it would be okay. I immediately thought, “I want that too!” And that’s it. That was the moment that I began a journey. A spiritual journey that has taken time and effort and that has had ups and downs, but that has been worth every minute as it has led me closer to God and helped me to see and to experience that with God at the center of my life, I too can say and know for myself, with full confidence, that everything will be okay no matter what happens.
So, how does one keep God at the center of one’s life? How does one grow in faith? It’s all about relationship. If we look at our earthly relationships we can see that the key to the most meaningful ones is open and honest communication, both in listening and speaking. We can also see that these relationships are ones in which we regularly spend time with the other person.
We can have the same type of intimate, personal relationship with God. Through spending time with God, through praying on a regular basis, we develop and deepen our relationship with God, thus growing in faith. Anytime you communicate with God, expressing your thoughts and feelings to God and making space and time to listen to and notice God, whether it is through formal prayers, contemplative prayer, imaginative prayer, prayer expressed through art or music, taking in nature (God’s creation), or through any of the various ways in which people feel a connection with God, as long as your heart and mind is open to God, you are praying. And the more you pray, the more your faith increases and the more you can say with full confidence, and believe, “Everything will be okay.”
So, it is with this faith, that I am starting the “Hope That Floats” blog as I continue to pursue what has ignited my soul, and set my heart on fire—the passion, the call, to companion others on their journey to deepen and grow in their relationship with God.
Fall in Love – Attributed to Fr. Pedro Arrupe, SJ (1907–1991)
Nothing is more practical than finding God,
than falling in Love in a quite absolute, final way.
What you are in love with,
what seizes your imagination,
will affect everything.
It will decide what will get you out of bed in the morning,
what you do with your evenings,
how you spend your weekends,
what you read,
whom you know,
what breaks your heart,
and what amazes you with joy and gratitude.
Fall in love, stay in love, and it will decide everything.