I once went on a blind date with a guy who took me to a nice Mexican restaurant for dinner. The conversation was your typical interview style first date type of talk. To this day, I don’t remember what this man looked like or what his name was. (Obviously this would be our first and last date.) I do, however, remember something pretty awkward that happened in the middle of the date.
We had just been served our meals, and my meal came with what looked like a scoop of sweet corn mush. He commented that the mush looked good, so I asked if he’d like to try it. Before I had a chance to hand him the fork, he had his fingers in my corn mush. I’m not sure if he was nervous, and as such reverted back to eating like a two-year-old child, but it was pretty awkward. Needless to say, I let him have the rest of my corn mush.
So what does this awkward blind date story have to do with prayer and growing in relationship with God? Well sometimes for me, praying with God is a lot like this blind date; you show him the way you’d like him to do something, and instead he decides to get right into the mush of things in his own way. In my experience, God has put me in some pretty awkward, or rather uncomfortable, situations that ultimately have been my path to growing in faith and relationship with Him.
When looking back at my original conversion story, (I like to call it my original conversion story, because I’ve had many since then) I remember that I had the idea to “let God be a part of my life.” I pictured my growing closer to God as learning how to pray and studying the Bible, but this was only part of the equation. Much to my surprise, God handed me a new lens to look at my sexuality through the revelation of Himself through the Theology of the Body.
If you recall from my podcast interview, this teaching really challenged me, mostly because of the way I was living and thinking. To sum it up, addressing sex and relationships was the very last way I would have ever wanted to or thought to approach God. Wouldn’t you know it, this would be exactly where he wanted to meet me?!
Unlike my corn mush date, the grace I received from prayer, adoration, the Mass, and faithful companionship, allowed me to continue on with my relationship with God. Instead, I stayed with the discomfort and feelings that challenged me, and God became more than just a part of my life; He became the reason for my life. Eventually, those feelings of uncertainty and discomfort were transformed into peace and confidence in living and seeing life in a new way.
Now I always pay close attention to when I feel unsettled or uncomfortable about something, because I know if I stay with it and dig into the discomfort, I’ll come out of the other side stronger, and I’m sure to grow in some way. This isn’t always easy, or convenient, because it’s much more comfortable to stay with what you’ve always known, and how you’ve known it. But, in this way, I look at “denying myself” as less of a suppression of my feelings and desires, and more as sitting with, owning, and handing over those feelings for transformation and renewal.
“And he said to all, “If any man would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it; and whoever loses his life for my sake, he will save it. For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses or forfeits himself?”- Luke 9:23-25
My challenge to you, and to myself, is to think of a place where you feel maybe a bit “too comfortable.” If enough time goes by and there’s nothing that shakes things up a bit or challenges you in that place, you might not be doing it right. It might be time to step it up!