Imagine if you accepted the fact that your spouse is not perfect. Imagine if you accepted the next traffic jam you are in or the long line in the grocery store. Imagine if you accepted all the things you don’t like about yourself. Imagine if you accepted life as it reveals itself and not as you want or think it should be. What difference would it make?
Perhaps a great deal of our struggle comes because of unrealistic expectations placed upon other people and circumstances in our life. How many times do we say, if only this circumstance were different or if that person were different, then I would be happy, then I would be at peace, then I would have time for God, etc. If reality were perfect, would you really be happy? I hope not.
So often we try to create a “better” reality because we believe that in this “altered” reality in which we have created, and thereby control, life will be what it is supposed to be; peaceful, more fulfilling and less aggravating. The hard truth is that reality is already “perfect,” not perfect in the sense that there is never any difficulty or trial, but “perfect” in the sense that the present moment contains everything I need, namely God and his grace.
God, for reasons we can never fully comprehend, allows us to get stuck in traffic jams, fight with our spouses, and has even allowed the certain physical and psychological “deformities” that we think we have, or that the culture tells us we have. Maybe God allows all of these things to simply remind us that this world is not heaven, and even though we are not in heaven yet, God is still present to us, but only in reality and not in our daydreams. Hence, trying to escape reality is trying to escape God.
One could spend all day in church praying, feeding the poor, or preaching the Gospel to thousands, but if we cannot simply accept reality and run from it every chance we get, then it seems what we are really following is our own self-centered ideals and goals and not those of the Gospel. If you really want to find God, you don’t have to “do” anything. All you have to do is be where you are, as uncomfortable as it might be because that is where God is.
Fr. Jeremiah is a priest from the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal in New York. He will be leading our Lenten Parish Mission March 6-8, 2017. Join us then to hear more from him.