When we need direction and growth in life
“The first step towards getting somewhere is to decide that you are not going to stay where you are” (Anonymous).
Sometimes that is where we need to begin in order to start out fresh in a way that is better, even if that is simply a mental journey or a mental change. We are not meant to remain stagnant. We need change in life that will always make us better. Better people, better husbands and wives, better workers, better singers. You name it. There is a drive in our being for improvement, a movement towards betterment. But this is also something within the spiritual life that is also true. We cannot remain the same if we are active and growing in our faith.
There are plenty of times when we feel we have reached a “plateau”, like we have levelled off and there is no movement upwards. We see growth and improvement as a direction. Upwards. Because we see growth in humans, animals and plants in a physical sense. But then so to our spiritual growth. We have met people who stop growing, who have little direction their lives. But also in the Spiritual life. We find that it can be a drain on our own lives.
For ourselves, there may be times when simply sharing with a friend some of the burdens will help us internalise better the past and present and help us make our own decisions for the future. But there are times we need more than this. There are times when we need to really analyse the situation and spend time preparing a path for the future that takes a good number of things into consideration so that we can be happier more balanced people. This may be a life plan, a business plan, a spiritual growth plan, any number of plans that can be written or prepared in advance so that we can refer back to it when need be.
What we need to avoid is standing still in our lives, especially in our spiritual lives. There really is no standing still. We may need help to keep moving, to keep motivated. But we can’t remain still. Some of the worst threats to growth is lethargy and self-negativity. We may not have a very good self image which may keep us from trying or improving. We may become tired of working at this part of our lives, we may even feel it is self-defeating. In any case, we have to avoid these and seek out better direction. Some may have a Spiritual Director, if there is someone available then that is a blessing. But many people don’t have a Spiritual Director and been able to live better lives without having that regular contact. Instead, think of Sunday Mass as a weekly moment of Spiritual Direction that can help us retune and and redirect our lives in one-week segments. The readings, music, homily/sermon, the encounter with Christ at the Eucharist. If we are truly present in the Mass, if we are aware of the moment and can focus for the hour, then we should be able to walk away with an hour of fine tuning with God.
St John of the Cross believed that someone who seeks happiness in the world is like “a famished person who opens his mouth to satisfy himself with air.” He taught that only by breaking the rope of our desires could we fly up to God. Above all, he was concerned for those who suffered dryness or depression in their spiritual life and offered encouragement that God loved them and was leading them deeper into faith.
Don’t let the evening news be your source of spiritual nourishment. It won’t. And don’t let the social media you follow be your spiritual direction. It can’t. Let peace be the hallmark of your life and let no social media or news snip-it disturb that peace. When direction is needed, go to the source of life – God. And find there solace and joy. Make that the beginning. Read the sacred texts so that you hear the voice of God and can understand better His will in your life. Even when no Spiritual Director is available, the Supreme Director is always there and He provided us with Scripture, with Mass, with a Church that has a Breviary (Liturgy of the Hours) and great writing of saints like St John of the Cross and many others.
When I need direction I know I have the greatest source to rely on, as do each of you.