Recall that infamous scene in shows and movies where the girl is asked out by her crush and in order to prepare for the date she frantically runs around (emotionally and physically) worrying and agonizing making sure the date will be “p e r f e c t.”
She can’t decide on an outfit, her hairstyle, and she becomes so giddy, nervous, and “on-edge” that she can’t seem to soak in the reality or the moment. And when the date finally presents itself, we watch how she can’t even enjoy the night because she’s trying too hard to be (and make it) perfect. This disorientated perception of reality, exciting and disheartening as it can be, stops her from enjoying time with her guy because she’s too focused on making sure every thing is perfect.
And then, my favorite part in this typical plot, at the end of the night she finds herself face to face with this “dreamboat” of a guy babbling and exploding on him hoping he had the best night of his life. All he wants to do is adore her and soak in their time together but she keeps uttering that gibberish. SO, he smiles, leans in and kisses her to show his affection, and, well, in the most respectable way, to also shut her up.
In the spiritual life, my prayer life seems disoriented by my inability to “take a chill pill,” similar to this girl from this popular cinematic scene. I find myself trying to frantically rush around, day by day, to make sure I’m perfecting myself for the Lord wondering if He’s enjoying my efforts. (“Hey, Lord, did you see that, huh? How about I get time off in purgatory for that, eh?”) And while our striving is an ideal to work for– to better ourselves and practice virtue, there is an essential truth about why we are even striving in the first place, loving union with God.
God, like the “dreamboat” in the scene I described, doesn’t want us to exhaust ourselves to win His heart. We, by being born, and living in His kingdom, already won His heart. Even when we sin, we are special in His sight. He wants us to firstly be an exchange of love with Him, before we do anything for Him.
Let Him lavish His love on on you. His love IS who He is.
“As the bridegroom rejoices over the bride, so shall your God rejoice over you.” Isaiah 62:5
God will “shut us up” with a gentle kiss in order to remind us to be still so He can just be and we can embrace and contemplate that. I once read, “If Religion is man’s search for God, Christianity then, it has been said, is God’s search for man.” When we have an immense desire for holiness and strive in all that we can to achieve it, we tire ourselves out if we forget to let divine love penetrate our hearts and be the force of all actions.
Our nature is incapable of going where we want it to if we are not being drawn out by His love. There is power, refreshment, unity, and motivation in letting ourselves be loved– loved by Love Himself. “True humanism consists in the fact that man, through a life of fidelity to the one God, comes to experience himself as loved by God and discovers joy in truth and in righteousness.” -Pope Benedict
In other words, in order ‘to do,’ you have to know how ‘to be.’
To be still, to be, loved.
Holiness, then, is not firstly doing anything but simply letting it be done unto you, that is, being loved. Because our striving for holiness should always be a way to show God how much we love Him. For, even sin is not ‘doing something wrong/immoral” it’s breaking relationship with God. Every sin permeates our ability to initiate and receive exchanges of love with God our father.
“Holiness is measured according to the ‘great mystery’ in which the bride [you] responds with the gift of love to the gift of the bridegroom [Jesus].” (CCC 773).
Our Lord won’t impose His love on you, for nothing imposed can be loving, but He does await our choice to choose to partake and accept His offer. He’s awaited through the ages, from His blood-bath of a sacrifice on that cross, and lies with open arms for you. He proposed Himself to you in that moment, with unspeakable love. All that is left is how we accept or deny that proposal in our life.
It was a proposal to stay close to you in hard times, give truth and insight to you in the chaos and confusion, bring blissful joy and a light that radiates, and to do all that he can and will to allow every dream to come true in your life. He’ll be your voice, eyes, and strength when yours fails and be the breath of new life that penetrates deep within your soul– giving you a spirit of life. And all this is done because He loves you.