My life, my prayers, my purpose - it all starts with love – not me loving God or me loving others, but “beholding God, beholding me and smiling,” as the Preparation Days encourage us in the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius of Loyola. I prayed this one exercise everyday at the beginning of the 9-month program. It was on Day 57 that my prayer experience moved from my head to my heart! I moved from picturing God smiling on me to feeling God love me.
Yesterday during my prayers, I simply asked what God wanted to say to me and here’s what I received:
The more I accept how much God loves me, the more able I am to carry out what God wants to do through me. I am freer to listen to the inner voice. Since God loves me so much and fulfilling God’s call is my primary aim – my calling flows out of God’s love for me.
If I am trapped in self-hate and self-criticism, I cannot do what God wants me to do because I don’t feel worthy or deserving of such attention, such joy. Thinking I can do God’s will then feels ego-driven, and the negative voices say, “Who do you think you are? You’re not that great to be fulfilling God’s will.”
It turns out that my worthiness has nothing to do with what God can do through me because it’s rooted in who God is and not who I am. It turns out that no one is worthy to be an instrument of God – it’s pure gift, rooted in God’s self-giving love. It’s a fact, a reality, apart from my worthiness or my acceptance of it.
Since God’s love comes to me a priori, the primary purpose of prayer and meditation is to experience how much God loves me. From this vantage point, new vistas open up that are not limited by my narrow view of what I think I am supposed to accomplish in life. Such love leads me to new questions for my day:
- What in love does God want to do through me?
- Since God made me and loves me, what work, relationships and tasks flow from this?
- How does God want to show up in the world through me?
Each day is full of new possibilities!
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