Life is like a complex tapestry we weave together one day-at-a-time, one choice at-a-time. At the end of our life, we leave behind this legacy that depicts what we believed in, what we fought for and what we lived for.
My mother-in-law was a very talented seamstress. She lived in Italy and she sewed many ‘one of kind gowns’ showcased by fashion designers around Europe. She sewed for the rich and for the poor. I was fascinated by how she sewed. Everyone got the same high quality, irrespective of wealth. I recall asking her “why go through so much effort finishing the inside seams?” She would sew little brocades on the inside seams so that the inside of the dress was as gorgeous as the outside, except who is going to see the inside? She just smiled at my question and said ‘this is my art’. It was an expression of ‘her love in action’.
Fifteen years ago I experienced a miracle that changed my life. I was struggling, depressed and seeking God when I heard God’s voice speak in my heart during prayer. God asked me this question: He said “What is love?”
Thinking I knew what love was, I answered God “Love is a feeling.” To this, God said, “wrong” in a quiet, gentle voice. So I asked, “what is it then?” and God said, “Love is a choice.”
Through the power of the Holy Spirit I understood one of the big problems in my life was I was making decisions based on ‘feelings’ without considering God’s will. I realized I had to rethink my choices to ensure that my decisions were what God would call ‘love’. I understood God telling me that love is proven not by how we feel but by what we choose to do to honour God, irrespective of how we feel.
This conversation with God changed my life. If my life were to be depicted in art form like a tapestry this was the point where you would see me taking God’s hand and beginning a new life.
Every human being is created with senses. We hear, we see, we taste, we smell, we hunger, we thirst and we feel a whole range of emotions, but if every choice we make is motivated by our physical senses, then we are not ‘spiritual’, we are ‘carnal’.
Prior to age 40, I was living a ‘carnal’ existence making choices based on how I felt. God helped me to discover ‘His Way’, a way where His Holy Will would be the key factor in each and every choice I would make.
The transition from ‘carnal’ or ‘sensual’ to ‘spiritual’ is one where God slowly transforms us. In the tapestry of life there is often a point where we begin to seek answers to important questions like ‘who am I’ and ‘who do I want to be’.
The answers to the identity questions shape the answers to many other important questions like ‘what do I want to live for’.
In God’s divine plan, God wants each of us to know that He is Our Father. We are children of God and in Baptism we are blessed by God’s Holy Spirit and cleansed of our sins as we acknowledge Jesus as Our Lord and Saviour.
I realize that my dissatisfaction with my life was caused by my ‘carnal’ existence. I was on a selfish path that did not fulfill me. I sought God and God took my hand and put me on a privileged path where I would learn to be a disciple of Jesus.
“But if from there you seek the LORD your God, you will find him if you seek him with all your heart and with all your soul. When you are in distress and all these things have happened to you, then in later days you will return to the LORD your God and obey him.” Deuteronomy 4:29-30
This was my experience. I sought God when I was distressed and He did not abandon me.
“For the LORD your God is a merciful God; he will not abandon or destroy you…” Deuteronomy 4:31
Committing to being a disciple of Jesus put me on a path of divine discovery. Slowly God revealed to me how I could please Him and serve Him by becoming more attentive to the little details in life and striving to do everything with love.
One of the things I learned from my mother-in-law was how much love could be expressed by preparing special family meals that would gather everyone around the table for food, conversation and a little laughter. I recall my young children asking me if I could please learn to make the homemade pasta (ravioli, tortellini etc) ‘Nonna’ (Italian for grandmother) made. A feeling of panic entered me as I realized how much work went into each of these little pasta dumplings. I prayed ‘God help me to learn this’ and slowly I did. My mother-in-law was a very patient teacher. I always think of her as I make these pasta delicacies on special occasions.
Success to my mother-in-law and father-in-law was all about family and loving hospitality. They always seemed to be hosting someone for supper. Word was out that my mother-in-law was an amazing cook and both my mother-in-law and father-in-law were loving hosts.
What is success to you?
Years ago I spoke to a very distressed man about this very question. Diagnosed with an illness that would affect his career path, this man felt he could no longer be successful, because to him success was all about becoming a senior government executive.
I prayed to Jesus to help me to help him and Jesus gave me these words.
I said, “Imagine that you are at the end of your life reflecting on what has made your life truly special. What are you thinking about?”
He said, “I imagine I will be thinking about the people I loved.”
So I said, “Sounds like relationships with those you love are very important to you.”
And he said, “Yes they are.”
And I asked “Is there anything preventing you from investing in these relationships?”
Suddenly he began to get excited and cheerful and he said, “No there is nothing stopping me!”
So I said, “Then you can be successful in spite of this health condition.”
And he said, “Yes I can!”
I understood this man very well for I was someone lost in believing that success was about how high I could climb the career ladder. I think Jesus was talking to both of us in this conversation.
To me success is now all about my relationship with Jesus. In fact faith is all about how we live in a relationship with God and one another.
I have a great deal of compassion for people who have suffered abuse as children. It’s tempting for those who don’t understand how child abuse breaks you to ask insensitive things like ‘why don’t they just get over it.’
I was abused and it took me a long time to forgive people that hurt me. My thinking was ‘why should I forgive people who don’t say ‘I’m sorry’. Eventually I began to realize I was like a person carrying this bag of rocks on my back. I was weighed down by the fact that I was angry and resentful. I had reasons to be angry and resentful but ultimately I realized that ‘forgiveness is freedom’.
It has been more than a decade now that I stop every day to remember the Passion of Christ. As I contemplate the suffering of Jesus, I see Him being crucified praying “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” Luke 23:34
People be free!
Ask for God’s forgiveness and give it to others as a gift you also give yourself!
Forgiveness is freedom!
God’s forgiveness is for the asking:
“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:9
“Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.” Matthew 5:7
I invite you to let Jesus touch your heart in a very special way every day. I encourage you to join Christians all over the world that are stopping at the Time Jesus died for us, 3pm, (each of us in our local time zones) to remember Jesus being crucified and dying for our sins. At this time pray for the mercy of Our Saviour Jesus Christ upon our sinful and suffering world. Pray for Jesus to send His Holy Spirit to change our world as He changes our hearts, one day-at-a-time, one soul at-a-time.
IMAGINE THE CHRISTIAN WORLD UNITED IN PRAYER AT 3PM, THE TIME JESUS DIED FOR US, EVERY DAY!…
Take a moment to ask yourself this question:
What would the world be like if Christians all across the globe would unite in a daily solemn moment of true solidarity at the time Jesus died for us, 3pm (in our local time zones)? Imagine the entire Christian world united DAILY in a moment of true fraternity, praying for the mercy of Our Lord Jesus, thanking Him for His great sacrifice, meditating on His sorrowful Passion while repenting of our sins, telling Jesus we trust Him and we love Him, asking Jesus to forgive us and to help us all to love and honor Him and one another?
The world would be different!
“My goal is that they may be encouraged in heart and united in love, so that they may have the full riches of complete understanding, in order that they may know the mystery of God, namely, Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.” Colossians 2:2-3