It’s new year’s eve and many of us are looking back on our lives and then looking to the future…
Have you ever thought about the trajectory of your life? The meaning and transit of all that has happened to you? So often I think that each of us has a basic issue that needs to be resolved and that issue and its resolution is the basis of our existence and of our creation. It has been so true in my life. As a product of the 40’s and 50’s the idea that consumed me in my early adulthood was to be a mother. I had no idea of a career or any other idea for myself. I was married in 1963, but it was 10 years before we had any children.
And that exposed one of the elements, perhaps the major one of my life: I felt judged by God because I didn’t have children. And everywhere I went, I saw pregnant women!
My husband and I followed the 1960’s idea of how to treat fertility problems(no fertility clinics then). They tested me first and my doctor concluded that I had Stein-Leventhal syndrome in which my ovaries couldn’t properly release eggs because of a hard coating on them. I had surgery, but still didn’t get pregnant. (Five years later they no longer did that surgery.) Finally, they tested my husband who turned out to be sterile because of mumps that he had as an infant. We tried adopting and then in vitro fertilization. It was as I realized that I was a month or so pregnant that we were offered a baby girl to adopt, but because I was pregnant, the county social services withdrew the offer of an adoptee. Still, at long last I was to be a mother!
The second issue in my life, and probably the most important, came from the church my parents were members of. It preached “hell-fire-and-damnation;” this was the message I was taught from the time I was 16 months until I was thirteen.
My attitude towards God by the time I was an adult—that He was a raven sitting on my shoulder ready to zap me for every mistake I made– poisoned everything I did and eventually we dropped out of the church. I was tied to God in very negative ways and I had to find a way to resolve this huge issue in my life. My husband and I joined a cult that centered on the teachings of Jesus, but not His divinity. We were there for eight years. The beauty of the cult was that I began to see that there were different ways of interpreting the Scriptures, different from the hell-fire-and-damnation point-of-view that was deeply engrained in me. But it was in leaving the cult, in seeing that I no longer needed others to affirm who I am, that I was able to see God more clearly, more positively. Several years later I gave my life to Christ.
As I look back on my life from my birth on, I can see God’s footprints in my life throughout it. In the choice of that first church. In leaving the church. In being in that cult. In giving my life to Christ. In all the reading I began to do—from Buddhism to Hinduism to Taoism to Christian saints like Teresa of Avila, St. John of the Cross, Julian of Norwich, Catherine of Siena and more. In all that I read of other religions and of the saints, I thought, “Oh, that’s what Jesus meant!”
Our daughter, then aged 9, brought us back into the church. She asked to go to a church nearby where a friend of hers went. And so, we were back in the church, but by this time I was in a committed relationship to Christ and without any need to conform to that one church’s beliefs or any others. My relationship was to God, to Christ, not to any church.
I do tease God that if He hadn’t put me in that hell-fire-and-damnation church for 12 years, I’d be a proper Christian woman—as defined by the 1950’s– but that since He did, I am who He gets! But I wouldn’t be where I am today, if it weren’t for that church. I wouldn’t have worked so hard to love God and to find a God I could love. I wouldn’t have dedicated my life to Him. I wouldn’t have become a spiritual director, a supervisor of spiritual directors, a blogger and an author about the spiritual life. It was just six years ago that He revealed my purpose to me in two dreams: to connect the dots between Jesus’ teachings and 21st century life and to make the kingdom real.
All of the resolution and healing in me would never have happened if it hadn’t been for the trajectory of my life. God was there from the beginning, even as I was feeling totally judged by Him. God was there through all the infertility problems, but I couldn’t see Him because of those early beliefs—I felt judged by God because I could not get pregnant for 10 years. He has been there all along whether I was aware of His presence or not. And God was definitely in all the healing that has happened in my life.
Perhaps in reading about the trajectory of my life, you might be thinking about the trajectory of your own life. Can you see the major issue(s) of your life and how God is addressing it or them? Can you see the healing He has offered you along with the suffering? Can you address your own life as a single whole with its challenges and its grace in light of God’s caring about you? Can you see how your biggest challenge is also where you have the most to give to the world?
When we can see the trajectory of our lives and its meaning for us, then we can really feel gratitude for all that we have been through and God’s presence throughout it all. And then, we are whole. We are loved. We are forgiven. We are in God’s arms.
Questions to ponder over the weekend: What is/are the major issue(s) of my life that might constitute its trajectory? What have I had to deal with that was particularly toxic or difficult? How is the healing going on that issue? Have I turned it over to Christ to heal? Have I let go and let God? How has my healing translated into helping others with the same issue? (Just choose the one question or more that really call you.)
Blessing for the week: May we be the people of God whom He has healed of our pain and suffering. May we be able to see how He calls us to use the lessons learned and the healed pain to help others who have suffered a like fate. May we bring healing everywhere we go in this world.
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I am collecting conversion stories. I am still not sure what the Lord’s intention is for collecting these, but if you would care to share yours, I would only use your initials to identify the author.