A recent misunderstanding with good friends led to some pain being felt. We all know the feeling. One moment, we’re carrying on the same way everyday; the next, some random occurrence makes us think about whether we’ve been doing something wrong the whole time.
It was instinctive for me to both retreat and adopt a “slash and burn” attitude. It’s something I’ve become used to. Let’s just say I’m good – very good – at protecting myself.
But there one night, while in conversation with Jesus and complaining to Him like Martha did, in hopes that He would ‘take my side’ and tell me how justified I was for feeling angry and hurt, I came to face squarely a choice I was made very aware of.
Right there was when I could choose (free will, right?) to lash out and walk away, or to accept this gift of pain and let it lead me to where it should.
Just a while ago, I had started to pray for a very specific change: to be vulnerable again.
You see, my heart has always been the compass from which God directs me. Which means that a heart now well-guarded and impenetrable is nothing but a heart that doesn’t easily allow even God to enter. And I crave Him, the way I used to, with no inhibitions between us.
With the memory of the prayer I had made, I had to see this pain as a gift, and this coincidence as, well, providence.
There are of course, many analyses made about coincidences: Statistically, coincidences should be expected, and the fact they don’t happen more frequently should be what we marvel at; still, there remains situations so totally whacky that nobody can postulate a reason for why they occur.
Probability can explain a lot for some of us who discount Providence.
Possibility can be the measure of faith and hope for those of us who choose to acknowledge Providence.
(If you’re interested in that sort of thing, read this: http://www.theatlantic.com/science/archive/2016/02/the-true-meaning-of-coincidences/463164/)
For those of us who’ve experienced occasions where we’ve been entertaining a particular thought, doubt or observation – maybe a problem we’re trying to solve, a crisis at home, a conversation we’re thinking about having with a friend, a particular Bible passage that has left us curious, a difficult situation shared by a colleague, or a sudden desire to pray the rosary or hear a song… – and then have the answers to any of those situations drop right in front of us, that intervention is a matter to be cherished indeed.
Maybe intricacies are woven into our lives at every turn (we should indeed be wondering why ‘coincidences’ don’t happen more often!) but maybe we only notice them when we’re ready for such interventions.
For us Catholics, if we choose to see God’s hand in our lives, then those little coincidences that we stumble upon shouldn’t be different. Was it a coincidence that something like that would happen when I had just prayed for a more vulnerable heart? (Maybe it’s just me drawing a very loose connection to the event.) Or was it Providence that led to both these experiences converging? (Because no matter how loose that connection is, we can still choose to see God hand behind all that is good.)
What does the Catholic in you think?
We’ll probably never have a clear answer. But if we can make meaning out of everyday happenings and see God’s hand at the heart of our blessings and sufferings, then we can find awe in the ordinary and be conduits for His grace to pass, to make random occurrences meaningful experiences through which God speaks.
At Landings, we like to look for God in the everyday events – big and small – so we may give thanks for when we notice Him, learn to be more aware of His presence in our lives, and to be more conscious of how He may direct us in service.
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