Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Pray to Be Free From the Need for Things to Go Your Way


In Thomas Merton's journals he wrote about life in the monastery of Gethsemane, in Kentucky. One theme was Merton's struggle with the CEO of Gethsemane (the "Abbot"), Dom James. Dom James had his problems, as Merton saw things. Merton knew he had to accept this, and wrote:

"I do not criticize Dom James – his nature is what it is, and he must see things as he does. And he is the Abbot God has willed for me." (Merton, Thomas (2010-10-19). Learning To Love: Exploring Solitude and Freedom, The Journals of Thomas Merton, p. 27.)  

Then Merton had this insight: "I know I will never have things exactly as I wish they ought to be – and as I would take pride in them." (Ib.)

In that singular sentence I see a free person. Merton was free of the terrible burden of always having to have things go his own way.

Is that really a terrible burden? Wouldn't it be ideal to have everything go our own way? As interesting as these questions are, they are irrelevant, because everything in life will not go your own way. Indeed, everything in life should not go your own way, unless you are a God who always knows the best way for the world to go.

The person who needs things to be exactly as they wish them to be will be forever weighed down by the fact of such a non-happening. They will be everlastingly miserable, as expectation after expectation remains unmet. 

But the one who learns how to be in and through whatever comes one's way is the truly free person, living transcendent to life's circumstances. (Also called: living by faith.)

Pray to be free of the need to have things always go your way.