Trials: Friend or Foe Pt. II

In my previous post,  Trials: Friend or Foe Pt. I I spoke about the unique difficulties of my internship. 
About three weeks ago I met with a priest friend of mine for dinner.  I was not in a good place to say the least.  I was super stressed, angry, and bitter.  My life for the previous three weeks was nothing but a series of unexplainable bad events.  While we were eating he told me about a great a struggle that he had to endure.  He simply said that he had two choices during his trial to either surrender and believe in God or to become an atheist.  I was struck by these words, but as I thought more about them I realized that they related to my situation also.

Similarly I am faced with the same critical decision.  I could either choose to leave God or to surrender myself  completely to his will.  None of these options appealed to me.  Of course I did not want to become an Atheist, but at the same time I found the notion of surrendering repulsive.  It goes against my DNA.  I am a fighter by nature.  Fighters don't surrender; fighters keep on fighting until they are victorious.  But at the same time if I fought for the wrong reasons I could end up harming myself.  I had to choose God, the stakes were too high; if not for myself then for my wife.

Father also spoke about the dark night of the senses which comes from St. John of the Cross' spiritual masterpiece, Dark Night of The Soul.   He explained that during this time everything that a person senses or perceives to be right is not right at all.  Once this happens one begins to doubt everything about one's self.  It is like God has turned the core ability of self relection on its head.  In many ways I related to this because at my internship site I was being challenged in the areas that were perceived as my strengths. It just made no sense at all; it seemed counterintuitive. On the one hand I knew that I possessed these strengths while on the other hand I realized that my perception of my strenghts was way off. Which one was right?  If I believed St. John of the Cross' teachings then the latter would be correct.  Ultimately my self perception must come from God not myself.  This is the lesson.

 Father also responded that God was allowing this to happen to purify me; to force me to rely more on him and less on myself.  It was like God performed spiritual surgery, allowing my life to be very painful in the short term so that I could enjoy more peace through a purer surrender.  It all made sense now, I had some peace, I had a guiding perception that could add profound meaning to my plight.  The choice was simple:  trust God and ride out this storm.  The difficult part was implementing this newfound knowlege.

This passage from Imitation of Christ gave me comfort,

"Fight on like a good soldier; and if sometimes through weakness you fall, get up again and with greater strength than before, trust in My abundant grace...So be ready to fight to win the victory.  Without conflict you can not obtain the crown of patience.  If you reject the suffering, you reject the crown also; but if you wish to be crowned, resist strongly and suffer patiently.  There is no rest without labor, nor victory without battle"  (Book 3 Chapter 6:5 & Chapter 19:4) 

It is my prayer that during this ordeal I grow closer to Christ through a more complete and purer surrender.


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