By Anna Lucia.
The clock approaches four o’clock and I walk into the chapel, happy to have a few minutes for prayer before I am off to my late afternoon class. I settle into the pew, look up at the crucifix, and I draw a blank. I am at a loss for words and decide to simply relax in the Lord’s presence. As I sit before the tabernacle, I feel restless and agitated. After what feels like an eternity, I look at my watch; only two minutes have passed.
Since returning to the world, prayer has proven difficult; very difficult. Have I forgotten how to pray? This seems to be a ridiculous notion, as I spent hours a day praying in the convent. I still remember the various prayers that comprise the rosary and the Divine Office. I manage to say a morning offering before my feet hit the floor at the beginning of the day and sing the Salve to our Lady before I close my eyes at night. The more I ponder this question, the more I realize that the problem is not forgetting how to pray. Rather, the problem at hand is one of trust.
In an ideal world, prayer would be the simplest part of our day, as it is spending time with the one we love. What happens, however, when the one we love breaks our heart? We might not want to spend time with that person and may have difficulty trusting that person again. That is what happened to me when I returned to the world. Prayer became difficult because prayer necessarily implies a relationship with the Lord. A relationship with the Lord implies trust. I had difficulty trusting the Lord because I gave Him my heart when I entered the convent and it felt as if He shattered it to pieces when I left. I was afraid that if I placed my trust in the Lord, then I would get my heart broken again. I knew in my head that the Lord is love and mercy itself, and that He would never lead me this far just to abandon me. However, I found it difficult to know that reality in my heart.
A wise friend recently told me that a lack of trust is simply forgetfulness. It is easy to remember the times our friends disappointed us and to hold a grudge. We get so caught up in our anger and disappointment that we quickly forget the times they have remained faithful. The same principle applies to our relationship with the Lord. While we may feel disappointed and hurt, we must recall all the times the Lord has remained faithful, throughout the day and throughout our lives.
Reflecting on God’s fidelity will help us realize that Our Lord is a good and trustworthy Father. As love itself (1 John 4:8), God could never hurt us or abandon us in our time of greatest need. It would be totally and completely against His nature to do so. Everything happens for a reason, even if we cannot yet see God’s reason behind these unknowns. For example, parents tell their children to eat their vegetables at dinner. A little girl does not know why her parents insist that she eat the spinach on her plate. Only her parents know that the spinach contains the nutrients necessary for the child’s growth and development. Similarly, we may not see why the Lord called us to enter religious life and return home. However, this apparent detour is all part of His divine plan for our lives. God has not abandoned us, but has been holding us by the hand, leading us every step of the way.