Thursday, July 18, 2013

Game Changers

I added  to my post,  The Game Changer,  to give my readers a better idea of why these illuminating moments are so important to our spiritual lives. They have the ability to completely change a person from the inside out.

game changer: a newly introduced element or factor that changes an existing situation or activity in a significant way (The Miriam-Webster Online Dictionary)

Don't you just love "AHA" moments during prayer? I call them "game changers" because they tip your spiritual life on its head and shake loose all that isn't useful anymore in your walk with the Lord. As your spiritual life progresses certain prayer habits impede growth if we cling to them and we must be able to let them go and follow the Holy Spirit's lead instead. Usually these changes first come about during periods of illumination as God begins to direct the spiritual life of the individual to ever greater degrees. God gently tugs the reins of our lives out of our hands and takes them into His own and oh what a difference this makes in our lives! One of its  most beneficial effects is a steady inner peace, along with a greater trust in Divine Providence.

Here are a few of the game changers that have had the greatest impact on my life up until this point:

- God's love is everything. And the key to the spiritual life is not spending your time frantically searching for this immense love that supports all life but in realizing that you are already in it. His love completely encompasses us and pervades our very existence. Our biggest struggle stems from a loss of awareness of this love. Sin darkens the understanding and we lose the sense of being in God's presence though we are as much in the Divine presence as we were previously - it is not really possible to hide from God since He is omnipresent. (Yes, that means we sin in His presence.) The love is steady and consistent on God's end - He loses no awareness of us, it is we who lose our awareness of Him. The soul is asleep and needs to be awakened. And many, many souls are asleep these days. Prayer helps wake us up to the knowledge of "God with us" again. Over time, prayer often becomes a "sinking into" or a "resting" in God's love as we once again experience His presence and realize that our words are getting in the way instead of helping. Some people think that God does not "speak" to them. I do not know whether to laugh or cry whenever I hear someone say this. The truth is...God never shuts up. It is we who close our ears, hearts, and minds. I am not joking...the Lord never shuts up. Often, it is simply that we are too distracted to hear Him. It's pretty hard to multi-task you know. We have gotten so good (or bad, rather) at juggling numerous tasks and "commitments" that we have forgotten the biggest commitment of all... putting God first. If we were to do this, all the other aspects of our lives would fall into place. And if we would learn to quiet down and pay attention we would all "hear" God. His ways of speaking are endless. God does not have to speak out loud in order to communicate with us, He has direct access to our souls and can impress his words right onto our hearts. Unfortunately, in this day and age, many of us have "spiritual" ADHD. Think about it. Our poor brains and our hearts are pulled in so many directions at once that we cannot possibly focus enough to pay attention to God. Plus we are hyperactive. If I were to give anyone a piece of advice on prayer it would be:

Remember to quiet yourself and listen. If you do this, God will do the rest.

- Love comes first. By this I mean that first we experience God's love and then that love bears fruit in our lives. If you attempt to live life by a performance-based measure instead of a love-based measure you'll always struggle spiritually. Love comes first and everything else flows from this foundation. I spent years thinking I had to earn God's love (this is one of the results of living in a performance-based society, sadly) only to find that I was living in this love the whole time. Another huge game changer. The world has it backwards in its extreme focus on productivity as king. The truth is that work matters because people matter and not the other way around. Knowing this simplifies life to a great degree because you begin to know what is worthy of your attention and what stems from greed and excess.

- Life or's a win-win situation. When we are alive on earth we live in Christ's love, when we die we live in Christ's love. This one was a huge game changer for me because it took away a large portion of my fear of death. Death is a doorway between time and eternity. We leave time, we enter eternity...God's love encompasses both. I often think of this earth as a "womb" God's womb, where He is preparing his children for their REAL life...their life in eternity. Yet, we dash madly about, not understanding that we are completely encompassed in the love of God. We fight against suffering, our "birthing pains" here. Were we to embrace them with grace and courage we might be able to quiet down enough to see that death is simply a doorway and not to be feared. For those who have loved, and loved deeply, death is as easy as walking from one room to another. It's the ultimate act of abandonment to the Divine Will. We do no work at death...God does all the work at this time. Just as a baby is born with no help from himself, so it is with us at the time of death. We simply "let go" and release ourselves into the tender hands of our Father in heaven.

- It's okay to pour your heart out and lay it at Christ's feet. God knows everything that's in there anyway: the good, the bad AND the ugly. Nothing is hidden from Him so it makes no sense to hide what's in plain sight. This is very freeing once we move past the shame and sorrow of having sinned right in front of Him so often. It also helps us realize just how great a gift the Sacrament of Confession is.

One of the things that causes a number of people to hold God at arm's length is fear. For the most part, the four game changers I wrote about above strip away fear and allow us to embrace the Lord and his Will for our lives more fully.

All shall be well, and all shall be well and all manner of thing shall be well.
                                                                                      St. Julian of Norwich


  1. This is wonderful. Going to re-read, then probably re-read again. I think this post might well be a game changer for me.

  2. I love this post, Mary. I get more from it every time I read it. All of the game changers you mention seem to get summed up in what you said about fear. Fear was, and at times still is, my faithful companion. But when I realized what this paralyzing companion was doing to my relationship with God, it became easier to "shake him off" and leave him behind. It is then that I realized the truth of those other game changers: that God's love is everything, that love for Him and others is to come first, and that I can pour my heart out to Him, and that in fact, He wants me to do this.
    If we trust in Him, fear has no place in our lives.
    Thanks for adding to this already wonderful post.

  3. Mary, I've been thinking about this subject a lot. It's similar to the theme of me ebook. When God began changing my life through trust, I recognized that this was not the first time there had been a "game changer," as you put it. The other game changers for me have been the necessity of daily mental prayer and evangelical poverty. It's funny how you can hear a message over and over and it doesn't impact you, then--wham! Your life is changed by it forever.

  4. Hi Nancy,
    Thanks for the feedback! I hope you are enjoying your summer (wink,wink- it was 100 degrees today :)

  5. Hi Karin,
    Remember the posts on the seven deadly sins here? We noticed the common thread running through them was fear too. I'm beginning to realize that fear plays a very large part in keeping us from having as close a relationship with the Lord as we would like. Interesting, isn't it?

  6. Hi Connie,
    When I think back over the course of my life I noticed there has been a series of game changers that have made me rethink my entire spiritual life. Even some that hurt at first (You know, those two-by-fours sting;) Yes, I noticed your book is full of these game changers that could help people so much if they would apply them to their lives.

    Thanks for commenting! Hope it's not 100 degrees where you are too!

  7. I've been reading "Abandonment to Divine Providence" and trying to take it to heart. This post magnifies what I have been learning in the book. Thanks Mary!

  8. It's funny how fear can send us straight into God's arms, too, don't you think? I'm thinking of the sort of fear that recognises our own poverty and surrenders to God with childlike abandonment - and imagining how a drop in the ocean must feel to be completely supported, yet totally immersed, in an endless sea of mutual rapture and enlightenment.

    I'm rambling! Great post, Mrs. N:-)

    God bless:)

  9. Hi Anne,
    I love that book. Now, if I could only live what I love ;) I hope you and your family are well!

  10. Hi Vicky,
    Good point! And beautifully expressed too :) Please feel free to ramble here any time you want - I love reading your comments!

    Better than Mrs. 333, don't you think? Lol.

    I'm sending a heat wave down there for you - we don't want it up here any more. What do you think? (No reply means yes, by the way.)

  11. Mary, we are having the most glorious winter, over here. The days are so delightfully mild and sunny - perfectly splendid for a pleasurable stroll amongst the sweet cherry blossom and the laden citrus trees. By excellent contrast, the evenings are deliciously cool and cosy. The fresh, starry nights truly create a most cheerful ambience for our family sing-a-longs with our mugs of steaming hot chocolate, delectable marshmallows and fluffy snuggy blankets.

    However, I do feel that we are suffering so much more than you, right now, as it is always infinitely harder to watch those we care about suffer than it is to suffer ourselves, don't you think? Please pray for us in our misery:-(

    God bless,
    Your suffering, but extremely comfortable, friend:-}

    PS. You keep the heat - we're willing to suffer more:-D

  12. I'm glad you're Blogging again. Welcome back.

    I like the St Julian quote. I'll use it often in future.

    God bless.

  13. Hi Vicky,
    I'm on my way :) Don't eat all the marshmallows!

  14. Hi Victor,
    My posts are few and far between but that's okay with me :) I hope you are well - I've been praying for you. God bless!

  15. Mary, this was great. It inspired me. God bless you!

  16. Great thoughts...especially wowed by Life-Death. Will read it to my almost 91 yr old mother. We recently discussed this topic. Thanks Mary. God Bless.

  17. Thank you so much for your much needed prayers.

    Praying for you and yours.

    God bless.

  18. I love your "spiritual ADHD" remark. So very true. And you're right about fear and the seven deadlies. Fear comes from the flesh. When our spirit wins the war with God's help that fear melts away.

  19. Hi Michael,
    Thanks - I'm glad you liked it. God bless you too!

  20. Hi Nanette,
    Thanks for your feedback! I just came back from your blog and loved the article!

  21. Hi Victor,
    Thank you for your prayers too - I really appreciate them :)

  22. Hi Barb,
    Thanks for commenting :) I agree with your comment about fear!

  23. Mary,

    "For those who have loved, and loved deeply, death is as easy as walking from one room to another. It's the ultimate act of abandonment to the Divine Will. We do no work at death...God does all the work at this time. Just as a baby is born with no help from himself, so it is with us at the time of death. We simply "let go" and release ourselves into the tender hands of our Father in heaven." Thank you for your post, especially this bit. I'd never thought about death in quite this way before.

    God bless!

  24. Hugs to my encouraging friend. Blessings to you dear one.

  25. Hi Sue,
    I'm sorry it took me so long to moderate your comment! I'm glad you liked the post and I appreciate the feedback.

    I hope you and your family are
    well :)