Peace, Not Pieces

I  finally found a job! I've just finished my first couple of weeks at my first ever 9 to 5, Monday to Friday job. But not so long ago, for what seemed like weeks without end, I was unemployed, unable to find work and had too much time to think. I am a thinker; part of my personality is being a head-in-the-clouds, idealistic thinker. But all this time and lack of stimulating activity got my already over-analyzing  brain going in circles. I can only take so much solitary pondering time before I start having an "existential crisis." 

It is kind of a cliche. I've officially hit quarter life and I for some reason I can't stop myself from asking: why do I exist? What could my measly actions ever accomplish?  What is the meaning of life?

Just as I plunge into this mental vortex of doom and am sure that my life is falling apart, into little pieces, strange things begin happening. And by strange I mean uncanny, seemingly coincidental and possibly even miraculous. No matter how much I think entropy and chaos is going to pull apart myself and the whole universe, there always seems to be some organizing force, some ultimate grand design and some great power gently recreating a masterful cosmos. 

In other words, whenever I start thinking there is no meaning and no God my brain wants to self-destruct, but this usually does not last long. A realization that there must be a prime mover, a great designer, a first cause reassures me. Gentle breezes, quiet beauties and kind gestures from others re-enter my notice. God whispers his invitation.  

Spending more solid time in prayer, reading and meditating on scripture and pausing in those moments when things seem grim, has blossomed beyond my expectation. Most recently, this all crescendoed in finally being offered a job, and one that I actually was happy to get, as well as my boyfriend graduating and being offered a job, spending a wonderful weekend celebration with my family and the feast day of St. Anthony, all within the span of a few days. 

Providentially, a few months ago a friend lent be a little book called Searching for and Maintaining Peace: A Small Treatise on Peace of Heart by Father Jacques Philippe. This incredible, yet simple booklet had an amazing impact on me from the moment I ventured into its pages. It begins: 'Apart from Me, you can do nothing, Jesus said (John 15:5). He did not say, "you can't do much," but, you can do nothing.' (Interestingly, this is also a lyric in a song by Catholic singer/songwriter Emma Fradd, that I have been listening to quite a bit.) The book continues saying the essential goal is:

 ...not principally to impose a lot of things on ourselves,  as good as they may seem with our own intelligence..Rather, we must try to discover the disposition of our soul, the profound attitude of heart and the spiritual conditions that permit God to act in us. It is only thus that we ca bear fruit -- fruit that will last (John 15:16).
 And a final except: 
Our minds are sometimes so clouded over by that which is not going well, by that which (according to our own particular criteria!) should be different in our situations, that we forget the positive. Moreover, we are unable to profit from any aspect of our situations order for us to draw closer to God, to grow in faith love and humility. That which we lack is, above all, the conviction that "the love of God turns to profit all that he finds in me, the good as well as the bad" (Saint Therese of the Child Jesus)."  

This simple truth is one of incredible freedom. Peace has been much easier to maintain with the realization  that God is the source of all that is,  and everything that we can  accomplish is only because of Him. Whatever goals and pressures we put on our selves just pale in comparison to his vast, in fact infinite, love and mercy. I realized recently that Our Lady is a great example of humility and trust in this fact. She would never have imagined that she would become the Mother of God. She must have had  very different plans for her life. Yet she did God's will wholeheartedly without  the need to fully understand all the implications, over-analyse it or incorporate her own agenda. 

Anyhow, now I have a job. It's what I felt so anxious without. It seemed like the job was all I needed to get to put all the disjointed pieces of my life together. But of course, now I'm working and that comes with it's own set of trials and frustrations. It's another stage, but not the end of the road.  It's another opportunity to practice trusting in God, any situation is, and in practicing that comes peace.  I'm discovering that it's not that God is there and sometimes isn't, or things are sometimes good and sometimes not, or sometimes there is peace and other times there are pieces. Rather, God's goodness is constant, He never abandons us and He never stops offering us His peace. We just need to change our perspectives to notice.   


Steph said…
This is really beautiful Emily. I especially love the second quotation. I often get caught up in what I'm not doing, rather than focusing on the many blessings and graces in my life and giving it all to God so that He can work through me. I needed to hear this!
Emily said…
Thanks so much Steph! Yeah, I have the same struggle and this book really stuck me so I thought it important to share. I'm so happy to hear it's helpful :)

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