Contrast: connected – disconnected
Although it may not seem like it, God is always present in our lives. We may not understand why something happens or why we do not get what we want, but God works constantly. Because of our busy schedules, remembering this can be difficult. Therefore, it often takes some quiet reflection through the Examen to see His activity in moments that otherwise appear insignificant. Personally, I definitely have trouble recognizing God’s presence, but by settling myself into a state of rest, gratitude, and prayer, I can see where God is active in my life. If we take a step back from daily life and decide to focus on God, we can use contrasting ideas to begin examining our lives.
To examine God’s presence in the midst of my daily life, I use the contrast of connection and disconnection. God has been there for me through the highs and lows and the good and bad; He is always active. I feel connected to the world when things are going the way I want them to. At these times, I know God has been helping me along the way, and I am grateful for it. He sends the Holy Spirit to assist my decision making, answers my prayers, and gives me strength. It is easy to see Him during these instances of connection. However, many times I feel disconnected to the world. At these times of isolation and dislocation, my relationships might be strained and things are just not going right. Because of this, I have difficulty finding God. With a closer examination, I can still see His presence. When I am down, I only have to look around to see how blessed I am. God is the light at the end of the tunnel, and He is always available to talk. He has guided me through some sad times. One should always try to see God’s presence through the positives and negatives in his or her everyday life.
There are many wows, pows, and ows within our lives and at first they may seem insignificant.The moments we are wowed are memories to be cherished. Times when life surprises us for the better. We hold these memories dear during the hard times and we reminisce about them during the good times. We also have pows in our life. Pows are times when we see our hard work pay off.The pows within our lives are truly special as we are the ones in control of the outcome of our pows. When a pow pays off, we feel empowered and ecstatic. It brings a sense of pride that cannot be found anywhere else.
Ows are not something that we like to talk about, but that is what makes them so important to talk about. An ow can be a time when life knocked you down physically, mentally, morally, and or spiritually. Times when we lost our faith and strength. Times we wish we could cut out of our lives. During times we are experiencing ows, it is important to remember the wows and pows. The high points in our lives are our ladder to climb out from the low points. With this in mind, we can overcome any and all obstacles that come our way.
spiritual high – spiritual low
Our world runs on comparisons. One of my favorite quotes from the X-men says, “Without the depths of grief, how could we measure the heights of joy.” If the world was all good we would have nothing to compare it to; thus, life would become boring. I believe that the world is a place of balance and under that balance there are always highs and lows, especially when it comes to our faith and spirituality.
I believe that God does not expect for our faith to be steadfast no matter what life throws at us. God made us imperfect and knows that it is a very high expectation to presume we will always have faith in a God we never get to see. But those who do keep their spirituality must suffer through the lows and highs of life. If the faithful stay spiritual and remember their religion at the most difficult of times, then their “spiritual highs” will be that much more fulfilling.
experience of light – experience of dark
The experience of light is when God is present in your life, and the experience of dark is when God isn’t really part of your life. God is always present in our lives, but sometimes he seems further away than usual.
God has been very active in my life. I grew up going to a catholic grammar school. My family took me to mass weekly, and so I have been able to build a strong relationship with God. I have never really denounced God. I like to think that he is always with me, in the good times and in the bad times. God has been active in my friends, my family, and in nature. My friends really cared for me in some of my darker times. They are the reason I am who I am today. I credit that to God. I see God in my friends all of the time. This is the same with my family. My family loves me unconditionally, and I see God through that.
Another place God has been active in my life is in nature. This is probably one of the biggest places God has been active in my life. Nature has made me into who I am today, just like my friends have. I have been fortunate to have the opportunity to travel to many National Parks and National Forests out west. When I visited these places, I felt a weird, yet good feeling. First, I was in awe. I asked myself how could these places even exist. And then I realized nature and the view I was taking in was one of the gifts that God gave us. God created this Earth for us to not only take care of but to enjoy. So now whenever I go into nature, I thank God for what he gave us. Nature is one of the only places we can go and be one with God. I love doing this because it helps me make my relationship with God even stronger.
experience of happiness – experience of hurt
God has been very active throughout the course of my life. I have experienced so much happiness so far in life. I know these experiences of happiness is a gift from God. I try my best to share these happy moments with those whom I love the most. These moments have taught me on how I want to live my life. I must strive to live in the way Jesus taught us in order to obtain eternal happiness.
Also I know God has put my through hurtful experiences. In the moment it is often hard to look past these hurtful events and see what lies in the distance. These moment seem to consume my whole life for a brief time. I know these tests have help me grow in my faith and see God in everyone. Although I do not enjoy these hurtful moments but I know that there is good that comes out of them and the lesson they teach me.
experience of happiness – experience of hurt
God is and always has been active in my life; however I have not always recognized it. In eighth grade, I suffered a traumatic bone cyst in my jaw. I had unknowingly had internal bleeding going on in my jaw for a year that eroded about a quarter sized hole in my jaw bone. This injury caused me to miss half of all of my eighth grade sports. At the time, I was absolutely crushed by this news, and cried for about a week. Sports was my life. I was constantly involved throughout the year in one sport another. I questioned why this had happened to me. I was hurt and questioned God.
Through this hurt I was taught a very valuable lesson: there is more to life than sports. This eye-opening experience made me try new activities other than sports: music, art, and theatre. I earned a role in my school musical and had a solo. I began to appreciate the arts and experienced a lot of happiness from expanding my horizons. This continued in high school when I joined Irish Music Club and learned how to play the bagpipes. Although at first I was hurt, I realized God wanted me to experience the joy of other hobbies besides sports to make me more well rounded. From this lesson I have experienced much happiness and meet many different types of people. God has always been active in my life, and is always doing what is best for me whether I realize it or not.
appreciation for life – experience of disgust
The pairing of words I have chosen to describe how god has been active in my life is appreciation for life and experience of disgust. I have chosen appreciation for life as my high in life because in my high I love just about everything. If I am truly happy at that moment there is very little that can bring me down. In my happiest moments I thank god because there is a sort of bliss that couldn’t be understood after the moment, only in the moment. There is always an appreciation for life in my opinion if you are still alive.
The experience of disgust is always a prevalent matter in our everyday lives. It is literally everywhere but we find a way to look through the disgust. To find something truly amazing, I believe this is where god is active in my life. Even if i’m going through a rough time I can always find something good out of the situation. Some of the best things in my life came out of the times of pure disgust. God has really showed through the terrible things each person goes through life is just what you make of it.
thankful – disappointing
The pairing I chose is thankful and disappointing because these are both places I believe I find God in my life. I chose thankful because when I am thankful for something I feel God influenced me to feel that thankfulness. When I am thankful it is always for things God put in the world such as nature and people. Through nature I am thankful because it gives me a place to be surrounded by peace and a great spot to reflect. I am thankful for the people that God put in my life as they have helped shape me into the man I am today.
I also see God in disappointment no matter how hard it is at times. I see him there because each part of our life has a purpose and I know that despite how bad I feel at that moment things will get better. I also see God in disappointment because I realize that I will face many challenges and failures throughout my life and the ability to turn to God makes dealing with these so much easier. By trusting in God in these darker times we are able to better build our relationship with him, helping to remind us to keep God in our lives during the good times as well. God is also seen in disappointment through his always being there 24 hours a day, you never have to fear throwback from sharing with him.
memory to hold onto – memory to let go of
As Thomas Merton wrote, “God, Who is everywhere, never leaves us. Yet He seems sometimes to be present, sometimes to be absent. If we do not know Him well, we do not realize that He may be more present to us when He is absent than when He is present.” Whether we realize it or not, God is present in all aspects of life. In both the good and bad memories we hold on to, He is there. Of course, finding God is not always so simple; it takes time. Nonetheless, He is always active in our lives even when we may feel his absence.
One memory that I tend to hold on to is my experience on CRHP. I walked into Queen of Martyrs knowing only one person, but I walked out with a new family. The people that I met on that retreat still remain some of my closest friends. God actively played a role in my life then. He guided each and every one of those people to become a part of my life for a reason, and for that I am forever grateful. However, where there are good memories there are also bad memories. Last year, I went through one of the most difficult times of my life. I felt isolated from everyone, but looking back now I understand that God never left my side. God gives his toughest battles to his strongest soldiers. Although the battle seemed sometimes impossible, God pushed me to keep fighting. Because of that, I am a stronger person today.
sunny – stormy
God is everywhere in my life through sunny and stormy. I see him through all good things. I see God in the sunny days when everything is all going right. He is the light in my life which allows me to have hope for others. When something good happens to me in my life I know that God gave that good thing for a reason.
I also see God through the storms of life. He puts everyone through things that we must face. Everything happens for a reason. We must learn from our mistakes and lessons we are taught. God puts us through these storms to make us better people ad help us reach our potential.
joy experience-sad experience
At this point in my life, I am seeing God through my joyful experiences. Throughout my life I have always been generally easygoing, laidback, and happy, with very few instances of me being sad or angry. I have been able to enjoy many thing, such as having a big family, going to beautiful places, and playing sports that I love. This year in particular I have experienced God as a Peer Minister, being accepted into colleges, and having a growing family.
As well as my joyful experiences, I have had a few sad experiences. One of my most disappointing experiences in life was losing in a playoff game for soccer during my senior year. The team was one of the greatest team I have been on in my entire life; everyone became great friends and we had great chemistry as a unit. For this reason, it was painful to lose in a game we should have won, but I saw God within the great improvement we had from last season.
feeling of fulfillment – feeling unfulfilled
As I sit back and reflect on my life, I realize that more times than not, I have a feeling of fulfillment for all the things that I have. One specific thing in which I have been thinking about lately is how my friends make my life fulfilled. Every single day, they are there for me. Whether I am at my highest of highs or at my lowest of lows, I know I can count on my friends to be there for me. As the first semester of senior year is winding down, it just hit me that a year from now I will not have my friends physically by my side. Although I am nervous for this separation, I know that God has a plan for me and will do his best to make me feel fulfilled with the spirit.
Just as there a very high points in our lives in which we feel satisfied, there are inevitably points in which we feel disconnected or unfulfilled with ourselves, or even with the Lord. This past week, we read an article that talked about how there should not just be one specific event in our life that makes us want to do good for others. This really got to me as the past three years I have spent a week of my summer in Harlan, Kentucky. These experiences were some of the best of my life and everything after it just didn’t seem as great, leaving me unfulfilled. This article believes that we should find God in our everyday lives as it specifically says, “We adore the living God in quiet parishes, in our living rooms, in our commute on a Tuesday morning, and those daily encounters with the hungry, thirsty homeless men and women on city streets.” After reading this article, I decided that from now on, I will make my best effort to find God wherever I may be.