My first weeks of college were a huge adjustment. I sat in the chapel feeling homesick and utterly alone. I cried my prayer to God, wondering what my life would hold.
As I knelt there praying, in my mind’s eye, for a split second, I could see from above the earth, as if through the Hubble telescope. I saw myself sitting there in the chapel praying and all of the other people on earth moving about with all of their concerns. We looked so small, like ants. Yet I had the impression that my concerns and each individual’s concerns were all of importance to God. Perhaps God used that split-second visual analogy to communicate with me because I was studying science at the time and had a lot of hours logged in on the microscope. Regardless, I knew without a doubt that God was near and that my concerns were dear to Him. In that fraction of a moment, I felt God’s nearness and love so deeply that it felt as if it were etched on my heart. I have frequently drawn strength from this memory when the winds of change have rocked my world.
Over two decades later, with a life trajectory that has gone in no way as I had planned, I look back on all of the moments that seemed to have been harbingers of the end of the world as I knew it, and I see God’s handiwork in each. Although I certainly could not see it at any of those times, I now see that everything has worked out for the best—not as I had planned, but as God had planned for me.
Every time I face big life changes, I still look to St. Ignatius Loyola for guidance as I did during my college years. Who better to advise on change than Ignatius? His life didn’t go in any way as he had planned either. He was severely wounded by a cannonball in battle. He likely did not foresee languishing away in a convalescent ward afterward. The young and dashing nobleman certainly didn’t plan on giving his wealth away and devoting his life to God. Yet, God had plans—plans that led to sainthood for Ignatius and spiritual direction for countless others that would follow after him.
I recall Ignatius’s wise admonition:
What we want above all is the ability to respond freely to God, and all other loves for people, places, and things are held in proper perspective by the light and strength of God’s grace. …In coming to a decision, only one thing is really important—to seek and to find how God is calling me at this time of my life. …God has created me out of love, and my salvation is found in my living out a return of that love. All my choices, then, must be consistent with this given direction in my life. (Spiritual Exercises, [16, 169, 23], as paraphrased by Timothy M. Gallagher, OMV, in The Discernment of Spirits: An Ignatian Guide for Everyday Living)
When the winds of change blow, I trust that God’s got my back. He’s got me covered. Even though I may not know the plan, God-Emmanuel, ever-present and all-knowing, certainly does. And I know that I, and all of my concerns, no matter how small, are dear to God.
And so, in the spirit of St. Ignatius, I pray:
Lord, I do not know where I am going or what you would have me do next, but I trust that you have a purpose for everything you do and that you are leading me to where you would like me to be.I ask that you would give me the fortitude to follow you and the grace to trust you even though I do not know the way or what the future holds.Send your Holy Spirit to guide and accompany me on the journey that you would have me follow so that my life may give greater glory to you always. Amen.
The prayer you write is beautiful and certainly touches my life today. I do not see the road before me and have been through a period of adversity recently. At 62 I live in a hope that God still has something he wants to do with me. No matter how small or large his call is, I pray I am able to do my part on his plan and leave the rest to him.
Yes, life can have many twists and turns, but God is always with us. What is it that Pope Francis says? “Sometimes in our lives, tears are the lenses through which we need to see Jesus.” Although God is always with us, when it’s all “smooth sailing” we sometimes forget God. It is often the difficult situations of life that really push us back to Him – to that spot where we recognize His continuous presence and overwhelming love for each one of us at all times.
I´ve surely never planned to become an alcoholic…
But that opened me to God who resurrected me. God´s will is strange
and sometimes quite uncomfortable 😉
Thank you for your thoughts, Loretta. AMDG!
Inspirational and encouraging.
I am so sorry for your loss. My prayers for you to feel God’s presence with you – supporting you in every moment.
Thank for the beautiful and insightful message. I feel as if the Holy Spirit was speaking to me. I need the fortitude to go through the new paths that are in front of me. I had to face a unwanted divorce after 35 years. My marriage and family was everything to me. I’m an only child and also dealing with the decreasing health of my mother. I constantly pray for strength and guidance. Your prayer is heaven sent. Blessings.
Thank you for your inspiring words. I, too, have felt the winds of change. After 46 years of marriage my husband died suddenly. I thought I could never go on. I could not see God’s work at that time but looking back it was my Father’s loving care that got me through the dark days. I am in a new chapter of my life but I know God is with me no matter what!
I am so sorry for your loss. Yes, you are right, God is always with us – right beside us – especially in our darkest hours. St. Augustine said, “God loves each of us as if there was only one of us.” What great love! I find this sentiment so comforting and hope-inspiring when I am going through difficult times – perhaps you will too. My prayers for you. Rebecca
I just finished reading the winds of Change! My husband died three months ago and my Family calls this “The New Normal….. thank you for your message!
These meditations are very heipful , reassuring, comforting and strengthen my spiritual trust. Grateful
Sue, Thank you for your comment. So glad these July meditations are supportive in your spiritual life! Although we are all on our own unique journeys, which at times involve very difficult changes, it is good to remember that God is with us through it all.
Thank you for your thoughtful words. I am in the midst of a place I haven’t been comfortable, but felt needing to stay and I wait for the door to open, or for a sense of the end of this season—yet feel the season holds something to still be discovered, so I wait. These words touch me today: In coming to a decision, only one thing is really important—to seek and to find how God is calling me at this time of my life. I wait.
Yes, your comment brings to mind the song, “We are the body of Christ, and we do not stand alone…” We can gain so much insight and strength from other members of the Body of Christ along each of our own unique faith and life journeys.
Crossroads in our lives continue to frighten us past our teens and through the decade changing birthdays, 30, 40, 50…should we be given this much time.
However, over time the fear factor changes for some. Certainly the people who join me for the Eucharist at our parish senior hi-rise are at a crossroads. However, God has proven trustworthy so many times in their lives. Their aged, fragile bodies, ever traveling to the doctor, no longer worry them. On reflection, you can see why old people and young people Importuning each other in love, offer each other another of God’s providential opportunities.
How true – He makes all things new! We all experience these twists and turns – sometimes they inspire us to rejoice and thank God, and other times, we really need to cling to Him to get through the tougher times. Either way, it’s so comforting to know God is always there, steadfast and present, through it all!
A beautiful and comforting article! There have been so many endings and surprise beginnings in my 57 years. Paths I never dreamed of opened up while others closed forever.What I have discovered is a deepening closeness with God-our Creator Spirit.From this relationship,I gather strength and sometimes I can place my feet where needed and other times I find that I was on a switch back and need to start over. But always, I am being made new.
Thank you for this article! It’s oh so timely for me..
God has created me out of love, and my salvation is found in my living out a return of that love.
God bless you!
Change can be really difficult but St. Ignatius is such a great teacher from whom we can learn how to navigate both those expected and unexpected turns of life. And, of course, we know that we are never alone – even when times are difficult and unexpected turns arise – God is right there beside us – loving us forward.