I met with a friend the other day for a cup of coffee and some conversation and an interesting topic came up. We were wondering why we seem to wait until we are in great pain before seeking out God's guidance in life circumstances rather than turning to God before we reach the breaking point. I know that I've thought about that before. I have even made "pledges" with God that I will do better, be more faithful and trusting, and spend more time listening for His guidance rather than telling Him what I think I need or want to be done in a particular circumstance. I have discovered that my ways never seem to work. And yet I keep practicing the same old behavior, expecting different results each and every time I turn to God. Knowing that in my head did not lead me to understanding that in my heart, even though on those rare occasions in which I did turn to God first, I got some peace of mind that allowed me to deal with my life circumstances.
It has only been within the last six months or so that I have made some changes in the way I put my faith into practice. I have developed the habit of spending some time alone with God in prayer and meditation in the morning before I leave for the day. I share with God whatever is on my mind. I ask for Him to guide my thoughts and actions throughout the day and to show me how to be compassionate and helpful to others. And then I do something that is not usually in my general nature - I take time to listen for God's voice. I slow down my mind and open my heart and simply sit in God's presence. I have discovered that when I make the time to do this, my days are happier. I enjoy being in the company of others. My problems do not weigh me down and render me immobile or leave me paralyzed by fear. I see and take advantage of opportunities to help others. I feel a sense of contentment and peace within myself. I take better care of myself physically, emotionally and spiritually. It makes me a better person. At the end of the day I take the time to thank God for the gift of another day and for all of the blessings in my life. I keep a handwritten gratitude journal to record the many things that bring me a sense of joy because I find that having tangible evidence in front of me allows me to look back and see all that I have been given, and it reminds me that life is indeed good, even on those days where I can hardly think of a single thing to write down.
Do I do this perfectly? Do I do this every single day? No, I don't. There are mornings where I oversleep and have to go running out the door for an appointment. There are days where I am sick and barely have the energy to get up and go to the bathroom. There are days where I am simply being stubborn and do not take the time to be with God. There are days that I am angry or sad or afraid that God will see something in me that I do not want Him to see. That being said, I have found that with just a little bit of effort on my part, I can and do have time for God, and each time I sit down in quiet prayer and meditation, I feel a sense of inner strength that allows me to continue to learn and grow in faith. For me, it is a matter of priority - spending 15 minutes of quiet time or laying in bed for an extra 15 minutes? I think I'll stick with what helps me along my spiritual path rather than skipping out on God and waiting until my pain is so great that I am grasping at straws and looking for anything and everything to bring me some sort of immediate relief, regardless if that is helpful or harmful to me. I believe that God is there to help me in my times of need. I also believe that He wants to share in my times of joy. He is always there to listen. Am I willing to let Him?