I just feel insecure. I am undecided. I do not know what to do.
I keep hearing the same feelings from friends over and over again, and I understand it.
We had all hoped that by now we would have moved on, that we would have returned to normal. But here we are, neither here nor there. Everything is timid, and long-awaited plans are postponed – again. How are we going? Given this uncertainty, what could St. Ignatius and his friends advise?
1. Remember who you are.
Insecurity must not uproot identity. We are loved by God every minute of our lives and are brought to the planet for a specific purpose at this point in history. We are accompanied at all times by a God who loves us immeasurably and who wants to live with us for all eternity. (The Exercises of St. Ignatius)
2. Keep the dialogue going.
Many of us are feeling disappointed right now. Whatever we feel, we can talk to God about it. In his retreat, Ignatius taught retreatants how to enter into conversation with God. In Praying the Truth, William Barry, SJ, states that dialogue involves an honest back and forth of speaking and listening.
3. Live the now.
There is always the temptation to put life on hold until the end of a crisis, but God’s invitations always continue. Ignatius was no stranger to the challenges of a pandemic. The plague raged during his studies at the University of Paris. Despite the challenges, he continued studying. His radical trust in God even enabled him to accept the call to serve a plague sufferer. This of course led to an off-campus quarantine! (St. Ignatius’ Own Story 58) Although not everyone is called as Ignatius was called, we can all benefit from his counsel to heed God’s invitations in the present moment.
4. Accept the new spirit for this new time.
In his book The Holy Longing, Ronald Rolheiser speaks of the continuous Easter cycles that occur in our lives. He says we need to grieve for what was, accept our new resurrected life, and accept the blessings of the past moment, but not cling to life “as we knew it before.” He also advises accepting the new spirit God offers us for the new life we have already begun. This reminds me of the verse from Ezekiel: “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you” (36:26). The Holy Spirit always brings new and new life and equips us with what we need , to proceed.
5. Differentiate in the community.
Christian communities are not only an antidote to loneliness and isolation, but also places of perception. Judgment offers a holistic approach to planning the way forward because it requires both common sense and attention to the whisper of the mind.
6. Share hope by serving others.
The Ignatian answer to suffering is to serve others. David Fleming, SJ, writes, “The Ignatian path is the path of compassion that unites us with Jesus and our fellow human beings … we are called to be people of service” (What is Ignatian Spirituality? 79-80) today there is so much need in the world that it can be overwhelming to find a place to start helping. Pope Francis suggests starting small and being specific in trying to help. (Let Us Dream 16) As we serve others, we share a hope that is rooted in Christ’s overflowing love for each of us.
7. Imagine the dream.
Both Pope Francis and the Superior General of the Society of Jesus, Fr. Arturo Sosa, speak of the current crisis as the beginning of a new era. “The Lord invites us to share his dream for the world and promises to support us in this shared adventure.” (Walking with Ignatius xv) We are invited to participate in the realization of God’s dream that all children of God and the whole creation is cherished, a dream in which all people are loved and cherished for the gifts they give to one another. and all people share the resources that have been given to us in our common home fairly.
Let us move forward consciously, acknowledge our worth with gratitude, tune into the whispers of the Spirit, and forge a better future together with God.
Photo by Liza Summer from Pexels.