A month or so before I became a catechumen I was singing at a Saturday evening vigil when I suddenly knew what God wanted me to do - or at least, I thought I knew. In the middle of the service I was overcome with the sudden feeling that I should go back to school, get a degree in social work and/or counseling, and help people who were suffering from addiction. This idea hit me like a random bolt; there was no precedent for it. I was sure, and still am sure, that God spoke to me that night. However, now I think that His message may have been a lot more general and encompassing. I think God gave me a life assignment that night.
Here I am almost two years later, and I'm not sure about school anymore. If I hadn't gone to Alaska last year, I would have been starting my second year at UNT right now, so I wonder sometimes if I made a mistake going to Alaska... but I wouldn't be where I am now in this situation if I hadn't, and I believe my situation is valuable, as it's becoming clearer to me that God may want me to help people in other ways than I originally thought. Maybe if I become a monk those ways will be revealed to me. The more I think about it, the more it seems to me as my life might have been designed all along to lead me to that destiny. I don't know though... right now, it's a frightening prospect. I'm thinking that I'll give the idea about five years to percolate. In the meantime, who am I to help anyone? Who am I to even consider that I might, ever? That's an example of how my pride is my modus operandi; that I should assume that God deems me worthy of offering something to others which might be beneficial. As if that beneficial thing would come from myself, and not from God.
I'm a spiritual infant. I suppose all I can do right now is concentrate on the immediate and help myself to begin with, so that I may be of some use later. In doing so I've discovered something fairly interesting - that I'm not as helpless as I've led myself to believe. I still don't know if that's pride, or what... it gets confusing, trying to isolate the self from the self. Anywho... I didn't think I'd be able to afford electricity and rent for a house, plus the other bills, and food solely on my income, but I'm scraping by somehow. It's a pleasant surprise. I hope it leads to good. Is it obvious that I'm a confused mess?
The second time I heard God's voice was late April of 2010. I was in my living room that evening on my couch with great wretched sobs heaving continuously from my chest as I loaded random web pages in an attempt to distract myself from the pain of simple moment to moment existence. I wiped my eyes to get a better look at the page which had just loaded, which consisted of an empty black background with a single light switch near the center. I of course clicked it, and immediately a neon sign flickered and came to bright life on my screen, which read: "Everything is going to be all right." As I sat there staring at it, for a brief while I was suffused with peace and the knowledge that God had just made a promise to me - that everything really would be ok. Not just with my current situation, but with everything. It's hard to remember that sometimes though, but it always comes back to me. I realize how it may sound corny that God spoke to me through the internet, but hey. It is what it is.
The third time was just a couple of weeks ago. I was sitting up in bed in the dark, just before sleep, and praying a very selfish prayer for God to please miraculize (to coin a word) my life and make things ok. Or, barring that, to at least show me exactly what to do and force me to do it. Reprogram my brain, erase my brain, heck, replace the dang thing and gimme a fresh install and a reboot! I wanted direct intervention; a real, bona-fide, New Testament miracle. Just then, three words flashed through my mind, clearly and deliberately. The words were "patience, acceptance, and trust". Suffice it to say that I was somewhat stunned to receive such a direct and prompt answer to my prayer, and it took a minute or two for it to sink in. After a little while I rolled over, not without a substantial streak of fear coursing through my heart, and went to sleep.
The next day I was elated as I tried to apply meaning to those words, and I eventually arrived at this conclusion: firstly, what God had told me was that in order for it to become possible for me to move towards asceticism in a meaningful way, I had to have patience and embrace the knowledge that change will not be immediate. It's going to take a long time to eradicate my sinful habits, pride and self pity to the extent that a new fertile ground is established; one upon which the good seeds I'm trying to sow will be able to take root and thrive. I'll need patience for that; something I've always lacked.
Next is acceptance. I have to accept the fact that I am eyes deep in the sludge of the sinful, egoistic, material realm of the self, removed from God and true meaning and salvation, and that nothing... not drugs, not alcohol, not money or sex or a job, or a car or a girlfriend, or even a loving wife and family, will save me from it. Nothing of this material world will ever serve to pull me up out of the sludge of my own self importance; only God's grace may do that, but not so long as I rule my own heart. In order for this to be possible, I must truly accept God into my heart and His will over my own.
Finally, and above all else, there is trust. Trust in God, in His existence, in His purpose, in His love and in His mercy. Trust, faith and belief... that there is hope, and that I am where I'm supposed to be and I'm experiencing all the joy and pain and heartache and love for a reason, and that one day I'll be able to see beyond myself and truly love the people I profess to, and that the product of life isn't naked despair, but joy clothed in the light of God.
All of that pretty much scares me witless though.
Does any of it make any sense?