embrace

We’ve come to the fifth and final step of Fr. Dan Lackie’s reflection on discernment. Here are his five steps of discernment:

  1. Pray every day
  2. It’s okay to look foolish
  3. Don’t let failure hold you back
  4. Examine the script of your life
  5. Return God’s loving embrace

Fr. Lackie begins his reflection on this fifth and final step with Pedro Arrupe, SJ’s words:

“Nothing is more practical than finding God, than falling in Love in a quite absolute, final way. What you are in love with, what seizes your imagination, will affect everything.”

I’ll never forget the moment I said it back.

I grew up singing “Jesus loves me this I know…” and “Jesus loves the little children…” along with countless lyrical classics proclaiming how God loves us. I never doubted the fact that God is love, it was a truth that my parents ingrained in me from the moment I took my first breath.

When I was seventeen I went on a retreat that changed my life. For the first time, I felt Christ’s tangible love in every fiber of my being. I felt as if I was walking on clouds and despite the warnings about losing the “retreat high” I was confident that my life would never be the same, and it wasn’t. I felt totally accepted, embraced and loved – messy hair, tear stains, and all. It set me free unlike ever before, and the experience lit a spark in my soul that would leave me longing for more.

I’ll also never forget my freshman year of college when I heard the song, “How He Loves,” for the first time. Christ’s love was a torrential downpour over me that reached every hidden crevice of my heart.

Receiving God’s love is a lifelong journey, and every healthy relationship is a two way street. The implication of this in our relationship with God is an invitation to both give and receive his love.  

Do we listen as much as we speak? Do we extend the same patience, respect, and compassion to God as we would our dearest friend?

How do we love him? 

About three years ago, I was at a crossroads in my life staring some life altering decisions straight in the face. Decisions that would change my life, impact my loved ones, and ultimately challenge me more than I could have ever anticipated. It was frightening, exciting, and paralyzing all at once. I was longing to fulfill God’s purpose for my life, but also terrified of disappointing the people whose love and acceptance I valued most.

What the Lord ultimately revealed to me is that his love comes first. His love is the only love that matters. He not only spoke these words to my heart, but he invited me to write them over every detail of my life.

He asked me, “Will you love me, first?”

With a rush of emotion and deep aches in my heart I wondered if I had ever told him, “I love you, too.”

All my life I felt this love in my heart, but now it came time to act. The Lord wanted to know, “Do you love me?” He longed for my fidelity. He had given me unconditional love over every moment of my life, and he longed for my love in return, as any lover would.

It was in returning God’s embrace that my heart was free to walk fearlessly in the way of His love. I learned that we must always let His love forge our path, no matter how terrifying it seems.

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There’s something about reaching for Love and returning his embrace that brings peace to your soul even in the most uncertain circumstances.

“There is no fear in love. Perfect love casts out fear.” 1 John 4:18

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