Imagine you’re an heir to a kingdom. In America, that’s kinda hard, we very clearly and deliberately don’t have royalty or kings (though as a country we do practically worship celebrities, but that’s beside the point). You’re an heir to an exotic and wonderful kingdom, but you haven’t come of age yet, so you don’t get to take full possession of it.
“Serve me, give me your pain, and I’ll take your pain away.” A tempting offer. And a hollow one too. As soon as we stop serving that thing, the pain returns: it’s been there the whole time. The only thing that will truly work is for someone to enter our pain with us rather than hand-waving the pain away.
Here is (most) of a talk I gave at Colorado State University about St. John of the Cross. It’s only most (not all) of the talk because when someone is recording a video of you on your phone, it turns out that it takes up a lot of space.
In the book of Jonah, God tells Jonah to go preach to the Ninevites that in 40 more days, Nineveh will be destroyed due to their wickedness. Eventually, he goes and preaches, Nineveh repents, and God doesn’t destroy them. Some people take that to mean that God, since He clearly changed His mind, is just like a human being, rather than all-powerful or unchangeable or anything else that Christians usually consider God. Or that He’s just wish-washy. How do we answer that?
The Constitution isn’t that long of a document, but we need a Supreme Court to accurately interpret it. How much more, then, does the Bible need something like that?
Analysis paralysis: you don’t want to do anything until you’ve thought everything through, and I mean EVERYTHING. Too many options, too many ideas, and the result is no action. But what if I told you that you don’t have to plan everything at once? A far more effective way to make changes to your life is to experiment and tweak. It solves three major problems, which I outline below.
If all the Avengers were the Hulk, you’d have lots of smashing and not much strategizing. If your adventuring party is all healers, no one would die, but you wouldn’t beat any bad guys either. Same for the Church: there are many forms of holiness, many temperaments, but all one Body. God made it that way on purpose, and even made you more disposed to be a certain kind of hero. So choose your class and step up to become one of God’s heroes.
Mother Teresa spent 19 years teaching with the Loreto sisters before starting the Missionaries of Charity. St. Dominic preached for 10 years against the Albigensian heresy in France, with little traction. St. John Vianney, though later in his life attracted 20,000 pilgrims each year, labored with nothing to show for it for 9 years.
They wanted to follow God and do His will. But even when there were exactly where He wanted them to be, He let them experience the grind. And for each of them, they embraced the grind, and later God raised them up.